Choosing A Theme

view from a Galway pier illustrating an article about choosing a themeChoosing a theme is not what many writers do first. Most decide on the story, or characters for their stories before starting to think about the theme.

Themes tend to evolve with the story as the writing moves forward.

Many of us get confused about theme and plot. So, before we go further – if you are not sure exactly what a theme is I recommend you read this article here.

Choosing a theme is often done subconsciously. We are not always aware that the themes in our stories are repeated from story to story.


Choosing a theme to explore – before you start writing can also be key to your marketing plan.

Being aware of which themes appeal to your own readers can help you choose stories which sell.

Many successful writers explore the same themes within different stories.


small boat on a dark sea illustrating an article about choosing a themeThink about John Grisham. Many of his books explore injustice, greed, betrayal, isolation etc.

His many, many readers obviously enjoy these and respond accordingly by buying his books.

They know what they will get when they choose a John Grisham novel.

This is why understanding which themes appeal to you and awareness of how they appeal to your readers or potential readers, will help you enjoy more success as a writer.


The following exercise will help you choose a theme that suits you.

Examine your bookshelves and make a list of your favourite books. Also, make a list of your favourite movies or television shows.

Take your time and think carefully as you do this. The importance of this preparation will show up in your writing.

When you have finished your lists start to think about the stories and make notes about the themes. Then, count the number of times each theme occurs.

To help you here are some examples of theme you should take a look at.


Armed with this fresh insight you can judge your ideas to help you determine whether or not you are likely to bring to a particular project to completion.

Writing a story is hard work and it takes time and patience.

If you do not feel compelled to explore the themes in the story you are writing, then your chances of hitting that finishing line are reduced.


Perhaps having thought about this and completed the above exercise you might learn that you need to find another story with a different theme.

I hear your pain, but surely it is better to find out now.

There is nothing more frustrating than realizing that you do not have a strong enough desire to finish a story you have spent considerable effort and time developing.

We writers need a healthy dose of creative compulsion.

If you are still not convinced there is more about choosing your story themes here.

We don’t just need to want to write, we need to need to write.

It also makes it a lot more fun for you and your readers.

white owl with daffodils illustrating an article about choosing a theme

Best of luck with choosing your theme and all your future writing.


P.S. All the information, exercises and tips on this site are free to you and that liking, sharing or commenting help to support this site.

I love helping writers, but there are costs involved for me. So if you find this helpful –  please use the donate button below.

You can make any donation – large or small to help keep this site going.

Another great way to show your support and make your writing great is to buy and review my book. You won’t be sorry because Practical Creative Writing Exercises is packed full of inspiring exercises to get your ideas flowing in minutes.


Book cover - Practical Creative Writing Exercises by Grace Jolliffe illustrating an article about illustrating an article about choosing a theme.

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8 Responses to Choosing A Theme

  1. Nathan Mendelsohn March 18, 2017 at 2:58 am #

    Loving your articles!! Very helpful!!

    • Grace March 21, 2017 at 4:32 pm #

      Glad you like them – best wishes. Grace

    • Mary P July 17, 2017 at 4:41 am #

      Love your article on Theme, needed a review. Thanks.

      • Grace July 17, 2017 at 11:28 am #

        Glad it helped.

  2. Jonathan August 17, 2017 at 7:00 am #

    Very useful, thank you.

    • Grace August 17, 2017 at 5:15 pm #

      Great – thanks.

  3. Jeezmine October 2, 2017 at 9:24 pm #

    Thanks for helping me get a refresher!!! 😀

  4. Aubrey January 21, 2018 at 6:58 am #

    Helped me so much

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