Examples Of Themes


Before you look at the examples of themes below it will help you to learn more about what theme is and how it affects our writing and our stories

A story without a theme is little more than a list of events.

The events themselves may be very interesting, or exciting, but without the universal human connection, they will not engage our attention in any real way.


Not only must it appeal to the reader, it must also appeal to you.

cartoon owl reading a book illustrating an article which gives examples of themeYou must want to or even need to explore that particular theme for you to keep writing.

Many people tend to confuse the theme of a story with the plot.

To learn about the difference between theme and plot click here.


Theme is the pulse of the story and if you choose correctly you will feel compelled (in a good way) to complete your story.

If your theme is not compelling to you, it will certainly not be compelling to your readers.

So think very carefully, not just about your themes but about how you intend exploring them.


You might like to choose one of the following examples of themes – that appeals to you and try writing a story about it.

Alienation – The effects of, the loneliness of, to cure it.

Ambition – getting what you want, stunted by, thwarted.

Betrayal – the pain of, in love and friendship.

Coming of age  – loss of innocence.

Courage – courage to deal with conflict, lack of, developing, conquering with.

Deception  – how to deceive, results of.

Discovery – what does it take to discover new places, inner meaning, strength, even treasure.

Escape – from life, routine, prison, family pressures.

Death – how to escape, facing, what happens after, consequences of.

Fear – driven by, dealing with, conquering.

Freedom – loss of, gaining, handling, fight for.

Good versus evil – survival of one despite the other, the triumph of one over the other.

Isolation – physical and emotional.

Jealousy – trouble caused by, denial of, driven by.

Justice – the fight for, injustice, truth versus justice.

Loss – of life, innocence, love, friends, to avoid.

Loneliness – no man is an island, or hell is other people.

Love – love fades, is blind, can overcome all obstacles, can

Lust – for power, for sex.

Power – the search for, the loss of, what we are willing to exchange for.

Prejudice – racism, bigotry, snobbery, dealing with.

Security – the loss of, the finding of the need for, how we act when security is shattered.

Spirituality and God – the struggle to find faith, live without faith etc.

Survival – man versus nature


  • Give a lot of thought to choosing your story theme. Remember you will need to be obsessed with your chosen theme to keep writing about it for long periods of time.
  • Being aware of your themes can help you sell your books.

For help choosing a theme click here.


We all approach our writing ideas differently. My own methods vary from time to time. Sometimes I decide I want to write about a particular theme and then find the story.

At other times I find the story first and the themes become apparent through the process of writing.

bridge into park illustrating an article which gives examples of theme.Whatever your approach, it is well worth putting some thought into it before you commit yourself to the hard work of writing out the story.


Undertaking this initial preparation will save you from having to put too many of those unfinished stories in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet.

I personally put a great deal of thought into my themes and there are some themes, like betrayal, bullying, survival, and loneliness, that resonate with me particularly.

I have explored those several times both in non-fiction and fiction.


You can see how I worked with the theme of bullying, jealousy, and isolation in my children’s story ‘The Tree Hugger.’

I really hope these examples of themes help you.

If you have any questions or comments please use the comments box below and I will be happy to help.

Click here for Creative Writing Exercises to help kick-start your writing.

Best of luck with your writing.


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

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
















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88 Responses to Examples Of Themes

  1. Christopher Grow July 29, 2014 at 4:34 am #

    Hey Grace,
    For the longest time I’ve wanted to put my ideas to paper and write a fantasy novel and thanks to your website I think I finally have the tools and confidence to do it, thank you.

    • Grace July 29, 2014 at 10:46 am #

      Hi Christopher, I am so glad to hear that and I hope it goes well for you – keep at it

    • Elizabeth January 16, 2016 at 4:21 pm #

      Me too! I have written many books and I have been having writers block . Thanks to this website I am able to continue!

    • Roman September 15, 2017 at 2:46 am #

      Did you write the novel?

  2. - October 28, 2014 at 12:39 am #

    Hey, I was looking for a list of themes to help give me motivation and creative guidance to make a school essay which is very important to me. I greatly appreciate this page and hope more people find it and I’m sure you yourself are a wonderful writer! Best wishes for the future! x 🙂

    • Grace October 28, 2014 at 9:27 am #

      Hi I am so glad it helped you and I wish you all the best with your school essay and the rest of your school work.
      Keep in touch,

  3. Brooke Miall November 3, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

    hey grace,
    This was a very helpful page and I am so thankful for it. I have to write an essay for school soon and this website is really helping me out with my study. I hope more people will find this page in the future because it is so helpful.
    Thank you.

    • Grace November 4, 2014 at 11:00 am #

      Hi Brooke I am glad it helped you with your essay and best of luck with your studies.

  4. Krishna November 13, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

    How does your overall story goal affect your characters? What I mean to say is, if my overall goal is isolation, my character obviously wants to change this, by running away from it, etc. How does this originate? From the start of the book to the end, what makes the reader believe my character’s goal is this, and how is it shown? Is it shown subtly throughout the book? Is it spoken? (Question overload, sorry.) Lastly, what leads up to this goal being achieved? As in, what kind of inciting incidents that more or less throw the book forwards into action and new experiences. What makes this character’s thoughts consciously or no, become a reality when blah, blah, blah.. happens. (Once again, so sorry this is about a mile long. Just a question I’ve been wondering about for a long time. No one else has been able to answer this plainly enough for me to understand and/or put into action myself. )

    • Grace November 25, 2014 at 1:15 am #

      Hi Krishna,
      I am not sure I am clear what your question is. Are you perhaps confusing story goal with character goal? Your goal as a writer may be to write a story about a man who wants to become President but who fails at this and instead decides to become an actor. Your characters goal might be to become president but your story goal takes him away from his goal to where you as the writer decide he should go.
      Sometimes writers can over think – maybe you should write your story and see where it takes you?
      Best of luck with your work.

    • Talea September 8, 2017 at 8:51 am #

      Hi Krishna,

      I actually have an answer for you:

      The theme of your story ends up being what your character will realize in the end to conquer. It’s the backbone of your story regardless of character goals. For instance, your character goal might be to get away from being rejected (by getting a new boyfriend or sacrificing morals, etc) but the theme of the story might be that you need to accept yourself before others will accept you.

      In the story, the theme is usually shown early on in the story – the first 4k if it’s a standard novel – and it’s often something mentioned by a confidante – a piece of wisdom or a question posed in a conversational way. For example, in Frozen the troll tells the royal family that “the heart is not easiliy changed, but the head can be pursuaded”. At the end, when Anna sacrifices herself, Elsa realizes that true love comes from within and it’s that love that will allow her to rule her powers. Elsa’s personal goal was to save everyone from herself.

      Other examples are Man of Steel where Jonathan Kent tells young Clark that he needs to decide what kind of man he will be – in the end that allows him to save the world. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s theme comes out when she sings ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ – will she ever find a place where she belongs? A place to call home?

      Once you’ve stated your theme (subtly) in conversation with another character, your main character goes through the story trying to fight it out and figure out how to reach their goal. Finally, after going through everything, they realize the theme and it helps them reach their goal.

      In other words – THEME is the key to reaching CHARACTER GOAL. How do you accept love from others? Love yourself, first. How do you overcome childhood failure? Forive yourself. How do you save the world? Realize you’re worthy despite your shortcomings. You get the idea.

      I hope this helps. It’s one of the most challenging parts of writing, I find, and the most important. It’s one of the first things I work on before I decide on my ending.

      • Grace September 8, 2017 at 11:41 am #

        Hi Talea,
        Thanks for adding this wonderful answer and perspective on theme from the writer’s point of view. We writers have many challenges and theme is so crucial.
        Best of luck with your writing.

      • Kalyn mosleyy September 27, 2017 at 12:52 am #

        Can you give me an example of a theme

      • Molly October 17, 2017 at 12:05 am #

        Hi Talea!

        Thank you so much for your unique post on Themes. It truly helped me understand character goals better and realize that the story goal may be different than the characters. I agree Theme really is the backbone of a story.

  5. Jean January 7, 2015 at 9:42 pm #

    This website helped me with my short story theme for English. Thanks!

    • Grace January 9, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

      You are welcome.

  6. Luke January 21, 2015 at 2:08 am #

    Thx this really helped with my homework

  7. Aqua May 11, 2015 at 3:29 am #

    I’m so grateful to have found this page. Not many others were this helpful, this page was just what I needed. Thank you so much

    • Grace May 11, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

      So glad it helped.
      Best wishes

  8. rosa June 23, 2015 at 2:10 pm #

    Hey thanks for creating this website it helps me a alot when iam doing an essay. Thanks ☺

    • Grace June 29, 2015 at 10:36 am #

      Hi Rosa,
      Thanks for commenting. Best of luck with your essays.

  9. Mikayla Tucker July 14, 2015 at 1:47 am #

    Dear grace,
    Before reading this page on theme i was dumbstruck, i had no idea what any of it meant. now that i have read this i completely understand !!! thank you so much !!!!!


    • Grace August 26, 2015 at 11:38 am #

      Glad it helped.
      Best wishes

  10. Hunter Sydenham August 26, 2015 at 1:56 am #

    This page really helped my with my English essay’s .
    Thanks a ton!

    • Grace August 26, 2015 at 11:37 am #

      Glad to hear it Hunter – good luck with your work.

  11. jessica October 14, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    Thank you very much grace this helped me alot.

  12. Caleb October 23, 2015 at 9:54 pm #

    I could not think of an idea to do my L.A. short story about and when i decided to check out this website i thought of everything i could do! Thank you Grace, you helped me think of a good story to use and great themes/story plot for my assignment. I can’t thank you enough.

    • Grace October 24, 2015 at 5:38 pm #

      Hi Caleb, I am so pleased to hear this. It’s amazing how ideas can be triggered in so many different ways. I hope you will come back and let me know how you get on with your story.
      Best wishes

  13. Abigail November 28, 2015 at 9:23 pm #

    Thank you for helping me with my homework your website is the best.🙂 👍🏼

  14. Joseph odeh December 19, 2015 at 3:23 pm #

    Tanks for the tips. Its a great thing people like you are out there. Keep it up. Joe

    • Grace December 28, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

      Hi Joseph – glad the tips help.
      Best wishes

  15. Maddie December 22, 2015 at 4:19 pm #

    Ditto. This really helped me with my creative writing class. I can already see myself improving in writing! Grace, you are the best.


    • Grace December 28, 2015 at 5:54 pm #

      Lovely to hear from you, Maddie -keep writing.

  16. Lynn January 14, 2016 at 3:40 am #

    this really help me for my critics letter essay thank you!

  17. Amelia Carter January 14, 2016 at 11:35 pm #

    what is the theme of the song 50 ways to say goodbye? i need this but i can’t figure it out. i thought it was like loss of love or something because of a breakup but i dont know. can someone help me?

  18. Nicki Boyd February 7, 2016 at 1:32 am #

    Hi Amelia!

    I believe the theme of that song is freedom…setting yourself free.


  19. Nicole September 20, 2016 at 1:20 am #

    Your list of themes really helped me. All I needed was a small push. Thanks.

    • Grace September 27, 2016 at 6:13 pm #

      Great to hear – keep going now!

  20. Alyssa September 27, 2016 at 3:46 pm #

    Thank you! I have to write a speech and often find it hard to think of an overall theme on my own.

    • Grace September 27, 2016 at 6:13 pm #

      You are very welcome – best of luck with your speech.

  21. Hiromi Gonzaga November 21, 2016 at 3:46 pm #

    Thank you Ms.Grace,

    I’m actually making a writing assignment for my teacher. This gives me a lead to my creative writing.

    ~Hiromi G.

    • Grace November 22, 2016 at 1:44 pm #

      HI Hiromi
      Glad to hear this helped and the very best of luck with your creative writing assignment.
      Best wishes

  22. Haydn January 3, 2017 at 8:34 pm #

    Hi I am doing an English project and for it we need to identify a thematic idea. Can you help explain it?

    • Grace January 5, 2017 at 5:58 pm #

      Hi Haydn
      I suggest that you read through my articles on theme http://www.practicalcreativewriting.com/what-is-a-theme/
      You will find more links to other articles below this.
      I also suggest you look through the notes your teacher has given you.
      Read the text and books your teacher has suggested.
      Research in the library.
      You will find the answer to the question quite easily if you do the above.
      If this is an essay question then all you need to do is expand on your answer.
      Perhaps find some examples and explain them.
      Your teacher wants you to learn for yourself and prove that you can do this.
      I wish you all the best of luck and am sure you can do it.
      Best wishes

  23. Jeanne January 24, 2017 at 9:24 pm #

    Hi Grace. Thanks for posting the THEME information. I just finished my 1st novel and I’m in editing/revision making sure my themes are supported well throughout the plot. I have multiple characters and multiple subplots so I sat down and wrote out some of the themes I felt were represented. Its a science fiction genre so some themes that seemed to come into play were:

    Good vs evil (the novel)
    Greed (antagonist)
    Loss (sub char)
    Survival (the novel)
    Courage (sub char)
    Discovery (protag)
    Corruption (antag)
    and probably Growing up (sub char)
    There are more but that’s a healthy batch

    I kind of figure a book will always have at least a few themes that a writer would include regardless. But when I research Best Sellers – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_books I found a ton of information. And themes from those books. I was overwhelmed with information.

    I was really trying to figure out what kind of theme would cover someone who is emotionally isolated (a scientist) that during the course of the novel grows emotionally and finds love. Is that a theme? I think I labeled it as Discovery in the list above.


    • Grace January 27, 2017 at 6:00 pm #

      hi Jeanne
      Glad you found the theme information useful. There is so much information out there that we writers can get overwhelmed. I think that the best themes are universal and will apply to any genre – the list you supplied above could apply to many stories not just science fiction – so that’s great!
      As for your character who finds love – well love is a theme. However, think about survival. I don’t know your story. But sometimes survival can apply in different ways. We can survive disease, disaster, difficult lives. She survives her isolation?
      It sounds like you are doing just great and I am glad to hear you are at the editing stage – that’s a great achievement.
      Best of luck with the project and keep in touch. I would love to hear how you get on.

  24. niickolas julian March 3, 2017 at 7:56 pm #

    this was the best site that i have met for themes thank alot

    • Grace March 3, 2017 at 10:38 pm #

      Glad to have helped.

  25. Noémie April 8, 2017 at 9:56 pm #

    Wow this website really helped me finish my homework! You look like an amazing person that obviously does amazing work… thanks for helping me!!! Best of Luck

    • Grace April 13, 2017 at 12:10 pm #

      Thanks very much. Do come back any time.
      Best wishes

  26. Mary April 11, 2017 at 1:49 am #

    Hello Grace. What would be a good theme for bullying because of race and ethnicity?

    • Grace April 13, 2017 at 12:11 pm #

      Racism and bullying are universal themes and are good choices for story lines or even secondary story lines.
      Best of luck

  27. Dia April 12, 2017 at 7:25 pm #

    Thank you for writing this! I have many unfinished projects to revisit armed with this new knowledge. Preperation truly makes a difference.

    • Grace April 13, 2017 at 12:09 pm #

      Hi Dia
      So pleased this helped – good look with your projects – get them finished 🙂
      Best wishes

  28. Tasha April 29, 2017 at 10:53 pm #

    Themes don’t come easy to me so this was helpful THX

    • Grace May 2, 2017 at 8:54 pm #

      You are welcome

      • Jack Henderson May 25, 2017 at 12:57 pm #


        This really helped me as well, thank you!

        • Grace May 26, 2017 at 8:45 am #

          So glad to hear it, thanks Jack.


  29. gate exam May 25, 2017 at 7:43 pm #

    Excellent web site. Lots of useful info here. I am sending it to a few friends
    ans also sharing in delicious. And certainly, thanks in your sweat!

    • Grace May 26, 2017 at 8:45 am #

      Glad you found it useful and thanks for sharing as well.

  30. Luc Clarke June 7, 2017 at 3:12 pm #

    Hey Grace, is “a story without a theme is little more than a list of events” an original quote of yours? If so, would it be okay to quote you for an essay I’m writing?

  31. Kenneth Alexander July 19, 2017 at 12:55 pm #

    Hello, Grace, thanks for an excellent organization primer when considering a novel! Am I correct in concluding that theme is the focal point that must appear throughout the narrative of dialogue, plot, and structure? Did I say that right?

    • Grace July 21, 2017 at 7:47 pm #

      Hi Kenneth,
      Yes themes are important but they don’t always emerge until you the writer are immersed in the story. Being conscious of your themes comes with experience. When you are actually in the act of writing it is always best to concentrate on telling your story. If you set out to write a story about your themes you may produce a piece of non-fiction. It is a bit of a tightrope but remember to focus on your story – if you do that the themes will look after themselves.
      Best wishes

  32. Nathan August 15, 2017 at 2:50 am #

    Hey Grace,
    How do you get good at finding the theme of a book?

    • Grace August 15, 2017 at 9:21 am #

      Hi Nathan
      I suggest reading a book carefully then when you’ve finished write down what you see as the themes. If, for example, the story was about a man who lost his wife in a murder who is determined to find her killer, then some of the themes might be revenge, love grief. Themes are different from the actual story – by reading carefully the themes will appear to you.
      Best of luck

  33. Aswathi Lavanya August 15, 2017 at 7:03 pm #

    Thank you Grace found it very useful…

    • Grace August 15, 2017 at 8:18 pm #

      Great to hear – thanks Aswathi and take care.

  34. Peter August 31, 2017 at 6:04 pm #

    This is simple and very helpful thx:)

    • Grace August 31, 2017 at 6:33 pm #

      Glad to help Peter.
      Best wishes

  35. Katie September 12, 2017 at 11:34 am #

    As many people have already said on this website, thanks for the amazing tips and themes! 😀

    • Grace September 13, 2017 at 7:00 pm #

      Hi Katie – thanks for your comment. So encouraging to get feedback like this! I will keep going then 🙂 Best of luck with your writing.

  36. Nada Ahmed September 18, 2017 at 6:16 pm #

    Hey Grace,
    so I’m 14 and I really wanted to write a story, and these themes really helped me, I wanted to thank you about and appreciate it so much
    all the love too you.

    • Grace September 18, 2017 at 7:34 pm #

      Hi Nada
      So lovely to hear from you. I hope you write your story. It’s great to start young. If you have any questions – come back to me.
      Take care

  37. Molly October 17, 2017 at 11:29 pm #


    Can a story have more than one theme involved?

    • Grace October 18, 2017 at 7:31 pm #

      Hi Molly
      Yes you can – sometimes there are many themes involved in a story. My advice is to pick your favourite book and see if you can identify the themes involved – write them down in a list.

      I think you will be surprised.
      Best wishes


  38. Artur Loes November 26, 2017 at 4:09 pm #

    Hi Grace1 Thanks for the post, it gave me some insights for a scholl project!

    • Grace November 27, 2017 at 11:59 am #

      Glad it helped.
      Best wishes

  39. Ben December 17, 2017 at 8:55 pm #

    Hi Grace !
    Thank you so much for these writing themes and explanations,
    I have a question,
    Does it also work when it comes to songwriting themes ??
    Goodbye !

    • Grace December 19, 2017 at 12:32 pm #

      Hi Ben
      I’m not a musician myself but I don’t see why not – inspiration can take many forms.
      Best wishes


  40. Grace June 9, 2017 at 5:00 pm #

    Yes, Luc, you can go ahead – please mention my website. It is my quote but that doesn’t mean other people haven’t said something similar – as always.
    Best of luck with your essay.


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