This post is from a newsletter article by Holly Lisle, who made me think about theme in a different way by challenging me to make it personal-- what themes have I dealt with in my own life that can be reflected in my fiction? Read on...
It goes without saying that every story is about something, doesn't
Well, you'd think so, but in fact, NOTHING goes without saying.
All information is new to someone once, and if you haven't heard
this before (and maybe even if you have but you sort of forgot why
it mattered), let me say this now:
In order to matter to your reader, your story has to be ABOUT
something that matters to your reader...
...Want your readers to love your characters and your stories and come
back for more, not because you said a whole lot of nothing in a
very pretty fashion, but because you hooked them and showed them
someone they loved in a situation that mattered doing things they
...You must tell a story that shows people and
life not as the are, but as they could be, and as they should be.
To do that, first YOU have to care.
And for you to care, you have to be telling a story about something
that matters to you.
What matters to you?
That justice can overcome corruption?
That love is the most powerful force in the world?
That best friends can survive any hardship together?
That fear is what turns men into animals?
Sit down right now, give a good hard look at your own life, and
establish a few themes that sum you up. That make sense of the
life you have lived to this point.
Consider whether those themes are what you want to hold up as
examples, or whether they're what you want to show a hero
With a theme as your anchor, you can then plot a story that will
matter to you when you write it...and that will matter to your reader
when he reads it.