We're always happy when Laura quits juggling chainsaws long enough to share a blog!
By Laura Drake
What is theme? You can read the whole definition here, but the gist is: it’s a common thread or repeated idea that is incorporated throughout a literary work.
Why use theme? Here's a great article that explains, but the bottom line is that it helps the reader connect to your characters. These are common threads of the human experience; subjects that everyone has had to confront in their lives.
Following are some examples (you can read the full article here.)
- Good vs Evil
- Coming of Age
I was reading an article in the RWR yesterday by Claudia Welch, concerning using theme in writing. when it occurred to me.
We all have a theme in our lives – a thread at our core we keep returning to, because the complexity fascinates us.
I’m not even sure that we choose it; it’s a result of our life experiences, the conclusions we draw from them. They shape the paths we choose to walk.
I think authors are lucky; we get to create characters to work out issues in our own lives, to our better satisfaction. When you do that, you can’t help but confront the themes of your life.
Until today, I thought the theme that I explored in my writing was one of running. It makes sense I’d think that, since:
- My first novel was about an itinerant building contractor, trying to outrun nightmares on her motorcycle.
- My second novel involved a woman just released from prison for a crime she didn’t commit, who leaves her Yuppie lifestyle behind to become a groom on a horse ranch.
- My third novel was about a woman who retreats into Valium addiction when her young son is killed in an accident.
Yes, the idea of running threads through them all, but I realized today that it’s not my theme.
The protagonists in all my books begin by running, but that isn’t the story. The story takes place when they stop running – and turn to face whatever it is they’re running from.
I’m endlessly fascinated by people's bravery in confronting and slaying their demons.
I realized my theme is integrity.
What about you? What is your life’s theme?