This week we get crafty again, talking about theme. What is it? How does it work with plot? Should you develop theme before, during, or after plot? And more…then we end with a writing prompt.




How do you define a stories theme? And should you start with a theme or let it develop naturally? We talk about how you can use the theme as a revelation, as well as how it connects readers to authors. Use theme as a layer of your story, balanced with the rest of your elements. And finally, Alida challenges us to write a story to a theme!

What we talked about:

How do you define your theme? (1:45)

Which comes first? Your theme or your plot? (3:28)

The difference between a surface theme and larger thematic elements. (7:45)

What about the hero’s journey? (8:33)

Theme as revelation. (9:23)

Theme is connected to your characters arc, and the emotional resonance you want for your reader. (10:55)

How theme’s can connect readers with authors. (12:44)

The job of the thematic layer of your story. (13:50)

How theme defines your book. (14:28)

What about short story collections based on a theme? (15:15)

Should you be able to boil your theme down to one word? (17:45)

Use theme as a writing prompt! (19:45)


Things we mentioned:

Star Wars 
Steven Pressfield 
The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler
Kung Fu Panda

Want more about these topics? Check out:

SWRT 062 Energizing Dialogue
SWRT 064 Story Collections

Have thoughts, questions, other examples? Join the conversation at the Story Works Writers Facebook group

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