Questions tagged [theme]

'Theme' refers to a message being conveyed to the reader by the author, through a piece of creative writing, usually a novel.

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Does anti-theme exist, as in opposition to the main theme of a story?

I've heard quite a lot that a story must have a theme, summarized as a sentence that states something as being true; I've also heard (or read) that a story's theme is usually arrived (or not) at by ...
Fallen Empire's user avatar
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Unsure how to go about referencing/paying homage to a thematically similar text

I'm currently on the fourth draft of my novel and am at the stage at last of getting to go sentence-to-sentence and approach things on quite a molecular level. My book is a sci-fi reimagining of the ...
Alexander Marshall's user avatar
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How to find or create a mantra or guiding quote for a character?

I'm in the process of developing a character for a story right now, and I want to come up with some sort of mantra or repeatable quote the character can repeat to themselves over the course of the ...
Unamused Waffle's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
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When should I use the setting to express the motif, and when should I use characters, plot events to do it?

I'm currently still at the early stage of writing, and I may be facing too much freedom than what is helpful. One of the results of that is: I'm very uncertain of when should I use the story setting ...
rurirariru's user avatar
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How do you turn a protagonist's desire to get revenge on an antagonist without killing the antagonist into a quantifiable and tangible goal?

I'm writing a story inspired by the 2010 South Korean movie called I Saw the Devil. The movie is about a secret service agent called Kim Soo-Hyun who enacts his revenge on a serial killer called Jang ...
Jude Zambarakji's user avatar
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Is it always a mistake to reinforce the theme at the end of a story in a didactic way?

One mistake people can make when reinforcing the theme in their story is being too didactic. If the theme is forced upon the reader or becomes overly explicit, it can feel preachy and detract from the ...
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When does a story benefit from or is made better by not having a central theme?

On online forums, I often see the argument that not every story needs a theme. This is the flip side version of the question of when a story needs a theme. I felt that those arguing that some stories ...
Jude Zambarakji's user avatar
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How do you use humor without detracting from the seriousness of a story?

How do you use humor without detracting from the seriousness of a story? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgAK-4kPTb8 Parasite uses a lot of comedic relief throughout the movie without ultimately ...
Sayaman's user avatar
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Are there any science fiction books (or historical fiction) which don't have specific "main characters", which talks in generalities instead?

I am considering how to write a "fiction" book about the far distant past (millions of years ago), like some sort of historical or science fiction book. I'm not sure if there is a specific ...
Lance's user avatar
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How do you clue in your readers as to what your theme is, especially when the theme is morally wrong?

How do you clue in your readers as to what your theme is, especially when the theme is morally wrong? Let's say your theme is: Survival is the most important thing, and to survive you must be willing ...
Sayaman's user avatar
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How do I decide my characters' relationships?

When I want to make character relationships, I include the theme of family/siblings, be it in a good or bad relationship. I want to use it to help deepen the characters and the plot. I have trouble ...
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Could you keep writing without knowing what's the theme?

Now before you give me the answer 'That is basically impossible' I would like to explain my situation. What I learn from school is that a theme is a lesson or the main idea to the reader. That is the ...
Artemis Silver's user avatar
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Can you write about a taboo topic without creating a poor image of yourself as a writer?

I am thinking of writing a character that possesses the psychological phenomenon of erotophonophilia (or lust murder, or sexual sadism as it is more commonly known). I am making sure to do my research ...
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Double lies as sources of conflict in a single arc

My protagonist lives with a deep lie that causes internal conflict and pain throughout the story but it basically cannot fuel any struggle to the external plot. This subconsciously motivates the ...
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How do I introduce dark themes?

My story involves a superhuman organization that aims to overthrow the main government, through any means necessary. This involves murder and some rather gruesome deaths. Additionally, there might be ...
overlord's user avatar
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Is there a "right" way to interpret a novel? If so, how do we make sure our novel is interpreted correctly?

Is there a "right" way to interpret a novel? If so, how do we make sure our novel is interpreted correctly? I have been told that there's no way of interpreting the true meaning of a book written by ...
Sayaman's user avatar
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How to write a sincerely religious protagonist without preaching or affirming or judging their worldview?

I am writing a book in which one of my main characters is a devout Catholic. His struggles with reconciling his religion and his experiences in life are crucial to his character and I'd like to ...
wordsworth's user avatar
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Balancing setting, theme, and character arcs: how to deal with a setting that carries emotional weight but is left behind?

When writing a story, how do you find a good balance between the significance of different elements, such as plot, themes, and bold settings and characters, and the character arcs? In my case I have ...
wordsworth's user avatar
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The who, when and where of what has been written

Question: Is there a resource that categorizes existing fiction works by themes based on the authors' demographics (e.g. gender, age, historical period, geographical location, etc...)? For instance, ...
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Picking a theme as a discovery writer

When I write I often don't have any great meaningful moral to share. I don't have a message that I want to convey to the reader. I often don't write about the nature of the battle between good and ...
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Do I really need to have a message in a novel to appeal to readers?

I am in the process of the writing a book. It is not my first attempt. My goals for the book are: Naturally, appeal to my target audience and with work and luck, sell well. Invoke the same emotions, ...
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3 votes
5 answers
101 views

Does success imply validation and agreement?

When I write I always want to deliver a message. Not matter what I'm writing I ultimately have something important (to me,) to say. For that reason I try to be very careful about how I deliver certain ...
Summer's user avatar
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What should tie a collection of short-stories together?

Short-stories are a nice format to write. If you have been an aspiring writer for at least one year, it's quite probabile that you've got at least three short stories drafted out, sitting in some ...
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Fictional races and fictional racism

Possibly related questions: Should I add racism in my book's world or have my world have no racism? Is accurate human nature required for good writing, even in fantasy scenarios, or with ...
Liquid's user avatar
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7 votes
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Crossing the line from Middle-Grade to Young-Adult

I would like to followup on this excellent question which outlined differences among works for children, middle-grade, and young-adult. What are some clear differences in theme/story between children&...
Cyn's user avatar
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How can I portray body horror and still be sensitive to people with disabilities?

Building on my answer in Proven psychological or scientific means of scaring people?, I'm working on a universal horror-theme structure for a branching-narrative series with an occult detective. I won'...
wetcircuit's user avatar
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13 votes
15 answers
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Story that's too depressing?

(Warning, mention of sexual abuse!!) In the near future where humans have polluted and radiated the Earth so much that animals and plants have been going extinct at alarming rates and humans ...
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1 vote
1 answer
347 views

Too much death? [closed]

(This is just an idea for an ending to a post-apocalyptic novel that I'm writing. I've asked other questions about this story before.) In a post-apocalyptic world, my MC Eris and others like her ...
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9 votes
4 answers
992 views

Struggling with the number of themes in my work

So, I'm a big picture person. What I like best, in life, and when I write, is bringing a lot of very different elements together. But as a result, both my fiction and non-fiction tend to be ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
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26 votes
9 answers
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What do you do when your message could be dangerous?

I've long believed that for a novel (or any kind of fiction) to have a certain weight or power behind it, there must be a message. I've been writing this why for many years, and it's lent my fiction ...
Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron's user avatar
14 votes
6 answers
3k views

Should I focus on ideas which the market enjoys, or ideas which I enjoy?

Two approaches to writing: Writing about ideas that are currently 'hot' in the market (a bit like when the Hunger Games came out, many authors quickly released books which incorporated the same set ...
Adi219's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
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Creative Non-Fiction - Writing without Plot, Story, Characters, or Ending

I've just started reading Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby and it strikes me, when reading about his obsession with Arsenal that I too have an obsession - with words. I would like to write a creative non-...
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7 votes
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How do I include a powerful theme in my story without making it blatantly obvious? [duplicate]

I want to have an underlying message in my writing but I really don't want it to come across as annoying or too preachy. Thanks!
Nahan 's user avatar
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3 votes
4 answers
183 views

How far underneath the surface is the message of a story?

It seems like in some stories, you can feel the theme pervading through every element. In other stories, you don't know what you're reading about until the very last line. I'd guess I lean on the ...
jack gallerdude galler's user avatar
2 votes
4 answers
959 views

Finding a thematic setting

Allow me to explain what I mean by 'thematic setting'. I'm talking about a setting which, simply by having the story located in it, shows the reader something: ideally a message - or theme - that you ...
Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron's user avatar
4 votes
5 answers
2k views

How can you deal with the darker themes of a grimdark setting without being edgy?

Many grimdark settings focus on the darker aspects of human nature (war, murder, rape, etc). Some portray this to be edgy in order to paint the world as dark or mature without reason. An example would ...
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3 votes
3 answers
203 views

"just telling the tale" - does this work?

I know (I think) many stories that have a point they want to present to the audience. However, I wanted to focus on the excitement of the adventure first. The result always seems to devolve into a ...
user16973's user avatar
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2 votes
4 answers
338 views

How can I make the final realisation less depressing?

Most stories carry some element of realisation. Whether that realisation is the best sort of fireball for defeating the Dark Overlord, or how I can lessen my pride to make my marriage work, the ...
Daron's user avatar
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11 votes
7 answers
8k views

Does a story necessarily need a theme?

I'm writing a short story From what I understand, the theme is the message that I want to send across. Akin to Beauty and the Beast's "Don't judge a book by its cover" theme, or "Opposites attract." ...
Dylan Beck's user avatar
2 votes
4 answers
563 views

Is thematic character naming off putting?

Is naming a character to go with a theme or setting of a novel off-putting for the reader? Does this pull them out of the story? For example: A character named digit in a cyberpunk future or one named ...
Lindsey Bee's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
1k views

What are general strategies for making the reader uncomfortable with something they might not naturally be uncomfortable with?

I'm working on a prose that depicts a sexual act that I feel readers should be uncomfortable with. I'll spare you the details, but the short version is that the main character is turned on by a ...
Jason Baker's user avatar
9 votes
3 answers
1k views

Can a novel without any death be taken seriously?

I was asking myself this question while writing a novel that don't imply any death or even really dramatic event ! The novel tells about the main character's strugglings and conflictuous relationships,...
Koblenz's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
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Various sci-fi themes [closed]

What are some specific sci-fi themes I could use to structure my story? I have some parts about a sci-fi story here and there written down but I can't put them in the bigger picture. What I know for ...
user1584421's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
1k views

How to hack Scrivener's appearance or add binder to full screen composition mode?

I really enjoy using Scrivener to write. I don't actually use all of its features -- in truth, I would be satisfied if the program only offered its full screen composition mode plus the binder on the ...
wet-raft's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
137 views

Strategy, tactics, and resources to refine the niche and title for a self-help book

Am trying to do due diligence to find the niche for a self-help book. I "get" the general idea of whether to piggyback or avoid popular titles, being exquisitely specific about your reader, and ...
RJo's user avatar
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1 answer
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Motif, or something else? [closed]

The "Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allen Poe greatly touches upon the conflict between the wealthy and the poor, with one of Poe's purposes of writing being to arise sympathy and possibly guilt ...
StopReadingThisUsername's user avatar
4 votes
4 answers
850 views

How to Develop a Theme Before Writing a Novel

I've given some thought to this, and I decided that I want to either make or find a theme to my fantasy novel before I really get into it (as I have started a couple pages already). I did some ...
Keychain1's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
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Is BDSM becoming mainstream?

Seems that in the last decade there is more and more stories with a BDSM arc. For instance: The Fifty Shades series The Sword of Truth series The Black Dagger Brotherhood series I remember when I ...
Reed -SE is a Fish on Dry Land's user avatar
3 votes
6 answers
455 views

Where does the power granted by a theme come from?

A novel that has a theme - that is, something to say, a message - has a weight to it that a novel without a theme cannot achieve. I'm sure there are those that might disagree with this, but I believe ...
Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron's user avatar
14 votes
10 answers
4k views

How can I have my characters do bad things, without sending the wrong message?

I am writing a novel in which characters do bad things to one another. For example, I have recently been struggling over a scene of domestic violence. Essentially, a husband hits his wife, after the ...
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