The theme of a story doesn’t always become clear to a writer until the story is written and revised (and often, ready by others and discussed).
Today, however, we’re going to turn that on its head.
The theme can be summed up as ‘the moral of the tale’, or a proverb, or the overarching lesson in a fable. Let’s take a well-worn proverb and construct a new story to illustrate it.
Choose A Theme And Write A Story That Illustrates It
- The danger with starting theme-first is that stories can get preachy. Remember to base your story firmly in the character (unless you’re being intentionally experimental).
- There’s no need to explicitly quote the moral or proverb you based your story on.
- Try to go wa-ay beyond the first idea suggested by the theme/proverb you pick (no frogs carrying scorpions across rivers, please). Dig deep for a different idea. Try lots before you settle on one.
- Use the theme less as a lesson for the reader and more as a guidepost to keep you on the right track as you write.
- Don’t think I’m telling you to start theme-first with every story you write. Use this as an experiment to see what happens, what changes, when you start writing with a fixed theme in place.
- If the theme is constraining your story too much, throw it out and follow the story where it wants to go (post about this in the comments or the community, if it happens. I’d be interested.)
4 thoughts on “[Writing Prompt] From Scene To Theme”
This didn’t turn out the way I was hoping to incorporate the theme… but hey, it’s something : )
Oops, I’ve been writing and posting stories to my blog, and posting to my Facebook. But neglecting to post here. Here’s a bit of catchup:
May 8: http://guptacarlsonshortstories.blogspot.com/2014/05/reciprocal-care.html
May 9: http://guptacarlsonshortstories.blogspot.com/2014/05/emergencies.html
May 10: http://guptacarlsonshortstories.blogspot.com/2014/05/cycles-of-food.html
Excellent prompt!! This is something I’ve been trying to work on with my stories in general — and that proverb list thing was super helpful. I’ve been wanting to give my stories more depth and layers and possible meaning, so yay! 🙂
I didn’t write to this one today, but must remember to come back to it.