Perhaps of all things a writer must deal with, Theme is the most elusive. I daresay many of the books I’ve read recently I’d be hard pressed to tell you what the book’s theme was about. Yet the classics are what they are because of theme. They say something. And long after the book has ended, the theme lingers.
Theme is not a moral nor a lesson. As writers, our job is not tell parables or preach to our readers. Rather we make statements, identifying issues, illuminating life. Right—wrong. Rich—poor. Majority—minority. Does not matter where it comes from, but say something that makes your reader go “aha!”
When I wrote Penelope and The Birthday Curse, I took a long look at what I was saying. I finally realized the theme: finding identity. Armed with that knowledge, I knew what underlay everything that Penelope did. Despite her mother’s efforts, she was defining who shewas.
In your writing, ask what am I saying here? What is my theme?
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