Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How Do I Find My Theme? Part Two

Happy Wednesday, my writing friends, 

Now that we know what a theme is—the overarching essence of a story that explores truth without preaching—how do we find a theme that fits?

Multitude of Choices
Just about any theme imagineable has been put into books: the beauty of simplicity, betrayal, forgiveness, fear of failure, coming of age, loneliness, honor, sacrifice, reunion, freedom, temptation… Here’s a website with a huge list of themes. It’s fun to sample a few, see if any feel like a fit. Which ones create a spark that could work for my story?

What’s Your Theme?
Then it’s time to go deep. For a theme to resonate in my stories, I need to know what I’m passionate about. So far my books’ themes have been, finding our true home, overcoming guilt, and trusting Jesus above all else. Yep, each of these stirs me. Each theme represents a truth I care about.

This is when themes start to congeal into real possibilities. I ask myself what one message do I long to share to a hurting world? Or what issue captures my imagination, enticing me to dive in? What makes me cry or stand on a soapbox or rejoice? 

Now, I’ve got something to work with. But I keep these passions in the background, not settling on one just yet. First, the most important point.

Ask Your Character
Picture me, sitting at my computer but not typing. I’m staring off into space imagining Ellie (from LFY in Glacier Bay). Ellie’s details take shape—hair, eyes, strengths, skills. Finally I come to her flaws. “Ellie, why do you care what those people think of you? You’re trying to mold yourself into what they want, not what Christ wants. Oh, Ellie, what am I going to do with you?”

Hidden in that little heart to heart lies the theme. Do you see it? Just switch up fatal flaw. Ellie’s fatal flaw is caring too much about what others think. The theme is trusting in Jesus above all else. Isn’t that fun?

And even more exciting, this theme came out because it’s a part of who I am. It flowed from my own inner struggles smack dab into poor Ellie's life. 

These steps have helped me, how do you find your theme? And I loved hearing about your favorite themes in books and movies last week, feel free to keep that going. I'd love to hear! 

Tune in next week for part three about how to integrate theme into our stories. It'll be fun!

God bless and happy writing, 



  1. Great post, O! This came exactly when I needed it. And I was looking for that webpage earlier this week. Thank you so much!

    1. Glad it helped! I love it when I'm stumped and then the answer pops up. God is faithful that way!

  2. Thanks for sharing the theme website, Ocieanna. I bookmarked it for future reference. :-)


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