on Fiction University:
Theme is one of the best plotting tools a writer has.
I’ve always been a plot-focused writer, so theme was something I never paid a lot of attention to when I was learning how to write. I didn’t think I needed it, because theme was for literary novels or stories with deep, meaningful messages, not for commercial fiction and good old-fashioned adventures.
Eventually, I realized that was total bunk.
Theme is a highly useful part of any novel, be it a light-hearted romp or a nail-biting adventure. It’s an element that gives greater meaning to the story and turns background fluff into substance.
Theme can tie individual pieces of a story together so they work on multiple levels. Theme allows descriptive details to resonate with a character’s mood, or lets a plot point become a mirror to an internal struggle. Theme makes everything in the story matter more.
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