Let’s be honest. Each one of us, if we’re telling the truth, wants to write something that leaves a lasting mark on this world.
Each of us, as a writer, has a story inside of us that needs to come out.
Each one of us has a story that we want to bring to life.
Each one of us has something to say.
Each one of us wants to say something that matters.
This is where the concept of a “theme” comes in. A theme, in short, is the lesson, moral, or a concept of a story. And as authors, especially Christian authors, the concept of a theme is absolutely essential to our stories. It’s the meat and depth of our novel. It’s the heart and soul of our prose.
In my experience and observations, a theme can come into the picture in really any stage of the planning process. For some people, it’s easiest to start with the theme and structure the storyline around it. For others, myself included, it’s easiest to come up with the plotline first and than zoom into the lesson that you want to teach. The order doesn’t matter so much as the lesson that you choose to teach through your story. No one else can choose it for you. It has to come from your own heart, passion, and experience. It has to be something universal and unique—something that will inspire your readers in their own real, day-to-day-life.
Personally, when I’m in the process of discovering my story’s themes, I do some soul searching—as I try to figure out what message I can convey through the storyline and what God has put on my heart to incorporate into my story. Oftentimes, I can even draw from my own life, as I think of things that I wish that I had known when I was younger. A theme, in short, can be anything from the importance of close friendships, to the problem with censorship, to the transforming power of faith in God.
According to an article on www.novel-writing-help.com/what-is-theme-,html, “Theme is the deeper layer of meaning running beneath the story’s surface. While the surface story entertains the readers, the theme helps them to reach a new understanding of some aspect of the human condition.”
Thus, while the story’s surface intention is to entertain, the story’s theme adds an extra, hidden dimension to a novel. It gives it depth, and helps us recognize things about ourselves and our world—much like how Jesus’ parable’s teach us important lessons about God and the world that we live in.
As humans, we’re all different, but we all experience many of the same experiences, hopes, and desires. Stories with strong themes capture this, and help us to see that we’re not alone. We find that other people have shared our same struggles and challenges, and have come out on the other side. When we delve deep into a novel’s theme, we often find that we’re not as alone as we think.
As Christians, we have a guiding source of truth, which is God and His Word. Through spending time with God in prayer and reading our Bible regularly, we can develop strong themes and guiding principles for our writing (and life!). Thus, if you’re writing a story, I’d highly encourage you to look to Scripture for inspiration about your story’s theme. Like with anything else, God’s Word is always our best place to start.
Some books that have gotten it right
Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Some movies that have gotten it right
Do You Believe?
How about you? What are your thoughts on creating a “theme” for your novel? Is there anything you’d like to add to this discussion? If so, please feel free to share it in the comments section below! Discussion is always encouraged here!😃