Write Better, Right Now #18

Finding Your Story’s Thematic Statement

Write Better, Right Now is a weekly post helping writers understand deeper writing strategies to take their stories to the next level. For writers looking for open pitch calls, writing jobs, and challenges to grow their career and craft, check out 1-2-3 Publish!

Write Better, Right Now’s topics for May:


Last week, I defined what a thematic statement was. A thematic statement is the main driving statement behind your work. It can pose a question or directly state an idea that your story will prove as true in a variety of ways. We also did some exercises and exploration into how to dig it out of your story. But honestly, the topic is a bit bigger than those small mentions, so I wanted to dedicate a whole post to it.

Not having a thematic statement doesn’t make your work less or more or anything. But having a thematic statement will help you make important decisions throughout your writing and revising process.

But finding your thematic statement can be hard and there really isn’t a one size fits all. For some writers, their statement is their story seed. Other writers have to write and write and think about their story to figure out what their thematic statement is. And a lot of writers are somewhere in-between.


Techniques

While having a thematic statement isn’t a requirement for a great story, it is helpful and impactful to the story writing and generating process. Since a thematic statement is the message or main driving statement behind your story, it can be used to determine how you design your characters, progress your story, and even how to develop the world or figure out the tone and atmosphere.

I like to come up with my thematic statement before starting to write my story because its really helpful at getting me in the right head space for what I want to write. While themes are abstract and can be numourous per story, a thematic statement plays throughout the whole story on multiple levels.

But how exactly do you find your story’s thematic statement?

The easest way to find your story’s thematic statement is by considering what you want to do with your story. Think beyond writing a good story. What are you actually setting out to say or do with your story to make it good? Is your cool story about a happy memory you had with a family member? Then dig deeper into the emotion and try to see if you can wrangle up a statement that touches on the heart of your story.

Another great way of figuring out your thematic statement is by thinking of it like a pitch. Have you ever tried to tell your friend about a story you’re writing or an idea you have? But all you get out is a bunch of statements or ideas about the emotions and ideas of your story—your thematic statement is most likely buried in there.

If you want to have a thematic statement before you start to write to guide you through your drafting process, create a statement you want to explore. Starting with a thematic statement allows you the freedom to come up with a topic and idea you want to explore through your characters, setting, and events.

Finding your thematic statement after you’ve finished writing is a bit harder. Read through your draft and jot down any ideas or statements you see coming up throughout your story. Does your main character suffer an awful lot? Maybe your statement is about how pain affects us as people. Treat your work like someone else’s story and analyze the events you’ve written for what they are saying about the world and people in your story.


Exercise

Take a current work in progress and write out several sentences finishing these two statements:

  1. ‘My story is about…’
  2. ‘With my story, I’m trying to explore…’

Except don’t focus on the characters or events. Instead, examine the themes, emotions, and heart of your story.


*I’m going to start bringing these resource sections back. Sorry I stopped for a bit!

Resources

  1. 20 Powerful Thematic Statement Examples
  2. What is a Thematic Statement (and How to Write One)
  3. How to Write a Clear & Meaningful Theme Statement
  4. Thematic Statement Writing Tips

Write Better, Right Now’s topics from April:


If you were able to learn something new today, consider subscribing below to At Home Pro Writers to continue getting writing advicelinks to open pitch callsultimate writing guides, and more. Or check out the writing and editing masterclasses I offer!

Please don’t forget to leave a comment and tell me your thoughts on thematic statements and finding them in your work. Or your struggle areas with them in your writing! I’d also love to know how you made out with the exercise. Catch you next week for our Write Better, Right Now posts on digging into your story’s themes.

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