Write Better, Right Now #20

Enhancing Your Themes and 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:


While themes and thematic statements crop up throughout our stories, we can consciously weave them into our work to drive the desired effects in our readers. Once we make the choice of what themes and what thematic statement we want to write with, we can start layering them into our works, enhancing both our stories and our connection to them.

For many writers, they think themes and thematic statements can only work on the plot or character level. They don’t realize themes and thematic statements can be added to every layer of their story. You can enhance your themes and thematic statements on the micro-level in your words and sentences and on the macro level by lacing them through your scenes, structures, and characters.

Let’s dive into it more below!


Techniques

In the past three tutorials on themes and thematic statements, we got into how to enhance themes just a little. But let’s explore it more in-depth. Once you as a writer have a handle on what themes and thematic statement you are working with in your work, it’s up to you how best to showcase them throughout the story. And the only way to do that is by knowing your story and characters.

Knowing your story and characters goes deep past the surface and into the gritty underbelly of what drives both your characters and the story they are in. Why this story with these themes? How are your characters grappling or living with your thematic statement? In what ways are you supporting both with the words you choose and how you structured your story? These are some of the base questions you should ask yourself as you develop and revise your story.

While you can use your themes and thematic statement to shape and design your characters, you can also use them when deciding how your characters should interact and speak. If your themes are justice, friendship, and family and your thematic statement is ‘you never betray family,’ then you could create a strong family dynamic and a strong friend group that can be pitted against each other. You can also connect every metaphor and figurative language you use to make references to trust, loyalty, and friendship.

You can also make each scene with the family followed by a scene with the friend group so the audience feels the pull back and forth of loyalty. If you’re writing a longer work, you can even give each chapter or section title a name that strikes at the truth of your thematic statement.

You can enhance your themes and thematic statement through:

  • the words you choose
  • how you structure your scenes and story
  • the form you choose to tell your story through
  • your characters names
  • the professions or institutions your characters work in or with
  • the settings where your scenes take place
  • the metaphors and similes you use
  • the relationships your characters have
  • how the story progresses

You can even enhance your themes and thematic statement by better connecting them to each other. Sometimes writers will come up with themes that don’t really align or have anything to do with their thematic statement and vice versa. This creates a story with a lot going on and no real focal point. Take a look at your themes and thematic statement to see what connections you can make between the two. If you can’t make connections, consider changing either your themes or thematic statements.


Exercise

Take a recently completed work in progress. It doesn’t have to be one you want to sell or anything, but make it one that you’re sure you have a handle on the story and its thematic statement and themes. If you don’t, go back over the last couple of weeks’ exercises and discover your themes and thematic statement.

With your story’s themes and thematic statements clearly defined, go through your story (line by line, scene by scene, metaphor by metaphor) and see ways you can connect the words used and how they are used to your story’s themes and thematic statements. Maybe a scene could be set in a different location to heighten the theme of love being a cure for everything.

Be creative and imaginative. Be daring and evocative. Try and layer in elements and references to your themes and thematic statement to create a sense of depth and connectivity to your story.


Resources

  1. 4 Ways to Bring Out Themes in Your Stories
  2. How to Write Your Story’s Themes and Thematic Statement
  3. Developing Themes in Your Stories DIYMFA Series

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 enhancing themes and thematic statements. 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 time for our Write Better, Right Now posts on—well, I’m not sure yet! I’ll be taking a small break from these posts to dig into what topics would best serve my readers. If you have suggestions, please drop some topics in the comments you’d like me to dig into.

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