What’s your theme? Otherwise known as: Something that’s bothered me for a long time.

Does your life have a theme? Because mine doesn’t. I don’t know anyone who’s life is so simple, so cut and dry, it can be summed up by a simple word or phrase. Even when talking about a specific moment or incident in life, there’s no theme. There is what happened. There are the facts. Why does everything have to have some deep underlying, cloak and dagger, hidden meaning? Why can’t something be taken at face value and deemed valuable for what it is, rather than what someone else thinks it ought to be? Maybe the point isn’t ‘what is this person not saying that I have to figure out’. Maybe the point is ‘something happened and the consequences are significant’.

When I read I don’t want something I have to analyze and stew over to get the full meaning. I want something I want to think about because the writer wrote it in such a manner that the characters were engaging, realistic, flawed and relatable despite the gap between my experiences and theirs.

My life doesn’t have a theme, so why should my characters’? If a story isn’t worth reading without a theme, then why do people force other’s to listen to their inane anecdotes that don’t mean anything? It’s all subjective anyway, depending on the person who reads it.

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4 Responses to “What’s your theme? Otherwise known as: Something that’s bothered me for a long time.”

  1. I completely agree! I hated high school English for that reason, because the teachers always had you write down all the themes and symbols and I could care less.

    I liked what JK Rowling said. Reading is a journey between the author and the reader. So even though you and I might read the same book, we can draw from it differently. That’s why I hate making the book just into themes and symbols. To me, that weakens a book. Makes it too simplistic. I love that JR Tolkien refused to have any symbol or theme applied to his books. So I say forget about the themes. Just make a character that you care about, and to a lesser degree, help the reader to understand why they want to care about that character. BTW I love your characters in your stories.

  2. Julie Mangan Says:

    Laura, there’s a reason that I love you!

  3. You can tell yourself the sky is green all you want, but it’s still blue.

    Newflash (but not in a snarky way): Real life is not the same thing as literature.

    That is cool if you don’t want to have themes in your writing, but all good literature has it, whether you understand why or not.

    Constructive criticism is meant to be constructive. If someone said it, someone thought it as they read your stuff for you, and if it is unappreciated, someone might not bother in the future. If someone said it, someone meant they thought your writing was worth taking to the next level. Someone didn’t mean they hated you and your writing sucks, because it doesn’t.

    A theme helps guide your reader, and helps you as a writer compose your piece. It’s a roadmap and something to fall back on when you get writer’s block. Personally, I have a difficult time understanding writing that doesn’t at least loosely adhere to one or more themes. Themes come out whether you intend them to or not, and you, as a writer, have to to control them–don’t let them control you, you’re too good of a writer for that.

    Themes, metaphors, allegories, similies, motifs, etc. are tools of the writer in addition to words. They help convey your message. And if you don’t have a message, why write? If you don’t know how to use them or why you should, learn. Don’t just go with your knee jerk reaction that they are stupid and confusing and you are above using them.

    Finally, I think if you look at your life, you will see that it does have a theme.

    • Julie Mangan Says:

      Misty, I get the impression you took this personally. I don’t know why. It’s apparent from your vehemence that you’re emotionally charged. But it’s just my opinion on a topic. Obviously yours is different and that’s fine with me. I could get into a long argument with you about why you’re wrong, as you did with me. But frankly, I’m happy to let you have your opinion. You’re down with themes. That’s great. I’m not, and never once as I read your books did I think, “wow, Misty’s theme’s really pulled that together for me. I’d have been lost without them.’ Because I didn’t need to. I understood just fine without over analyzing it.
      Anyway, I’m sorry you found this so offensive. It wasn’t meant towards you in any way.

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