Monday, May 19, 2014

What's Your Story Behind Your Book's Theme?

Book have themes. It's the human aspect of the writer peeking through the words. Writers are, after all, human - and humans have messages to send when they write.

But themes vary throughout every single novel. General themes are constant, of course, because they're, well, general. Yet even they clash.

Some themes are to stay strong in your beliefs and morals (such as for Luke in Star Wars when his father begged him to come to the Dark Side). Other themes are to be flexible in your beliefs and be open to change that is for your betterment (Crime and Punishment).

I did a research paper on something like this a while back where, basically, I had to trace how the author and his/her life influenced the character he/she created and why the character was created. Not surprisingly, the author's life had a big influence on the themes that pervaded the characters and the novel.

What I want to know is this: why have you picked your specific theme?

Of course, this is going to get personal, so I'll share first:

I just (re)added the "My Books" link to my blog so you can read the pitch for my book there, get a gist of what it's about.

The specific theme? The idea that those living on welfare are not loafers. The overarching theme? The fact that too few people seem to show empathy (empathy, not sympathy) for those who live grueling lives. That the general population operates on a 'just-world phenomenon', that the world is fair and those who live harsh lives somehow deserve it? That people who are born in poverty can just 'work harder' and succeed? Let me tell you for a fact that it is not the case at all. It makes me sick.

Yea, yea, I feel myself getting upset. But that's good. Because that's what talking about the theme of your novel should make you do. You want this message heard. Why?

For me, it's because I live in a very diverse community and while I have many well-to-do friends, I also have many poor friends. And they're all people I love and I can't understand how others could say such horrible stuff about them. I almost live in this bubble that keeps getting popped when I see how most of the world is outside of my town, their attitudes towards people that aren't as lucky as them.

And I did say I live in a diverse area. Some of these people that say such horrible things are my best friends. I still love them to death but I can't ever change them or convince them that spending some of their tax money towards welfare, education, and the community is more important than spending most of it for the military.

People are people are people. And yet the marginalized are looked at like this big mass of non-people.


I know. I just got very political (but I don't really call it political, more humanitarian, but whatever). And you see, I don't mind if you think in a different way. Hell, my absolute best friends don't think like I do. But it's this inability to accept that other people know best about their own situations that scares me.

Okay, so now I just spilled a whole crap-ton of personal info and whatnot. But I love  you all and I've gotten very comfortable (maybe too comfortable?) in this writerly community that I feel I can saw stuff without having people jump down my throats for it :)

I'm just sharing the story behind my theme. I can't expect you guys to get personal - and I can't convince you that this is a safe place - unless I share personal opinions and stories myself. After all, we're all storytellers. We all want to hear a good story :)


Why do you have your theme in your novel?

Oh, and this is NOT A DEBATE!!!! No debating welfare or whatever in the comments. Cuz that's not what this post is about and if you want to debate go to the comments sections of any Yahoo! article.


  1. I needed to tell a story about the struggles of a new adult that did not involve vampires or werewolves.

  2. It's nothing that gets me upset, but the theme of my series - love of a friend, love of a spouse, and love of a child.

  3. Great post!

    I love the idea that every story leaves a little piece behind in each person who reads it.

    I'm only 1/7 of the way through my current WIP, and it has yet to reveal a lot of its elements to me. The overarching theme seems to be strength and vengeance. In a dying world where you're expected to stay at home and cook meals, replenish the population, and cower in the face of monsters, my MC recognizes her own strength and ability and chooses to deviate from that path. It's emotional and dark, raw and realistic. That's what I enjoy reading.

    And you're right, the way I grew up has a lot to do with what I write. I was raised in a tiny town where people were plagued by their social status - the "I'll never be anything so I may as well get married at twenty and have three kids right away" ideal. I hate that way of thinking and worked hard to get away from it. And when I think about it, every one of my projects has featured that theme in some way. I wouldn't call myself a feminist, but I'm a big advocator of women being strong in and of themselves.

    If my book could inspire just one woman to stand strong on her own, that would be worth it.

  4. The overarching theme of my MS is tolerance and acceptance, of others as well as oneself. I am disheartened by the way so many still view other races, physical and social abilities, and how gay rights/marriage are being handled here and around the world. If you look past the story of one twelve year old girl, surrounded by fantastical beings, you will find my hope for each person and our world.

  5. Friendship is the center theme of my story. Survival another. A relationship with God a third. Accepting each other despite the handicaps, color of race, background is something I care greatly about and wish to thread through my stories.

  6. My book has a theme? I'll have to re-read it and figure it out.