Theme: By Larry Brooks

A new book arrived in the mail Saturday, and I couldn’t help but dive in. It’s Story Engineering: Mastering the Six Core Competencies of Successful Writing by Larry Brooks. I was swimming along fantastically until I got to the third core competency, theme.

I’ll admit, abstract ideas are tough for me. I’m a math/music type of person. If it’s tangible, touchable, tastable, I can grasp it. But the chapter on theme was wibbly wobbly. My brain went *huh*and then shut down, refusing to try it again.

Since Mr. Brooks says theme is necessary for Successful Writing, I figured I should comprehend this nebulous monstrosity. So I went to my library, grabbed all my craft-of-writing books that had a section on theme, and started reading. Over the next several posts, I’ll share what I’ve discovered in the hopes that in explaining it all to you, my three loyal blog readers, I might actually figure some of it out for myself.

I’ll start with the definition offered by Mr. Brooks. “Theme is what our story means. How it relates to reality and life in general… Theme is the relevance of your story to life.”

Sounds simple, but I didn’t quite get it. My story has meaning? It relates to life in general? It’s relevant? I thought it was just a great mystery with plenty of suspense, a little romance, and a lot of Greek culture. How could I NOT know my story meant something? And if it does mean something, WHAT, exactly, does it mean? I had to keep reading.

I came to this statement: “Theme is life itself, as manifested in our stories, as seen through our characters, and as experienced through our plots…Theme is how you touch your readers.” So there’s something of ME in the story to impart to the reader. Not just my character, my plot, my voice and style. It’s got my viewpoint. My values. Me.

Heady stuff. Stay tuned for more exciting revelations into the mystery of Theme.

-Sonja

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