Story Element # 6: Theme

The next element of fiction or author tool we will discuss is Theme. Read our full guide on Theme here. 

What is the definition of “Theme” as an Element of Fiction?

What is the definition of Theme? The theme is what your story is about. The central idea that you are trying to convey your story.

Be careful not to confuse theme with the plot. The plot is the arrangement of what happens in a story, while the theme is what it’s about.

The theme in fiction is often never expressly defined, rather the reader is asked to understand the theme from the characters and the events of a story.

A story’s characters, plots, symbols, setting, and all other elements work to serve the theme when done right.

Understanding your novel’s theme is crucial if you are trying to have continuity and meaning behind your work.

Why is the “Theme” element important?

The theme is what allows an author to write a story that goes beyond events and characters on a page but makes a statement about life itself.

Themes are universal in that they have understandable meaning beyond the story. As a writer, you want to make sure that you keep your theme top of mind but in the background of your writing, to keep from coming of didactic or preachy.

Think of your theme as subtly making a statement through a thousand little whispers that happen throughout your novel. Individually they can’t stand alone or maybe even be heard, but together they make a statement.

What can a writer accomplish by mastering the use of Theme?

Through the use of a theme, we can tackle some of the worlds biggest subjects. It is our chance to give a voice to the central idea that drives our novel.

This is truly an art when we do this right the reader won’t feel like they were explicitly given any commentary on the subject but have a clear understanding of what the theme was.

Next Story Element: Tone