On Themes

Recently I saw a video talking about themes in stories. It was an interesting one; very fast, very to the point without the filler that so many other videos throw in. This video got me thinking about what I write, but since I have nothing published I can not hold anything other than my personal thoughts on the subject.

Usually when I write I don’t think about the themes. I think about getting from point A to B and let things go on from there in terms of character growth, events, and so on. Themes just seem to appear in a subconscious way.

Example, the current story I am working on each character has their own theme. One wants redemption from a corrupted family name, another wants to right a wrong, another strives for order, which are all fine and dandy, but then again at a second glance it is not all fine and dandy since that is basically three themes for one story, not including the overall theme for the story which is… Well, who knows? The initial first draft that I put out for people to read called it anywhere from a deconstruction story, to an allegory on the War on Terror, to extremism versus moderation. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone thought of it as a feminist story since the main characters are female (spoiler: it is not supposed to be a feminist story).

The issue with these different takes is that it points to a failure of a unifying theme. It is essentially a narrative mess that has so many ideas thrown in that nobody knows what the story is about. That is kind of bad. No, scratch that. Really bad. If people don’t know what the story is about then the writer failed. Simple as that.

In these edits of Vigilance I am going for a more unified theme. Which, when you cut out pointless characters and plotlines it becomes a whole lot easier to see what the theme needs to be and how you can adjust the characters to be a better representation of said theme.

I already got an idea of what I want the unifying theme to be, and thankfully I don’t think it will require much tweaking. However, it was rather silly to not think of any theme while I wrote the first version, and even the plans I got for other stories didn’t really have unifying themes, so that was a huge blunder on my part.

I guess we can say that writing is fun, but if you don’t know what you are writing about you are going to confuse yourself and the audience, which is not good… Unless you’re J.J. Abrams and Richard Kelly, then confusing messes are a sign of genius.

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