What’s in a Theme

No, I’m not talking about the theme music, but rather what your story’s about. Last month I introduced the idea of themes as well as a random way to select a theme from a list of 20. In this article I’m taking my two randomly selected themes and trying to come up with some specifics about the themes.

Random Themes

I rolled DESPAIR and REGRET from my chart. These two may be considered a little on the easy side, as they work together very well. Yet, when you sit down and consider that I’m going to have to weave each of these themes throughout my story, it might get a little interesting, if not a little depressing.


Speaking of themes, I used my custom Scrivener Theme based on my 70 Days Until Your Screenplay Workshop I created a couple of years ago. There have been some modifications made to suit the current project. Under DAY 1 – Theme, I started coming up with everything I could think about in an hour about both despair and regret, starting with the definition of each. I felt it would be best to include the definitions in order to ensure that I fully understand each of the emotions.

An hour later I had come up with this list of thoughts. Feel free to return to this and add to it with additional ideas come to mind. The longer the list the easier the next step in the process is going to be. Even if you’re writing in a specific genre, don’t keep your ideas trapped in that genre. Some ideas can be modified to fit a genre while other ideas can be saved and may appear in another story you may write six years from now.

These are the themes that will be intertwined throughout your story. Every character will have one reason or another to deal with at least one of these emotions. Maybe my villain will be living with regret that drives his actions while the love interest may be living in despair until the Hero reaches out. Don’t make these themes the central part of each character, but at some point make sure that each major characters feels at least one of them.

Next time we’ll start looking at outlining.

– Steve


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