Have you ever noticed a strange little setting, time, action, attitude, emotion, or word that continually pops up within your writing? Some little thing that you were not even aware that you were writing? Well, that little something is your theme. Yes, that is right. Your theme. It is just one more characteristic that makes your writing uniquely yours.
I was never completely aware that my theme existed. There is the genre of writing that I gravitate towards, my voice, my style, and my sick obsession with grotesque details. Yes, all those parts make my writing uniquely mine, but there is one obtrusive component, which I did not see, that makes up my uniqueness. My theme.
The realization that I have a theme smacked me in the face a couple weeks ago as I was writing a new horror short fiction. I was in the throes of creating an epic death scene where a husband lovingly smothers his wife’s face with a pillow, when suddenly – I drew a blank right before hubby smashes the pillow upon his wife’s porcelain face. No matter how hard I pounded at the keys or brainstormed, I could not get this scene written without it coming off sounding like an onslaught of garbage. Death scenes are scenes that I shamefully admit I am good at writing. But this particular atrocity was making my brain hemorrhage. For some unbeknownst reason, I struggled to write this poor woman’s murder scene.
Then it dawned on me.
I am struggling to write this scene because I have never written this kind of death scene before. This is a scene where a woman is being murdered by her husband. It is outside the typical ways of death that transpires upon my poor characters: Males die by an external force and women die by an internal force. This, my dears, is my theme.
Writing a scene where a woman dies by the hands of an external force is one that I struggle to finish – even to this day. My story still sits unfinished, because I cannot capture this scene correctly. It is too quick, emotionless, and just plain blah.
But you know what? When I finally finish it, I will grow from the struggling experience. Every day that I return to revise that scene, it grows a little bit better along with my writing.
And that, kiddies, is the moral of this post today: Have your theme. Realize your theme. Embrace your theme. Step outside your theme.
The struggle to take that giant step outside of your box is one worth taking. You will grow and your talent will shine even brighter.
Go ahead; take that first step in a new direction. I promise you will have no regrets.
Know your theme? Add it to the comment box below. We at The Sarcastic Muse would love to hear about your little quirk!
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I write a lot of characters who go from insecurity to inner strength and I tell a lot of coming of age stories. I’d say my theme is the process of going from who you think you are to who you are becoming.
My theme tends to be redemption or closure. My characters have to overcome themselves first — their internal demons — before they can overcome external forces.