The theme helps focus the story and what you want the readers to learn. Without a theme to the story there is no reason for the reader to follow the story. There is nothing a reader can take away from the story.
We share stories with each other as a way to learn, to become better. Themes in stories are what teach us what we didn’t know before. They become the foundation of the book and purpose for the main character to keep moving forward. Themes teach us to survive.
All of the characters in your story are striving for the same goal, the same theme in your story.
The protagonist is the character your readers want to win, the character to show the importance of the theme. The side characters also need to get in on the theme’s action, whether they are helping or hindering the main character, each of them are showing the importance of the theme throughout your story. Even the antagonist has the theme in mind, even if twisted in the wrong direction and the antagonist tries to use it to their advantage.
Let’s look at some examples:
Theme: You only win as a team.
This is a great theme because it forces your characters to start working as a team, once they do they win!
Protagonist’s POV: This theme can be especially interesting for your protagonist especially if they have never worked in a team or hate teams. This already brings conflict to the story and can build to an exciting climax as this individualistic character realizes toward the end, the only way to win is with the team.
Side Character’s POV: This theme should be expressed through all the side characters in your story. The guardian can express the importance of having a team. The love interest can show an interest only in someone who gets along with others. The sister can constantly be asking to be a part of the team. And so many others. Each character can bring a unique aspect to the theme of teams and in the end teach the reader why the theme is so important.
Antagonist’s POV: In the beginning of your story the antagonist already knows that teams will win in the end. So from the beginning your antagonist is building a team while tearing the protagonist’s team apart.
Theme: Love conquers all.
This has to be my favorite theme! It reaches so many of us on an emotional level. After all, who doesn’t want the person we want to love us back and win in the end!
Protagonist’s POV: Of course we want the main character to win at love! Who doesn’t love a story where love wins! But don’t forget to through the main character into situations where the readers aren’t sure whether or not love will win. Keep the readers guessing.
Side Character POVs: Love conquers all can be expressed through other characters in the story as well. The parent character shows they already found love and believes everyone will find a soulmate. A best friend can have his heart-broken but realize that someone out there will treat their heart better. Even a bully can start falling in love and maybe even punches the dorks arm because the bully likes the dork. In the end keep showing that love can win, especially in the side characters too.
Antagonist’s POV: Love could be is why the antagonist is created. Maybe the love interest is the same for the protagonist and antagonist. They are both fighting to win the heart of the love interest, that’s why the two of them are enemies. Love can kill the closest of friendships.
When I looked at theme as part of all characters I found my writing to come much easier. I found ways to weave the theme through different aspects of the plot and give each my characters more dynamic as they all are trying for the theme. Discovering the theme of the story at the beginning makes it much easier to write the story and give it depth with subplots and twists where characters aren’t getting what they want.
Another interesting fact about themes is many authors have one theme through all of their books. This doesn’t make it the same story told over and over but allows the author to show different ways, different characters, and different endings that express the same theme. Themes are that diverse.
What are your thoughts? Did this article help you? Are you looking for ways to start weaving the theme throughout all your characters and plot? What are some of your themes and how were you able to give them to all your different characters?