Narrative Theme

When you read a story, does your teacher ask, “What’s the theme?  What’s the author’s message?” And you think (yes, you do) what’s the big deal?  Can’t I just read the story and enjoy it?  Of course you can.  You should also, though, understand what the author is trying to tell you.

The theme of the story is general.  Think of a one-word story description such as: perseverance, honesty, family, greed, or friendship.  Now think about the author’s message.  What is the author trying to tell you about the theme?  For example, if the theme is honesty is the author saying, “Honesty is the best policy” or “Lie to get what you want?”  Those are very different stories.

So, when you plan to write a story, plan the theme and message first.  It will give you a direction to take your story and a reason to write it.   For example, if you want to write an adventure story, maybe the theme will be perseverance.  Then you can decide on the theme, maybe: Don’t give up.  Now you can plan your beginning, middle, and end; add your rising and falling action; and you’re ready to draft.

The biggest problem with theme, whether reading or writing, is vocabulary.  When you are trying to think of a word to describe theme, think of words you use to describe characteristics or personality traits.  Here are some (in addition to the ones listed above) to get you started: determination, tact, responsibility, teamwork, procrastination, patience, hope, curiosity, humor, doubt, survival, acceptance.

The author’s message is like a bumper sticker for the story.  It is short and to the point.  The English language is full of proverbs that make wonderful author’s messages.  Here are some examples:

Business before pleasure. (Responsibility)

Blood is thicker than water. (Family)

Many hands make light work. (Teamwork)

Never say die. (Perseverance)

April showers bring May flowers. (Patience)


Now it’s your turn.  Think of a theme for these proverbs (remember, it should be ONE WORD):

1.  Cheaters never prosper.

2. Make hay while the sun shines.

3.  You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

NOW think of a message for these themes:

1.  Friendship

2.  Curiosity

3.  Hope

Post your responses, and any others that you think of.  Happy writing!

Days until NaNoWriMo: 18

3 responses to “Narrative Theme”

  1. A theme for the first proverb could be fairness.

  2. One proverb for curiosity could be, ” Curiosity killed the cat”

  3. aleena francisco Avatar
    aleena francisco

    I know what the theme is for number two which is procrastination.

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