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03.07.2011 04:34    Comments: 0    Categories: Fiction Elements  Writing  Writing Craft  Writing Theme      Tags: theme  writing theme  story  

How do you define the theme of a book?

When writing a book you are often asked for the theme of the story.  What is theme?  Here are some points to consider:

  • The theme is the dominant or central idea of the story, or the point the writer is trying to make
  • It runs throughout the entire story, not just a part of it
  • It can be a moral issue, but it is not the same as the moral of the story
  • The main character can learn something from the theme
  • Events can occur to the main character because of the theme
  • Books can have more than one theme, but usually one is the main theme while the others are sub-themes
  • The theme is often a fairly simple idea
  • The protaganist is usually central to the theme
  • Often the theme will answer a human question


"Theme" is not simply the subject of the literary work. Instead, the theme is a major and often recurring idea; the larger meaning of a work, including any thoughts or insights about life or people in general. Often the theme will make a statement about society, teaching a lesson, providing a moral. In stories written for children, the theme is often spelled out clearly at the end with " . . . and so the moral of the story is . . . " A good example is Aesop's tales. The theme in some literary works may be somewhat ambivalent, especially in more modern works.

Basic Universal Themes

Adventure & Physical Risk | Birth & Childhood | Death | Gain & Loss of Money | Love & Loss | Passage from Childhood to Adulthood | Work

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