Q. What is a theme and must I have one?

A. The theme is the moral discussion or proposition of your story, for example, “Love conquers all,” (Rome and Juliet), or “People get what they deserve,” (The Scottish Play).

Not every writer chooses to include a theme, but it can make your story powerful for two reasons.

  1. The audience connects with a universal theme because it relates to everyone’s life experience.
  2. The writer is more likely to convey the emotional heart of the story, and reach the audience through these emotions.

Each primary character can represent an aspect of the theme, arguing for it (protagonist), against it (antagonist), dismissing it (skeptic) and so on.

A good way to understand theme is to revisit your favourite films and books, identify the theme and analyse why it moves you.