Writing Raven


The Importance of Theme in Fiction Writing

This year, Writing Raven Author Solutions is breaking down the 15 beats of writing a bestselling novel based on the three-act structure for you. 

As a newbie fiction writer in the early 2000s, I never thought about theme and its importance in my stories. After completing and publishing several books in two different series, I began to see patterns in my work. I dug deep into craft books and articles and had an ‘aha’ moment when I realized that, whether I knew it or not, I had several consistent themes in my writing: justice, love, adventure, and heroism. (Is coffee a theme? Because I use that in every book, too. 🙂

Once I understood and embraced themes, I decided to learn how to capitalize on them to give my readers the most satisfying experience I could provide.


Okay, but WHAT is theme?

Theme embodies the central idea or message that you want to convey. It transcends the plot, characters, and settings, encapsulating broader concepts and human experiences. Themes range from love and loss to redemption and existential dilemmas.

Theme can also act as the anchor for your story, providing cohesion and coherence amidst the narrative chaos. Often, we lose our way during the writing process, and our theme(s) can get us back on track.

How can you use theme?

Here are a few simple ways to leverage theme in your fiction writing:

Layer symbolism and metaphor into your story to underscore thematic elements.

For example, the recurring motif of the green light in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” symbolizes the elusive American Dream and the pursuit of happiness.

Let your characters do some of the heavy lifting. Through their actions, choices, and internal conflicts, your characters become vessels through which themes are brought to life.

For example, Gatsby’s relentless pursuit of wealth, symbolized by his extravagant parties and opulent lifestyle, reflects the idea of the American Dream as both alluring and ultimately elusive. His unrequited love for Daisy Buchanan also underscores themes of longing, idealism, and the corrupting influence of wealth and social status.

You can also use dialogue as a tool for thematic exploration into the intellectual and emotional heart of your narrative and fostering a deeper engagement for readers.


By understanding and embracing theme, you can elevate your storytelling, taking readers on a journey of exploration, reflection, and discovery.

For a list of twenty themes, along with a trick to pick the perfect one for your genre and story, join our paid subscription community and get ALL of our Premium Content. https://writingravenauthorsolutions.substack.com/

Write with Radiance,

The Writing Ravens

Grab your copy of Writing Raven’s Breaking Down the Beats Worksheet here: http://writing-raven.com/product/breaking-down-the-beats-writing-exercise 

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