How to Embed a Theme Into Text

There are so many great texts out there, but as I always argue with my students, there are definite differences between entertainment writing and literary writing.  One thing that is most lacking in popular fiction today is some type of overarching theme that speaks to the human condition.  Has this indeed been lost on this “me” culture of consumers who are so apt to run to every small minded “Harlem Shake” fad that comes along?  I refuse to believe this.

Well, more to the point, how can we embed a theme within a text?

First, we have to have a protagonist with whom readers can identify.  If the protagonist is too anti-establishment or overly compliant to society, they will read as either too radical for belief or too flat.  This protagonist must then have an experience that is life changing enough so that it becomes not just a random event in their life, but an event in human history, a crisis that changes them so that they learn from that experience for good or bad.

In doing so, the writer might consciously or subconsciously create a theme through the penning of this crisis and change in the protagonist that is universal and understandable by all.  In so doing, the writer will create a richness to their text that can be enjoyed on a literal and figurative level.

Happy writing!

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