Happy Spring, Dear Readers,
While perusing Spring garden catalogues searching for just the right perennial for that awkward corner of the yard, darling (not so little—heavens, she’s in 6th grade) Broccoli asked if we had a theme for our garden. Somewhat taken aback, I asked what she meant. Turns out her friends all have garden themes. Aster and Holly have a butterfly garden—all their plants attract butterflies. Clover has an evening or moon garden—her flowers are all white or open at night. Poppy has a burrito garden—with cilantro, black beans, chili peppers, onions, and tomatoes and claims she wants a greenhouse to grow avocados.
Turns out the Wryte-Goode garden theme is “Oh, pretty, I can find a spot for that,” which has led to a rather hodge-podge look, especially in our flower beds. As we put our heads together to plan a more thematic garden, I wondered if my novel, Dreams of an Eggplant, suffered from the same lack of theme.
As I am wont to do, I headed to the internet for more information.
- First up is K.M. Weiland website Helping Writers to Become Authors. She has plenty of posts about story theme and a very illuminating graphic that illustrates how Plot + Character = Theme https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/storys-theme/ Plus. she includes how Robert McKee defines story theme. Writers can read the articles or listen to her podcasts.
- K.M. Weiland has also written “writing your story’s THEME.” The book is available on Amazon and she has a buy link for it available on her website. As of this writing, it’s on sale for 99 cents.
- Next is Jenny Hansen’s Finding Your Story’s Theme on Writers in the Storm blog (an excellent source of writing advice) https://writersinthestormblog.com/2019/09/finding-your-storys-theme/ She helps define theme and how to work with it for both plotters and pantsers. It’s also worth a look at her How to Focus on Your Story’s DNA. (There’s a link in her post.)
- Kristen Kieffer’s well-storied website has How to Develop Your Story’s Themes (both article and podcast). https://www.well-storied.com/blog/how-to-develop-your-storys-themes She uses examples from movies and books to help illustrate story theme.
- Savannah Gilbo’s website gives us 3 Ways to Figure Out the Theme of Your Story—https://www.savannahgilbo.com/blog/theme She also includes a list of universal themes, and for the price of your email address, you can download a worksheet for discovering your theme.
- Freewrite has a post on How Great Writers Develop the Theme of a Story. https://getfreewrite.com/blogs/writing-success/theme-of-a-story
- Not to be left out, Larry Brooks’ Storyfix has Theme . . . Simplified. https://storyfix.com/theme-simplified
- Stan Williams has a fresh look on story themes. He calls theme “the Moral Premise” and has a website dedicated to explaining it. https://stanwilliams.com/MORALPREMISE/ He also has a short book, The Moral Premise, that this author found fascinating. Writers can order it through Stan’s website or right from Amazon.
- Writers can also use Story Planners’ online builder to craft your story’s moral premise. https://www.storyplanner.com/story/plan/the-moral-premise
- Jami Gold’s website features a guest post by Jeff Lyons on Creating a Strong Moral Premise. I was specifically interested in making moral issues more personal instead of just using generic ideas. https://jamigold.com/2017/04/creating-a-strong-moral-premise-for-our-story-guest-jeff-lyons
I hope that all this research makes Dreams of an Eggplant a richer and more satisfying story. And by the summer issue of Roundtable, I hope the Wryte-Goode clan has both a butterfly and a moon garden—themes can make stories and gardens better.
Until next time, readers!
Betty Wryte-Goode is a writer and mother who lives in the Lehigh Valley. Her passions include writing, reading, shopping, gardening, and exploring the internet. Betty is always looking for writing tips, so if you have any you would like to share, please send them to her through our Submissions/Contacts page.
Mixed-Up Words of the Month
Calvary vs. Cavalry
Calvary is pronounced kal-vah-ree and is the name of the hill outside of Jerusalem. Jesus was crucified on Calvary. Since it is a proper noun, it should be capitalized unless it is used figuratively—as in an ordeal or trial.
Cavalry is pronounced kav-ehl-ree and comes from the French word cheval for horse. The Cavalry were soldiers who fought on horseback. Now, cavalry refers to a mobile unit of military troops and can include the use of helicopters and armored vehicles.
Putting it all together: The cavalry did not charge up Calvary.