One of the aspects of story that is not often discussed is theme. So I will be going over what theme’s part in your story is in this post series: Theme in Your Story. The topic that I will be going over today is in fact the differences between topic and theme.
What is a Topic?
A topic is usually one word that describes what your story is about. For example, a topic to your story could be love, freedom, prejudice. Whatever the topic, it is generally pretty clear to the reader what the topic is, and is sometimes even stated outright, such as Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (which, as in the title, is about pride and prejudice).
What is Theme?
Theme, though somewhat similar to topic, is not explicitly stated. In fact, the theme of a piece of writing can differ between person to person based on personal opinions and experiences. This is because one needs to read the piece of writing before deciding for themselves what the theme was. Theme is generally a phrase about the topic. For example, the topic of a novel could be love with the author’s intended theme being that love can come at the most inopportune times. However, not everyone who reads the book will see that as the theme. For example, one person who reads the book may think that the theme is that you should appreciate love wherever and whenever you find it while a different person might think that the theme is that love always comes with risk. And so you can see how though all of the themes presented are all on the same topic of love, the actual theme itself differs from person to person.
Why do Written Works have Theme?
So why do authors put in the extra effort to make sure that their books have a theme? Well, theme is what turns a story into a lesson, gives the reader something to hold onto even after they finish the book. Theme is the author sharing a bit of their wisdom with the reader and disguising it with a story about complete strangers.
I hope this post helped. Please comment and check back next week to find out how you can use theme to help craft your characters.