Tag Archive - theme

How Theme in Fiction Gets to the Heart of Your Characters

This is a reprint from 10 years ago, looking at one of my absolutely favorite movies. If you haven’t seen it yet, I urge you to do so, watching with a writer’s eye. You will learn a lot about great theme and excellent plot structure.

Okay, got your popcorn? Today we’re going to look at the movie K-Pax. Why do I love this movie so much? Because aside from the fact it tells a great story with heart and has a terrific  and creative plot, it has very rich themes that anchor this movie and make it so very special.

Although the story seems to be about some guy who claims to come from a faraway planet, it is not a sci-fi flick (similar to Signs, which also is really not about aliens at all). Continue Reading…

Universal Themes That Can Be Found in Movies

Here’s another post I wrote ten years ago on theme. Enjoy!

I can’t resist talking about my favorite movie—well, my entire family’s favorite movie. We have to get our fix, watching Strictly Ballroom, nearly every time we’re all home for a weekend. Although we can mouth and act out every line (can’t quite master all the dance steps yet!), we never tire of this movie. We sit, absolutely transfixed, as we watch Francesca and Scott dance the Paso Doble.

There are a few movies that hold the same fascination for me—and they all have one thing in common—great themes.

Themes That Recur throughout the Story

Despite the variety of genre, style, writing, and tone, these movies have a recurring universal theme that drives and weaves through the story. Authors can learn a lot from movies, but it’s important to look beyond the spoken word—the dialogue presented—to see what’s really going on.

And that’s what happens in a great book. The universal themes waver just below the surface, occasionally rearing their heads when a character voices a question or makes a choice. Continue Reading…

Theme That Mirrors Real Life

Today’s post is a reprint from 10 years ago. Theme is so important in a work of fiction, so dig in and learn how this exceptional film can help you develop theme in your story.

Nell is an amazing movie. Brilliant on so many levels. The plot itself is wonderful and enough to drive the story. But we see again another story where there is a theme underlying the plot.

Nell is not just about a girl who has spent most of her life in isolation. In Nell, we are put face-to-face with the question about our place in the world—what is considered normal and sane in the way we live our lives. Two forces fight over Nell—those who want to let her keep her freedom, intent on proving that she can not just survive but thrive without society. And the others, those in “authority,” who insist Nell cannot care for herself, that she has to have others tell her what to think, eat, dress, how to act, and how to live in a way that is not just acceptable but healthy.

Nell is a young woman raised in the back country, who has never encountered or interacted with any people other than her family (don’t want to do a spoiler here). A delivery boy discovers her right after her mother has died, and that tragedy has left Nell bereaved and alone. A doctor is asked to go talk with her, and thus begins the story of how Jerry, and then Paula, live on the property and study Nell, trying to communicate with her and assess her mental and emotional state.

Does Nell need to be put in a state home? Or can she live on her own. Who has the right to decide? Continue Reading…

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