Tag Archive - writing tips

What’s Your Motif?

Motifs? Most writers don’t really know what they are, but they can make the difference between an okay book and a terrific one. Since we’ve just discussed the topic theme in recent posts (by looking at some of my favorite movies), now would be a good time to look at motifs. Not many writers consciously plan out motifs to use in their novel, but sometimes they come naturally into the story. Motifs are symbolic elements packed with inference, but they don’t have to appear in your story as an actual item. Motifs can be a word or phrase, a concept, an image—just about anything that can be repeated with significance and symbolism. The weather can be a motif, for example, if each time something terrible is about to happen, “lightning” strikes. Continue Reading…

Movies Rich in Theme ~ City Slickers

As we continue the topic of using universal themes in writing, I want to talk a little about universality. Having a theme is great, but if a lot of people can’t relate to it, you’re not going to interest readers. You want your themes to have universal appeal–which means they should be common to the human condition. If your theme is weak and simplistic, it won’t have impact. But if you build it over the entire novel, weaving it in as your characters experience life and learn and grow, the theme will deepen and become entrenched in the heart of the story. As you plot out your scene, you’ll want to always ask yourself how you can tie your theme into that moment in some way, however subtly or blatantly. It’s not so much the universality of the theme, though, that determines how powerful an effect it will have; it’s how well you develop it throughout your story. Continue Reading…

Movies Rich in Theme ~ Babe

As we’re exploring theme here, I want to add a little aside about symbols. Tying symbols in with a theme is very powerful, and the movie Babe does a great job with the gate as a symbol throughout the movie. I imagine few people ever really notice the bit about the gate other than the way it adds a bit of plot and humor, but it serves as another theme by way of symbolism. Continue Reading…

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