In Search of Theme

Theme is a tricky beast. Elusive, yet all pervading; hidden, yet evident in every aspect of a tale, it is the element that makes story universal and eternal. It is the element that leaves a reader pondering long after the last full stop; that urges them to look inside and evaluate the facets of their humanity.But what is theme? And how do we find it as readers and convey it as writers? Let’s start by exploring what theme is not. Often when I ask young writers to explain what they believe the theme of their story is, they will write things like: horror, romance, courage, love, murder, friends, death, betrayal, humour, and so on. Sometimes, they will say, ‘My story is about a girl who falls of

A Few Words on Dialogue (Part 2)

In my last blog, I wrote about intention and the need for our dialogue to sound natural, convey aspects of character and move our stories towards the climax. I also discussed the idea of active writing and the way dialogue ‘shows, rather than tells’ a story. Today, I want to continue this line of thought about intention by exploring dialogue attribution and the practical matters of punctuation and formatting. Dialogue Attribution: Getting our character to speak is a wonderfully active way to show them to our readers. This is not to say, however, that dialogue is never a form of telling; it certainly can be, in a couple of ways. When characters ‘flag’ information for the readers: ‘Hello, my n

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