Screenwriting : Theme: How important is it? by Casper Martin

Casper Martin

Theme: How important is it?

"We all deal with the death of a loved one in our own way, but in the end we either grow to accept it as a part of life or we let it consume us until we meet our own death." - theme from my screenplay: "Crucifying Silence". For me, my screenplay didn't really start coming together until I got this theme right for it. I believe the theme is crucial. What do ya'll think?

Sean Farrington

I agree theme is important. However, I have not always known the theme when I started a story. Or, worse yet, thought I'd known the theme, then discovered it was something else. In my writing as of late, I find myself more and more "discovering" a story rather than forcefully crafting. There is craft, to be sure, but when a story is working it seems more like me finding what is inside the marble just waiting to emerge as a sculpture, I just need to show up and chip away little-by-little.

Danny Manus

Many writers write to theme. Some people read for theme. But you've never ever heard an audience member walk out of a movie and say "the story was awful, the characters sucked, and the dialogue was bland but man did I LOVE that theme."

Casper Martin

Sean, I have never had my theme in the beginning. It always comes later after the story and characters have been developed and begin to take a life of their own. Danny, I agree, most people aren't even sure what theme is or how to identify with it. However, I find without theme my work is out of balance and all over the place. With the theme intact I feel comfortable moving forward... Great comments guys! Thanks! Please share any themes you may have from your own projects!

Marilyn Du Toit

I feel it is like my mission statement.

Joyce Leo

Deadly serious theme. Intriguing, raw and real. How do you dramatize the conflict and relieve the tension? Would love to see the script. Oh, thanks for the invitation! Best wishes to you in your career!

Harry Johnquest

Theme comes out of a good story, then in rewrites the theme becomes a touchstone. Or a tombstone. A life philosophy for me is that death is a constant companion. Ideal: have no regrets, live each moment as though it were your last.

Alexander Liquori

I feel a story without a theme is a rather pointless story. But forcefully imposing the theme on the audience could be just as worse. I normally find the theme as I construct my first draft or sometimes the second draft.

Rock Kitaro

haha! Danny's comment made me laugh. But I agree. I think if your premise and plot is well structured before you even start writing the screenplay, a theme is present without you having to over-think it. You simply finish the piece and realize the prevalent theme.

Ken Glover

Great post.....THEME is essential, as are CHARACTERS and EMPATHY.....great post....

Johnson Maela

The truth is, most writers don't really know what the theme of their story is at the beginning. All they have is a story and a burning desire to pen it out. All of it, until nothing is left - as raw as occurs in their heart and mind. Fear not, this phenomena has a name: The First draft. Most writers only dabble with themes/ poetic amplification and poetic elements only once the story has been laid out. You will always find it within your story. Within character. Within conflict. No other writer ever spoke as truthfully as Stephen King on the subject of theme in his book "On writing" (which I highly recommend for any writer) . Thanks for your post!

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