The Weekly Screen & Fiction Writers' Tips

Theme? Theme? Theme? What is theme? What is my theme? I want to scream…

In Screenwriting Tips & Advice on 01/02/2014 at 12:31

theme 2 images

OR

Is it love?

Is it war?

Is it justice?

Is it about the unfairness of life in giving me another parking ticket when I stopped for a few seconds at my local store to get some apricot jelly/jam for breakfast?

Hello… Pensmiths of the world

So how are you? Please tell me you have had a great week. Have you been kind and loving to everyone? Did you help any old people across the street? Have you stroked any animals and got nipped in the process? What have you written? have you written every day? Great. Remember we have to keep the world going. The rest of the world needs writers. We are their everything: entertainment, news, information, education etc. Do you see how important you are?

Now… while you maniacilly scribble your weekend to do list in your notebooks, allow me to mention this week’s theme. Yup it’s THEME. No matter what you write… from a simple poem to a novel, a film, news article, DIY article, they all need theme. But seeing we are only concerned with the fictitious world, then that’s what we’ll concentrate on.

So what is THEME? This is a blurred area for many new and some established writers. More often than not, many books and films fall prey to that universal theme of LOVE. Yup, there isn’t enough love in this world, so we’ll make sure we’ll promote it in our writing, and in our films. There’s a lot of lonely people out there, so let us tell the rest of the world how lonely they are, how hungry they are for love, how they yearn to be one half of a couple. Then we can write a film script about divorce, how relationships break up, what happens to the kids during this time, how the warring couple will divide their chattels, house and so on. Yes, I’m sure that will make a good film. In fact, I think it will make a great film. ‘War of the Roses’ anyone?

There are many films when the theme is clearly obvious. I was thinking of writing a film around the theme of ‘how unfair it is getting a parking ticket while stopping at a grocery store to get a jar of jelly’. But if I did write a film around that theme then very few people would actually see my theme. So how do you present a theme?

First of all what gets under your skin?, makes you angry? you can’t stop talking about? you have to discuss wherever you go? a topic you would like to share with the world, you feel strongly about? have a strong opinion about? Well my friends, that is a theme. And if you are writing a novel, or writing a film script, then you present both sides of the argument. The protagonist represents your belief and the antagonist highlights the opposing view. Yes, that simple.

It is the theme of an essay, you argue for and against and then reach your conclusions. So a novel and a film is really an essay of an argument you are presenting to the world.

theme 2

Okay, here’s a little exercise, I would like you to write a film around the theme of violence, and the question is are we born aggressive, or are we made aggressive? First of all, what is your point of view? Do you hold an argument for or against? If you believe we are born aggressive then present your facts and proof for as the protagonist and then present your facts and proof against, but this time you are the the antagonist. For every argument for, present an argument against until you reach a conclusion, or not.

You see themes are just that… there are people who would agree with you and there are those who do not. Your film could present facts and proof, those against or for might not have considered and so on.

If your film has no theme, then it is very likely viewers will have anything positive to say about it. A lot of viewers enjoy exploring the images searching for that theme and taking sides. And there is nothing better than watching a film with some friends and then heading off to a pub or club afterwards and discussing it. You see films aren’t just about crashing cars, killing aliens or adultery, films are an intellectual entertainment.

Even if the theme is a simple love theme, there is still the joy of enjoying how the writer, director, actors and crew have portrayed their arguments.

So can you name any films with strong themes, weak themes, no themes, radical themes, controversial themes and so on? Go and look for them. Don’t just watch a film for film’s sake, what’s bubbling underneath, what has really pissed the writer off, what does he or she feel strongly about, what facts and proof has the writer demonstrated.

theme 1 images

So could the themes be any of the above, or was it something new you can add to the list? What have you learned from the film?

Have a great week exploring new films, and novels. Find out which films and novels you tend to ignore and find out why? You can learn a lot about yourself by what you watch and read. And as a writer of both, you can learn a lot about yourself and your attitudes and beliefs.

So really you can have a wonderful week of doing everything. Watch, read and write. Oh joy.

Right my lovely ones, until next week. Enjoy film and read books in all their glory. If you do catch some great films tell us about them and their themes. And your experience, of course.

Have a great week.

Love one another and be creative.

And this week I ask you to love yourselves too.

Ta Ta my little pretties

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