It surprises me to find that so many screenwriters don’t realize that they need to have a point to their story. By the time all is said and done, at the end of your 90-minute movie, there has to be something that you were getting at. It’s what’s known as the theme of your story.
It’s funny, though. Even though many writers don’t realize that they must have a point, they actually do have one — they just hadn’t really articulated it clearly for themselves.
The power of the theme is that it will guide you in all of the decisions you make in your story. Giving its significance, let’s look at how to get clear about what it is.
Simply put, your theme is your point-of-view about something that has to do with the human condition. You made some observation, it intrigued you in some way, and then you wrote about it — or you’re thinking about writing about it.
Getting clear on your theme will help you not only in the writing initially, but especially as you craft it and rewrite it. When you are clear about what the theme is, and you come to a point where you have to determine whether your lead character goes this way or that, then your theme will actually tell you what it should be.
Your character at that point would make a choice that reveals the theme, or the point that you are trying to make.
So how do you clarify your theme? Ask yourself these questions.
- Why did I choose to write this story?
- What about it really interests me?
- What is my point about that?
- What am I really trying to say about that situation?
- Given that that is a difficulat situation for human beings, how do I suggest that people deal with it?
This will help you clarify your theme and help give you direction to your plot and subplots.
If you really explore your theme and inquire into it, you will be pleasantly surprised that you really do have something that you want to say as a writer. You will also find that the story really does lead you in your writing at that point, and you have to do less thinking.
If you would like more insight on the central role that theme plays in your script, ask about our Audio Recordings of Lasertip Fundamentals for Screenwriters.
When you get a professional script consultation, the script doctor should first focus on looking at how your theme integrates with the elements of character arc and plot, since it is really the glue that brings everything else together.
If they don’t work with you to get clear for themselves or help you get clear on what you’re trying to say, they will be simply trying to put their own viewpoint on it. This is another reason it is so important to get clear about your viewpoint. It will help you have a stronger vision when you’re talking to others
If you need help getting clear on your theme or wish to have a script critique, feel free to call us at (818) 907-6511 to discuss it further. Meanwhile, if you aren’t sure what your theme is, simply start to think about what you wish to say with your story.