The Power of Themes

Jun 22, 2023 by S. R. Watts

Looking back on all I have learned about good storytelling, I can see how far I have come as a writer. I know all about the fundamentals of good fiction writing, including world-building, character arc, plot development, and more. However, there is one nugget of knowledge that transcends all these things. An element that, when done right, infuses a story with the power to change the world and, when done wrong, produces nothing but a soulless husk that no one will remember. That one element is the theme.

Trust me when I say that theme is the one facet of storytelling that can’t be easily taught. Sure, it’s one thing to read a textbook on fiction writing to learn about the technical aspects of proper theming; but it’s another thing entirely to understand it on a more spiritual level. Popular themes such as coming-of-age, life and death, and good vs. evil would not have much of an impact on readers if the authors of such stories didn’t have any personal experience with what are, on the surface, very abstract concepts.

If you ever hope to inspire others with your prose, you must be intimately familiar with the themes you choose to write about. That is why my stories are centered around a theme that has, in my experience, received very little attention throughout the history of literature. It has affected every aspect of my life, given the many harrowing experiences I had to endure. Something I know transcends every culture on earth and will resonate with readers whether they were born and raised in North America or the middle east. The theme of which I am talking about is human worth.

What Defines Human Worth?

Sure, many stories have been written about themes very similar to the one I just mentioned. Throughout its 100-year history, the Walt Disney Company has produced hundreds of films that teach viewers to believe in themselves and dream big. However, nearly all of the messages found in these stories are based on the notion that you, as an individual, define your own worth. Growing up, I wanted to find a story that did more than that. I wanted an epic tale that taught me that my worth as a human being was innate. Something that resided deep within my very soul. Something so ingrained within my identity that no worldly force could ever take it away from me—not even me.

So while Disney and other storytellers like them continued to churn out their usual content, I set out to write a novel that would do for others what no mainstream film or book has ever done for me. I searched for tales about heroes who embark on epic quests to far-off lands. I became intimately familiar with the many intricacies of the hero’s journey, a famous story arch that I knew had the potential to convey my story’s message. But more importantly, I read as many philosophical and theological texts to better understand humanity’s search for meaning, giving me greater insight into what I already knew about the worth of souls.

Finally, after nearly twenty years of hard work and dedication, I have written a fantasy series that I believe will entertain and inspire readers from all walks of life and empower them with its central theme of human worth. While I was told to pick a target audience to focus my marketing efforts on (i.e., Young Adults), this book is for anyone who feels like they are feeling small and worthless when comparing themselves to others. It’s for anyone who’s ever been told they are worth something as long as they can offer something others want. But most importantly, it's for anyone who’s ever felt trapped in a system that has defined their value based on arbitrary metrics, including beauty, wealth, status, intelligence, or influence.