Exploring Literary Themes #1

The THEME of a story is not to be confused with the PLOT of the story. The plot of the story is about what the story is about, what is going on, the characters and scenes, and how those characters move from point A to point Z through the SCENES that drive the plot. THEME on the other hand is the underlying meaning of the story and often time is the “life lesson” that is learned.

Some stories explore more than one theme, but there will always be an “ultimate” take on the human condition that is the true point of the whole thing. I will be exploring the six major literary themes in the next several weeks and pointing them out, (vaguely, as I don’t want to give too much away) in my very own debut novel. Bear in mind, there are many more minor themes that may seem to stand on their own, but more often than not, can fit within one of the major ones.


One example of good triumphing over evil may be shown by using two characters that are against each other, or in the case of J R R Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS, several characters on each side battling it out, one obviously dark and one obviously light. (or if you are the poor sod, Gollem, you get to contend with both within one body.) Another way of getting this theme across is an Individual against Society, as told in Ray Bradbury’s FAHRENHEIT 451 where the main character longs for knowledge in a society that is hellbent on ignorance.

How this theme shows up in my novel:

On the surface, THE EVERSTEAM CHRONICLES is the ultimate GOOD vs EVIL as it is literally HEAVEN vs HELL, ANGELS vs DEMONS. As one reader put it: “… charming characters, even the bad guys, though bad is relative.” And indeed, in my story, the “good” guys aren’t always so great, even the innately good ones, and the bad guys… well, they have their justifiable reasons for being bad, but are they really? As for Mr Smith (don’tcallhimLucifer) he is just doing his job. Things get so convoluted to the point that Heaven and Hell begin to switch places, and the story gets flipped on its head… EVIL vs GOOD!

I haven’t reinvented the wheel by any means but I like to think that my take on the matter is a refreshing one.


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