The themes that tie all of our stories together

Our final dinner and speaker event of the membership year was last week. Our speaker was Pam Binder, best-selling author and president of our sister writer organization in Seattle, the PNWA. I was excited at the prospect of Pam being our speaker. I have met her at a few local conferences and she is the nicest person, but I hadn’t heard her speak to a group before so I was curious about what she would talk about.

PambinderShe led us in a workshop style presentation and proposed the idea that each of us, whether fiction writer or non-fiction writer, has a deeper theme that we return to over and over in each work–even if we don’t realize it.

Then she asked everyone to think about their writing, and write down the theme that links all their stories together. Then she started asking people to share.

It seemed like an impossible task to me. How could all of my stories share one common theme? I write in several genres, and my stories are all vastly different from each other. But I gave it a try.

I considered the fantasy novel I am currently working on. It’s a novel whose theme has been constantly waffling, ever since I started it. Every couple of months I have had a new and better incarnation of theme. So, of course, the first thing I did was write down something totally different from any of those previous themes. But then I considered the other stories I write on and crossed it out. It didn’t apply to everything. I wrote a second word down, and crossed it out too. This was going nowhere fast, and I was running out of time to share my theme with the group.

I wrote down a third theme below the two scratched out ones: “Finding herself.” As I looked at those words I had this little A-Ha moment. It fit! Not just my current story, but all of my other stories, and even my personality in general. I have always loved explorations of self. It was one of the subjects which initially led me to majoring in psychology for my BA, and is very possibly the whole reason I write. This was my passion; this was the thing I always return to when I write. It was an exciting moment to put my hand up and share that passion with the group.

Our passion is what resonates with readers. It’s the thing that means so much to us we have to put it in all of our stories, even if we don’t realize we are doing it. And if we can convey that passion to our readers, we can capture both their hearts and minds. I am so grateful to Pam for helping me discover my passion and the theme that ties all of my writing together.

I was not the only one who had the A-Ha moment last Wednesday. There were at least 3 or 4 people who shared, not just their theme, but the experience that they didn’t realize until just that moment such a unifying theme existed for them. I would love to hear from some of you in the comments below, and hear what theme you discovered in last week’s speaker event.

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