Writing With No Theme in Mind - A Zelda Pug Case Study

When I began writing The Adventures of Zelda, I had no theme in mind. I knew I had a story to tell, but I didn’t know where the story would go or what readers could learn from a pug named Zelda. As the first book came to life, themes and messages began seeping through the pages. Zelda’s first book is a story of a new beginning- a second chance. In the background of Zelda’s adventures and humorous endeavors is a story of love, family, and friendship.

As an example, let’s take Zelda’s encounter with Vacuum in chapter three of The Adventures of Zelda: A Pug Tale. In the chapter, Zelda perceives Vacuum as a threat to her home and to Hannah. Zelda knows she has to take action and so she manages to rip off Vacuum’s arm and hide it in the basement. Zelda’s love for her family drives her to take action against Vacuum.

When I started writing the vacuum chapter, I had no idea this sort of message would seep through the words. I just wanted to tell a funny story about a pug and a vacuum. A good story can become great when a writer manages to insert themes and messages behind the story (intentionally or unintentionally).

I think most writers are like me. (But I could be completely off base). We write a story and as the story comes to fruition, themes begin to infiltrate the pages. The story takes a turn and forgiveness becomes important in the novel even though it was never in the outline.

For the writers out there, do you write with theme in mind?

For the readers, what themes do you see often in the books you read? 

What theme spoke to you when you read the Adventures of Zelda?

The Theme of Your Story

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA With the recent death of my stepfather, my mind has drifted a bit to life and how we live our lives. I like to think we all have themes to our lives, much like a story. Let me explain.

Theme is a key component of creating a great story. A theme is an idea or concept which is central to the story and usually literature explores more than one theme throughout the novel.

I like to think of theme as a way for the author to touch readers or as a way to illuminate something about real life. A few themes of the Adventures of Zelda series (Coming out soon!) are friendship, love, and overcoming obstacles. In my novel, a prevailing theme is forgiveness.

And in our lives, we have themes to the way we live whether we realize it or not. In my Live Your Best Story workshop, I ask participants to think about what message their life or story sends to others? How does the way they live their life help others or speak a truth about life?

For my stepdad, some themes in his life were kindness, generosity, and hard work. I saw those themes at work time and time again. He never said no if someone needed a hand. He managed his own roofing company for 35 years with continued success, even during recession years. I think we all could strive for those themes.

What message does your life send to others?

What is the theme of your story?