Write Your Novel Step by Step (Home Page)

Write Your Novel
Step by Step

By Melanie Anne Phillips
Creator of StoryWeaver

Click for Table of Contents

Read it free on our web site!

 Also available in Paperback
and for your Kindle

Discuss Your Story with the author of
Write Your Novel Step By Step!

 Stuck on a plot point, an unmotivated character, or just awash in a sea of conflicting ideas?  Try consulting with the author of Write Your Novel Step by Step (and Co-creator of Dramatica) Melanie Anne Phillips - by email, phone or Skype!

Click for details…

Free Resources

Home Mail: customer-service@storymind.com

Writing Tools

Write Your Novel
or Screenplay
Step by Step!


Contact Us - About Us - Lowest Price Guarantee - Shipping - Return Policy

Copyright Melanie Anne Phillips - Owner, Storymind.com, Creator Storyweaver, Co-creator Dramatica

StoryWeaver Idea Spinner

Banish Writer’s

Block Forever!


Articles on Writing Free Online Writing Classes in Streaming Video

Predicts Your Story’s Perfect Structure!



Index Cards


Throughline Follow Us

Get our newest writing
tips and product
announcements in
our Newsletter, on
Facebook, Twitter,      or our Blog!

Movie Magic Screenwriter - Formats while you write! Movie Magic Screenwriter


Personal help from
the Co-Creator of

Click for Details

Story Consultation Writing Tips

Newest Tips

Library of Tips

Video & Audio

Introduction to
Story Structure

12 Hour Story Structure Course

Secrets of
Story Structure

Free Books

Write Your Novel
Step by Step

50 Sure-Fire
Storytelling Tricks!

A Few Words
About Theme


Story Structure
Graphic Novel

400 Page Book
on Structure

Narrative Science
Warning - Deep Theory!

Most Popular

Your Story Will Fail
(if you don’t do this)

10 Essential Tips
for Beginners

Be A Story Weaver  NOT a Story Mechanic!

Writing from the Passionate Self

The Creativity

A Novelist’s
Bag of Tricks!

Character Arc 101

How to Beat
Writer’s Block

How To Create
Great Characters

Character Development

Never Be Stuck
for a Plot Again!

Creating Characters
from Scratch

Follow Us

Follow Us at Storymind.com

~ Step 27 ~

Thematic Topic

Many authors don't have a theme in mind when the come to a story.  They are often more interested in the genre, setting, action, or characters.  But without a theme to glue the pieces together, a story seems to meander aimlessly, not covering specific ground but just heading off in any direction.

The theme has two parts:

1. The topic of the story.

2. The moral or message of the story.

The topic is the broad subject area explored, which may be material or conceptual.  Death, the complexity of society, nuclear power or man’s inhumanity to man are all potent thematic topics.

In contrast, the moral or message of a story explores an individual human quality such as greed, self-sacrifice, conceit or compassion.

In this step, we’ll locate and refine your thematic topic.  Then, in a few more steps, we’ll do the same for your story’s message.

To begin, read through your most recent synopsis with an eye toward any overarching topics addressed in it.  If you see one or more unifying topics, list them.

If you don't see an overarching topic already in your story, you are going to need one.  Re-read your existing synopsis and look for smaller mentions of topical subject matter that is of personal interest to you as an author or one of your characters, even if it is barely mentioned or exists only between the lines, and put these topics in a list.

Once you have your topic list, write a few words about each: why they interest you, how you feel about them, why you believe they are important.

Now it’s time to select the central topic of your story.  You may find that your list contains one particular topic of such great interest to you that the choice is easy.

Or, you may find that none of the topics outshines the rest.  If you can’t choose one, consider whether some of your potential topics might actually be sub-categories of one or more of the other topics.  If they are, the parent topic would be the one to choose, with the others being part of its exploration.

If you are still baffled, consider the events in your plot and the kinds of characters in your story.  Which of the topics in the list are most likely to be covered in the course of your characters engaging in their plot activities?

Choosing the topic your characters and plot will most often touch upon is a good means of coalescing your story around your theme.

When you have selected the principal topic you’d like to address in your story, move on to the next step where we will create specific story instances that illustrate and explore your thematic topic.

~ Step 28 ~

Topic Illustrations

To fully explore a thematic topic, several examples of the topic must appear in your story.  For instance, if the topic were Death, then the central example might be the slow demise of a loved one of the Main Character over the course of the story.

Other supporting instances in the same story would be plants withering in the window boxes around town due to a drought, a still-born puppy, or the closing of a family-run business that has been around for over a century.

To begin, list a primary or central example of your thematic topic, either drawn from your synopsis or newly created with a mind to your plot and characters.

Then list as many subordinate examples as readily come to mind.  Not to worry if you have trouble coming up with very many.  As you continue to develop your story, opportunities to express your thematic topic often suggest themselves.