A few months ago I led a Memoir Writing workshop. It was during seniors week so the majority of attendees wanted to write their life stories.  Some wanted to share their childhoods, whether it was on an isolated farm or in another country. Some wanted to share snippets of their lives such as a two year work exchange program...just imagine walking into someone else's house and living there as if it were your own.

And as we talked about these ideas, and wrote and workshopped I kept bringing up the idea that no matter what you were writing there should be a theme. An underlying idea behind the memoir...or any type of writing really. There should be something that ties the piece together.

Gradually people began to understand and were soon offering up some ideas as to what others could use as this 'tie' for their piece of work.

On the weekend I attended a beautiful country wedding. (My niece's and she looked stunning!)

Just look at that backdrop...OMG.....what an amazing venue!

The theme was relaxed country. We either stood or sat on timber planks resting on hay bales.

Afterwards we headed to the reception, ate some delicious foods and danced the night away.

But everything was united with the country theme. 

From the decorations to the table settings...

the flowers and the cake.

Nothing was out of place, nothing looked like it didn't belong. They had a theme and so the whole event flowed.

It seems at times that having a theme in your writing is considered too hard. After all there are already characters, plot and setting. Why give yourself something more to do?

Because it adds depth. Helps to create deeper meaning. 
The story could be a simple boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy reunites with girl. They live happily ever after. Simple plot (and very cliche) and the obvious theme is love. Even with love as the theme you could play with it, is it the love of the boy for the girl, or is it parental love, love of a sibling, unrequited love. 

There are so many themes that we often include in our writing without even thinking about it.

Death / courage / alienation / isolation / coming of age / good vs evil / survival / prejudice / fear / jealousy/ spirituality or lack of / security / power. 

All of these would add layers and depth to your work. It does take time to think about your work as a whole, see what themes you already have running through. Perhaps do some mind mapping or lateral thinking to see which ones you want to work on, which ones to drop.

'Layer upon layer' as the Sara Lee add used to say.


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