Theme 101: Four Questions You Must Ask Yourself To Create a Meaningful Theme

Write what you know.

It’s one of the most common pieces of advice that’s given to beginning writers. And depending on what type of story you want to write, it may be a bit annoying. After all, if you’re writing a fantasy or science fiction novel, being told to write what you know may not seem extremely helpful in that regard.

However, regardless of genre, this phrase rings true because I believe it’s primary value is not about story setting, but about your story’s theme. You can only write powerful themes when you’ve thought a lot about that moral topic or issue, and preferably when you’ve had to wrestle with it yourself. To write about a theme, you need to understand that theme first. And that’s what this lesson is all about: how to study a theme effectively.

Watch our latest lesson at http://kingdompen.org/theme-101-video-3/

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Josiah DeGraaf started reading when he was four, started writing fiction when he was six and hasn’t stopped doing either ever since. After growing up with seven younger siblings, he eventually found himself graduated and attending Patrick Henry College, where he plans on majoring in literature with a minor in pedagogy (it’s a fancy Greek word for education).
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels that have worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as fun as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. Plans for obtaining those impossible goals include listening to a lot of Hans Zimmer, ignoring college work so that he can find time to write, and avoiding coffee at all costs.

Theme 101: The #1 Reason Themes Can Become Super Preachy (And How to Avoid This)

What makes a novel unbearably preachy?

We’ve all read that Christian novel or seen that Christian movie that’s just trying to hit the reader or viewer over the head with the Gospel. You know–the one where all the atheists convert, all the Christian characters are perfect, Scripture verses are everywhere, and the author is very clearly trying to force the unbelieving reader to convert. It’s the type of stories that make some of us cringe when we hear the words ‘Christian fiction.’

Christian stories can fail for a variety of reasons, but often, I think they boil down to one basic problem: namely, the story’s theme isn’t bigger than the story’s message. This is the #1 reason that themes can become unbearably preachy, and it’s essential before writing a story that you make sure your theme is big enough to hold up an entire story.

Watch the Full Lesson at: http://kingdompen.org/theme-101-video-2/

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf started reading when he was four, started writing fiction when he was six and hasn’t stopped doing either ever since. After growing up with seven younger siblings, he eventually found himself graduated and attending Patrick Henry College, where he plans on majoring in literature with a minor in pedagogy (it’s a fancy Greek word for education).
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels that have worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as fun as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. Plans for obtaining those impossible goals include listening to a lot of Hans Zimmer, ignoring college work so that he can find time to write, and avoiding coffee at all costs.

Theme 101: How Advice from a Two-Millennia-Old-Poet Can Revolutionize Your Writing

Why do we write stories?

I don’t mean what personally drives you as a writer, though that’s certainly important. I mean, what’s the point of storytelling? Why do human beings naturally tell stories to each other? Why are we so fascinated by them? And is there any point to stories, or are they just supposed to be an enjoyable way to spend our time?

If you want to be a skilled and successful author, you need to understand what the point of storytelling is. Not only that, but as Christian authors, we need to understand what it means to write stories from a Christian perspective as well. What does it mean to write stories that honor God? These are really big questions… and you may be surprised to know that one of the best answers to these questions comes from a pagan poet who lived two millennia ago.

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf started reading when he was four, started writing fiction when he was six and hasn’t stopped doing either ever since. After growing up with seven younger siblings, he eventually found himself graduated and attending Patrick Henry College, where he plans on majoring in literature with a minor in pedagogy (it’s a fancy Greek word for education).
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels that have worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as fun as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. Plans for obtaining those impossible goals include listening to a lot of Hans Zimmer, ignoring college work so that he can find time to write, and avoiding coffee at all costs.

Character Types: The Sidekick

The_SidekickIt’s the Day of the Sidekick.

And that means a revolution is happening.

Today, Josiah and Daniel were scheduled to discuss the potential merits of the sidekick.

But instead, Daniel and Anna decided to take over the show.

Is the sidekick an under-utilized, under-valued character who’s brushed aside far too often in modern literature?

That’s the question the trio are debating in this latest episode of Kingdom Cinema.

Previous Stereotypes:

The Love Interest

The Evil Overlord

The Strong Female Character (TM)

The Damsel in Distress

The Parents

The Comic Relief

The Mentor

The Henchman

The Herald

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf started reading when he was four, started writing fiction when he was six and hasn’t stopped doing either ever since. After growing up with seven younger siblings, he eventually found himself graduated and attending Patrick Henry College, where he plans on majoring in literature with a minor in pedagogy (it’s a fancy Greek word for education).
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels that have worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as fun as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. Plans for obtaining those impossible goals include listening to a lot of Hans Zimmer, ignoring college work so that he can find time to write, and avoiding coffee at all costs.

Character Types: The Love Interest

The_Love_InterestAs everyone knows, every good hero or heroine needs a love interest.

Preferably multiple love interests for the sake of suspense.

Just make sure that at least one of the love interests is perfect in every way.

After all, we wouldn’t want the hero/heroine to have to learn wisdom in this relationship…

…right?

In our latest KP Character Types video, Josiah and Daniel take on the ‘Love Interest’ character type and discuss what it takes to write a truly compelling, non-cliched love interest.

Hint: it doesn’t have to do with any of the afore-mentioned solutions.

Sound Credit: Mike Koenig

Previous Stereotypes:

The Evil Overlord

The Strong Female Character (TM)

The Damsel in Distress

The Parents

The Comic Relief

The Mentor

The Henchman

The Herald

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf started reading when he was four, started writing fiction when he was six and hasn’t stopped doing either ever since. After growing up with seven younger siblings, he eventually found himself graduated and attending Patrick Henry College, where he plans on majoring in literature with a minor in pedagogy (it’s a fancy Greek word for education).
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels that have worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as fun as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. Plans for obtaining those impossible goals include listening to a lot of Hans Zimmer, ignoring college work so that he can find time to write, and avoiding coffee at all costs.

Character Types: The Evil Overlord

Evil_Overlord_PinterestIt was only a matter of time before a video series on character stereotypes would get to the evil overlord character.

And so here we are.

The overlord character often struggles to be much more than a cheap Sauron rip-off.

And it often struggles to be more than a Sauron rip-off because readers assume that Sauron is the perfect villain.

Here’s the problem.

Sauron isn’t the perfect villain–he isn’t even a particularly interesting one.

“What?” all my fellow Tolkien-fans are now saying. “How can Sauron not be an interesting villain?”

Watch the video to understand why.

Previous Stereotypes:

The Strong Female Character (TM)

The Damsel in Distress

The Parents

The Comic Relief

The Mentor

The Henchman

The Herald

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf started reading when he was four, started writing fiction when he was six and hasn’t stopped doing either ever since. After growing up with seven younger siblings, he eventually found himself graduated and attending Patrick Henry College, where he plans on majoring in literature with a minor in pedagogy (it’s a fancy Greek word for education).
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels that have worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as fun as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. Plans for obtaining those impossible goals include listening to a lot of Hans Zimmer, ignoring college work so that he can find time to write, and avoiding coffee at all costs.

Character Types: The Strong Female Character (TM)

CASStrongFemalePinterest

We’re back on schedule with our regular video posting schedule.

And this time we’re actually tying into the theme of the month for once.

In recent decades, the Strong Female Character type has dominated certain action-based genres.

But while this character type can work sometimes, when it becomes the norm for heroines, you’re going to run into problems–just like you do with any other character type.

Watch the video below as we break down the Strong Female Character type and discuss how to portray it convincingly.

Previous Stereotypes:

The Damsel in Distress

The Parents

The Comic Relief

The Mentor

The Henchman

The Herald

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf started reading when he was four, started writing fiction when he was six and hasn’t stopped doing either ever since. After growing up with seven younger siblings, he eventually found himself graduated and attending Patrick Henry College, where he plans on majoring in literature with a minor in pedagogy (it’s a fancy Greek word for education).
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels that have worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as fun as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. Plans for obtaining those impossible goals include listening to a lot of Hans Zimmer, ignoring college work so that he can find time to write, and avoiding coffee at all costs.

Character Types: The Herald

kp_video_theherald“Aren’t these videos supposed to be posted on the 1st of this month?” you ask. “Isn’t this rather late for the next Character Types video to go up?”

It’s a good question.

And one that we’re going to be mum on.

Anyways.

In the last video in this series, Daniel vowed that he wasn’t going to pretend to be stupid anymore.

So in this video he’s coming back in full suit attire and with (presumably) the brains to match it as we tackle what the Herald character type is, and how to portray it effectively in fiction.

Previous Stereotypes: [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf started reading when he was four, started writing fiction when he was six and hasn’t stopped doing either ever since. After growing up with seven younger siblings, he eventually found himself graduated and attending Patrick Henry College, where he plans on majoring in literature with a minor in pedagogy (it’s a fancy Greek word for education).
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels that have worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as fun as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. Plans for obtaining those impossible goals include listening to a lot of Hans Zimmer, ignoring college work so that he can find time to write, and avoiding coffee at all costs.

Character Types: The Henchman

henchmanpinterestWe had a great plan for this video: Anna and Daniel were going to shoot the video themselves and leave Josiah right out of the picture.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your view of things), it didn’t work as intended.

To be honest, the video was a bit of a disaster.

Daniel and Anna blame it on the script. Josiah blames it on the actors.

Either way, a solution needed to be found. And that’s what you’re going to see below as we redeem our failed experiment.

So watch as we dive into the henchman and explore how to fix that bumbling, incompetent stereotype the henchman often falls into.

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Tessa’s Short Story that Anna Was Talking About

Previous Stereotypes:

The Comic Relief

The Mentor

The Damsel in Distress

The Parents

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf started reading when he was four, started writing fiction when he was six and hasn’t stopped doing either ever since. After growing up with seven younger siblings, he eventually found himself graduated and attending Patrick Henry College, where he plans on majoring in literature with a minor in pedagogy (it’s a fancy Greek word for education).
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels that have worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as fun as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. Plans for obtaining those impossible goals include listening to a lot of Hans Zimmer, ignoring college work so that he can find time to write, and avoiding coffee at all costs.

Kingdom Cinema Q&A

qavideopinterestYou had questions. Now we have answers.

Well, we mostly have answers.

A couple answers may have gone far afield of the original question.

And Daniel may or may not have snuck a couple additional questions in because he was dissatisfied with our original question slate.

Either way, for those of you who wanted to see more of us outside the writing show or wanted to see an extended “credits scene” from us, here’s your chance.

Check out the video below and leave us your thoughts in the comments!

 

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf started reading when he was four, started writing fiction when he was six and hasn’t stopped doing either ever since. After growing up with seven younger siblings, he eventually found himself graduated and attending Patrick Henry College, where he plans on majoring in literature with a minor in pedagogy (it’s a fancy Greek word for education).
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels that have worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as fun as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. Plans for obtaining those impossible goals include listening to a lot of Hans Zimmer, ignoring college work so that he can find time to write, and avoiding coffee at all costs.