What’s Your Theme?

There’s No Place Like Home

A short while ago, with an eye roll and long suffering sigh, my ten year old daughter asked why do I love reading and writing romance? More than anything I love watching the complications towards happily ever after unfold and being “present” during that exciting time when a couple comes together and starts to form a family. To this end, I believe that is one of the things that inspired me to write a series. As a reader and writer, I like catching glimpses of a couple after their happily ever after in future installments of the work.

I have written in two genres now and the same overarching theme in each manuscript is Home and Family. Regardless of age, gender and conflict, all of my characters are looking not just for their happily ever after, but for a place to call home.

It seemed appropriate to talk about this theme in my writing as I have now found a writing home here with The Violet Femmes. Home is important to me. I search for it in every facet of my life, and feel unsettled until I find it. Thank you once again to these fabulous writers and friends for welcoming me here.

What’s In a Theme?

Theme, by definition is the central idea or ideas explored by a work of fiction that can be summed up in a word or two. In fiction, theme is not intended to teach or preach. In fact, it’s not presented directly but rather extracted from the characters actions, thoughts, and the setting of the story.

Typical Examples of Themes:

  • Love
  • Death
  • Betrayal
  • Forgiveness
  • Redemption
  • Individual vs. Society
  • Coming of age
  • Change vs. Tradition
  • Dangers of Ignorance
  • Emptiness of Attaining a False Dream

What if I Have More Than One?

After exploring themes a bit further I discovered that a work of fiction may have more than one theme. For example, Hamlet deals with the themes of death, revenge, and action. In my writing, themes that emerge by the end of a draft could be any from the list above, plus the search of home and family. Since I write romance, the theme of love, to me, is a given. So, examples of my themes might be redemption combined with the search of home & family, or forgiveness combined with the search of home & family.

Last Thought on Theme

Photo credit: WanderingtheWorld (www.LostManProject.com) / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: WanderingtheWorld (www.LostManProject.com) / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Early in life I chose a career path that took me far away from my home and family. At first, when I was young (and clueless), this was exciting. Several years in, my search began for everything I’d left. Once I found it, I started to write about it. I’ve been writing about that search in its various forms, complexities, possible characters/situations ever since.

I’m interested to hear from you. Writers – do you think your writing embodies a theme? If so, does your theme change from project to project? Readers – Do you gravitate to books with the same theme or do you like to mix it up?

Leave a comment


  1. Jenna Blue

     /  May 6, 2013

    I love that you are so self-aware both in life and in your writing, RoseAnn. And I love that you’ve found another home with us. You are a natural fit, belonging all along!

    So far, the themes in my writing tend to center around the strength of women and that push pull of needing others yet needing to go it alone, that struggle includes love, family, and friendship. I’m also noticing (rather uncomfortably) that both my recent novels deal with financial struggles. I’m very partial, too, to the theme of starting over, starting new, reinventing oneself…you’ll see that in years to come from me, I’m sure, and definitely, it’s a prevalent theme in both Runaway and Unhinged.

    Great post, RoseAnn, thank you!

    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 6, 2013

      Hi Jenna,

      Funny…recently my Editor told me that I was a very self-aware writer as well. As I was reading you post, I was thinking that reinvention is definitely a theme of yours as well. You are also self-ware as you are already toying with themes in future work. I don’t think I set out to write about Home and Family, but as I stepped back and looked at the three books in my series, the commonalties and differences, the theme was prevalent. Theme is just another really cool piece of the discovery process in writing.


  2. My theme is trust. How do you rebuild trust when it has been betrayed in profound ways? I think for me trust is the most important component in a truly close relationship with another person, whether it is a lover, husband, relative, or friend. I revisit that theme in virtually all my books, although as you point out, RoseAnn, there are often other themes as well. Very thought-provoking post!

    • Ooooo, that’s a great theme, Nancy!

    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 6, 2013

      I agree, very cool theme for a very cool writer. HI Nancy! I’m glad you liked the post. I’m so excited to see what other writers consider their Theme. I wonder if you set out to write about trust or if it just naturally happens. We gravitate to certain things. All my life no matter what the writing assignment in school, I always managed to slip an element of romance in. Couldn’t help myself! Thanks for sharing your theme with us!

  3. RoseAnn! Welcome, and what a wonderful first post. You are truly one of our family, now it’s just official.

    I love that you center on this idea in your writing. Family is important, and I think we all like to see our heroes and heroines settle down and find a “home” together. I am the person who LOVES an epilogue. One, five, even TEN years down the road, I want to know what my favorite heroes and heroines are doing now.

    My theme seems to be REVENGE. Not sure why. Guess I’m just evil that way. But I love me a good revenge story. One night, I’ll tell you all my stories on how I got back at ex-boyfriends over the years. Mwahahahahahaha!


    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 6, 2013

      Love your theme, Joanna! Revenge and all its complexities. Lots of juicy writing to be had there. I love the epilogue too. Honestly, the second book in my series was born the night I wrote THE END on the first. I literally went to bed thinking how much I was going to miss the characters and the town. Five minutes later I was up and wrote the premise for book number two. I was so happy to realize I didn’t need to leave Audubon Springs just yet!

      I can’t wait to hear about those boyfriend stories!

    • You are too funny, Joanna!

  4. You ladies compliment each other well. Though your themes are varied they are each intriguing. In addition, I love that home and family are so important to my beautiful daughter. I would like to think that her dad and mom had something to do with that.

    Thank you ladies for welcoming my girl into your group

  5. Echoing Jenna and Joanna…having you join us “officially” is basically just announcing to the world what was already in our hearts.

    Like Jenna, the theme of personal independence yet learning to lean on another seems to be prevalent in my stories. Also, forgiveness for past wrongs. There also seems to be an underlying idea of returning to your roots, similar to your life’s path, RoseAnn.

    I would love to write a revenge driven story, like Joanna. But then, she’s the edgy one in the group, so I might just have to leave that to her. 🙂

    Welcome to the garden, RoseAnn!

  6. I think when I start writing, my theme is just below the level of my consciousness–I don’t start with the idea of putting over a message, and I doubt that many writers do. After finishing a first draft, I might be able to tell you what my theme is. On the one hand, keeping a theme in mind can be inhibiting, but on the other, I’ve come across many writers whose books become messy and unfocused because they really don’t know what they’re trying to say about the characters and situation. So at some point–and especially if you realize you’re losing your way–it is important to define to yourself your main theme and maybe one or two sub-themes that complement it. (They probably shouldn’t conflict!)

    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 7, 2013

      Hello! I would have to agree. Theme is something stubmled upon. I actually set out to write about grief in the first book of my series. I was meant to be a dark sweeping epic mother/daughter drama, until I realized that the ideas of that first envisioned work was being forced and I was actually meant to a slightly different story with the same characters as a Romantic comedy! Thanks you for stoppy buy and sharing your thoughts!

  7. Great first post, RoseAnn and welcome to our writing sisterhood!

    Like Nancy, trust is a big theme in my stories. The heroines from all three my stories have had bad relationships where they got hurt and are now distrustful to the opposite sex. They’ve rebuilt themselves to be independent women who don’t need a man to define them. I’m very independent and a lot of that aspect of my own personality comes across in my heroines. There’s also the sense of second chances and along with that is some level of a reunion theme. All of my heroines have had some history with their heros before the story opens. They’ll have to work through the trust issues in order to get their second chance at love. Hmmm…that’s a good name for a story 🙂

    Family is also a very strong element of my stories. Starting with my second book, I developed an Italian-based family with sibling rivalry, fighting, good food, and lots of love. I really connected with the characters and enjoy delving into their relationships, including their ups and downs.

    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 7, 2013

      Hi Maria, thanks to you and all for the welcome. I suspected there might be some overlap in our themes. Reunion is another theme of mine. Both the 1st and 3rd are Reunion stories and the 2nd is Reinvention combined with grief and of course…Home and Family! 🙂 Can’t wait to meet your fictional Italian family!

  8. Hi RoseAnn! Welcome to the Femmes. What a terrific first post. I’m cracking up at Joanna’s Revenge theme, too. Jenna’s so strong with themes in her stories, too. Real-life ones, that have some soul to them. Maria, too – with her manuscripts’ strong family feeling.

    I suppose the theme in my current series is the same – perseverance, especially when faced with issues, like post-traumatic stress disorder or a thieving ex. I tend to make my characters turn into chameleons, where they’re forced to change for the better because they’ve struggled so hard to overcome their problems.

    It’s what makes the characters interesting to write, the plot move onward, and hopefully, an entertaining story.


    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 13, 2013

      Hi Michele,

      LOVE the reinvention theme with the chameleon twist! Reinvention is so excting because there are always the starts and stops, the climb and fall, before the character finally reaches the point of finding their true authentic self.

      Can’t wait to read more of your chameleons! 🙂



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