Why Theme In Novels Are Important

When you were read to as a kid most books had a moral, right? Be kind to your friends, change happens and that’s okay, etc.

When I read to my preschoolers at work, it usually connects with our current unit. It’s a learning point, it connects us to real life.

Reading, as you get older, doesn’t really change. There’s usually a moral, or life lesson, and there’s always a theme. Some themes include growing up, or coming of age, time, life and death, love, and so much more. Anything could be a theme, really.


What is a theme?

The theme of a novel is a life lesson, it’s what the book is trying to teach you. It’s the “big idea” or the main message the characters and plot are trying to tell you.

An author may have a theme in mind when they write, but in my opinion, I think the theme can also be interpreted by the reader. Everyone has a different opinion, we all view things differently. I may think a book means one thing, while it may have a completely different meaning to you.

Why are themes important in novels?

Why do we read? We read to entertain ourselves, we read to learn something new, we read to escape the world. What do we like to read? We like to read books we can relate to.

Themes are important in novels because it allows the readers to connect themselves with the book. It allows them to connect what’s going on with the characters with what’s going on in real life.

It teaches readers something new, it assures them that everything is going to be okay.

Did you recently break up with your significant other? You’re most likely going to go pick up a book about a break-up and revenge or something like that. Or, you may end up picking up cheesy romance novels and then cry yourself to sleep. Everyone’s different.

So, what themes should you write about?

Write about what you want, what you’re interested in, what you know most about.

Relate your writing to your own life and it will become much easier. Ultimately, write about whatever you want.However, your own life experiences can be a life lesson for someone else.

For example, 11 years ago, my aunt passed away unexpectedly at the age of 32. Most of my writing was based off of that. Death, grieving, the circle of life. It helps you, it helps your readers. There’s a deeper meaning behind it all.

A list of common literary themes include, but are not limited to:

  • Circle of life
  • Coming of age
  • Power
  • Beauty
  • Communication
  • Friendship
  • Love
  • Death
  • Fear
  • Family
  • Justice/Injustice
  • Knowledge
  • Lost
  • War
  • Wisdom

There are so many more themes out there, way too many to count. Some are common, some uncommon. There may be themes out there that we have yet to discover.

This month, I’m going to be zooming in on certain themes. I’m going to look at:

I can’t wait to take a closer look at these themes.

Themes are so important and I think these ones are some of the best.

What are some of your favorite literary themes? What themes do you typically read or write about? Let me know in the comments below!

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18 thoughts on “Why Theme In Novels Are Important

  1. Very cool topic. I’ll admit to getting tripped up on answering what my ‘theme’ is. Usually get it mixed up with genre and say fantasy. It’s tough because adventures usually go for courage or good vs evil, which get the response of ‘so cliche’. Actually, seems like these types of stories can have multiple themes. For example, you have the over all ‘good vs evil’, but the character has their own crisis to handle. Could be that they are trying to find their courage or get over an obsession with beauty. Although, these are sounding like goals. Do themes and goals go hand-in-hand?

    • You bring up good points. I think theme is pretty vague. You can have multiple themes in a story and they may have different meanings depending on the reader’s thoughts and feelings. That’s why I think there are many themes out there that haven’t been deemed as “themes” yet, if that makes sense.

      • So it’s a very broad category that can change from reader to reader. Guessing you can have themes that are missed as well. Happens a lot in my books because readers will put their own mentality and decision-making style on a character that operates differently. Like looking at an immature character being immature and getting annoyed because you’ve already gone through that stage in life.

        • I know what you mean. I’ve thought that about many books. And I also think your thoughts can change as you get older too. You might miss a few points here and there.

  2. Redemption, salvation, and self-acceptance are themes I like because they’re character specific. If an HEA or HFN story ending is the goal, the character must ‘show’ true growth for a satisfactory conclusion. Anything less weakens the story.

  3. Haha I’ve been trying to figure out this theme for my novel. I have an overarching theme but I think each character’s goals also feed into the theme thereby making multiple themes for character arcs. So you can have multiple themes in one novel. Great post Rache.

    • Oh, yeah. Each novel isn’t limited to one theme. Sometimes you have one in mind and other times the characters create one themselves.

Let me know your thoughts!

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