Learn how to write a theme statement using simple steps. Get a break down of how to create a theme statement through a thematic statement template. Explore good and bad examples of theme statements to further your understanding.
Learning how to write a thematic statement isn’t hard if you follow a few simple steps. First of all, a theme statement or thematic statement describes a central idea within a piece of literature. It’s the point the writer is trying to make throughout the work. This goes farther than just the theme topic of love, for example, to clarify the exact statement about love an author was making. A theme statement typically has three different parts.
- theme idea (for example, love, independence, identity)
- the thematic assertion made by the author
- qualifier or qualifying clause that provides further explanation (this is optional)
The thematic idea is the easy part of a thematic statement to find. This is a significant concept or topic covered in literature like loyalty, poverty, friendship, gossip, or equality, to name a few. To find the theme idea, you just need to think back to the action and characters.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What happened to the character(s)?
- What kind of changes did a main character undergo?
- What was a theme that came up over and over again?
- Did the character(s) evolve in some way?
- Did the author have an opinion on an important topic?
Once you ask yourself these questions, you can start to break out the story’s different theme ideas. For example, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green has a central theme idea of "the meaning of life."
Once you have your theme idea at the ready, you need to use your knowledge of the book to formulate the author’s thoughts. An easy way to think about this is to think of the sentence:
The author believes ...
Using your knowledge of the story, you need to formula what the author was trying to say about that theme idea. For example, for The Fault in Our Stars, it would look like:
The author believes the meaning of life comes when you live each day to the fullest like it could be your last.
Throughout the story, you can see this theme in the way Hazel and Augustus face and triumph over their impending death. It’s even seen as part of the support group mantra, “Living our best lives today.” Now, cut off the “the author believes,” and you have a theme statement.
The meaning of life comes when you live each day to the fullest like it could be your last.
The qualifying clause in your thematic statement is optional and a more advanced skill for theme statement creators. This part of the theme statement provides the reader or your teacher with a bit more explanation or information about your statement. For example, you might use this qualifying clause for The Fault in Our Stars:
The meaning of life comes when you live each day to the fullest like it could be your last, even when it scares you.
This further explains the clause in your theme statement and shows how both Augustus and Hazel learned to truly live each day of their life even though they feared living and ultimately dying. Both teens are afraid for their own reasons, and it’s only through the story that they learn the meaning of life and truly living — Hazel by opening up to the world, and Augustus by doing something worth remembering.
As you can see, creating a thematic statement isn’t hard. However, it can be challenging for people to remember exactly how to compose it. Therefore, using a thematic statement template can make life a little easier.
[Theme idea] [statement author is making about theme] [qualifying clause]
It’s as easy as that!
While making thematic statements is pretty straightforward, it can be easy to get too generic or cliché. Therefore, when creating a theme statement, it’s important to remember:
- Don’t mention specific books, names or events.
- Avoid clichés (for example, love makes the heart grow fonder).
- Do not summarize the work.
- Avoid absolute terms (for example, always, none).
- Don’t overgeneralize (for example, love is love).
Now that you know how to write a theme statement, it’s time to look at some good and bad thematic statement examples.
- Good: Bravery allows people to push forward against adversity even when they fail to make a change.
Bad: The theme for this novel is bravery.
- Good: Friends are the ones who will support you even when the whole world is against you.
Bad: Friends make the world go round.
- Good: Poverty can push you to do unexpected things that go against your own morals.
Bad: Poverty causes people to commit crimes.
Theme statements can seem intimidating when you look at them. But when you break down the individual pieces of the theme statement, they aren’t so hard to create. Learn more about themes by checking out theme examples. All of this theme information combined can help you teach theme or learn it on your own.