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Give Every Character a Theme:

As writers we've had the concept of "theme" pounded into our heads. "What's your story about?" Every story needs a theme: a single word that tells us the core of the story--or, what it's about. Well, it's time for some more pounding. Every CHARACTER needs a theme, too, from the doorman to the hero. It keeps a character consistent, clear, and functional. Let's look at an example:

Say we're writing a story about inner-city kids in a gang. The story's theme is "family." Everyone longs for a family and if they don't get it at home, they'll get it in a gang. That's the theme of the story. Now, one of the characters needs to carry the theme, but not necessarily the hero. Perhaps it's the hero's grandfather. He talks about how important family is, how valuable it is; he desperately tries to hold the family together, etc. What the story needs now is someone with an anti-family theme to give the story balance. Possibly the bad guy, another kid in the gang, is anti-family. He's even against, as it turns out, the "gang" family as he betrays the gang at the end and pays the price. The story is starting to come to life and we don't even have a plot yet. That's the power of good character theme. Let's go on with our example.

A story usually has a love interest, but her theme doesn't have to be "love." It can be hope. You need to balance that with hopelessness. Ah, this could be the hero's theme, he feels hopeless. And, perhaps, another gangster's theme is "the future." He talks about it, believes in it, can't wait for some future event to set him free. Unfortunately, we all know from story conventions that this character is a dead man. But, in our story, maybe not. Maybe he's the only one who survives some kind of gang war. Whoa, story points are already forming.

The two basic rules for creating character themes are:
1. Every character needs a single-word theme to define him or her.
2. Every character theme has an opposite to balance the story.

Which theme goes with which character is completely up to you and depends on your story concept. Character Writer can help you develop your simple character concepts into fully realized and well-rounded story characters.

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