Here Are Two Ways to Write Organic Themes

Organic themes are symbiotic with their stories’ plots. This is because when everything is working well in a story, plot and theme are two halves of a whole, each one “proving” the other. When plot and theme are not working together, that’s a sure sign your story is in trouble.

Theme can be a tricky storytelling technique. Plot is often easier to grasp; we can see it, after all. Theme, meanwhile, still carries around something of a mystique. And yet when it’s not working, oh boy, is it obvious.

I’ve written at length, in my book Writing Your Story’s Theme and elsewhere, about the necessary cooperation of the “Big Three”—plot, character, and theme—about how one generates the others. Basically, if your plot and character arc are functioning properly, then you can be sure a solid theme is also emerging. By the same token, if your story is successfully “proving” a strong thematic principle, then your plot structure and character arc beats will also be convincing to readers.

Writing Your Story’s Theme (Amazon affiliate link)

Today, I want to talk again about how organic theme arises from plot (and vice versa) and specifically how to recognize five important elements of an organic theme. This post was inspired by a misbegotten viewing experience with a 1995 HBO movie you’ve probably (and fortunately) never heard of. In Pursuit of Honor, starring Don Johnson, is supposedly about the final days of the U.S. Cavalry. Set in the 1930s, the Cavalry receives word that tanks are now the ride of the future and that their horses must all be destroyed. A renegade squad decides to save the horses with a desperate ride across the U.S., all the way from Mexico to Canada.

Pretty heroic, right? It’s also more than a little far-fetched, especially in light of the fact that nothing like this ever happened (that, in fact, many of the Cavalry horses ended up, ironically, as movie horses). However, the far-fetched non-reality of the premise isn’t necessarily the problem. Certainly many a better story has been told on many a stupider premise. But particularly because this story is trying to sell viewers on a far-fetched premise, its burden of proving its verisimilitude becomes all the more important. Basic story-world details aside, nowhere is verisimilitude more important than in the realism of plot and theme.

The shortest explanation for the responsibility of any story’s plot and theme combo is simply: make it feel real. More specifically, you must make the characters’ experiences (plot) and emotional motives and responses (theme) feel real. If you can do that, you can go so far as to tell a crazy cooked-up story about a Spanish general-turned-gladiator trying to take over the Roman empire (that’s Gladiator if you couldn’t tell). Nobody will care that the story is hooey.

Gladiator Russell Crowe Ridley Scott Maximus's Death

The lack of strict historical realism doesn’t matter in Gladiator thanks to the strong realism of its organic themes. (Gladiator (2000), DreamWorks.)

On the other hand if the harmony of your plot and theme fail, what you might end up doing is taking beloved franchise characters and turning them into grotesque caricatures of themselves, completely sapping audiences’ suspension of disbelief and draining all heart and soul from the story (and that’s my take on Thor: Love and Thunder, if you couldn’t tell).

Phoning in any one of character, plot, or theme is a sure recipe for undermining all three—though it’s arguable that any of them work in Thor: Love and Thunder. (Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Marvel Studios.)

Today, because In Pursuit of Honor is fresh on my mind, I want to talk about its missed opportunities for elevating itself with organic themes. I’m going to contrast it with one of my all-time favorite classic westerns, John Sturges’s The Magnificent Seven, because I feel the two stories share similar thematic potential.

>>Click here to read a structural breakdown of The Magnificent Seven.

Two Ways to Write Organic Themes

Creating Character Arcs (Amazon affiliate link)

First of all, what are these “two ways to write organic themes”? Simply this: either theme must arise from plot, or plot must arise from theme.

Character is also vital, as the third member of the Big Three, but it lives in between plot and theme. Although you can certainly focus most of your attention on character arc in order to generate both cohesive plot and theme, plot and theme together will also generate all the opportunities you need for a strong character arc. (I have written specifically about character arc’s relationship to generating theme here.)

Theme From Plot

Structuring Your Novel IPPY Award 165

Structuring Your Novel (Amazon affiliate link)

Organic themes arise when the mechanics of the plot are well structured and well explored. If you thoroughly and honestly follow your character through the events generated by your plot conflict, certain themes will inevitably emerge. When those themes are then honed and emphasized, what results is a powerful sense of cohesion between the two.

Plot From Theme

You can, of course, start with theme if you prefer. The trick here is to take an abstract idea (explorations of Puberty or Grief or Trust, for example) and use it to generate only plot events that develop the characters’ relationships to this idea.

If, however, you’re writing a story in which the theme has nothing to do with the plot and/or the plot is not exploring or commenting upon the theme, then you know you’re missing out on organic themes for your story.

4 Must-Have Elements of a Theme That Works

Let’s examine four elements that prove a theme is working within your story. And by “working,” I mean more than the theme simply acting in cohesion with the plot. I mean that the plot is generating events that force the characters to grapple with the questions and the consequences of the theme.

1. What Is Your Story About? No, What Is It Really About?

Your initial answer to this question might be that your story is about a mutiny on a ship or the death of a child or a romance after a cancer scare. That’s good enough for a first answer. But now ask again: “What is your story really about?”

What your story is really about will be something deeper than just the obvious plot action. For example, the mutiny story might really be about the atrocities of the 18th-century naval system or it might be about power vacuums or it might be a great big metaphor for claustrophobia. Regardless, zoom out and look at the big picture. Within any functional plot idea, there is the potential for a deeply wrought exploration of theme.

How to Create Organic Themes: For example, while The Magnificent Seven‘s simple plot is about a ragtag bunch of gunfighters hiring on to help a farming village chase off bandits, its theme is much deeper. Underneath all the gunfire, it is a story about the end of an era: the last of the gunfighters. This is subtly evident throughout the story at every turn and is underlined in the closing lines, when one gunfighter says to the other, “Only the farmers have won. We never win.” The film closes on two survivors once more turning their backs on community and riding away into a future that has no place for them.

Magnificent Seven Ending Yul Brynner Steve McQueen Only the farms have won

The 1960 western The Magnificent Seven remains a classic thanks to a laser-focused understanding of its own organic themes. (The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Mirisch Company.)

How Not to Create Organic Themes: In Pursuit of Honor is also a story about the end of an era. It clearly sets itself up as a story about the end of a more “honorable” way of making war, in contrast to the mechanized horrors yet to come in the impending Second World War. The entire plot focuses on “one last ride,” as the rogue soldiers race across the American frontier, much as did their pioneer forefathers only a half a century earlier, in a desperate gambit to save their horses. As you can see, even in this far-fetched premise, the theme is there. It is merely waiting for a craftsman to whittle it out of the raw wood and bring it forth into a realized plot. Unfortunately, that is not what happened in this film.

Although the 1995 HBO movie In Pursuit of Honor offered a premise with certain inherent themes, it’s poor development of plot and character failed to realize them. (In Pursuit of Honor (1995), HBO.)

2. Events Create Theme, But by Themselves Are Not Theme

Here’s an important riddle of the writing profession: plot can create theme, but it is not theme. Simply put, you can trot your story through any number of events, but by themselves these events will not show audiences what your story is about on a deeper level.

This deep level of theme is accessed when you show how your characters are affected by the events of your theme. Events are important, but consequences are more important. When events cause characters to feel something, audiences will believe those events actually possess any meaning. Do not neglect the reaction phase of your story’s scene structure; this is where your theme’s gravitas will find the necessary space to unfold.

How to Create Organic Themes: Although categorically an action film, The Magnificent Seven spends most of its running time on slower scenes in which the gunfighters interact with the villagers. This is important because it allows the story to contrast the comparatively peaceful and loving family lives of the villagers with the lonely and sometimes brutal lives of the gunfighters. Even more importantly, it allows the story to show what these interactions mean to the gunfighters. Each character has his own subplot, but perhaps the most moving is Charles Bronson bonding with three youngsters, which forces him to face his own submerged past as a half-Mexican, half-Irish boy who was caught “in the middle.”

Even though The Magnificent Seven offers plenty of genre-appropriate action, it transcends itself by focusing most of its weight and running time on thematically important character relationships. (The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Mirisch Company.)

How Not to Create Organic Themes: In Pursuit of Honor creates plot events that put its characters through the wringer. These men desert their outfit and herd horses across the full length of the American frontier, all while being chased by both the new Armored divisions and their fellow Cavalrymen. But none of it ever feels weighty because the effects of these actions are never fully explored. Unlike the pioneers who had to fight their way through weather and over mountains, holding out for the next water hole, and praying to beat winter, these Cavalrymen barely grow beards, never go hungry, somehow skip the Rockies altogether, and seem to make the trip all before spring ends.

In Pursuit of Honor fills its running time with exciting action scenes, all of which fall flat because the characters are too thinly sketched to make audiences care about them. (In Pursuit of Honor (1995), HBO.)

3. Theme Means Nothing Without Character Change

E.M. Forster famously commented upon plot and theme when he said:

“The king died, and then the queen died” is a story. “The king died, and then the queen died of grief” is a plot.

Fundamentally, what he is talking about here is the need for story events to not just impact characters but to change them. This is the measure of whether a story’s plot is progressing. If there is no change, then there is no progression—and no point. This is why theme is inherently linked to character arc. If the character is arcing, then theme is emerging. Although the opposite is also true, theme cannot emerge if the character is not responding to the plot events in some deep way.

This means more than simply the character reacting externally. Throwing a punch back at someone because they swung at you first is not necessarily a “change” that will advance the plot or reveal theme. However, if the act of throwing that punch forces the character to question his or her mode of being, then you have the opportunity to truly advance the plot in some way.

How to Write Organic Themes: The Magnificent Seven is a magnificent story primarily because it comments upon changes in its characters—and then allows these changes to create both context and commentary for the thematic discussion. The story opens with a varied group of gunfighters, all of whom initially seem superior to the poor villagers who can’t even protect themselves. However, by the end, the gunfighters’ experiences in the village have shown them (and the audience) that, in fact, they are the ones who are poor. Only one of the surviving characters is shown to make substantial changes to his life in the end, but we understand that even the others have experienced inner change as a result of their experiences.

The most dramatic character arc in The Magnificent Seven features rookie gunfighter Chico, who reconnects with his roots, falls in love, and decides to put down his gun in the end. (The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Mirisch Company.)

How Not to Write Organic Themes: In Pursuit of Honor makes a few attempts at character development, but not enough to save itself. It sketches a poorly developed arc for its protagonist, a rookie lieutenant leading the misadventure, who we are meant to understand grows into his rank with the help of a savvy sergeant. But the savvy sergeant, despite a rich backstory, never breaks his robotic demeanor, even when executing his own beloved mount. The other soldiers aren’t characterized at all. We never get a sense of who these men truly are as individuals and what their desperate actions in risking both their careers and their lives mean to them.

In In Pursuit of Honor the protagonist’s arc doesn’t cooperate with an organic theme because the change seems to occur from the outside in rather than the inside out. (In Pursuit of Honor (1995), HBO.)

4. There Must Be Consequences in the End of the Story

For a theme to be a theme, it must mean something. And it won’t mean anything unless that meaning is at stake throughout the story. By the story’s end, which thematic argument wins out should create grave consequences for all of the characters.

In an action story, the conclusion of the theme will often have life-and-death stakes. In a relational story, the relationship will be at stake. In other stories, what is at stake may simply be the characters’ ability to be honest with themselves and maintain inner integrity. Regardless, according to what the plot has so far set up, what happens in the end of the story must matter. Your theme depends upon it.

More than that, what happens must be a natural outgrowth of everything that has happened up to this point. A story that has focused on life-and-death stakes needs to focus on those stakes in the finale, not relational stakes—and vice versa. If your themes are organic, they will be present on every page of your story and nowhere more prominently than in the finale.

How to Write Organic Themes: The stakes in The Magnificent Seven are called out by the antagonist, the bandit Calvera, when he first discovers the gunfighters in “his” village. Half joking, he speaks to the lead gunfighter of his own supposed mercy in leaving the villagers enough money to have hired these gunfighters to fight against him. Calvera chortles, “Sooner or later, you must pay for every good deed!” This will turn out to be prophetic, both for Calvera himself and for all the gunfighters—who are given the choice to leave the villagers in the face of doomed odds but choose to come back anyway. The only way for the importance of this decision to matter is for this choice to come with a heavy cost. And indeed it does as most of the gunfighters are slaughtered.

Organic themes always prove their reality via their honest exploration of consequences, as does The Magnificent Seven, which sees most of its number sacrificing themselves for the village. (The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Mirisch Company.)

How Not to Write Organic Themes: The stakes in In Pursuit of Honor are reiterated throughout the story. First, if the horses fail to reach safety in Canada, they will be massacred. Second, the soldiers are risking court-martial if they are caught and the inglorious end of their careers either way. Third, their lives are at risk simply in taking on such a daring mission. Unfortunately, however, the weight of these stakes is never conveyed. Although one sergeant does die, we don’t much care because he was never characterized. Even worse, when the Climax sees the Cavalrymen triumphantly herding the horses into the kindly hands of the Canadian Mounties, all possible consequences for their choices are wiped away. In a massive deus ex machina, it is announced at the last moment that the President has heard of their mission to save the horses and granted them a full pardon—a story beat made all the more egregious by the fact that FDR was never mentioned in the story up to that point.

Even had the story managed to build an organic theme up until the ending, In Pursuit of Honor cops out to a deus ex machina that robs all meaning from the characters’ choices and suffering. (In Pursuit of Honor (1995), HBO.)

***

If there is one simple and non-technical lesson here, it is simply go deep. Organic themes arise from stories that thoroughly and honestly explore the consequences of their own plot events. If that’s not happening, then whatever potential your story’s premise may hold for a strong theme will be wasted. The good news is that any story worth exploring will almost always bring with it the possibility of a compelling theme.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinions! What organic themes are you exploring in your latest story? Tell me in the comments!

Click the “Play” button to Listen to Audio Version (or subscribe to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast in Apple Podcast or Amazon Music).

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. Katie, thank you for another thoughtful essay on the art of writing. Listening to it brought to a head something that’s been batting around in the back of my head for a while. To me a stories theme is about showing them a powerful truth, but what if you want to write a story or stories that leave questions open – can love conquer evil? If a sacrifice is given in a misguided cause, is it noble? These sorts of questions. How would you write a story with the intent to leave the reader with an important question to ponder rather than an answer/

    • If I wanted to leave the reader with a question, I’d have an antagonist who is equal (or almost equal) to the protagonist in justification, such that if they swapped positions the antagonist could easily serve as the protagonist and the protagonist could easily serve as the antagonist.

      You could also put a major reversal in the ending. I won’t name the story because I’m about to spoil one of the most shocking endings I’ve ever encountered: in this tale, the last surviving hero has a chance to visit the afterlife before he dies. He searches for the other heroes, but when he goes to heaven, he sees the antagonists he had fought so hard against having a great time. In order to find his comrades (and wife), he has to go to hell, where he sees their suffering. Why were the villains in heaven and the heroes in hell? The thing is, while reading this story, before reaching the ending, it occurred to me that if it had been told from a different point of view the ‘villains’ would’ve looked a lot like heroes and the ‘heroes’ would’ve looked like villains… but the one ‘hero’ who is still alive still has a chance to change.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Ultimately, every story will provide an answer to its own thematic questions simply through the outcome of the story’s events. Even if the characters themselves remain undecided in some way, what *happens* to them will provide a “truth” to readers. That said, I also think there’s a certain truth found in the exploration of ambiguity. That “there isn’t always a clear answer” is sometimes the answer.

  2. Can you tell me when the paperback version of your book Writing Archetypal Character Arcs will be out and how much it will cost?
    Thank you!

    • Victoria C Leo says

      2nd chorus to Troy’s question,LOL: I have to have a paperback and I have to have your book, but we’all can wait until it’s available, just love to know if it’s before or after my next birthday!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes! The paperback will be available on Amazon on the “official” launch day of March 30th. The price will be around $16. I’ll be posting links then–as well as a big prize giveaway to celebrate!

  3. I knew there was a reason why I haven’t watched “In Pursuit of Honor” again. The advantage movies has over books is that a seemingly silly plot can be covered up by great action sequences. Gladiator is prime example of this.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I’m surprised to hear from someone who has actually seen it at all!

      • I happened to be with a group of friends and one of them chose it. I didn’t dislike the film but I was never chomping at the bit to see it again.

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          It’s definitely not the worst thing ever made, but it was disappointing because it could have been SOOO much better.

  4. Well-explored, as usual. This really does sum it up.

    Theme can be looked at as the story in its broadest strokes, that “what’s it *really* about?” But the events need to fit with that, either because they were chosen to support the theme or the theme captures the form that plot follows. And if the characters don’t change when they should, or the plot has no consequences, the story comes off as shallow and cheating its theme.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “And if the characters don’t change when they should, or the plot has no consequences, the story comes off as shallow and cheating its theme.”

      This, exactly.

  5. Wonderful post, as always. I enjoyed hearing your take on Thor Love and Thunder. The reason I found your blog in the first place a while back was because of the Marvel storytelling posts. Any chance you can make more of those, commenting on newer releases? They’ve been very eye-opening in helping me realize why stories work or don’t work for me. (I’d especially love to hear your take on Shang-Chi, since I love the first half of that movie, but get bored with the second half)

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Thank you! Great to hear you enjoyed my Marvel series ( which is here for anyone else who is interested). I decided to close the series out with Endgame, since it felt like a fitting ending and because I was running out of specific topics I could discuss for each new movie. Also, I have to admit I haven’t been too excited about the MCU since then. I keep waiting for it to wow me again, but with a few exceptions (mainly WandaVision–which the Doctor Strange sequel then totally ruined), it hasn’t pulled me back in with the same enthusiasm as the original run.

      • I just like hearing your take on WHY a Marvel story does or doesn’t work. Since you always seem to know the problem with these stories, it helps me learn to find and then fix the problems in my own stories.
        So if you ever feel up to it, I’d love to hear why you think things like the Doctor Strange sequel failed and why WandaVision was so good.

  6. Yes, I love these tips! Theme has always been a fascinating subject to me, so this post was quite enjoyable to read. Thank you, and keep up the good work!

  7. This reminds me of the time, years ago, when I re-read most of Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga. I figured out that most of the Vorkosigan stories written before have the same theme, and it’s almost outright stated in this quote from “Labyrinth”: “He sent me to slay a monster, when he should have been begging me to rescue a princess in disguise.” Namely, when someone is convinced that they’re a ‘monster’ because the people around them told them so, if someone sees the good in them they’ll reveal themself to be a ‘princess.’ That is the plot/theme of every Vorkosigan saga story written before A Civil Campaign.

    Now, A Civil Campaign shifts to a different theme, and it’s a great novel, one of my favorite in the series. It still feels like a cohesive part of the series, possibly because most of the cast are returning characters who are playing out storylines/character arcs which had been foreshadowed in earlier stories (I suppose it’s about them adjusting to their lives as ‘princesses’ who had shed their ‘monster’ disguise). But after that, the Vorkosigan Saga goes downhill, even though the later stories are still well-written in many ways. I suspect it’s because they abandoned the core theme of the stories written before A Civil Campaign, in particular, there’s a lack of main characters who believe themselves to be monsters and need someone to recognize them as princesses in disguise.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Sadly, this is the fate of many series. In an effort to keep the stories coming, the original storylines have to be expanded in ways that don’t always honor the cohesion of the original themes.

  8. Dr. E. F. Cater says

    I have not wrestled with these terms for several years, so I had to shock my mind into really thinking about my theme and organic theme. It is item #4 that jumped out at me… I really need to think about the consequences as part of the conflict.
    I write romance. Great theme, but my organic theme portrays a man who treats a woman right… Like they are a precious princess daughter of the King of kings. The need to write about this subject rises out of 48 years of dealing with men who don’t apply transformation to their relationship with their wife. It is the ugly side of pastoral ministry.
    Men are all about the “Ds.” Some are deceptive, others destructive. Some desire a woman and work to make her their toy. The godly man delights in a woman and dedicates himself to honor her.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Consequences are one of the most powerful elements in storytelling. They can be especially powerful (and thematic) when they are the direct result of the character’s own actions, rather than something that happens to as the result of another character’s actions.

  9. Victoria C Leo says

    Deus ex machina is one of my Top 5 Most Hated Lazy Tricks to Ending a Story.

  10. Hollywood needs happy endings these days, even if they make no sense. And, living in exile in Canada for saving a bunch of horses which were scheduled to be executed by the US government just isn’t happy enough for Hollywood.

    I expect the original script had a different ending, but you never know…

    In my experience, thinking of theme too much may lead to unnatural actions and unrealistic characters. If a character has a solid, realistic arc, the theme will be there. But the danger in Hollywood stories is that people may love the character more before he changes, and, that’s bad for the franchise. Almost every male character in a romance is more exciting and likeable at the beginning of the story. Everybody wants there to be a happily ever after, but nobody wants to see it. And so, that’s when the story ends. And, typically for Hollywood, a horrid sequel begins.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      This is where an understanding of cyclical archetypal arcs can be helpful. Hollywood has focused so heavily on Hero Arcs for so long that we’ve rather lost the thread of where the Hero Arc *leads*–and therefore its thematic importance within a larger story.

      Shameless book plug: this is exactly what I talk about in my new book Writing Archetypal Character Arcs. 😉

  11. Thank you so much! This website really is helping me with my story. It’s like mine that chuck full of precious gems of knowledge. I feel more confident again about writing my books.

  12. Mikiel Ottmar says

    Good afternoon, I finally got around to reading this excellent post, also enjoyed the other comments. I took out a story on “souled” and “souless” beings which I wrote years ago and couldn’t figure out why it didn’t work, now I think I may have a handle on the problem(s). Back to the drawing board, thank you agin for your insightful posts. mikiel

  13. One thing I’ve always wondered: if a story has a few main characters, each with their own lie/truth does that mean that there are different themes going on as well? Can a story have more than one theme? Does there need to be a broader theme that ties together the themes that emerge from each character arc?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Optimally, each individual character arc should comment upon/be derived from the larger thematic premise. Otherwise, it ends up feeling like you’re telling a bunch of different stories at once.

  14. My WIP is about a sort of ne’er do well slumming it, much like Will Hunting. And this idea, of not meeting one’s potential, is reflected in various subplots: the MC’s brother running a successful surprising business; a wrestler who could be a contender but who is used to make others look good; the local college football team having its first successful season in decades; and the city itself, which has sort of faded and won’t or can’t make the changes to become a major player.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Nice. This is a good example of what I was talking about in the above response to Ellie.

  15. Another question: How do needs and wants interact with the theme, plot and character arc? It almost seems to me that a character’s need and the theme are basically the same thing. When a character learns what he needs and acts upon it should what they want naturally follow? It seems like people view it like a story with a sad ending (meaning the character doesn’t get what they want at the end) as more realistic, but really the external plot should be related to the character’s inner reality. At the same time, it’s hard to make a ‘happy ending’ that doesn’t feel mushy or simplistic. How can depth be added to a happy ending?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Depth is almost always the result of suffering. If a character reaches a happy ending easily, with no struggle and no personal moral crisis, then that ending can often feel shallow. But if the character has had to painfully grow and let go of things that may hurt to release, in order to reach that happy conclusion, even the most triumphant endings take on depth and nuance of meaning.

  16. Hi,
    This has come at the perfect time for me. I am about to search for an Agent and one of the things I need to know is the premise of my story. I thought I knew – I didn’t – well I sort of had a vague idea that it was about exploitation and the class system, but I couldn’t put it into words until I read this. It is in fact about ‘the indomitable human spirit’ and now that I know this I can see it in every chapter. The route I took was to use character arcs and keep throwing challenges at them and see how they re-acted.
    You explanation is perfect and makes total sense to me – once again thank you so much I am forever grateful.
    Incidentally the book did arrive thanks.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      That’s great! It can be so tricky sometimes to really capture a story’s essence in a single sentence–or even a one-page synopsis!

  17. John Browning says

    I have personally watched the Denzel Washington version of Magnificent Seven many more times than the original. It seems that Denzel builds on the original but puts a flavor on it. He seems to leave to build community.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I should watch it again. I saw it once in the theater and remember almost nothing about it.

    • The Denzel Washington version places a big emphasis on heroic sacrifice but the towns folk are shown as cowards but for one lone heroic woman. In the original the towns folk are heroes despite their simplicity. If you look at the original original Japanese version the theme of the passing of an age with the disappearance of the Samurai and the lone hero is also clear.

  18. Hi Katie,

    Thank you for another amazing post!

    I have an unrelated question, if that’s okay.

    I am 21 years old and for a long time I have been asking myself what I want to do with the rest of my life. 2 years ago I finally found my passion: I want to write books! I love books and my dream is to become a professional author. In recent months, A.I. has shown to be capable of incredible things and it keeps getting more advanced. This is making me very very anxious. What if I’m too late? Should I even try to become an author, if A.I. is probably going to replace authors in the future?

    I was wondering what your perspective is on this, or if you have any tips for people who are anxious like me.

    I hope my English isn’t rude! Thank you for reading.

    Kind regards,
    Matthijs

  19. Nicely sums up the importance of theme and how to bring it out. Thank you.

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