Both themes and motif are similar and closely related. Therefore, people often find it difficult to distinguish them easily. This article will try to bring out the difference between theme and motif.
A theme is the main idea or ideas explored in the story. Themes are used to convey a thought process, an idea or a concept. Themes can be love, death, loneliness, honour, friendship, the emancipation of women etc. On the other hand, a motif is a recurrent pattern in a story that helps to strengthen a theme.
While a theme is the underlying central idea in a written piece, a motif is a repetition of some patterns, images or ideas to reinforce the main theme. A motif is narrower than a theme. For example, if the underlying theme of a story is love, motifs may be a vulnerable heroine, a good looking hero, the chemistry between them etc.
Writers who take revenge as their theme highlight it by using motifs, like someone being killed, crime being committed, police getting involved, people going through agony, and planning to revenge etc. All these motifs point to the main theme of writing.
In conclusion, a theme of a piece of writing is like a beautiful fabric and the motifs are designs interspersed along the fabric and in line with the main theme.
Every story benefits from suspense. For suspense to be effective, readers have to be curious about or care about what will happen to at least one character. Suspense should never be used to fill space. It must not only be relevant to the story but also to the characters, based on the role that they are playing in the story.
Conflict is the main source of suspense. In plot development, conflicts work best when it appears and develop, whether just in one scene or throughout the novel. This may involve either some form of danger or an inner experience for a character.
Suspense is all about risk, whether it is within the character or between one or more characters. It can be anything from the protagonist in a room becoming aware there is someone or something outside the room, or how a character will face an angry mob that wants to lynch her. It can include the resistance that a character is feeling—toward others, themselves, or life events.
The suspense keeps readers reading the story and not wanting to put it away. Conflict and suspense do not have to come from one reprehensible event happening right after another. It has all to do with the structure of the story. You have used suspense effectively if your readers don’t want to stop turning pages or they care about what is going to happen.
It is important to learn what themes are and how they affect our writing and stories. A story without a theme is like a list of events. Although the events themselves may be exciting or interesting, without the human connection, they will not engage readers’ attention in any way.
A theme must not only appeal to the reader but also to the author. To keep writing, you must want to explore that particular theme. One of the areas of confusion is the difference between plot and theme. For example, the plot of a story about marital breakdown may involve secret affairs between friends, but the theme may be love, loneliness, betrayal, etc. As a writer, you should not confuse the plot with the theme of a story.
Themes are the pulse of the stories. Therefore, if you choose a theme correctly, you will want to complete your story. If your theme does not captivate you, it will certainly not captivate your readers. Therefore, think carefully, not just about a theme but about how you intend to explore it.
The following are examples of themes that may appeal to you: alienation, ambition, betrayal, coming of age, deceptive, courage, escape, death, good versus evil, fear, freedom, isolation, jealousy, justice, loss, loneliness, love, power, security, and spirituality.
Any person can write fiction, but not everyone can write a good fiction. It takes lots of practice, determination and practice to learn how to write good fiction. To get you started, the following are three tips that will help you to improve your craft.
Begin with tension
It is common to hear instructors telling their students to start with action. This advice is flawed. If an action does not draw you to the main character or is not grounded in the context that is important to the story, it is not necessary. It’s better to begin with tension, like main character failing to get something she wants—can’t help her dying child, etc.
Know the needs of your character
Interesting stories have characters that are determined to get something. Harry Potter wants to beat Slytherin and Draco Malfoy in Quidditch. Romeo and Juliet want to live together. Writing fiction does not only require you to have fascinating characters but also characters with strong wants and desires.
Each chapter must end on a cliff
At the end of each chapter, readers must be left with unanswered questions. You need to create questions as you write. Fiction is built on the readers’ curiosity and writers must be creative. If a writer fails to spark the curiosity of the readers at the end of a chapter, they will not have the incentive to start reading the next chapter.