Writing to Theme

Johnny Worthen



I am excited to be a part of this year’s Teen Author Boot Camp. It is a wonderful event, aimed right where it’ll do the most good, at the creative spirits of young people. The enthusiasm and inventiveness of the attendees, for me, is liberating, contagious and uplifting. 

This year I’m teaching an advanced class, WRITING TO THEME. I call it advanced because it is particularly difficult to understand but because it represents one of the more occult parts of writing. It deals with humanity’s eternal search for meaning and the power of story telling to form it and the relationship between reader and writer. It’s heady stuff if want to fall down the rabbit hole.

I’ve heard it said that every chapter, section, paragraph, sentence and word should speak to something in the book. Usually they mean, character or plot. Occasionally, they’ll add setting, but beneath all of this, permeating every syllable and period, formed finally out or the whole of the text, there is theme. It’ll be there whether you intend it to be or not, the reader will seek it, whether they know it or not.


Why not work with it consciously? Why not use the writing to explore the big questions? Why not use the writing as psychic landscape? Why not make your work about something? These are themes. And writing to theme gives a writer a whole new toolbox of creative tools and directions. I’ll show you how.


JOHNNY WORTHEN is an award-winning, best-selling author, voyager, and damn fine human being! He is the tie-dye wearing writer of the nationally acclaimed, #1 Kindle best-selling ELEANOR, THE UNSEEN. Among his other excellent and very read-worthy titles are the adult occult thrillers WHAT IMMORTAL HAND and BEATRYSEL, the award-winning mystery THE BRAND DEMAND, and the genre bending comedy-noir THE FINGER TRAP, winner of the Diamond Quill for best book of the year. THE FINGER TRAP introduces Tony Flaner, the lovable slacking sarcastic detective whose adventures continue in THICKER THAN WATER and IN THE WAKE OF CAPTAIN LORD.

Website: www.johnnyworthen.com


TABC 2020 Class: WRITING TO THEME​ (ADVANCED)

Raise your work to literary levels by consciously incorporating themes. Learn how to identify what you’re trying to say and actively nurture the subtler but greater questions you’re addressing. Enhance your writing with symbols as signposts, layers of grays and depths of meaning. Give the literary critics something to enjoy, Class will study the therapeutic qualities of writing and ask the author to consciously incorporate ideas of theme into their work, exploring the human condition through parallel plots, symbols, conflict, and alternative points of view to address lingering questions and personal issues. From the lighthouse of intent, to hard questions, symbols, subplots and echoes, the class will encourage the writer to plumb the depths of meaning, bleed a little and create multiple strands of meaning in their work.

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