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Theme is what you are trying to say—whether banal or sublime—beyond the facts. It is the spirit or the soul of your memoir.

It and it determines what, within the bounds of telling the truth, you include in your memoir.

Theme also determines how the narrator of your memoir presents the story. To support your theme, you will select one narrator or another.

Theme is closely influences voice and tone.

shaping theme

Shaping Your Theme

You imbue the whole of your story with your theme and it, in turn, influences the choice of every element in your story—even when you’re not aware of it. Consciously shaping your theme can make your memoir.

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Successful Memoir Writing

Is Theme in a Memoir The Driving Force?

How important is theme in a memoir? Theme in a memoir is absolutely important! Here’s is a distinction between a family-focused autobiography and a memoir that, I hope, will help you to appreciate the value and the role of theme in a memoir.

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Choose your theme carefully. I will influence everything you write.

Is theme important?

Theme influences choices for every element in the story: plot development, characterization, and setting.

Let’s look at these elements. Here’s the shell of the plot: your father was laid off; a difficult time followed for the family; your father received additional training and obtained a different job.

Your treatment of this plot will vary according to your theme.

Let’s suppose the following is your theme: “events whose consequences we can’t understand happen gratuitously to us in our lives, but we can always make the best of things.” In the elaboration of this particular theme (message), you will find it natural to set your father’s being laid off not only with his reaction at the time but also with its consequences. Because of your positive theme, you will write about the new circumstances that developed for your father and about his psychological growth (character). To develop your theme, you will show how important it was for him to “roll with the punches,” to allow himself to experience being without the identity his job and his role as family provider had furnished, and, ultimately, to exercise choices that led to new, satisfying pursuits. So much for one plot development.

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