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Ask questions to find your story’s theme

Writers often hear the advice, “write what you know,” but my philosophy is, “write what you WANT to know.” A good way to begin discovering your story’s theme is to ask questions because we come to understand who we are and our place in the world by asking questions.

In the 12-minute video below, the creators of the animated movie “Inside Out” share how the theme of their story emerged for them over time as they went on a quest of discovery.

The theme of the movie “Inside Out” started with one of the writers wondering what happened to his daughter’s joy once she turned eleven. This lead him to ask questions about the character they were creating in the movie—what does my character want and what do they need? When you can answer these questions, they can lead you to your theme.

In my fantasy novel, I’ve asked my main character these questions: What are your values? What do you love? Who do you love? Do you love yourself? These questions usually lead to more questions, and themes and ideas take shape.

The writers of “Inside Out” believe that stories should be emotionally authentic.

“You’re asking the audience to have a cathartic experience, which means you probably need to have one while writing.”

Our writing becomes more powerful and authentic when it’s based on a truthful, emotional experience.

Watch the full video here:

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