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Story Engineering by Larry Brooks

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16DEFINING THEME

Have you ever put down a novel or walked out of a theater and thought to yourself, what the hell was that about?”

Probably not. Agents and editors and script readers experience that moment all the time, but the reading and moviegoing public is shielded from that response by virtue of the work these folks put into the finished product. A well-told story, the kind that gets published or made into a film, usually doesn’t elicit such a response. As an intelligent reader or viewer you intuitively know what it was about, and usually on two levels: It was about the plot … and, in a different experiential context, it was about what the story means.

The latter is called theme. It is one of the Six Core Competencies of successful writing ...

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