This is the 4th installment of Craft Questions discussing the topic of theme. Theme is probably the most nebulous of the elements of craft, but is nonetheless still important. If you'd like to discuss character, plot, and setting, there are threads for that as well.
1. What kind of themes do you like to read about?
2. What kind of themes do you like to include in your own stories?
3. Do you think about your theme before you begin writing or let it grow organically?
4. How do you reveal your theme without being too heavy-handed?
5. What kind of literary devices do you like to use?
6. What do you think is the most commonly used theme in fantasy writing? Why is it so prevalent?
Only six questions this time. It's hard to come up with questions discussing theme...
1. I tend to like to read revenge stories. Or stories where someone is wronged and they must redeem themselves in some way.
2. Same as above. I like cyclical themes. Like everything comes back and connects in some way.
3. I typically have a vague idea of what my theme is going to be (stepping out of someone else's shadow, revenge, coming of age, etc.) before I start writing, but I often just see what happens. Then if I see a strong theme emerging, I'll go back and add more to beef it up.
4. I think beginning writers may think they need to dump their theme in the reader's lap. "This story is about a young boy on his quest to find himself." Sometimes it's hard not to do that, but I guess if I focus on other elements of the story, the theme should shine through on its own without me spelling everything out.
5. I really love the idea of Chekhov's gun. Showing something early in the story and having its purpose later revealed down the line. Even introducing characters who may seem relatively minor at the beginning but have a purpose later. I use foreshadowing a lot, but I try not to be too direct with it.
6. The most commonly used theme in fantasy seems to be "saving the world/princess/etc." It's a good theme at its heart, but it's been done so many times, it's hard to take a story seriously that deals with these themes. If the other elements of the story shine, then I think this theme can work, but for the most part, it doesn't work for me anymore. Also "power corrupts" seems to be a common theme in Martin's work, so I expect to see more political wrangling in writers who are trying to emulate him.