Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
Theme is Everything
When Robert McKee was a young writer/director in New York, he got the chance to interview Paddy Chayefsky, the only person to have won two Academy Awards for original Screenplay (Marty and Network.) Chayefsky shared this priceless nugget
As soon as I figure out the theme of my play, I type it out in one line and Scotch-tape it to the front of my typewriter. After that, nothing goes into that play that isn’t on-theme.
If there is a single more powerful piece of wisdom for any writer, artist, or entrepreneur, I don’t know what it is. Theme. Theme is everything.

Once we know the theme, we know the climax, we know the protagonist, we know the antagonist, we know the supporting characters, we know the opening, we know the throughline.

For each new project, I open a new file and title it THEME. I go back to this file over and over. I pile paragraph on paragraph, trying to answer the question, ‘What the hell is this book about?’ It’s hard.
- Steven Pressfield
Just like Elvis, theme is everywhere in a good screenplay. It’s part of every single element in the story.

A good script has no accidents… everything has purpose in your script. Every word. Every character. Every line of dialogue. No scene is random. Every single scene in your screenplay has a purpose and contains the story’s DNA.

We want to be able to *show* rather than *tell* our stories. Give audiences an experience rather than a lecture. You want your story to *demonstrate* the theme. Let the story and all of the other elements in your script carry the theme. No need for lectures or on-the-nose dialogue – the theme is under every surface.

You want theme to be buried so deep that it doesn’t show, yet effects everything in your story. If you break your story using a story seed that is theme based, every element becomes thematic.
- William C. Martell

  steven pressfield     storytelling     writing  
about
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
DON'T SHOOT ME IN THE ASS, AND OTHER STORIES by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs

ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : NEMESIS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Nine - Cataclysm by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Ten - The Flood by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Twelve - Carnage by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Fourteen - Endgame by Michael Stephen Fuchs
from email:



to email(s) (separate w/commas):
By subscribing to Dispatch from the Razor’s Edge, you will receive occasional alerts about new dispatches. Your address is totally safe with us. You can unsubscribe at any time. All the cool kids are doing it.