Charged with Purpose: Theme as a Starting Point for Fiction Writers

In his preface to Look Homeward Angel, Thomas Wolfe wrote: “Fiction is fact selected and understood… fiction is fact arranged and charged with purpose.” Writers commonly begin from a spark of incident or character and write without knowing where we’re headed, working only after the fact to understand the meaning of what we’ve created. A different strategy is to work in the opposite direction, beginning with theme and constructing a narrative to convey the preconceived purpose. We’ll talk about techniques, hazards, and potential rewards of this approach.

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