Stories are often used to influence others. By reading a book like “The Story Factor” by Annette Simmons, you can better understand how stories work as a persuasion tool.
Stories are often more than just entertainment, but they attempt to teach us something as well. Such purposes, often fall under the category of a theme. If your story doesn’t have a clearly defined theme, you may still have a good story, but if it does have a theme, then your story can be that much stronger.
Think of such diverse movies as “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “WALL-E,” and “Babe.” All three movies have similar themes that one life can affect and change the lives of those around you. Although all three movies have similar themes, look at how different each story can be.
In the book “The Story Factor,” the author claims that stories can be used as persuasion tools. “Thelma and Louise” could be seen as a persuasion story to convince men that women get the short end of the deal in a man’s world. Women would certainly agree with this message, which may explain why the story resonated with so many women at the time.
Take away this theme in “Thelma and Louise” and you’re just left with two women on the run. Not quite as interesting, is it without its theme?
If you saw the movie “Frost/Nixon,” it’s based on the actual interviews between talk show host David Frost and ex-President Richard Nixon. The basic theme or message of this movie is that certain men will abuse their power and to what extent will they admit it?
In the “Terminator” movies, the basic theme is always that the human race has a tendency to destroy itself. That could also be the theme of “Waterworld,” “Fail-Safe,” or “Dr. Strangelove” as well.
A theme simply gives your story a purpose. Instead of just trying to entertain an audience, your theme channels your story towards making a point. That point doesn’t have to be a major one, just a simple thought that infuses every part of your story with a purpose.
Besides selling for a lot of money, what is the purpose for writing your screenplay?