Fiction for Poets

Finding Your Theme

After character, setting and plot, theme is that magical thing that holds a story together—and also makes it sing. But what is theme? How does it get into a story? Whether you’re early in the outlining phase or putting the finishing touches on a piece—or revising, draft after draft, a story that “just doesn’t work”—this workshop will help you use the elements of fiction to identify opportunities for theme in your characters, settings and prose, and bring them to the surface. We’ll look at how other writers have used theme successfully and discuss how theme can be used both to guide us through the early stages of writing and bring our stories to a strong resolution.

Workshop Details


Sarah Gerard is the author of the novel Binary Star, which NPR calls “a hard, harrowing look into inner space,” as well as two chapbooks, BFF and Things I Told My Mother. An essay collection, Sunshine State, is forthcoming. Her short fiction, essays, interviews and criticism have appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine‘s “The Cut,” Joyland, the Paris Review Daily, BOMB Magazine and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in fiction from The New School, teaches writing in New York and writes a monthly column on artists’ notebooks for Hazlitt. She lives in Ditmas Park.