Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Loaded Potatoes and Costume Parties

How a Loaded Word Can Make a Great Theme

The other day, I was thinking about how there are a lot of loaded words out there. Words that have so much meaning attached to them that they can cause heated arguments. I'm talking about a word or phrase that has "strong positive or negative connotations beyond its ordinary definition."

Words like: love, hate, black, white, sex, race, war, food, church, God. Notice how they all happen to be single syllables too. There are more, though. Money, religion, addiction, freedom... Pretty much any number of words that carries with it strong connotations.

How Loaded Words Can Make Great Themes || How to write theme in a story? christiewrightwild.com

Loaded Potatoes

So is a loaded potato a good thing or a bad thing? Or is it even a thing at all? I know potatoes are full of carbs, but I don't care. To me, they are delicious. I can make a meal out of loaded baked potato: butter, cheese, bacon, sour cream, green onions, maybe even some broccoli and mushrooms. Potatoes can be cooked so many different ways: baked potatoes, potato au gratin, mashed potatoes, potato salad, boiled potatoes, fried potatoes, potato wedges, stuffed potatoes, and dozens more!

Words are the same way. Take "love" for example. Why do so many people hate Valentine's Day? Because they've had their hearts broken and they don't think they'll ever find love again. Is love overrated? Maybe. But probably not. We all take something different from our experiences and attach meaning to all kinds of words.

Costume Parties

When was the last time you went to a costume party? What did you dress up as? Was there a theme? Did everyone dress up in masks for the masquerade ball? Favorite book characters like a lot of kids do at school? Scary costumes for halloween with witches, goblins, vampires, and werewolves? A lot of costume parties have a theme. Not always, though. And that's okay too.

But when the parties have a theme, it's easier to feel like you fit in. I wouldn't want to accidentally dress up like a T-Rex for a fancy masquerade ball. You don't talk about certain adult topics in children's picture books, either. There's a certain expectation set for that particular age group.

Themes of Stories

Which leads me to say that books, novels, stories all have themes that we, as readers, and humans, like to explore. Themes like love, war, race, freedom, God, etc. There are plenty more themes with multiple variations of each. I'm boiling them down here to the barest of essentials in the broadest way possible.

Again, take love for example. There's forbidden love, unrequited love, love for God, for country, even for enemies. There's the love of friends and the love between lovers. And all kinds of other statements about love for everything in between.

My point is that when you hear a loaded word, jot it down in your journal. And the next time you get invited to a costume party, you may just find a new character who can explore that theme for your next book.

What will you dress up as? (Halloween's right around the corner...) Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...


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