A theme is a short piece of prose on a given subject. It includes arguments, expositions, descriptions, and narratives. The theme presents a single central idea, which gives it unity. The major parts of a theme are paragraphs. These paragraphs should be closely related to each other and provide a logical coherence to the whole theme.
The material in a theme should be arranged so as to secure appropriate emphasis. The emphasis may be developed by proportion, repetition, and by placement. Besides these, the whole theme should give an idea of originality and must be written in a good style.
The first problem in writing a theme is determining what you are going to say. If you don’t have a clear idea of the subject you will face problems in organization and expression. So first of all you must have a firm grasp of the contents.
The primary source of material for writing is your personal experience which is based on your listening, observing, reading, asking questions, or discussing problems. This material should be organized in an appropriate form before you being to write. You may raise a number of questions about the idea or concept you are writing about.
What is the idea or concept? To what kind of situation does it apply? Where does it not apply? Who thought of it? Did it ever cause or solve any social or political problems or conflicts? To these questions you can add three more general ones :
- What major idea should I express about this topic?
- Is there any other information that has not been given even when all the
questions have been answered?
With what may this topic be concerned?
Now try together relevant information in the light of these questions, and start writing without waiting for the perfect expression. This you can do later when revising the first draft.
The first draft is ‘thinking with a pen and helps to draw ideas out of your mind. On a second reading of the draft, you can discard less important ideas and insert any new information that you might have got in the meantime.
Now keeping the topic in mind arrange this material under three heads: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion.
The introduction says what you are going to say. The body says it, and the conclusion says what you have said. The introduction comprises a statement of the topic, a statement of the central idea, an indication of the importance of the topic, and a thesis sentence.
The thesis sentence tells what you are going to say in the body of the theme. In a theme of about 300 words, the introduction should not go beyond 50 words, that is six or seven short, well-formed sentences.
The Body may be divided into three or four short paragraphs depending on the topic and the points raised in the thesis sentence. Expand each point in a separate paragraph, but don’t lose sight of the central idea which supplies the unifying element in your theme. You can use about 2000 words for this part.
In the remaining 50 words you conclude what you have already said in the body, but do not repeats the ideas mechanically in the same language. A conclusion is a psychological necessity, so put the content of your topic sentences using different words to convey the same idea.
Sometimes you can draw attention to the things you might have said but have not said because of the constraints of the space or the limits imposed by the topic. Sometimes you can hint at the possible effects of the idea proposed in the theme.
Here is an outline or a plan for theme writing. You can conveniently organize your material according to these details :
I. The Introduction :
- (a) Statement of the topic.
- (b) Statement of the central idea.
- (c) Statement showing the importance of the topic.
- (d) Thesis sentence combining the central idea and topics to be developed in the body.
II. The Body:
First Paragraph: The first topic is listed in the thesis sentence.
Second Paragraph: The second topic is listed in the thesis sentence and so no…
(Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence connected with the central idea).
III. The Conclusion:
2. Reference to things is not said in the body of the theme:
- (a) The addition of new details.
- (b) The addition of new arguments.
- (c) The answering of possible objections.
3. The explorations of implications:
- (a) Where does the central lead?
- (b) Relevance of the central idea into new fields.
Everyone who wants to set his ideas down on paper is conscious of the overwhelming importance of an effective beginning.
It is easy to say that the best way to begin is to begin but this advice is not Very helpful to the beginner. You may, however, use the following specific devices to introduce your subject appropriately and interestingly.