Week 0: Themes

Week 0: Themes

Part of the ‘secret sauce’ that makes our campaigns so successful is the way we create thematic arcs that tie our writing and messages together, pulling readers forward, step by step from beginning to end.

We’ll share our framework for creating thematic arcs in Week 1 of the Workshop — we’ve never discussed that publicly before and we’re excited to reveal it for the first time.

If you’d like to learn more about using the power of themes to amplify your marketing messages, here are five resources to explore.

Start with Immersive Nonfiction & Idea Generation with ‘The Fifth Risk’ Author Michael Lewis.

The article isn’t explicitly about theme, but theme is evident everywhere in Lewis’ writing and thinking. He finds interesting angles (and equally interesting characters) and uses both to tell powerful, compelling stories about topics that seem like they would be mind-numbingly boring.

Lewis is a master of his craft and there’s so much value and nuance in that interview.

Next, read the Complete Guide to Literary Themes from Masterclass. This is a great overview of six common themes you can use in your own writing, with details for each. Highly recommended.

Khan Academy’s Developing Themes and Creative Writing Class 4: Establishing Theme are useful resources as well.

“Themes link big ideas about the world we live in with the action of a text” — from Khan Academy

Theme, as an idea, is complex…

It’s really easy to get caught up in a literary-focused rabbit hole. We recommend, instead, that you think about theme from the 10,000′ perspective.

  • Where do you want your prospects to arrive — for example, purchasing something you’ve created?
  • Where are you first engaging with them — for example, in a Facebook ad?
  • What is the context for that first engagement — for example, are you known to the prospect (by reputation) or completely unknown (i.e., they’re a ‘cold’ prospect)?
  • How many touch points will you have between first contact and the first opportunity to purchase?

It’s really helpful to draw this so you a see a physical representation of the thematic arc from beginning to end.

Once you have that, identify a theme that connects the dots from beginning to end. (Good vs. Evil is a great place to start. We’re particularly fond of Courage & Perseverance as well.)

Establishing a theme is a first step to create powerfully congruent messaging that pulls your prospects forward into your world. The resources above are everything you need to get started.


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