Themes in action

In an earlier post I wrote about themes in screenwriting. How do you get across your theme in your screenplay? Although screenplays are often debates on a given question (for example “Faith leads to conflict”), how do you get this debate into your film?

You can’t have scenes with ‘on the nose’ dialogue that has characters having a debate on the theme question. Films are about appealing to the heart, not the head.

Our involvement in drama is always immediate and emotional: any theme, to be effective, must be embodied in the immediate action of the story. As a screenwriter you must make us care by arousing our feelings for your characters through the conflict: then, because we care, we will think about what the story means.

– From The Understructure of Writing for Film and Television.


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