Thesis Statements in Stories

I had the choice of a couple of different textbooks to use for one of the college writing courses I am teaching. Today, I’m reading in it about narratives and how stories should have a thesis statement. While I do think sometimes I can point to a sentence in some of the stories I love that captures what the writer might have hoped to convey to readers, I can’t support the idea that a story needs a thesis and that’s something that can always be found in a story and marked.
I remember teaching freshman high school students in Charlotte when I thought I was ignorant because I couldn’t find all of the points in the story for a plot diagram. I had to start writing for myself before I realized that all the points on the diagram weren’t in all of the stories that were in our textbook. I hadn’t yet realized that the people who put together the textbooks and wrote the state tests didn’t really understand stories because they weren’t people who tried to write stories anymore.
I also doubt that all writers have a point or purpose to the stories they start. I have talked with a lot of writers who don’t start a story without knowing the theme of it and their reason for writing, but I have also talked to a lot of writers–and usually I’m in this camp–who discover why they are writing during the process of composition. The theme or purpose for the writing is fleshed out while writing.

One response to “Thesis Statements in Stories”

  1. This reminds me of the song my son and I were listening to this morning: From the rear view mirror I could see that he had a little angry look on his face. I explained to him that the song was about love, and he looked at me incredibly. I said, sometimes people don’t know how to talk about how they feel, and writing songs helps. I started thinking about the literal translation of that song, that it didn’t quite indicate what I knew by feeling that it meant, and that art, songs, poems find words, phrases, images to imply, induce something that feels real, even though superficially it may not be, or does not work by literal measures and translations. I love the not quite-fitting puzzles that fit, somehow by gestalt, and create a new feeling-experience in the process.

    Ruth Ann

    Liked by 1 person

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