The theme of your script is another word to describe the primary objectives and the genre of a story. For example, a theme of a script may be connecting with a long-lost love while the genre is romantic drama. While interconnected, these two elements are far from similar. A well-thought out theme is essential to ensure a story is fully told; however, many writers fall into the trap of over-focusing on this theme.
Focusing too much on your theme brings viewers outside of their suspended belief and into the realm of “duh, I can see that.” When writers over-focus on the primary storytelling points of their script, they eliminate the audience from guessing and becoming involved within the story. Spoon feeding viewers your story does nothing but bore them and dilute the meaning behind your words.
Write According to the Theme Not For the Theme
Screenwriting is a fine art form. You must provide ample information through dialogue and action sequences to inform audiences what’s truly happening without providing an excess amount of information. Perhaps the trickiest part of screenwriting is balancing the amount of information given against hinted information.
When I say you must write according to your theme, I’m referring to the notion that you write based upon what kind of story you wish to tell. If you’re writing about a group of robbers who terrorize small communities in the Southwest, then there’s a specific type of language and storytelling elements to ensure this theme is told correctly. However, it’s when you move into the stereotypical elements of writing based on this theme that readers/audience members get bored.
Writing excessively to a theme leads only to predictability.
Instead of making obvious choices with your script, figure out your theme and write so audiences understand what’s happening – then stop. The theme of your story is apparent after the first several minutes of the film. Therefore, keep audiences members surprised by twisting the theme and playing to the sub-theme and sub-plots in unexpected ways.
The goal (especially when covering common genre themes) is to fight predictability and expectations. If you can’t surprise the audience with how you present this common theme, then return to the drawing board.