003: Writing effectively for a set theme or prompt

In episode 003 of the Firewords podcast we discuss the different ways of writing for a theme, either figuratively or literally and how it is possible to write to a theme effectively AND keep your unique writing voice.

We start out by reiterating that the theme we set for each issue is optional but discuss the benefit to having themes at all. To illustrate this, we read excerpts from the following pieces we’ve published and discuss how they match the theme of Issue 7, Dark/Light:

  • Reading: ‘Chagrin’, a poem by Dominic Younger. Why is the poetic structure of this piece important and how does the careful use of language help it fit the Dark theme?
  • Reading: ‘Like Art’, a story by Shaun Bossio. How does the story manage to feel uplifting and optimistic even with its dark topic?
  • Reading: ‘Chiaroscuro’, a story by Liam Hogan. This story matches the theme more than any other submission we received. However, it doesn’t feel forced and manages to be an effective and powerful story. So, how does it do it?
  • Reading: ‘To Be With Them Both Tonight’, a story by Nick Wright. This is another story that manages to straddle both sides of the theme. On the surface, the plot of this story should leave the reader feeling sad, yet it is inherently positive.

A question from a listener starts a discussion about the pitfalls of trying to force your writing to fit a theme that doesn’t inspire you. Jen finishes up the episode by reading a flash fiction piece called ‘The Dragon and the Stallion’ by Jenna Crozier, which shows we also publish pieces that don’t fit in with the issue’s theme.