WRITING CHILDREN’S BOOKS TIP #6: MISSIONS
Today, we’ll talk about missions and why they should NEVER be mixed up with themes.
The mission is the goal of your story. The reason why you want to write a story. Sometimes, the mission and the theme are one and the same, but many times, they are not.
You can write a successful story without a mission but it is near impossible to have a successful story without an emotion-based theme.
You see, where the mission is your story’s head, the theme is its heart.
I’ll give you an example.
I want to write a book that celebrates a Nigerian heroine, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti. I want Nigerian girls to understand that FRK is a big part of the reason why women can aspire to political power in Nigeria today. I want them to know that she fought for the social, economic and political rights of Nigerian women. I want them to see her for the trailblazer she was and perhaps find a role model in her.
This is the head of my story. My mission.
To get this story across to my readers in the most powerful manner possible, I must find an emotional angle to it. Herein comes the theme. What themes/universal truths can many people immediately identify with?
I can use any or all of the following: Fighting for one’s beliefs against all odds, courage, discrimination …
If I can find an emotional angle to FRK’s story, my readers will read her story over and over again and hopefully share it and then, mission accomplished: people, especially young girls, will know her name.
Many times, your theme is embedded in your mission. Ask yourself the following questions:
Why is this mission important to me? Why should my reader care about my mission?
Using the example I gave earlier about FRK, my question to myself would be: Why do I want to celebrate FRK so much?
Because she dared to fight where many women could not, because she showed unbelievable courage in the face of serious adversity.
In the answer to that question, I found my theme.
- Action: A. Identify the theme(s) and mission(s) in the book(s) you love.
Is there a book you have read more than once? Yes? That’s the one you need.😊
- Can you figure out the theme(s) using the questions above?
- What did you like best about this book?
- Which character’s story resonated with you and why?
- Can you figure out the mission?
- Go online and look for author interviews to see if you were right! Good luck!
B. Now think about your own story: What’s your mission and what’s your theme?
Here is one of my favourites:
- Amari and the Night Brothers (MG) by B.B Alston
Mission: Create a killer adventure story with a black female protagonist so that little black girls can see themselves in adventure books!
Themes: Courage, friendship, family and the overall theme of racial prejudice.
Want to write a story for children, don’t know where to start? Tell me all about it and we can figure out the theme and some mentor texts for you!
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Photo credit: amazon.com