Let’s break down these terms:
THEME: This is essentially what your story is about. It is the main message or story line.
(1) Your main message or story line must be strong as the development of your characters; conflict, climax etc will also fail to develop properly and thus lose the attention of your readers.
(2) The theme stems from the title of the essay. The title and theme are always interlinked as this guides your mind to the development of a strong message which leads to the plot, i.e. how the reader sees and understands the development of your message through characters, description and other elements like the conflicts, twists etc. Some examples of themes include:
- A Narrow Escape
- You can’t judge a book by its cover
- “Everyone who has passed through Indian Village has heard Waspie’s story” (This is an e.g. of a statement which the examiner might give to you and it must be included in your story.)
PLOT: This is the sequence of cohesive events which take place within the story as a means of fulfilling or bringing to life or materialising your theme. It usually happens in this form:
(1) Conflict – means a problem or some trouble or mishap. Every story must have this in order to make it interesting. This conflict must increase to a Climax, until it is finally worked out or resolved at the end of the story.
The Conflict must have the following elements:
(i) Must be strong. It must be engaging and always capture the reader’s attention. If not, your story will be weak, disinteresting.
(ii) Must be credible (true to life). It should not be far-fetched i.e. very difficult to believe. However, a science fiction story can be incredible or fantastic. If you are given a picture as the stimulus material, then you must use of all its details.
(iii) Must be based on the topic completely, otherwise it will be irrelevant.
(2) Consequent Actions – these are all the events which come as a result of the Conflict/problem. This helps to further build the story, the suspense. This also includes the development of your characters and also shows the importance of your characters to your plot.
(3) Climax – is the highest point/peak of interest in your story.
(4) Resolution – is the solving of the puzzling conflict. When the Conflict reaches its highest point, i.e. Climax, it should then be worked out in the resolution.
Things to note with the Resolution:
(i) If the resolution is too predictable or easy or can be guessed, you story will be dull.
(ii) Strive for a surprise ending or a sudden twist in the plot of the story. Use SUSPENSE, i.e. do not explain everything. Use an ironical ending. Your story does not have to have a happy ending.
(iii) The use of short sentences is more dramatic and effective than longer ones. So it is better to use shorter sentences at dramatic points in the story!