Single themes

When you think back to all the books you’re read over the years, and all the movies you’ve seen…which ones to do you remember best?

The stories that stayed with me are those that offered a single theme or a single goal Every chapter or theme built on to that single premise.

Stories that quickly come to mind or Aesop’s “Tortoise and Hare,” Dickens’ “Christmas Carol,” and Twain’s “Celebrated Jumping Frog.”

Aesop’s story is about a race; Dickens’ tale is about mending one’s ways; Twain’s tale is about a contest.

Today, whenever I sit down to write I ask myself two questions: (1) What is the focus of this story? and (2) What conclusion do I want the reader to draw from it?

Horseless carriages

Back 100 years ago, those motorized carriages made so much noise when they puttered along, they scared the horses. So in 1894, Vermont passed a law that said if you drove on a public road, you had to send somebody ahead to warn the buggy traffic.

That made sense. But unfortunately, motorcars and horses never worked well as road partners. The four-legged kind used less fuel, but you can’t air condition a horse. So, gradually, cars took over family transportation chores.

The secret: Many inventions are hybrids…the coupling of prior technologies. Examples: movies (pictures and recorded sound) and bifocal glasses (combined distance and magnifying lenses).