Browsing through old notes, I found a memo I had written for my little reader. Luca, at the time, was in fifth grade and asked me how to write a good theme.
Working with him on the plots that the teachers proposed to him and observing his way of writing that, from his tender age, denoted a marked intelligence, a singular style and a great sensitivity of argument, I realized that, often, to our guys really lack the confidence because they know how to do, say and write.
I offer you here below some ideas gathered from my experience with very young boys, but which can be applied at any age, in so far as we are confronted with a written text.
As a writer, for me the fundamental thing is to believe in what is said. A simple theme can become, even if the plot doesn’t particularly excite you, an opportunity to give your opinion about life and who you are. Whether the composition to be developed is fictional, or that it requires describing the reality of the facts, in the themes I observe how much comes out of you as a person.
As already described in my biography, “making a theme” has always been something very special for me. Do, and not just write. A work that presupposes, in order: concentration, silent waiting, creation of ideas, their logical organization, writing, revision of the text and any orthographic or syntactic corrections. Finally, a beautiful copy copy that is able to pay attention to the spaces, the graphic layout, the elegance of calligraphy. But how to do it? Where to start?
There is a secret: silence, which allows the mind to concentrate and make ideas flourish before even collecting them, projects you into a world apart, where the creative flair has the chance to emerge. Here’s where it starts.
When I am called to speak in the classes, one of the things I pay attention to is precisely the ability to know how to remain silent, as he is the most precious friend of inspiration. Only in calmness you have the chance to hear the “noises of the world” that, around you and your ears, are always in turmoil.
You will find that total silence is almost non-existent. That’s why, when you give yourself this precious experience, your brain connects with your soul to the maximum and creates artistic symphonies (songs, words, fairy tales, sculptures, paintings and so on). Art expresses itself through concentration. Where you shut up, you start creating, because you only listen to yourself more, without interference.
The first advice I give, therefore, to write a good theme, is that the environment is as silent as possible, and that the teacher is able to maintain this condition thanks to which the soul can relax.
Having said that, one must be aware that words are important. You can talk nonsense, but writing is something very specific: a task where you must have the courage to express your ideas, your knowledge, combined with a mastery of Italian that is the language of our country, and that as such it must be protected and loved in its beauty.
That said, I report the vademecum I wrote for Luca. Obviously, this is a reminder tailored for him. I believe, however, that it can serve you equally, as an indicative trace. I hope I have passionate you, because writing is not a duty to be fulfilled but really one of those rare occasions in which you give a trace of yourself, unique and unrepeatable!
HOW TO WRITE A GOOD THEME
- Read many quality books and different styles. The more one reads, the more one becomes free in speaking and writing.
- Train yourself to write frequently. For example, keep a diary or a small diary to mark the good and bad things of every day or week, striving to write them in good Italian and in a correct form. In a few years you will be pleased to re-read your memories and your adventures. We forget many things that happen to us; instead, in this way you can always remember them smiling!
- Before starting to write, think about what you would like to say. Think calmly and without haste. Write down on a bad sheet of key words or phrases, so as not to forget the ideas that came to your mind. In this way, from the beginning of the theme the style will be more smooth and homogeneous, you will report the concepts in order, and you will avoid losing yourself in descriptions that are not consequential with what you write later.
- Start with a brief introduction to the topic, then develop the central part, and finally write a conclusion that “satisfies” the reader. You can come up with a twist, or, if the title of the topic is serious and asks you to represent the reality of things and situations, conclude by exposing your opinion about it, explaining why you think so.
Use sentences that are not too long. If you notice that you are getting tangled up or that you are likely to miss verbally because the sentence is too long, interrupt it, or rewrite it shorter. After the point, start again to say what you wanted. It will be easier not to make mistakes.
- Pay attention to tenses. If you decide to tell an event in the past (eg “I was at the market when my mother arrived … I helped her carry shopping bags … At home I found the table set and a good steaming dry pasta waiting for me …”) keep the most the past is possible. If instead you are narrating in the present, keep the present (eg “My house consists of two floors, the first is my room … The garden is made up of various types of vegetables …”). Remember the scheme, almost always valid, which includes:
I was at the market …… When my mother ARRIVED
I WAS GONE on a trip …… When I HAVE MISSED that …
Attention to the apostrophes: if the next word is masculine, the apostrophe is not put (ex. Another book). If instead it is female, yes (eg. Another adventure).
- Beware of repetitions: check that there are never too many identical identical terms. In two or three lines it is not good to use the same noun or verb, unless you want to focus your attention on that specific word. Ex. “I opened the book, looked for the formula, then closed the book …”. It is better to write: “I opened the book, I looked for the formula, then I REQUESTED it” or “then CLOSE the text”. Then find synonyms, or avoid repeating the noun several times, if the subject is always the same.
- Attention to the conjugation of verbs: “My friend came to see me” and not “my friend came to see me”.
- Free your imagination but above all always express what you think, even when the title requires historical or literary descriptions. Make your thoughts emerge in respect of the contents you write, without offending anyone, giving negative judgments about professors or celebrities. Explain the sense of morality you express.
- Trust your instincts. If you think of an idea on how to play a theme, it’s usually the winning one! Remember to pin it on an ugly sheet and follow its logical thread to the end.
Above all, however, remember that writing is nice and fun. It’s a time to be alone with yourself and keep yourself company. Ideas appear in the silence, and we realize how much we know how to create and what we really think. A theme is a miniature story, in which you can bring out only your ideas and your points of view, no one else!
My best wishes for a simple task in class to become, from now on, an occasion to look at with different eyes, a moment of calm, creativity, intuition, wisdom and originality all of you.
There will never be a theme identical to what you write. This is a great secret. Use your talent to amaze professors and even yourself about what you can create thanks to your originality!