Story themes list: 100+ ideas to explore in your novel

Not sure what your story is about? Try this list of themes.

Themes are the universal ideas or topics your story explores.

And there are a lot of them. So many, in fact, the novel or story you’re working on probably already has a few, whether you realize it or not.

But that doesn’t mean your work is done.

Even though your story already has themes, you still need to identify and nurture them into something that resonates with your readers. Otherwise they’ll just sit there beneath the surface — stale, inert, unrealized.

That’s why I put together this story themes list, to help you:

  1. See and identify themes that might already be in your story, and
  2. Get a taste of just how many different kinds of themes are out there (because even this long list only scratches the surface).

How to use the list

Before you jump in, there’s something I want to point out.

The themes I included below are subjects and not messages. I explain the difference in my post that answered what is the theme of a story, but to quickly summarize, a subject is the broad topic you explore, while the message is what you’re trying to say about that subject. (Some call this the “thematic concept” and “thematic statement,” respectively.)

For example, “love” might be the subject of your story, but “love is difficult yet worthwhile” might be the message you want to share about the subject.

I didn’t provide messages, because I want you to feel empowered to use your own beliefs to fuel your handling of these themes.

That being said, your story doesn’t need a message if you don’t want it to. Stories can thrive on subjects alone. But as you look through this list and identify the themes that might be in your writing, you should also think about whether there’s anything you want to say about those topics.

All right, that’s all I have to say. Jump on in!

List of 100+ themes worth exploring


  • Aging
  • Childhood
  • Coming of Age
  • Disillusionment
  • Friendship
  • Growth
  • Healing
  • Isolation
  • Loss
  • Loss of Innocence
  • Overcoming Adversity
  • Parenthood
  • Redemption
  • Revenge
  • Self-discovery
  • Survival
  • Tragedy


  • Apathy
  • Compassion
  • Despair
  • Fear
  • Grief
  • Jealousy
  • Joy
  • Loneliness
  • Love
  • Regret

Gender & Sexuality

  • Androgyny
  • Femininity
  • Gender Identity
  • Masculinity
  • Sexuality

Human Perception

  • Dreams
  • Identity
  • Memory
  • Perception vs. Reality
  • Subjectivity

Mental Health & Neurodiversity

  • Autism
  • Bipolarity
  • Depression
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Suicide

Natural Forces

  • Death
  • Fate
  • Nature
  • Passage of Time

Politics & Economics

  • Capitalism
  • Communism
  • Conservation
  • Democracy
  • Fascism
  • Freedom
  • Justice
  • Nationalism
  • Peace
  • Propaganda
  • Radicalism
  • Socialism
  • War

Religion & Philosophy

  • Atheism
  • Determinism
  • Ethics
  • Faith
  • Free Will
  • Good vs. Evil
  • Skepticism
  • Metaphysics
  • Nature vs. Nurture
  • Pacifism
  • Religion
  • Soul / Consciousness

Social Issues

  • Abuse of Power
  • Homophobia
  • Immigration
  • Inequality
  • Oppression
  • Poverty
  • Progress & Regress
  • Privilege
  • Racism
  • Rights of the Oppressed
  • Sexism
  • Transphobia
  • Working Class Struggles

Society & Culture

  • Conformity
  • Familial Obligations
  • Honor
  • Individualism
  • Responsibility
  • Tradition

Technology & Science

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Augmented Reality
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Human Integration with Technology
  • Information Privacy
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction

Virtues & Vices

  • Ambition
  • Corruption
  • Courage
  • Forgiveness
  • Mercy
  • Power
  • Pride

Want help identifying themes?

If you’re struggling with the concept of theme or how to identify and highlight them in your story, feel free to reach out in the comments below! I’m happy to help.

Follow this blog

2 thoughts on “Story themes list: 100+ ideas to explore in your novel

  1. This is a nice list to get inspired! There are so many stories to write about all of these ideas!


    1. Thanks! The crazy thing is this list still only scratches the surface of all the different themes out there. It’s both daunting and liberating to know!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close