First Wednesday of the month, so we’re back at it. One question, five authors including me. I decided not to ignore my name on the list of authors the questioner supplied. I liked this one. Since responses are listed in author alphabetical order, I get to go first.
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Are there themes that can’t seem to let you go? Ideas that you never seem to tire of exploring?
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The predominant theme in nearly all my work is one of the most common ones in literature: good vs evil. And in my case, the triumph of good. Whether it’s a bully having the crap beat out of him, or a crooked government official caught in a sting operation, one way or another my characters end up on top.
Happy endings are the other mainstay of my work. Life’s hard, often painful, and I dislike stories where tortured characters suffer and struggle without achieving their goals. I enjoy sports, read stories, and watch TV shows and movies to escape; my tales hopefully offer readers a similar road to travel. I don’t want to write Pulitzer Prize-winning stories, I thrive on creating popular fiction that makes my fans smile and cheer, and maybe shed a tear of happiness.
I guess a good summary of my favorite themes would be: Yes, we can. We may have to battle along the way, but in the end we will vanquish our opponents.
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I'm not sure these two approaches are themes, but they do recur often in my work.
First, I see stories as snapshots in time, kind of like vignettes, that capture an episode in an otherwise full life. Characters have pasts and hopes for the future. They have past sins, current desires, and ambitions. I think this can be challenging for readers at times, because there is no real ending. Even the beginning is transitional from one point in a life that proceeds onto another point. Despite these being entirely fictional characters, their endurance past the page is important to me in order to mold a complete persona. When that sense is lost with me, the character is no longer vital in my mind.
Secondly, I believe there are no truly good people and so I don't have totally 'good' characters. They are a mix of positive and negative traits. Characters need selfish traits, fits of pique, and blemishes of some kind. It only makes them more human and realistic, and I believe it makes better writing as well.
One of my favorite characters is from the "Confederacy of Dunces", Ignatius J. Reilly who is truly one of the most repugnant people ever, but it makes for a riveting story that explores so many human traits.
Minnette Walters' The Sculptress does the same thing. Olive Martin is morbidly obese and in prison for killing her mother and sister. There would appear to be nothing positive to explore with this character, but Walters strings the reader along with Olive's lies and half-truths until we find her truth, and in it Olive's humanity.
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Thanks for the question.
Themes? I've given this some thought, and went through and considered my entire story list last evening. Some things did eventually jump out at me. There is one prevalent theme, a common one for many of us writers, which I will get to later.
I like to write new and different stories that challenge me, with different characters, different genres, and different subjects. That said, I have always been fascinated by human drama, and the foibles of men--the human condition, and the influences of past experiences and societal expectations. I like getting inside characters' heads and exploring the reasons behind the whys, so that probably lends itself to a recurring theme.
Life and people are full of mysteries, misunderstandings, and hardships, and I believe exploring those intricacies and their complications is a driving force behind my writing. I want readers to be able to relate on some level, regardless of whether they've been in similar situations, so even in my one wolf shifter story, Morningstar: The Malaise, a central theme is 'human' society. Sort of a contrast and compare social commentary which runs throughout, and I believe that is in keeping with said theme.
I am posting a story now, Endings, that delves deeply into the subject of depression, something I've only touched on, in a somewhat lighter way, in other stories, and while it is quite different for me, it still very much fits into the theme I've mentioned.
For anyone who knows me, the most obvious recurring theme in my work is love, not just between main characters, but also encompassing friends and family, and how important they can be in our lives. I could never let go of that one, and I suspect I'm not alone in that regard. This might sound corny, but it feeds me something I need, and I hope it sometimes does that for readers. I should also admit that I like including a bit of 'magic' in my stories... a mystical or spiritual aspect, if not actual 'magic' itself.
As for my poetry, themes do show up, but most often run their course rather quickly. My poems are a reflection of my life at a given time, whether past or present, so they pretty much run the gamut of subject matter. They feed me something I need too.
Again, thanks for the question. Cheers! Gary.
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As a writer, I hope never to tell exactly the same story twice. On the surface, my writing can stop off at a number of genres – horror, romance, drama, humour – but there are common themes. These can dominate, providing a driver for the narrative, or they might lurk in the background, perhaps obvious only to those who know my writing well. They may not appear at all. Themes only become real after several stories reference the same subjects or tropes. I write stories that branch out in other directions, particularly if they're in response to a prompt that pushes me out of my normal groove.
Eric's story (Never Too Late) is a perfect illustration of many themes I keep returning to. If you've read any of my musings on writing and my life as a writer, you'll probably be tired of hearing about Eric. Sorry, but that yet-to-be-finished novel is central to my writing. In it, you can see my development as a writer, and yes, it explores a number of things which have become elements of other stories.
An older protagonist – this ranges from early 30s to 60s or 70s. This comes partly from the simple fact I have no interest in writing about a teen as a lead character. There's also so much more to explore – often they've lived a life already, and that feeds into the story.
A sense of being apart – this comes from my own situation. In my stories, part of a character's journey is often the lessening of that 'looking in' stance.
A life changed – my strapline as a Promising author is 'new lives'. You'll be unsurprised to find this is a foundation stone of my writing. For good or bad, this is a common driver for my plots.
Self-discovery – this is a more recent theme, again having its roots in my own life.
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I love finding value in the "worthless" or the discarded. People are not tools, yet they're often valued as if they are. Their worth is contingent on a use, and this is dehumanizing, selfish, and short-sighted. I don't know why so many can't see what it is that they're doing, so I feel this is almost a duty for me ... that I'm required to show the falseness of this inherent belief. Great question. Thank you for asking.
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That’s it for this month, Peeps. See you in April. In the meantime, I’m always looking for more questions so if you have any, send them my way.