May’s blog topic for WriYe is the question – “What are some of your ‘go to’ themes you like to write about?” – and I’m not sure. I know theme is important, and I’m pretty sure it’s in there somewhere, but I have to be honest I don’t really think about it all that much. I concentrate on the character journey, and on the plot that the characters navigate to learn and grow. I actually had to google what themes might be because my brain went blank.
Character (destruction or building up) is actually on the list. So perhaps that means I have already answered the question. Except that doesn’t feel accurate enough because stories are mostly driven by characters, and not all of those stories are the same. Characters struggle and they evolve but I think it’s what they struggle with, where the theme plays out.
In which case I suspect that one of my ‘go to’ themes is to do with fear. The novel draft I finished last month was very much about fear of love, fear of loss, fear of being vulnerable and opening herself up for heartbreak. However, just like with character I feel like fear is an ever-present theme, that is simply a component of whatever the actual theme is. Characters are afraid they won’t complete their journey, or they are afraid they will, they are afraid of change and the story is always about some kind of change.
So what else do the characters grapple with? I think I like ‘sins of the past coming back to haunt them’ as a theme, if that qualifies. I think I like exploring about ‘power and corruption’, questioning authority and the whether said authority is morally correct – probably tying back to the whole corruption thing. Prejudice and how bloody stupid it is. Equality definitely. How people should be able to be themselves and not be judged for it. The power of choice maybe, and that people often make their own worst enemies. I don’t really do true good vs. evil as I prefer shades of grey. Pain and bad memories being a motivator.
In the end I like to end all stories with hope. I like the characters to be in a better place than they started. A happy ending of sorts. I don’t know if that is a theme but I think it’s important. The world is a dark place where everything is uncertain, but stories can have that certainty and end well. I like characters to be happy. I mean sure sometimes characters have to die but not the main ones. I do tend to operate a “bullet-proof cast” and I’m not even sorry. As a reader I despise character-death, so why would I inflict that on people? As I said the world is bad enough, fiction doesn’t need to be unrelenting misery too.
Self-improvement maybe is a theme? Characters working on themselves, overcoming past mistakes or past trauma or whatever is holding them back, and then making themselves a brighter future. When I put it like that I suddenly see far too much of myself in there as that’s what I ultimately want the most. I’m constantly afraid, utterly terrified of everything, and I want so badly to be better. I also crave the impossible – a certainty of a good ending.
Wow that got deep. Thanks blog topic, I hate it.