Thursday, September 4, 2008

Faith, love and the price to be paid

You might have noticed I’m kind of into the whole writing bit. No? Guess I’m too subtle for you.

Seriously–writing is my thing, I love it, and I’m always trying to get better at it. Which means digging in. Looking for the themes that run beneath.

Most writers have recurring themes in their work. Sometimes it seems a writer may be aware of these themes, other times not. I’m fairly confident Stephen King is aware how often love–undying, passionate, self-sacrificing, even old-and-comfortable love–lies at the heart of his stories, but I’m not sure he’s noticed how many times he includes a sacrificial dog. And yes, it’s a fair bet you’ll hear more from me on that.

So I think about themes in my work. What are they? How often do they appear? How can I do more with them?

I’ve identified some of mine. Faith. Sacrifice. Love. That sometimes, there’s a price to be paid.

Much of the time I don’t consciously thread these into the story, but when I go looking, there they are. Then it’s a case of drawing them out and adding some sparkle and making sure they’re properly woven in, that they rise up a few times. Making sure they’re working hard to support the story.

Have you looked at yours lately? What are your deepest fascinations?


Erica said...

The path from self-denial to self-acceptance is a common one for me. After struggling with a particular habit or emotional trait, a character will decide that they are who they are and damn the consequences. It doesn't always work out well for them.

People with voices in their heads :) I've only recently picked up on this one. In order of writing, my manuscripts contain 1) a dissociative; 2) a guy who's possessed; 3) an antisocial psychopath; 4) a woman who consumes other people's souls; 5) a girl who's been locked up alone for so long she talks to herself.

The idea that there's no such thing as fate. My people usually thwart their destiny in some way, not always for the better.

And cats. All bar one of my heroes have cats, and the guy who doesn't have one just couldn't handle the fur on his clothes ;) There's something delightfully ambivalent about a guy who owns a cat. Ambivalence being another of my themes.

To date, all the cats have survived.

AJ Macpherson said...

Thanks for showing me yours, E. And for sharing about the cats. Good to know.

Dana said...

Thanks, AJ. Made me think...what are my underlying themes. Thanks, Dana

AJ Macpherson said...

Hi Dana, nice to see you here again.

Tracey O'hara said...

okay - I's a naughty girl. But I am stoppong by for a quick comment.

First - LOVE the change you made to your website - it was only a small change but it does make a great deal of difference.

Secondly - I have never thought about themes in my work, though on thinking about it my latest wip is about self discovery.

Thanks for helping me to work that out AJ

CassieP said...

AJ thank you for this wonderful blog. The theme of my current WIP is trust and self worth. Something that I as a writer feel about myself I have just discovered. I have to learn to trust my voice, my storytelling ability and believe that I am worthy of being published. I am working on this by the way. >g

I have many fears as a writer but sometimes they seem so intertwined that I find it hard to separate them. I fear not being good enough (definately). I fear no one liking my stories. I get so confused when some people love a character and others just don't get them. I know I can't please everyone so I should just please myself but sometimes it is hard to know how much to tweak and or not to tweak for others (critique partners, contest judges, editors etc). Does anyone else have this problem?

AJ Macpherson said...

Hi Tracey, thanks for stopping by. Glad you like the improvements to the site, there's more to come.

AJ Macpherson said...

Thanks Cass, it's fantastic to see you here. Your comment has got me thinking, about critiquing and voice, amongst other things. Stay tuned!