Thursday, April 21, 2016

Writing Themes

My critique partner Jen and I were discussing the other day themes we keep coming back to in our writing. I think it's very telling of our passions—the things we love spilling over into our books—and also concepts that we find continually interesting, maybe even without realizing it.

A few of mine are pretty obvious: I'm a pianist and a reader, and I can't keep libraries or music out of my books to save my life! I have an enchanted library, a locked library with a hidden magical room, a huge library that isn't magical but is filled with vital information, a palace library haunted by a sort-of ghost (long story). In one of my books, music turns out to be the key to everything; in another it's one of my characters' passions; in another it provides a growing bond between two characters. I just can't get away from it!

I also seem to be fascinated by putting characters in a claustrophobic/confined/remote setting and seeing what happens when they can't get away from each other. One of my books is set almost entirely in a creepy old mansion on the edge of the sea. Another is in a high-tech tower in the middle of a city. Another takes place in an enchanted underground house. Another in a palace. I think maybe I like finding drama in the ordinary: an awkward dinner conversation; an accidental encounter in the hall (I seem to be obsessed with important conversations happening in hallways!!); a shouting match in a garden. It also forces me to find creative ways to include variation within such a confined setting—which is where that enchanted library comes in in my fairytale retelling!

Other themes I keep coming back to: friendships, friendships that develop into romance, parent/child relationships, sibling relationships, stories/myths/fairytales that turn out to be true. I also suspect I'm developing a thing for people who shape shift into animals, but that's only happened in three books so far (okay yes, it's a thing).

Something else I seem to write often are introverted characters, which I'm sure is a natural extension of being introverted myself. There are a few exceptions of course, but many of my characters tend to be very introspective, which forces me to push them out of their comfort zones so that PLOT can happen! (Poor things!) This leads to pitfalls in rough drafts where there's a lot of staring out of windows and crying. A LOT. :-D Thank goodness no one ever sees those drafts, right??? *shudder*

One other thing I like to experiment with in writing is structure. It doesn't always work, but it's led to me doing things like writing from the first-person POV of a blind character, making myths an integral part of the story, writing part of a book in past tense and part in present (for a very specific reason).

So there you have it! The ongoing themes I tend to explore when writing. What are yours?

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