In Holly Liesl’s wonderful How to Revise Your Novel forum, someone posted a question for discussion that I’ve haven’t been able to get out of my mind.
What recurring themes show up in your writing?
As you can imagine, the answers ran the gamut from beautiful to beastly, from twinkling to twisted.
My particular theme is moral ambiguity, and it affects all of my characters. I make them deal with those inevitable times when dark vs light = grey, when they find themselves on the left side of right. Are they bad people if they make a morally ambiguous decisions?
What does it take to make a person step into the light — or not. I’m talking about more complicated issues than black and white “Come over to the dark side, Luke” tales. I’m speculating on how people grapple with the conscious choice to pursue a path that is not ethically correct but is expedient at the moment.
I love this theme. I use it with humor in some stories and with horror in others. I see it everywhere in life, and it adds a layer of conflict to my fiction I couldn’t get any other way. It fascinates readers because we’ve all been there.
Another theme I use is the semi-happy ending. To me, a happy ending isn’t always necessary. Certain genres depend on happy endings but my genre, whatever it is, does fine without hand-in-hand, off into the sunset stuff. Even though I’m writing fiction and science-fiction at that, I want to push my characters to their limit. Readers want to see what characters will do and wonder if, in the hero’s shoes, if they would do the same.
Rewrite update: Chapter Ten in the hopper.