What Are Your Themes?

Every writer has themes they come back to again and again. Whether intentional or not, these are the issues that weigh on our hearts.

One of those issues for me is trust. All my stories seem to have some character wondering whether or not they can trust someone and a critical point where they need to decide if they do. I don't know whether this is something I struggle with or not (maybe it is!). But while I was writing Cunning Folk, I was consciously thinking of one of our kids who had difficulty trusting authority figures. They had good reasons for their mistrust, but it was very difficult for them to believe they could really trust us.

Actually, a lot of our kids struggle with that. Maybe that's where the theme comes from?

What about you? What themes do you keep going back to, either in what you write or what you watch/read? Where do those themes come from?

13 comments:

Michael LaRocca said...

I can't remember if ENIGMA is my 8th or 9th, but it's the one coming out next year. Writing that thing was kicking me in the butt like nothing I wrote before it. 30,000 words into it, I still didn't know "what the book is about."

And then I did. Second chances, past mistakes, wanting to do it again. Same thing I've been writing about in everything. Mm hmm.

My next book is about football.

Adam Heine said...

@Michael: Themes work that way with me too; I have no idea what they are until the story's long been written.

Bane of Anubis said...

Loyalty/believing in yourself/true courage are usually sideish themes of thing I write.

Protecting the children is the huge, main, not-so-subtle theme of KD.

Heidi Windmiller said...

I write a lot about loyalty and betrayal. Betrayal is always a central aspect of the climax in my novels.

In the one I am drafting right now, I decided to go against my trend while planning. But in the actual writing--that darn betrayal showed up.

So now I'm thinking a lot about whether we, as writers, should make ourselves jump onto a different track when we see the same trends play out over multiple novels. Or should we just let it be?

linda said...

Ooh, I've thought about this before too. I'm guessing forgiveness and selflessness will be biggies, though I can't be sure until I write more. Can't wait to find out if I'm right or not! :)

Adam Heine said...

@Bane: That's a really interesting theme (well, to me obviously). I can't wait to read your book!

Adam Heine said...

@Heidi: Honestly, I think the themes that keep popping up are what makes your novel your novel. It's probably okay to plan away from it, but ultimately I think writing about the themes we care about (even subconsciously) is what will make a novel stand out or feel flat. Passion, you know?

@Linda: That's what's so interesting to me about themes. I never knew this about myself until I looked back over 3 novels!

Sarah McCabe said...

For me it would have to be truth and light/dark. Truth has always been very important to me so it's no surprise that my writing is infused with it.

jjdebenedictis said...

I think my themes are likely to change once I've written it out of my system. Right now (and on my previous novel), I'm riffing on the idea that to be human is to be the opposite of a predator, i.e. we are social animals, and our capacity to care for one another--to be selfless and to understand the concept of justice--is a built-in (evolved-in) trait that defines us.

Matt Heppe said...

Bad guys see good guys when they look in the mirror.

In many cases good and evil depend in which side you're on. I want my readers to have to think about who is in the right.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Now that I think about it: yep!

Okay, time to pick something new for my next novel. ;)

K. Marie Criddle said...

Wow...I don't think I've ever thought about it but yeah. My themes can be pretty consistent. A lot of my stories revolve around an outsider (with serious personal issues) trying to fit in. When they don't, they search for another place to welcome them. So...pretty much everyone's high school experience? Man, I gotta get a new childhood. :)

Peggy Eddleman said...

Gosh, now you're going to make me think! Looking back at what I've written-- in some stories its stronger than others, but my common theme is to find your strengths and use them. Even if-- ESPECIALLY IF-- they're way different than the strengths of those around you.