Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Fricassee

Happy Friday!

I've been having fun changing tenses for the TENSE CHANGE CHALLENGE entries.  It's funny to note that, even in a mere 250 words, I will find errors when I go back through to proofread my work.  Tense changing is tricky!  It's like our brain tells us what it expects to see instead of what it actually sees.

At any rate, those will post on Monday.  Be ready with your critique!

As for today--here's your writerly question that begs an answer:

How aware are you, while writing a story, of the personal beliefs and passions with which your writing is infused?

In other words, do you go into it knowing things like, "I believe global warming is killing the planet, so I'm going to write a story about a dying earth," or "I've been through 3 divorces and I don't believe in happily-ever-after, so I'm going to write a doomed love story"?  Or do you simply write, and then discover later which deep, passionate parts of your psyche have surfaced?

For me, it's been largely unconscious.  For example, the novel that captured my agent's heart has "loss of freedom/maintaining autonomy" as one of its main themes, but I didn't sit down and decide to write a story about that.  It was a natural outgrowth of who I am and what cooks inside my brain when I'm not necessarily actively thinking about it.  I trust it's the same for many of you, too.

So, share!  Are your themes conscious or unconscious?  And if they're unconscious, can you share a revelatory moment during which you declared, "Great Scott! My undying support for sending dogs to the International Space Station is all over this story of mine!"

Looking forward, as always, to hearing from you!


  1. Mine seem to be unconscious. I kind of let my Muse(s) take me where ever the right direction might be. And sometimes, it's a part of me I never knew about and other times, it's something I already knew.

  2. A little of both? Sometimes I know I'm doing it and sometimes I don't. For instance, if someone asked me for a main theme in my books, it would be duality, that persona we present in public versus that persona you keep locked inside. I didn't realize how big of an issue that was for me until I noticed it cropping up again and again in my manuscripts.

    But consciously, I always write strong female characters. I can't have the Bellas or Mary Sues, although sometimes I like reading them, my body will not allow me to write them because, uh, I'm usually the instigator in my, uh, romantic affairs. *blushing*

  3. "My writing is not influenced by my own passions," she said with a twinge of sarcasm. I almost always have the theme of my MC being an outsider who is the only one who can bring down the authority in question. My stories are about finding your place in the world and a big part of that is figuring out your identity. So, yeah, common themes but not done in a deliberate way. It just ends up that way.

  4. When I'm writing I tend to disappear. But if one of my characters suddenly develops beliefs, however extreme, I usually go with it provided it doesn't upset the overall theme of the novel.

  5. Oh, I'm sure my beliefs always come out somewhere. It might be just a small slip, like in the MG adventure I was reading this morning, where the bad guy briefly fumes about certain media-type who call him out for bad sportsmanship because he hunts using automatic weapons and helicopters, but it will be there.

    Which is why I never went into journalism; complete objectiveness is not for me. Although nowadays, it doesn't seem to matter.

    And like Rachel, I can't write weak female MCs. I am always Scarlet, never Melanie (the Carol Burnett version of Scarlet perhaps, but Scarlet still).

  6. It's always unconscious. I would never trust myself to be blatant about anything. I'm sensitive to writers (in all mediums) trying to force opinions on me. I also don't tend to realize it until I'm doing a final read-through or someone else points it out. It kind of makes me feel like a genius sometimes when that moment hits. Lol!

  7. I found that I really gravitate to adventure and romance in the YA sphere. I purposefully choose my story line (often linked to a fairytale or other type of retelling). But its only this year that I noticed that my MC girls all feel stifled at the beginning of the novel and are searching for a place where they can flourish and develop all the awesomeness that is in embryo. Their search inevitably coincides with meeting a fellow who feels weak and wants to prove himself. Their journey together is always so much fun and along the way I discover things I already believed but hadn't put into words before. Much of it has to do with our growth as a person can be blessed or stunted by the people who surround us. Part of my life journey has been to discover true friendship in my relationship with my husband and with wonderful people I've met in all the cities I've lived in. Another theme I've found is that past abuses can make one a kinder, more sympathetic person and (again with the help of loved ones) one can grow beyond the restraints that the abuser place upon one and become a lively, amazing person capable of tremendous achievements.

  8. I tend to start with awareness of a broad theme/attitude--be careful what you wish for, or something like that. But it may or may not develop that way. And other theme/soapbox topics may pop in. For example, my characters NEVER litter. Only evil villains litter.

  9. One of the things that ties into themes is symbolism, of course, and at least a couple of times on my blog I've talked about how curious it is that much of the symbolism in my stories happens unconsciously. For instance, in the case of my novelette that was published in an anthology last year, I didn't realize just how much symbolism was woven throughout that story until I was doing the final copy edits. As krystal jane said, that's one of those moments when you feel you must be even cleverer than you thought you were! ;)

  10. YA readers sense a 'lecture' a mile away. To them it is inexcusable. Therefore when I see I've crossed the line, I pull it. If I'm deep and properly into that character, my views should fade away. At least, I hope they do. Remember that the tension between an author and a contrary-to-author's viewpoint character is gold to be mined.

    As to theme, I take the advice of Bret Anthony Johnston and other instructors from Iowa Summer Festival of Writing that theme is something others will define. It would be too heavy-handed for me to write to a theme. I'd see it as weak writing. The spirit? The whisper? The subtle underlying themes are the best. And those come as an unconscious sigh. Is it there? Is it not? But perhaps the reader will carry the thought further in his/her unconscious mind.

  11. I think some people can think of a theme and then write a story about it but when others try it, it tends to feel forced. For me, I think I tend to just write what I want to write about, and if it is something I feel passionate about, then yes, I plan ahead to write about that. And if it is just a story of my life or something that I don't necessarily plan to have a deeper meaning or theme in it, others have found that and I've tilted my head and think, "Well that's interesting - and I can see what you're talking about, but I hadn't planned on that."

    I think at the root of it all, writing is exploratory. Exploring yourself, your characters, deep subjects, the strangeness of love, whatever. That's what makes it so much fun. :)