|Balian of Ibelin|
Make a list of your themes. You can do it in comments or on your own. Don't know them? Or can't quite articulate them? Alexandra Solokoff recommends making a list of films (or books or stories or TV shows, even music, whatever floats you) that appeal to you. Think archetypes, too, even music.
My list would look something like this, in no particular order:
- Sons of Anarchy (TV)
- Rome (TV)
- THE OUTSIDERS by S.E. Hinton
- Boondock Saints
- Kingdom of Heaven
- The Bourne Trilogy
- Robin Hood, in all its various forms
- THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST by Stuart Neville
- JOE PITT series by Charlie Huston
- Most anything written by Richard Kadrey
- LOTR films--but really only certain sequences
- HOUSE TO HOUSE by David Bellavia
- OFF ARMAGEDDON REEF by David Weber
- Most punk rock music, particularly Green Day, Cage the Elephant, Sum 41, My Chemical Romance...Okay, there's more. Loads more. Those are off the top of my head. But it's plenty to work with.
I like soldiers and WARRIORS dealing out death, and often they're self-appointed, like in Boondock Saints. Occasionally, though, they're stuck in a world they don't really understand, like in OFF ARMAGEDDON REEF and The Bourne Identity. Which leads me to another personal theme: the OUTSIDER. Hell, it's even one of the titles.
Outsiders generally have one or more people they'd die for though, or at least friends. Think Jax in Sons of Anarchy. He'd die for the Sons, even when he disagrees with them. So LOYALTY is one of my themes. Plus, Jax has major father issues, along with Ponyboy, Joe Pitt, and Balian. So PARENTAL ISSUES is another. And several of the stories (Kingdom of Heaven, Saints, LOTR, Kadrey's work, and Robin Hood) have MYSTICAL ELEMENTS AND RELIGION, particularly as an impetus to act. That's a big one for me.
So there you have it: my personal themes. Not very original: Male Protags, Violence, Death, Warriors, Outsiders, Loyalty, Parental issues, Religion, all played with background tracks from American Idiot and Danger Days.
But how I apply it, now there's where I find my originality. That's where it's all me. I've developed characters like rock star assassins, disgruntled mystics, martyr princes, twin demon warriors, Wiccan eco-terrorists, changelings who are determined to wipe out their own kind... I think a lot of those stories are pretty original, and they all stem from my quite unoriginal personal themes.
We have to write to our themes, otherwise we're just not really interested, right? So you may as well know what they are and put them to work for you. So how about you? What are your personal themes and how do they manifest themselves in your work?