An article in this months Romance Writer's Report talked about the importance of theme in your writing. The author suggested every writer has an overarching theme which is detectable in all their work. That made me start thinking, what would be the themes of some of my favourite writers?
Joss Whedon: the power of friendship. His hero characters always have a group of supportive people around them while the bad guys fight alone. The friends keep the hero going when the hero is ready to give up. Together, they can overcome whatever is in their path.
J. Michael Straczynski: the importance of choice. His characters always have difficult decisions to make and they become defined by their decisions. No one is good or evil but that their choices make them so.
J.K. Rowling: believing in yourself. Harry Potter has to struggle against his teachers, his friends, the public and his enemies. He's continually being told he's wrong but he keeps on doing what he thinks is right and it works out in the end.
Mercedes Lackey: never surrender. Her characters get overwhelmed but even when they've had everything taken from them, they don't give up. They keep on fighting. No matter the odds, they're always working away at finding a solution.
Jane Lindskold: accept yourself. Her characters get into trouble when they pretend to be something they're not and the situation is only resolved when they find peace with who they are. Her villains are often trying to overcome fears of inferiority through excessive control while her heros are able to bring their full talents into play because they've become comfortable with themselves.
Melanie Rawn: the power of lies. Again and again, she explores the damaging effect of long held secrets and lies on her characters. Almost every character I can think of has a secret protected by lies and the revelations are always painful and devastating. I'm not honestly sure whether you could say she was for keeping the secret or telling the truth but she certainly recognizes that some truths can cause great pain even if they set you free.
As I write this, I find myself wondering what the authors would think. Would they recognize it? Would they tell me I had it wrong? Are these themes subconscious? Is it something which has played out in their own lives, prompting them to replay it again and again in their fiction? Obviously, I don't have the answers to those questions. But I'd love to find out.