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David Hines [userpic]

my themes, such as they are

June 8th, 2009 (06:47 pm)

[info] - personalmusesfool has an interesting post, in part about comfort zones that fan writers have. She says:

I write the stories I write because they are the stories I want to read. Fandom has a huge appetite for stories that are nearly identical - first times, aliens made them do it, h/c, etc. - and I think that's as much on the writing end as on the reading end. I do know that my stories tend to be repetitive - I like to examine the same themes from minutely different angles, and I'll keep doing so until something else interests me. I wouldn't recommend reading them all in a row.

Food for thought. I know fandom loves the same stories over and over and over again (when I was active in DCU writing, "Kon helps Tim relax" stories arguably made up about half the fandom), but I'm not sure if I could say that about myself or not. It's been pointed out to me that I've written about parents and children a number of times, but I don't know if there's any real thematic component to that. That said, Robert Heinlein said (in "On the Writing of Speculative Fiction," OF WORLDS BEYOND, Fantasy Press, 1947) that there are only three stories: boy-meets-girl, The Little Tailor (i.e., a character's rise or fall, or both; think SCARFACE and MILK for a couple of disparate examples in film) and the-man-who-learned-better. The specifics vary from story to story and from fandom to fandom, but in general I would say that the story I write over and over and over is "the-man-who-learned-better." My stories tend to be about characters learning things: about themselves, about the world, about what to do or be, with the result that they wind up in a different place then they started out in.

I don't repeat specifics much; at least, I try not to. I think that my tendency to not write romantic pairings probably helps, but I think I'd feel kind of awkward doing boy-meets-girl or boy-meets-boy if I kept writing first times about the same pairing. It brings to mind Tom Lehrer's patter about folk songs: "finding singing fifty verses of 'On Top of Old Smokey' twice as enjoyable as singing twenty-five," and whatnot. :)

I dunno. How would you guys peg me? And how would you peg yourselves? Make it a meme if you want; I think this is a neat question, and I'd like to see more people answer it.


Posted by: Aiglet (aiglet)
Posted at: June 9th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)

I know I tend to *read* the same things over and over again, but there are two things there -- I enjoy seeing new takes on something I've seen before (this also drives the "retold fairy tales" market); and I tend to read everything the people I like write, so I repeat when they do.

I think that there's nothing wrong with working through themes -- Robin McKinley's done "Beauty and the Beast" at least twice in her career and may do it again, and they're very different books telling the same story with the same characters. It only becomes a Thing when it's not only the same theme, it's the same take on it every time. Then it's boring.

Posted by: Drooling Fan Girl (droolfangrrl)
Posted at: June 9th, 2009 01:03 am (UTC)

Peg you? Sorry, you'll have to look elsewhere for that. I'm a married lady.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: June 9th, 2009 01:06 am (UTC)


oh god, that never even occurred to me.


Posted by: Drooling Fan Girl (droolfangrrl)
Posted at: June 9th, 2009 01:08 am (UTC)

Hangs head in shame. Don't mind me, I go looking for this sort of thing. Please for to forgive me?

Posted by: vito excalibur (vito_excalibur)
Posted at: June 9th, 2009 02:47 am (UTC)

Yeah, that's right where I went too. I can tell you how I would peg you, David, but I don't think you really want me to...

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: June 9th, 2009 03:05 am (UTC)
sledge hammer!


Posted by: Not your everyday Viking angel (shadowvalkyrie)
Posted at: June 9th, 2009 09:08 am (UTC)

I'm not married... *eyebrow waggle*

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: June 10th, 2009 12:39 am (UTC)
doc savage bust


Posted by: Drooling Fan Girl (droolfangrrl)
Posted at: June 16th, 2009 06:37 pm (UTC)

oh brother, look what i started!


Posted by: amonitrate (amonitrate)
Posted at: June 9th, 2009 03:19 am (UTC)

cool question. have to mull it over. I... tend to focus on characters who have been through some sort of formative trauma. Other than that I think I'll have to sleep on it.

Posted by: Not your everyday Viking angel (shadowvalkyrie)
Posted at: June 9th, 2009 09:43 am (UTC)
excused from saving universes

I think learning is indeed typical of your stories, though it's less what the characters learn about themselves (simply because not everyone is that self-aware) than what we learn about them. For example your Sledge Hammer/T:SCC fic was an eye-opener for me, but probably not for him. (Sledge owns his kinks. *g*) And in the SCC one you wrote for Yuletide, we learn a great deal about Cameron and Sarah, and they a little about each other, but not about themselves. Other than that, I think your self-assesment is fairly accurate.

But in general, I think you're a lot less prone to "variations on a theme" than most writers. Which is absolutely a compliment.

I think my personal over-and-over told story is that of the tough-but-bitter lone-wolf heroine, seeing as that's what all my original fic has been about since I was what, twelve? Mostly because it's what I wanted to read but could only ever find with male protagonists. I also write a lot about travelling and the painful impossibility of being truly free without ever being able to stop trying. Personal issues much? *g*

Fanfic is different, mostly pairing-centred for me, but what I read (happy, happy (and sometimes somewhat screwed up -- thanks, Te) porn) and what I write (people having issues at each other) don't correlate here as much, even though I do try to write characters being happy together once in a while (which mostly leads to really bad fanfic, because it's, frankly, not what I do well, because I don't essentially believe in it).

Posted by: cmar_wingnut (cmar_wingnut)
Posted at: June 9th, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)

I actually think your stories are remarkably original and different. If there's a theme involved - I guess it would be character exploration. That often takes the form of a character learning something, true, but that learning can take many directions.

For myself - I have to think about that a little. You're right, it makes a nice meme.

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