If I had to boil down all the fictional works-in-progress I’ve written and try to figure out some commonalities among the motley assortment of genres, plots, settings, and characters, I could probably pigeonhole them into one of three thematic categories:
#1. Hubris goeth prior to destruction
#2. Love conquereth all
#3. Good shall outlast evil
I don’t know if these are my life mottos or anything (if so, they ain’t too shabby), but they sure do appear a lot in my short stories and novel-length manuscripts. The one I’m working on now (17,000 words and counting) will probably incorporate all three by the time I’m through with the first draft.
My creative writing teacher back in college used this cliché once: “Write what you know.” So, accordingly, I should write about a thirty-three-year-old jr. high English teacher who is married to the love of his life and enjoys Mexican food, speculative fiction, and long walks on the beach. Right? I can’t write about survivalists in post-apocalyptic settings or teenage girls who have to outwit psycho hillbillies in order to stay alive, because I haven’t experienced any of that for myself. I have to write what I know.
But here’s the thing: I know about hubris—that overweening pride of legendary Greek proportions. (I once thought I had God’s plan for my life figured out. Need I say more?) And I know about love, that it’s an ability, not a feeling (thanks, Dan in Real Life). And I’ve felt the yearning of every moral human being for good to give evil the beat-down of a lifetime. So I guess it’s just natural for these themes to come through loud and clear in my stories, since I’m writing what I know.