IWSG 77: Do Themes and Global Issues Mix?


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This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.

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CO-HOSTS

Jemi Fraser | Kim LajevardiL.G Keltner | Tyrean Martinson | Rachna Chhabria

Albert Camus once said:

“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.”

and Flannery O’Conner said:

“I write to discover what I know.”

OPTIONAL IWSG DAY QUESTION:

Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

For me, these questions raised the subject of theme.

In many stories our players reflect our personal beliefs and let the world know where we stand on global issues. We give our characters opinions on both sides of a coin and let them subtly deal with the impacts, and emotional baggage those issues can cause.

I’ve taken the stance that everyone is equal. I told my son once that although some people act like they are more important than someone else, we are all worth a penny. Not more and not less.

All of us face the same issues in our daily lives. No one is exempt from loss in all its forms. And joy—earned or not—should not be envied but celebrated.

Does equality reach my writing?

I don’t know. Maybe somewhere down deep it’s there. I’d like to think so.

I write because I love it and not to do it would leave me feeling very similar to a volcano about to erupt.

What do I write? It depends on what caught my eye and how I’m feeling. I’ve bounced around a bit.

How about your characters? Do they duke it out over global issues or is it more personal?

 

48 responses to “IWSG 77: Do Themes and Global Issues Mix?

  1. I write YA & MG fantasy so there has to be a big world issue in the story but of course it is all made up. I think including global issues can make a story more interesting if it fits with the characters and plot.

  2. Hi,
    I am going to step out and say my characters reflect my beliefs and they do have something to say about what’s going on in the world.
    Take care.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  3. I try to make my characters as different to me as possible. They might have one or two traits similar to me.

    On the other hand, in my current story my heroine faces inequality and forms of microaggressions. It’s shown from the beginning in chapter 1. Because of this she’s formed an us vs them attitude. Don’t know if or how she’ll grow to overcome and fight against it. Don’t know whether I’m writing her world on purpose to say something or unconsciously writing what’s going on today for therapeutic purposes. Either way, can’t wait to find out how the story ends.

    • Powerful stuff. I still remember watching a scene in a movie a thousand years ago. It stood out because a man kept getting up after being punched but didn’t fight back. And the man doing the hitting kept beating him, BUT he looked worse and worse with every strike.

      And the man that got up? He looked so incredibly strong. I wanted to be just like him. 🙂

  4. My characters are sometimes facets of me, but I haven’t purposely inserted themes that I want others to notice. Themes do come up, such as mental health, racism, and seeing other people’s points of views on situations, but they aren’t purposeful, just more that they fit the story. I’ve always been nonconfrontational in my life. Maybe this is my subconscious speaking out.

  5. So, even when I write to just entertain myself and others, I tend to find myself writing about individuals overcoming obstacles with a team or by themselves, and lately, I’ve been seeing themes of acceptance and cultural diversity as a strength. I didn’t plan on them, they just showed up. I think I write more purposefully when I don’t pre-plan those issues in my outline, but let them show up organically with the story and characters in the rough draft.

  6. There’s no reason to do something you’re not passionate about. If you do, the result will show that your heart wasn’t in it. Great answer.

  7. I relate to why you write and the reason you write what you write. I love doing it and I let whatever story catch my attention and take me for a ride.

  8. I also believe our writing reflects who we are and what we think about the world. That’s why it is so important.

  9. I write about my experiences living as a Expat. Hopefully, they entertain and inspire.

  10. Great analysis. I think my worldview is visible in my writing as well. Kindness, hope for a better world, taking care of each other and equality probably are my themes 🙂

  11. Good post! I think we writers always have a favorite theme or two that pop up in our stories. Mine is self-determination vs. conformity to societal/family expectations.

  12. I think characters naturally do reflect global conflict. In order for our characters to develop, they have to grow and change, and the reader will naturally see this as progress (good or bad-depending on their own values). I would say equality is a big theme in what I write. What makes someone equal, and what makes others treat them as such.

  13. My brain didn’t go in a ‘theme’ direction, but you know, you’re absolutely right. My characters are working out emotions and worldviews and it does feel empowering to be able to give them something I can’t give in the real world. Like a happy ending 🙂

  14. I really like that lesson you teach your son about everyone being equal, “worth a penny.” The idea of equality is what my father taught us, and an important ideal in my writing too.

  15. Hi Anna, I wrote a romance series featuring a Democrat and Republican crossing the aisle to fall in love. This was before the current political climate became so damn heated, so now many romance readers don’t want to read about politics. But I tried to represent both side fairly. I hope you have a great November!

  16. Yes, my characters have a lot of me in their personality. Not because I’m so perfect, but they help me think through a lot of issues. They are braver than I am and stronger so they can take on the world. I usually don’t have a theme for them in mind when I begin. But by the end of the book, I look back and see the issues that have bothered me like over medicating seniors, ruining the environment, forgiveness, Alzheimer’s Disease awareness, on and on. Thank you for your always thoughtful posts.

  17. I like your explanation about everyone being equal and worth about a penny. LOL It’s entertaining when I watch certain people on TV who think they are more important than the rest of us.

    I like to think my characters are their own persons, that they are not an extension of me. Hahaha. At least, that’s how they start out. I don’t intend to teach a lesson. I write to entertain.

  18. Thank you for stopping by my blog. Writing because you love it is a great mentality to have and having an evolving theme or motivation keeps you free to keep up with whatever is on your mind.

  19. I often say that I write about what scares me–so you’ll find a lot of real-life issues in my books even though the work is overall definitely not realistic. Fiction can be so accidentally confessional sometimes. @samanthabwriter from
    Balancing Act

  20. I think that’s the best answer – you write because you love it! Me too. And, bouncing around with themes and genres only makes writing more interesting. Like you, I have an overflowing mind and the only way to deal with that, is to write down those ideas and stories…

  21. I love your answer. I don’t remember my parents teaching us about equality, probably because they taught by example. Which is what I tried to do with my sons. I feel as if in that regard I succeed. I also told them not to focus on the negative.

  22. Your answer to this question made me think of it in a different way. My initial reaction was just on a personal, introspective level, but now I’m thinking about the wider impact. Yes, I write for my own sanity, otherwise my characters will give me a mammoth headache with all the noise they make in there, but I also try and explore whether I can achieve the emotional response in others that I have when I read something for myself.

  23. I’m reminded of a conversation Tolkien and C.S. Lewis once allegedly had about allegory in fiction. C.S. Lewis wrote very allegorically (like Aslan is pretty much the Christian God/Son of God.) Tolkien believed that he could duck around deliberate allegory, because his values would naturally surface. He believed the focus should always be on writing a really great story. Suffice to say, I side with Tolkien on this. LOTR is a very moral tale in part because it doesn’t set out to be. I try to write the same way, not trying to moralize and if anything restraining those urges. For example, adding diverse characters and knowing diverse cultures makes for a richer background, but if I’m just adding “token” diverse characters, I do a disservice to the underrepresented group I’m trying to represent AND to the narrative. That’s how I see it. If that makes any sense. Great question.

    • I agree diversity can add much and that is what we should all strive for. Deep, well-rounded characters from all walks of life, cultures and belief systems. I believe those differences make us stronger.

  24. Ronel Janse van Vuuren

    Those themes are great reasons to write 🙂

    Ronel catching up for November IWSG day Achieving Kick-Ass Goals

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