Hannah Bowman recently challenged me (sort of) to talk about motifs that crop up in my fiction. Unfortunately, I haven't written as much fiction as she has, which makes it harder for me to pinpoint what continually shows up in my stories. I can pinpoint one major motif, which isn't quite as specific as Hannah's, but I'm going to run with it.
The theme is transformation. The process of change, whether it's physical or mental or spiritual or social, fascinates me. How do we deal with change in ourselves? How do we deal with change in others? How are we spurred to change? Getting at the root of those questions drives both my reading and my writing. My plot bunnies frequently have transformation in them as well. I think I was fated to write urban fantasy as a result of this. There's so much potential in the genre to talk about change and how it affects people.
There's also the cousin theme of self-discovery. Every time we have to face change, face difference, and deal with it, we learn more about our selves. And of course, there's the age-old story of the person discovering their destiny, and the equally old story of the person have their dreams realized. I've always wanted to know what Cinderella felt like after the wedding and how she dealt with being a princess.*
The first fiction I wrote was for school. When I was seven, I wrote a story about an artificial boy who needed to get a glass ball from a lake so that he could become real. Yes, I was shamelessly plagiarizing Pinocchio, and I knew it even then. Another story I remember writing, at fifteen, was about Miranda (from The Tempest) and her experiences after leaving the island with Ferdinand. I've forgotten just about everything else I wrote, though I do remember a writing assignment from grade seven that would probably qualify. We were given a set of drawings by Chris van Allsburg and told to write stories about them.
The first stories I wrote after high school were fanfiction, and because I was pretty raw as a writer and still figuring out a lot of things, they're really kind of horrible and embarrassing. But the fandoms I wrote in all had magic, superpowers, magical superpowers, and supernatural creatures.** The stories I wrote were split between ones where someone became supernatural/magical, and ones where someone had to face a truth and grow up. Sometimes it was the same person, in one story.
Then we get to The WIP and the other ideas I've had over the last few years. The WIP is essentially a superhero origin story. There's the gnostic urban fantasy that I've got knocking around in my head, which has a lot of physical transformation in it and a whole lot of social turmoil. There's the "UFO over 1750s London" idea, the "ghost detective" idea, the "theory of relativity a century sooner" idea***, the "first contact" idea, the "quasi-Matrix" idea, the other "first contact" idea….
As for small, more specific motifs, I don't think I'll be able to pinpoint any until I've written more. Although The WIP and the gnostic UF both feature forcefields, and I suspect geeky self-awareness will be a recurring feature too.
Are there any motifs in your stories?
* I haven't watched the Disney sequels. I imagine my own ideas play out better.
** No, I'm not telling you what they are.
*** Anyone want that one? The amount of research required for it scares me.