Thursday, May 6, 2010

small details, overall themes, and then way too close to home

What elements of our stories relate to specific things in our lives? I feel like I have probably touched on this in past posts. For picture books, it might be a whole story idea--like a story about a girl who moves, written specifically to fulfill a need for the students with whom I was working at the time. Or the kitchen band story, inspired by a music class I was attending with my son. Usually it tends to be not so much the overriding theme and more just a few details here and there that relate to real-life situations: a nickname of a character (Noodles) or a particular concept (Boogoo/Bourgoo brew).

I think my longer story has more instances, though just small details, that relate to “real” life. My main character’s sister works at a bookstore, as I did in high school. Their family has an Irish heritage (as do I) that becomes important to the story. This story has many supernatural elements, but there are strong themes of religious and spiritual struggle, adolescent girls finding their identities, how do we weigh what is good for one individual versus the universal good, what makes a person “good,” is it better to have someone love you as you are and accept you the way you are or to have someone who always believes you can be better? I continue to contemplate these ideas and I believe that many readers could identify with them. There may be very small details--things my characters might see or overhear in their environments--that are things I have seen (while out walking my dog, of course) or overheard in real life. Of course, for me, some of my characters’ musical tastes are definitely based on my own tastes and knowledge. And some of my characters’ traits have been inspired by songs I listened to.

There is one big part of this story that has become a struggle for me. When I started working on this years ago, this familial detail did not relate to my real life. Now it does. My main character has a twin sister. And now I am expecting twin girls. So, forgive the inelegant phrasing here, but I am a little “weirded out” and it does make me a bit hesitant to proceed. Hmmm...


  1. Just think of how much the twins' experiences will inspire you. I'm sure you'll get enough material for a whole library!

  2. I think we're dealing with the some of the same themes. Maybe its the supernatural aspects of our stories. The one what I want to explore is good versus evil, and how arbitray these terms can be. How good can be evil and vice versa depending on whose judging. And how many times, even in the tradtional sense, we are both.