Yesterday I was reading a post by Madison Woods, in which she muses about the cheesiness of outlines, hehe, and the suspension of disbelief. But then it got me thinking about something else…
Discovering the Soul of One’s Story
(Or the core themes, I suppose.)
If I had to briefly summarize what my story is about thematically–which I hate doing because, as Madison kind of talked about, this can sound cheesy…I’d have to say it’s about uncovering truths; understanding the relationship between freedom and manipulation; discovering one’s place in the world; and making tough decisions.
Even though a lot of times I’ll use a whimsical, lighthearted voice in the story, there are actually a lot of darker threads running through it. I think a major influence for this has been playing the Mass Effect series. One thing I love about the games is that they force you to make some really tough decisions. The morality of the choices put before you isn’t so black-and-white, which lends the game a fair amount of grittiness.
I wanted the same thing in my story–along with antagonistic forces that were also morally gray and not just 100% pure evil–but also with an air of fun and adventure similar to that found in Joss Whedon’s Serenity or in the movie The Mummy. (In dieselpunk TV Tropes terms, I could say it starts off more “diesel deco” and ends up “diesel noir”.)
So that’s more the spirit of the story.
Plot- and character-wise, my protagonist, Voi, is seeking a way out of a seemingly hopeless situation, which gets her involved in some darker underground aspects of her world that she never even knew existed. During this she learns more about herself and her position on the totem pole of life. She doesn’t like what she learns and tries not to be involved in it at first, but then she realizes that she already is involved and this frustrates her even more. Eventually, however, she must decide to take a stance and choose a side.
Wait a minute…we’re not all that different, actually.
It’s kind of funny, now that I think about it, because I’m actually in a similar position myself. For the longest time I’ve been brought up to believe in certain religious truths, but I didn’t entirely understand those truths and what they demanded of me. Then, when a deeper understanding did come to me…well, the world suddenly seemed a less cheery place to be in. The concept of “freedom” became blurry, almost an illusion.
So I’ve tried distancing myself from what I’ve been taught to accept, and like my protagonist I realized that I’m already part of it all and there’s really no escaping it. (Can you tell I’m purposefully being vague here? I like to do that every now and then.)
So, then, I’m left with a decision: do I continue denying it? Rebel against it? Embrace it?
Voi faces the same dilemma in her world. At certain points she feels manipulated, trapped, in the dark, hopeless, and completely out of her depth. I think, once I can share the story, others will be able to feel an emotional resonance in it because I share many of the same sentiments as my protagonist. I’m just writing about them in a different, much more exotic context. (My story is actually not about religion at all, oddly enough. Sure, it has religions in it, as many fantasy novels with extensive worldbuilding will, but they are never the focus.)
Voi is older than me in her story, though only by a year now. (I guess I’m slowly catching up to her, heh.) It’s not something I’ve done intentionally, but I think her life, though radically different from mine, is actually an allegory to mine, in some ways. I just never realized that until…well, now.
So maybe I’ve been using this writing experience to help with sorting some things out. I’m not entirely sure.
<sarcasm> Great, thanks for sharing your life story. </sarcasm>
Sorry, this is kind of me just thinking out loud, so I hope this hasn’t been too useless to you, dear readers. Are there better places to ponder these things? Probably, but I needed something to blog about today.
I am prone to analyzing things like this, when certain insights come to me, though I try not to make too much of it. Voi’s life isn’t mine and vice versa. Still, maybe I can learn something from this.
When did you discover the heart and soul of your story/stories?
Is this something you typically know coming into a project, or something that seems to reveal itself to you later? Is it different with every story? Also, have you ever noticed parallels between what happens in your stories and what happens in your own life?