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 Is there an underlying theme to your writing?

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RosieAnnie

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PostSubject: Is there an underlying theme to your writing?   Sat Feb 04, 2017 4:27 pm

I've been thinking about this lately. Not every story we do has an underlying theme, simply because we play with the challenges each month. I'm thinking about the longer story arcs that we are doing. Just as a music composer typically has a melodic signature, so, too, do writers. There may be a question about this show, or about the characters, that fascinates us, or motivates us.

Is there an underlying theme to your stories? Is there a question that is in the background of your mind when you write?

I recently saw someone say her writing was motivated by the question, do you make your own luck? For me, the question is identity. Who are you, if your name, the most basic identifier, is not your own? Every time a character says, my name is Joshua, he is lying. Does that change him? I think it does.

What's your theme?


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Penski
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PostSubject: Re: Is there an underlying theme to your writing?   Sat Feb 04, 2017 7:33 pm

I don't think I have just one theme when I write. Now that you getting me to think, I would say survival and working on becoming "good" citizens.

Interesting question, Rosie Annie! thumbsup

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HannaHeyes

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PostSubject: Re: Is there an underlying theme to your writing?   Sun Feb 05, 2017 11:02 am

I'd never thought about any of my writing as having an underlying theme, but if I had to put one to it, I think it would be that life is hard and you never know what it's going to throw at you. Be ready for anything because your whole life can change in a matter of seconds no matter how much you plan.

I like writing in the ASJ fandom because I can relate to the characters. I always have to plan for things, my mind is always running and never lets me truly relax, my heart gets hurt easily, I like to help people in need, I'm moody, ect. They're both just trying to make it by in this world and are by no means, perfect (except for looks...).

I may have missed the whole point of the question. If I did, I apologize. I guess in summary, it's pretty much, 'If life throws you lemons, freeze those suckers and throw them back at it'.

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cac



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PostSubject: Re: Is there an underlying theme to your writing?   Sun Feb 05, 2017 2:45 pm

RA: this makes me want to read back over your stories with that in mind. I like identity themes.

Being the proud writer of 3 whole stories :) I would say there are 2 things I like playing with in mine so far and what I like reading in others.

1. I like stories with layers, like satire or parables. Symbolism, or something reflecting something I'm processing in my own life. For example, I wasn't happy with my voting options last Nov here in the USA, so I was playing with the notion of a criminal like Heyes actually being a better choice. In my Xmas story, I tried to leave it ambiguous as to whether the boys got the amnesty because they helped the grandchild of the governor/gov's friend or because the governor was moved by the Jesus story of undeserved mercy. I've always rooted for the boys to get amnesty but hadn't realized before that story that really, all they are really doing is showing they can stay out of future trouble. It's not like they paid back the money, so it really does somewhat fit the Christian message.

The first story I wrote was actually the first 2 paragraphs of Fragile-I was sitting in the tub, wishing my husband would show up with coffee, listening to the rain and thinking about that line from the poem, "but the rain/ Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh/ Upon the glass and listen for reply" and thinking about how "ghosts" was the topic for the month. How the ghosts from my past formed me, thus how the ghosts from Lindsay's formed her in some ways-Kid and Heyes.

2. I like allusions-I think they can add humor or depth to the theme. For example, in the Fragile story, "Grandma O'Sullivan" was a nod to Silky's "Grandma Curry," and there was the quote and $ amount from TPWWQ. In the Xmas story, besides the obvious shepherds and manger, there was Gabriel, the light in the sky, the "good news" etc.

But I also like reading segments of the boys' lives that is just that. So, I might answer this differently in a year! Good question!


Last edited by cac on Mon Feb 06, 2017 7:28 am; edited 1 time in total
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RosieAnnie

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PostSubject: Re: Is there an underlying theme to your writing?   Mon Feb 06, 2017 7:10 am

I was on the phone Sunday night with another ASJ writer, talking about this. She wasn't sure if her writing had a theme at all. I suggested that I detected a theme of loss; she thought about this a moment, and said, yeah, but loss and redemption. Certainly those work for Heyes and Curry. They lost everything as children. Then, when they decided to try for amnesty, they lost the lives they had built, their home (Devil's Hole), and even the knowledge that there were people who would protect them (the Devil's Hole Gang). Trauma changes who a person is, sometimes in unexpected ways. But can you recover from loss and find redemption? Maybe. Or maybe not. Either way, you can take that premise and create a lot of fiction from it.

If you've read "In Winter" at all, to me, it's all about identity and figuring out who you really are. Kid Curry has built a whole life as Thaddeus Jones, as husband, father, business owner, and, occasionally, a guy who gets mixed up in gunfights. He's really two people, Kid Curry and Thaddeus Jones. He's never really reconciled the two. The only person who could help with that was his wife, and she's gone. And, since he never got the amnesty, he's still in danger of being jailed as Kid Curry. Who is he really? Even he doesn't know. At least, not yet!

That's my soapbox for now.

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cac



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PostSubject: Re: Is there an underlying theme to your writing?   Mon Feb 06, 2017 7:57 am

Loss and redemption describes much of nm131's writing to me, which is partly why I like her writing. It's not mere angst-I like seeing how they get through the challenges and heal. Or not. But at least then there's the loss of redemption too, that THAT loss, not just the original loss, is acknowledged. I think the various epilogues to Terms are REALLY interesting with this in mind.

That theme is also what I like so much about ASJ in general. In the actual episodes, the redemption is the relationship. Life sucks, but they have joy, really.

YES about "In Winter." Although I think Heyes would have some input from his experiences on reconciling the alias with the true man, which would be a fascinating conversation...but where is Heyes!?! Aggghhhh!!!

I think your supporting characters really work well with this theme too. Adelaide's snobbery is something Thaddeus/Kid would always push against, but she always seems interested in poking him, questioning him, more out of curiousity than meanness. It makes him constantly define and defend himself, the "stereotype" that he is to her that she's sort of looking past. And fun to see him restrained by his love for Chris and awareness that he can't totally alienate her.

I like the visiting scholars who supply the facts to understand the "old west" and are a nice counter to Adelaide's stereotypes. They will understand the deeper levels of motivation and gunslinging.

Chris is a believable child for him-tender, sassy, strong-willed, loving. I like how she too must navigate the in-laws but clearly has more skills to do so from her mother I assume. And she chose to marry outside of her father's world. She's clear on her identity even with much of the same personality, just not the same history and need to deceive.
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cac



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PostSubject: Re: Is there an underlying theme to your writing?   Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:23 am

Penski: I'd agree, especially with this last challenge where Heyes delivers the baby! That would make excellent PR about him being a "good citizen!"

HH: I didn't remember a recent story by you, so I went back and read your last few. I think your "Judy" story is one of the funniest things I've read in ages! And after all the struggle, then with the Kid at the end, Heyes looking down, and then she just signs off!! Hilarious! I could just see Heyes trying this and then that, all to get away. What made it even more funny was your saying here that a theme of yours is having to deal with the unexpected, whatever comes your way. Judy was certainly unexpected! Poor Heyes, just doing some library research.

I thought it was great too how it sort of poked fun at all of us fans, since we all appreciate how handsome the boys are and wouldn't have minded some kissing from our favorite in our younger days (for those of us older now)...not that any of us would have jumped on them like that, nuh-huh.
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RosieAnnie

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PostSubject: Re: Is there an underlying theme to your writing?   Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:52 am

Actually, it wasn't NM131 who I discussed loss and redemption with. It was another AS&J writer.

I was thinking a little bit about themes that run through the works of other writers whom I admire.

Calico, do you have time to check in here? In your stories, I perceive a desire for belonging; a search for family, in whatever form that may take. What do you think?

Helen West, let me know if this makes sense -- the theme I get from your Heyes is disappointment leading to anger. Why me? Why did this happen to me, when other people have it so easy? And so he acts out.

Anybody else want to jump in?

Thanks for putting up with me and my meanderings. This is what runs through my head when winter goes on too long and I'm stuck inside!


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Cal

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PostSubject: Themes   Wed Feb 08, 2017 3:05 pm

I think my theme would be ... Entertainment value... It's not very deep I'm afraid ... But that's it. My stories are played for laughs. One thing I noticed early on was I liked getting them out in the wild... Which is probably because I always liked the episodes where they are out of towns on horses for the majority of the time. And I like writing HH & KC rather than JS and TJ... More exciting I guess. Their characters drive how they deal with whatever I throw at them.
For me, Heyes is flawed and complex ... I think he has a trait of self loathing masked by mercurial almost manic use of humour and a mirage of self confidence... Probably deep down doesn't believe he deserves an amnesty but will move heaven and earth to keep Kid on track for one. I think he feels Kid could be redeemed and has a real chance at a normal life ... But interestingly ...I don't think he knows what one of them is.
Kid is loyal to Heyes to a fault and too readily refers to him. That's got to set up a conflict in him ...a hidden fear that he's weak ...Probably why he turned to rely on his fast draw and his gunmanship as a crutch when Heyes cut him adrift early in their outlaw careers.... People calling him Kid can't help....Think this accounts for his outbursts of temper.... And his self doubt that he could make it on his own.

Ooh....Rosie ...Where did all that come from..?...You got me thinking.... Didn't know I had all that in me..lol
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HannaHeyes

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PostSubject: Re: Is there an underlying theme to your writing?   Wed Feb 08, 2017 7:27 pm

Cac - Oh nooo, none of us would EVER want to jump on them like that  excited  ...... Anyway, if you're interested, Judy's diary entry about her encounter with Kid is in a story entitled 'Judy's Journal' on fanfiction.net and what really happened (not Judy's warped version) of the meetings is in chapters 12 and 13 of 'Thrown For A Loop'.

And I pretty much agree with Cal. To me, Heyes is a complicated enigma inside. He keeps his emotions hidden for the most part and just lets people see the side of him he wants them to see by using humor and so forth. He tries to appear always optimistic for Kid's benefit since Kid's emotions show easily a lot of the time. Little things in the show make me think this. Things like Kid saying Heyes gets nervous when things are going okay. If he's nervous during those times, then he must be just expecting and waiting for something bad to happen. And there was the time in the pilot when Lom told Harker to arrest them. Heyes immediately thought the worst, that Lom had just went to 'feather his nest'. Also, the few times Heyes lets his temper show, it seems just as bad as Kid's. So, yeah, I think Heyes endures a lot of turmoil inside. Kid lets himself work through his emotions somewhat openly and that's why he appears to be sentimental at times, and so willing to help people.

Of course, that's just my own personal view of the characters. I'm sure we all interpret them differently.

And I apologize for getting off on this tangent. It doesn't answer RA's question, but I think it's interesting. (I tried for 10 minutes to place that 'off topic' emoticon here, but this tablet just won't cooperate.)

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Calico

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PostSubject: Re: Is there an underlying theme to your writing?   Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:03 am

Well once it was...

I heart Alex Heyes  

Oh what a long time ago that seems.  Sigh.


Seriously:
For VS ... usually I want pacey and fun... it's mostly a comedy western.  

For serious stories ... I like to have the boys see that while there is much mitigation for the way they went - that is not quite the same as justification.  And I like to have them too honest not to acknowledge that - but not racked with guilt and verbalising over it.
They had a hard, hard knock in early adolescence - but ... they chose.
Yes redemption - they want amnesty to save their own skins - and prefer jobs not too hard on the back - and certainly don't put themselves out to do a good deed as a matter of course - but I think going straight has grown on them.
In one of my stories I had them conclude they'd reached the 'First - do no harm' stage.
Dunno about them seeking family, Rosie ... I think they are seeking to feel 'settled' in their new non-outlaw life


For my nonsense shorts - I like to contanfabulate and euphemiabilise with wordplay, puns and verbiagious silliness lol2
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