This week, I want to talk about recurring themes in fiction, across both singular novels and across one authors body of work.
Many authors explore various genres of fiction, others stay firmly in their comfort zone. One example I can think of is Ian McEwan. His novels span many genres and a variety of themes. Another, a personal favourite, Jonathan Coe, does the same thing. Variety is interesting, both for authors and readers. If you are going to spend several years working on a book, you don’t want to turn round and write about the exact same thing.
In turn, there are people who only write about the same thing. Staying in the same era is a commong thing that authors do. I know I certainly like to stay in the same timeframe (1900 – 1930ish) because its an era I’m interested in and am interested in exploring. I think there are so many stories to tell from that timeframe, from many different perspectives. Obviously there are stories to tell from any time and many of them, but this is my favoured one.
If a story needs to be told, it shouldn’t matter where it takes place, as long as the story is good enough. One of my favourite books, Jonathan Coe’s The Rotter’s Club, is set in the 70s/80s, against striking and social change, but it’s the story of Ben and his friends, growing up and finding their way through one problem after another that makes me go back and read the book again.
I have two recurring themes that often crop up in my work. The characters are either readers or writers or someone in the book (and it literally could be anyone) has been affected in some way by the First World War. Obviously this second point doesn’t usually occur if I’m writing something set in the modern day (rarely, but maybe I’ll talk about why that is some other time) but I think it’s OK to have a trade mark across your writing, as long as every book isn’t a carbon copy of the other.
That’s all for now,