ITT: Work Description Challenge:

Total posts: [13]
1 USAF71316th Dec 2011 01:43:25 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
The objective of this thread is two-fold. I will begin with the main one:

Describe the general themes, moral ideas, messages, and other ideas present in your work, that you believe in and advocate, subtly or otherwise, through this work. You can discuss how you do this, if you really would like to, but the messages and themes are the things we're aiming for.

Wikipedia on themes:

A theme is a broad idea, message, or moral of a story. The message may be about life, society, or human nature. Themes often explore timeless and universal ideas and are almost always implied rather than stated explicitly. Along with plot, character, setting, and style, theme is considered one of the fundamental components of fiction. Another approach to literature stresses that idea, message, and moral are abstractions and that fiction makes the idea concrete through action. In this view many themes exist in any given story but that what gives a story unity is one action of the human condition that is rendered through the various actions of the characters in the story.

And no, this isn't about recurring actions or story elements (such as "my characters do X a lot!"). It's about abstractions and ideals that are present in your stories.

Sounds pretty easy, right?

Well, you have to do it without using any trope names (camel-cased or not) or blue links/potholes.

Anyone who uses a trope name or a pothole will be asked to edit it out, or I'll ask the mod to thump the post and the person can try again. Your posts can be as long or as short as you like, so long as you're still talking about themes and ideals and such in relation to your work, and so long as you're not using any tropes/trope names or potholes.

And... go!
I am now known as Flyboy.
2 nrjxll16th Dec 2011 01:55:45 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
My only work I've completed is my comics, and while they aren't usually very serious, I did try to work in various themes. There is no one overriding central message, but several recurring ones appear throughout. The one that most frequently crops up is the idea that there is no such thing as a "one-size-fits-all" solution for a given problem, and that while analogies - historical, fictional, whatever - can help to understand a situation, they will never provide a perfect guideline to it, because in the end they are only analogies.

More minor themes include that someone's personal behaviors - their sense of humor, friendliness, and so forth - have no real bearing on their moral character, and that proactively seeking your goals is generally a good thing. There's also what I call "passive" feminist and GLBTQ themes - while it's never brought up either explicitly or implicitly, I made a point of treating gender and sexual orientation as largely irrelevant to a character's role in the work.
3 MajorTom16th Dec 2011 01:56:46 PM , Relationship Status: Barbecuing
Eye'm the cutest!
I think this partially does your thing too USAF.

More appropriate post for the more specific needs of this thread to come later.
"Allah may guide their bullets, but Jesus helps those who aim down the sights."
4 nrjxll16th Dec 2011 01:58:28 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
[up]I'd note, though, that even the title of that thread encourages talking about one's works in "tropese", which is the opposite of the goal here.

By the way, what does "ITT" stand for?
5 USAF71316th Dec 2011 01:59:50 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
I created a new thread because, as noted, that one by its titled nature encourages the opposite of the goal here.

"ITT" means "in this thread."

Also, for the record, using an outbound link to a trope page is cheating. tongue

I'll give my own work's themes as I formulate a way to give them in a less-specific, more... them-y manner.
I am now known as Flyboy.
6 MrAHR16th Dec 2011 02:01:52 PM from ಠ_ಠ , Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Bluh. I dunno.

I guess that it's wrong to cling to old ideals?

I think I put a lot of emphasis on that.

We have a world that is in shift, and a lot of characters to reflect it. Nicky is entirely characterized to cling to his rapidly fading childhood, wanting to remain young forever, to the point of outright denial and isolating himself from others.

I have another character who created huge strides in gender roles, but still refuses to see the world any differently than where she first started, just as angry and annoyed. She has a long life too, so she has seen a good deal of progress, but she can't let go of old wounds.

There is Nicky's grandmother. She is a more subtle example, and it's really mostly in her backstory, what with how she handled herself, and her original construct of being convinced the younger generation was all degenerates.

You have a lot of characters who had bad pasts, and some people just can't get over that. One character is a complete racist because of something that happened when he was a kid, and he simply won't let it go. Granted, what happened to him was definitely a tragedy, but it's part of the whole stagnancy-is-bad.

Of course, it is ambiguous. After all, a reformed murderer is still a murderer, and there are a lot of questions raised by that. At least, there is to me.

You even have a character who is a victim of being prejudiced against, being a gypsy, but she herself refuses to see certain people any differently.

I guess in the end, it's all about being open minded.


That's theme number 1.

Theme number 2 is about what the meaning of life is.

With it being that Life is one gigantic fucking story.

So, I try to do a lot of world building. In the school that only shows up briefly, there will be a mention of a bit of a coup. It does not contribute to the main story, but contributes to this idea of everyone going through their own story arc.

Another example will be much later where two kids who can't speak the same language join in for the last arc, and then leave. They don't contribute much, but they aren't there to. They are there to show the intersecting world. Plus, I find the idea of two kids from the 90s in some random fantasy world hilarious, because it's the exact type of stereotype one would expect.

And of course, the framing device is a dude telling the story, just to make it a tad more obvious.
7 USAF71316th Dec 2011 03:20:46 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Well, I guess I should put my own stuff out, to be fair.

One my the biggest themes in my story is the inability of humanity to use its own gifts—the gift of independent, intelligent agency, the ability to craft tools, etc.—to better themselves. A running undercurrent is the tragedy of science, as we are handed unprecedented technology and are unable to use it for good, instead creating evermore powerful and evermore pointlessly destructive and horrifically efficient weapons of war to drive each other into the ground with. The saddening waste of potential for good is shown through the terrible death tolls of this world's World War I, as men die by the thousands in the trenches for nothing more than the grudges of kings.

This leads to my second major theme, the incompetence of leadership and the fool's errand that is war, as I take pot shots at rule by the rich, oligarchy and plutocracy, and the failure of all leaders—democratically elected, military-backed, or throne-occupying alike—to understand that what they choose to do, what they choose to waste the time of their nations on, is not a just use of power, and is ultimately the worst failure a leader can ever experience: the failure to represent one's own group.

Another major theme is the concept of intolerance, as I explore the horrible effects of colonialism and the vicious pointlessness of violent revolution. From the hellish battlefields of Sri Lanka, India, and Mexico to the city streets of the Balkans and Austro-Hungary, men fight and die for "ideals" like nationalism and horribly twisted concepts like racial superiority.

Finally, my last major theme, that I can give right now, is the idea of war as a divider and a unifier. I show war as the worst of sins, but also as the final, perfect environment to judge the true character of a society. I pose the hypothesis that the only time we truly see the nature of ourselves and the cultures we build is when we wage war and slaughter millions—and thus display how we are ultimately consecrated in blood and thrive on the worst forms of conflict.
I am now known as Flyboy.
even your stupid hoodie can't protect you
Throughout almost everything I've written in recent times, there has been one prevailing theme- acceptance. What people do to be accepted, why certain things grow to be acceptable, how others view it, why people strive for it, and the dichotomy between the public and private persona. However, I choose to take an ambiguous stance on the subject. Much of my cast goes through some kind of an acceptance-related conflict, and for various reasons.

Vinicio Acquati, for instance, has been accepted and shunned throughout his life- shunned as a young man for not completing conscription, accepted as a brilliant and driven scientist. His life has revolved around trying to understand the reasons for the aspects that resulted in his shunning. Whenever he has appeared as the hero of his own story, it is told through the eyes of others and how they come to see him.

His three sons- Elijah, Matthias, and Raphael Cline are no exception. Brain damage left Elijah's mental processes permanently warped, and his love of creating art is what he relies on for acceptance. He takes great pains to keep his childish, eccentric viewpoints under wraps out of fear that he will be institutionalized and without art, making this twofold. Matthias, being an actor, has few problems with gaining acceptance. But after his skill brings him semi-widespread fame, he grows to hate it and can't wait to leave and fade away. Raphael is an effeminate idealist and thus has problems being taken seriously by the far more worldly cast despite his frighteningly high intellect.

Ryu Akamura does what is accepted and takes great pains to ensure that he maintains that level of acceptance even as he carries out his personal goals, even if that means ensuring that he dies a martyr. To him, acceptance is security and trust. This belief was strong enough to permeate into his family, causing them to think about ways they can jockey into beneficial positions for themselves.

Acceptance is one of those things hardwired into the human consciousness- people are strongest and most secure in groups. In my own life, I end up observing it every day as an outsider. The things that people are willing to do for it are interesting, to say the least.
I heard you like exceptions, so I put some exceptions in your exceptions
9 feotakahari16th Dec 2011 11:46:53 PM from Looking out at the city
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer
I like to take the piss out of my own themes, so anything on this list is subject to subversion.

The overarching theme of everything I've written is "everyone has their own narrative." Even the most loathsome villains consider themselves the heroes of their own story, and make all sorts of excuses for why they do what they do. Sometimes, those excuses make sense, and sometimes they don't.

The corollary to this, and the only other theme I use intentionally, is that you can come to understand someone by understanding how they've constructed their narrative. Even the most alien and inhuman of beings are comprehensible in this manner, so long as they're capable of rational thought. (Unlike the below themes, I've never directly subverted this—the most I've done is to create situations that necessitate conflict regardless of understanding.)

The most common unintentional theme in my writing is a rigid divide between love and lust. Love is pure, wholesome, and typically feminine. Lust is selfish, perverse, and typically masculine. (This is my most blatantly prejudiced theme, due to my asexuality, and as such, the one I've most frequently made efforts to skewer.)

My protagonists tend not to win fights without help. Love, friendship, or even manipulation of other people's flaws allow them to gain allies to give them an advantage.

My protagonists tend not to win fights fairly. They won't hesitate to feign death, pretend to surrender, or attack from behind without warning—and when they do battle honorably, they tend to get pasted.

My characters often have goals, personalities, and roles within the story that are completely at odds with what's expected from their race, sex, or species. The accident of a character's birth will not force that character to take a certain role. (In particular, if there is any faction in the setting that functions as Goddamn Orks, I will eventually introduce a semi-heroic member of that faction.)

My semi-heroic characters do not consider themselves heroes. Characters who do consider themselves heroes usually do so based on actions that cause other characters to regard them as villains.

Edit: [down] Oh, blow it out your ear. I'm not doing this as a "challenge"—I just wanted to get my thoughts in order, so I could more easily subvert my own tendencies.

edited 17th Dec '11 3:23:58 PM by feotakahari

That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
10 USAF71317th Dec 2011 10:09:02 AM from the United States
I changed accounts.
[up] Blue link.
I am now known as Flyboy.
Feo, to be fair, he did request that you don't have any blue links in the OP.
12 USAF71318th Dec 2011 09:45:23 AM from the United States
I changed accounts.
I can ask that the post be thumped, if you prefer, Feo. I laid out the point of the thread in the beginning for you as it was.

Also, I thought of another significant theme of my own: how the individual is ultimately not going to win against society and still be left standing. Of course, I approach this from multiple different angles. With Bernard and Daniel, my pair of front line soldiers in the Austro-Hungarian Army, I display how, no matter how well-meaning, good people cannot ultimately save a system that is irredeemably broken and corrupt. With Nikola, my revolutionary protagonist, I show how even if one does bring down a terrible system, you're still going down with it—and you're going to lose any shred of dignity and idealism you might have had going in as it is.
I am now known as Flyboy.
13 YuriStrike18th Dec 2011 03:27:44 PM from I'm telling nobody!
I have stories stuck in my head, but only two of them have themes.

Theme 1: Never mess with mighty mother nature.

Theme 2: Peace is won through countless sacrifices.

General themes are love is all pure and girls doing the action.
The system doesn't know you right now, so no post button for you.
You need to Get Known to get one of those.

Total posts: 13