Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Common Threads

Most of us--all of us?--here at YAYA have finished more than one novel. Some of us (you know who you are) are insanely prolific. So it's only natural to begin noticing common threads, the little links from one story to the next. These are the threads that will keep your readers hooked on your stories for-ev-er, the things beyond style and voice that can make the difference between loving a book and loving an author.

Maybe the common thread is that they're all YA. Maybe they're all sci-fi, or they have similar themes, even though the plots and even genres are totally different. Sometimes I'll pick up just any book, as long as it A) is well-written, and B) contains some character archetype to which I'm craving exposure.

My stories always take place near an ocean or sea. Most of my characters are female. I often write some kind of freedom theme--I guess this is pretty important to me. Forgiveness is probably the chief virtue in my universe.

Now, the genres are often different and the setting might be current-day Massachusetts or 5th century BC Athens, complete with horny deities. The main character will be somewhere between several million, sixty, and seventeen years old. She may or may not "come of age". But I'm betting my readers will find enough commonality from one story to the next, because of all those little pieces my awesome subconscious inserts.

(Thanks, awesome subconscious.)

What will your readers find in common in your stories? What kinds of shared threads do you, as a reader, like to find in your favorite author's books? Do you need that genre fix, or are you more of a character archetype reader?

5 comments:

Jacqui said...

It's strange, but I've finished three novels and in all of them the subway or underground transportation plays a major role. I can't explain it.

Also, all my characters seem to worry about being watched out for or being taken care of.

Hmm.

Catherine said...

I thought I wrote books that were *fairly* different, until a beta said this to me:

"You apparently really want to write about mind-altering substances, powers with a price, magical bonds, and boys saving each other with their love."

And I had a diva-moment of wtfness, but then I realised she's right. Now I just hope there's people out there who want to read about the same things.

Catherine said...

*there are.

God, me and there's should just get a divorce already.

Vanessa Concannon said...

Hmm....I just realized that my MCs lean towards my Zodiac sign more than I do, and the one I think is most interesting and confusing is totally my sign, even though I'm about as much Virgo as anyone else is their sign.

HMM.

Jordan said...

My main characters tend to suffer from an inability to find focus in their lives. Two of them especially just bounce around from one whim to another, without really knowing where they're going. Secretly they care. Outwardly they try don't.

I really hope once I get past this stage in life my characters start having different kinds of problems. But at least it works well with YA!