I’ve heard that there are only about half a dozen story themes and that these have been the same throughout history. When I first heard this I found it quite depressing. What was the point of writing, I thought. Shakespeare, Moliere, Dickens, Hemingway etc. all got there first and beat me to it.
What I later learned was that these few themes have an unlimited number of perspectives. Think of the one theme of romance. Boy meets girl, boy marries girl. (Or, if you prefer – boy meets girl, boy chases girl, girl catches boy.) One theme. How many romance books have Harlequin sold over the decades of their existence? Certainly thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands. And that doesn’t count other companies selling romantic novels over the last couple of centuries.
All on that one theme of romance but all with a different perspective.Difference in genre – innocent, religious, erotic, western, historical. The perspective of an older woman, an unmarried mother, people of a different ethnic or religious background.
Whatever your theme or your genre you bring to it your own individual perspective. This includes so many factors – your beliefs, your emotional styles, your background and environment, your observations, your reading and research and your own unique way of fitting all this together.
When you sit down to write, that’s your backside on the chair and your fingers on the keyboard. No-one else could possibly write what you write. You perceive the theme in a unique way, you express your ideas on it as only you can. Your word choice, sentence structure and length – that’s all uniquely you.
You combine ideas and thoughts uniquely. Suppose you chose to write a story about a deprived child. What, to you, is deprivation? Lack of food? Lack of parental care? Lack of emotional nurturing? Lack of moral guidance? Lack of a ride to the soccer game? Charles Dickens saw a deprived child a certain way in Olive Twist. You might see a different picture – a child soldier in Africa or an aboriginal child in the northern prairies.
Perspective comes from your physical, emotional, intellectual make up, influenced by your background, your experiences and your genetic material. No-one is like you. No-one writes like you do. If you don’t write it, who will?