Writerly Ramble: What are you really writing about?

I’m brainstorming this morning for the next NaNo story, trying to find a good middle ground between having no idea what I’m going to write and plotting the whole thing out. (The first is interesting but has caused me a LOT of heartache trying to do rewrites; the second is more professional but caused me to run myself into dead-end ground repeatedly.)

It occurs to me that I write about very similar things most of the time. They take very different forms and have different flavors, so it’s not like I’m going to pull a Heinlein-at-the-end-of-his-career or anything, but it’s…odd.

Am I only ever going to write about one thing, or is this just a phase?

Here are the bigger stories*:

  • Alien Blue (New Mexico aliens and beer) – What makes a good person or a bad one?
  • Magic Thread (Japanese disfunctional gods and an unbreakable thread made from a bloodline) – Once you go outside the cultural norm, where do you belong?
  • Iron Road (1946 Nancy Drew with goblins and mechs) – Almost the same theme as Magic Thread.
  • (New one) Slaughterhouse Jane (1912 Sioux Falls fairies and the end of a golden era/childhood) – Claiming your inheritance, with all it entails.

The root question the main characters keep asking is “Who am I? And what does that mean?”

I’m not sure how I feel about that. Am I in a rut, or am I having a Knippling “Blue Period”? Do I not know who I am? Is it a Generation X thing? Was my extended family so big that I felt an overwhelming need to escape it, but not so far I couldn’t go back – living on the border of two identities? Or do I just like to travel?

But enough about me. What do you find yourself writing about, in stories or games? What characters do you end up making on MMOs? Do your favorite songs or books have a theme?

*Other stories I haven’t written and won’t soon:

Border Dogs (1950s South Dakota brothers vs. “Weird Tales”) – Not sure yet.
Best of all Possible Beauregards (1980s Minnepolis time-travelling detective) – Not sure yet.

First book, in ??? state:

Gods of Grey Hill (post-apocolyptic South Dakota) – Creation, recreation.

Notice: I don’t really know what these stories are about, and I’m not compelled to write them right now.


Recipe: White Peach Pie


Recipe: Homely Chorizo Dip


  1. Ian

    It’s been pointed out to me that I write a lot about people’s minds being taken over by nemeses. I also seem to write a lot about defending the entire world – monumentally huge problems instead of small ones.

    My NaNo books tend to be experiments for me – writing outside the box, as it were. The Milkman – which you’ve read – was a spur of the moment decision. Propane Jockeys was an experiment about sports. Enter the Jackrabbit was the most “mainstream” tale, one actually set in my normal superhero universe. And Troubleshooters was my first foray into an unfamiliar genre: cyberpunk. This year I think I’ll probably experiment again, but with fantasy/western.

  2. The Fierce

    Thinking about it, I wonder if this is just as valid a question in designing games rather than writing. What am I always designing scenarios around?

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