I’ve recently noticed that I have a number of recurring themes in my writing. I don’t mean theme in the traditional sense of the word when discussing writing themes, but in things I typically include in my stories.

One of those themes is some sort of codependence. This comes from growing up with a codependent single parent. I saw more than one example of how her—and thus my life and my sister’s—imploded whenever our mother got involved due to her codependent nature. I don’t know why, but now I seem to have to work out this aspect of my upbringing in my stories. Frequently, the mages in my stories will have some sort of codependent bond which in some ways affects their magic. This is not always a reciprocal bond, either. In my Hatuni stories, where Whispers on the Wind happens, the “assistance” of the bond goes only one way; for one member of the bond, their magic is given some sort of additional control they don’t have on their own, but for the other half of the bond, there is no real benefit. In fact, for Shi’u, who offers this ability to control his magic to Khamu, there is only trial and tribulation, as first Khamu refuses the bond, then subsequent bondmates are lost for various reasons.

Another theme common in my stories is the Search For Faith. Dajhir, in No Affinity (set on Obryn), doesn’t believe in any of his world’s gods at the beginning of the series. I rather force him into the role of believer, but at the beginning, he really doesn’t believe. From his perspective, all the gods may as well be dead, because the only one who’s ever influenced his life—as he sees it—is the Goddess of Death, and he doesn’t see that influence as anything that deserves to be repaid with his faith in any deity.

The third of my “most common themes” is political intrigue. I do love to read a good story with political intrigue, and I find special enjoyment in entwining my characters’ lives in politics. It may be actual governmental politics, or it may be the internal workings of a school or temple or other system or place my character is introduced to. Some stories have more political intrigue than others, but most of them do have at least a little bit of it, even if it’s only a distant influence which doesn’t seem to have any direct power over my characters.

And, lastly, I have a habit of writing stories involving lovers who meet, become separated, and reunite at a later time. The lovers aren’t always lovers when they first meet, or during their first time together, but that is how I see the relationship developing later. Sometimes circumstances beyond the lovers’ control separate them, sometimes they become separated due to some action of one or the other. I even have a pair of lovers who meet, separate, meet again and become lovers, separate, and reunite under conflict when the trustworthiness of the one is in doubt and the other must decide whether to believe his warnings—this story isn’t complete yet.

Now that I’ve seen these themes in my writing, it’s given me new insight. I’ve found myself better able to plot out my stories. Now I’m also able to consciously employ these aspects of my stories to create better plot lines. It’s an enjoyable challenge to come up with different ways for these aspects to play parts in my stories, even if it means I’ll be writing a lot of “the same, but different” books with them.