Common Themes

Someone recently asked me to think about what themes or things I commonly use in my writing. It’s a great question and one I’d love to explore a little bit.

Letter “E”

I have no idea how this happened, but I seem to have a lot of main characters whose names start with an E. Names of characters just come to me. I try out names until I find one that just fits, somehow, with the person I’m envisioning in my head. Once I’ve found it I often can’t think of them as anyone else. It’s a huge part of their personality.

Eselda (Breaking Eselda)

Elise (30 Days Without Wings)

Emma (Projection, not published yet)

Strong Characters

I come from a line of strong women myself. We are strong-willed, driven, and proud. I think I tend to write characters that would fit into that category as well. Eselda (Breaking Eselda), while she has her flaws, is finding her inner strength and it shines through often. Elise (30 Days Without Wings) is undeniably strong. She has been through a really difficult struggle and comes out of it stronger than we even imagined. Sawchett (Breaking Eselda), although she’s super young, has proven herself to be capable of bouncing back from a lot of things already. Trust me, there’s more coming from this girl. If you like strong characters, keep an eye on her in book 2 of the Kingdom of Fraun series (anticipated for 2019). Emma, from my unpublished science fiction story called Projection, seems lazy and laid-back at first glance. But when things start to get messy, she doesn’t hesitate to dive in. I love that about her. Angela and Tanya, the two from my current work-in-progress (WIP) that happen to be taking over my #characterstell thread over on Twitter (@ShipleyTabatha), are strong in very different ways. Angela is dedicated and driven while Tanya is proud and strong-willed. They’ve been fun to write for sure!


Bad choices do not make you a bad person

bad choices

This is a big one. Eselda doesn’t always make the best choices. I am willing to bet anyone who picks up Breaking Eselda can find at least one choice she makes that you cringe at or disagree with. But, overall, she’s still a good person at the end of the day. Jordyn (Breaking Eselda) makes a few bad choices (more are coming in book 2) and yet he’s still someone we can look up to and aspire to be. Elise (30 Days Without Wings) has a huge choice to make and some people are going to call the route she decided to take a wrong choice. Todd (30 Days Without Wings) is a smoker, which even he would call a bad choice. Chris from my WIP regularly tries to mess up things for the teachers at the Academy to challenge authority and prove the system is broken. The point I regularly keep trying to make with my writing is that no one is perfect. Good people sometimes do bad things. We can’t let those mistakes or bad choices turn us into Darth Vader. Life isn’t that black-and-white.


Bad people can make good choices

This is the opposite side of that coin. People in real life aren’t inherently evil. Bad or toxic people are hiding among us making good choices. They’re hard to spot. I can’t point them all out (because SPOILERS) but look for them among my books. You’ll see some seriously bad or toxic people making great choices that really confuse some of my main characters.


I write fantasy, mostly. However it turns out I have a tendency to put all of my fantasy worlds right here on Earth with minor tweaks. 30 Days Without Wings follows faeries who happen to share Earth with us. Breaking Eselda takes place in the Kingdom of Fraun, which is on Earth. It just happens to be from a different perspective, shall we say. The WIP I haven’t titled yet also takes place right here on Earth. It just explores the idea that Magic exists in secret and gets us up close to the group that controls it. Projection takes place in a futuristic Earth where technology has successfully been embedded in people. I tend to keep my stories here on our planet but explore something that maybe isn’t “typical”.
Are you a writer? What are some things you commonly explore?

How about as a reader, are there some things you seem to always find in books you adore?

Tell me about it in the comments!

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