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  • H.T. Grossen

Style and Theme


Many authors are asked what ideas or themes they gravitate towards. Not me, mind you, I’ve never been interviewed by a magazine (ironically, I started writing this at the beginning of the month then was interviewed by Utopia SF a week later; but more on that soon. Maybe I should write about how I’ve never published a book?). I don’t think limiting yourself as an author or reader to one specific genre or theme is unhealthy necessarily, but I think it’s an important question to consider! Maybe you find you’re stuck writing about “loss” or “loneliness” in every piece you do. Not a bad thing, but recognizing it could encourage you to try something new. Or maybe you find that you are directionless; writing lots of flashy action or steamy romance with no real depth or characterization.

Although it is a scary question, I did a personal inventory. What ideas or themes do I gravitate towards? Idea-wise I know I love writing action, but I also know that I struggle with making my perspective feel close enough. Based on the feedback I have received from rejection letters: I excel at worldbuilding; broad, writing sweeping strokes that capture images. Probably because I love writing things like that. However, making the story’s lens feel close enough to cause an audience to care about the character’s struggle on a personal level is difficult for me. That’s where much of my recent writing has been focused; on developing protagonists people can either identify with or care about, hopefully both.

As per themes I frequent; I’d have to say redemption and perspective are focal points in my short fiction. When it comes to redemption, I love the thought of an individual striving to find acceptance. What they find differs: whether it is a revelation about life, the decision to change themselves on some fundamental level, or the very approval they crave; there is something about these types of stories that resonate with me.


Perspective is also a focus for me: finding a new, truly different way to approach a prompt or express an idea. It seems many ideas seem to have had every possible (good) way of telling them told already, just check the submission guidelines of any respected publication: “Please no werewolves, vampires, or retellings of your D&D sessions.” But we all have a unique perspective. Putting my personal perspective in my writing and striving for a new way to express an old concept is something I find fulfillment in as a writer, though I am not always successful. New ideas seem to be hard to come by in this age of 80s reboots and HD re-releases and I think avoiding the status quo is a tough mission. Our personal perspectives are more important now than ever.


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