Follow the rules whenever possible. That makes it a lot more surprising when you break them.
Deadline by Mira Grant
Lately, I have been thinking about themes. The story I’m working on right now is an apocalyptic scenario. And I have been exploring different themes that show up in those books and movies. Many of them are global themes, but they usually work for multiple people or a society trying to survive in a post apocalyptic world. However, my story is from Maya’s POV, so the main theme has to be catered to an individual’s growth. Here are some of the themes that work for my story:
1) Finding strength from within–In apocalypse scenarios, people who lived with technology and a fast modern life, are faced with surviving in a world that is completely different from what they are used to. In fact in real life, many people are afraid of survival of humans if we lose technology, in situations like the show Revolution. They don’t know if they will be strong enough to survive in this new world. Likewise in my story, the main character’s strength relies on a predictable world. When her world is turned upside down, she has to find strength from within herself.
2) Identity Crisis–Coming of age is hard enough in a world you are used to, but for children living with zombies or a world filled with burning buildings, it is especially hard. We see that happen to Carl on The Walking Dead, now that he is hitting puberty. Adults can face the same question. The apocalyptic event causes Maya to change fundamentally, thus making her question her identity.
3) Faith vs. Doubt–When the world has ended, and you are one of the few people on the other side, your knowledge of the world gets shaken. Sometimes it’s about religious beliefs, sometimes it’s personal. The Book of Eli is all about faith and doubt. For Maya it’s not about religion, but rather she believed the world worked a certain way, and now that is being shaken.
4) Facing Reality–In I am Legend, Will Smith’s character refuses to move on with his life after everything falls apart. He refuses to face life w/out his family. He cannot FACE a reality without them. Maya is in a similar situation where she has to face a reality where she may have lost everything.
5) Chaos and Order–I don’t know of any post apocalyptic tale that isn’t about chaos and order. You go from a society that has electricity and no zombies to lighting candles and shooting brains. Order and Chaos. The best example of personal chaos and order is Resident Evil, With Alice waking up in a world that makes no sense to her. Her past and future are messed up, chaos. Her life was in order. In my story, Maya is a person who is organized, conscientious, and on point with everything. She loves rules, and loves to follow them. She hates chaos; she doesn’t understand it. But when the apocalyptic event happens, she is not only thrust into the chaos of society changing, but she is also individually changed by the event. Her head becomes a chaotic mess. I think when she breaks the rules, it will be fun for all.
Right now, I am leaning towards Chaos and Order as my theme. The other ones will play a small part in the story, but between the world’s chaos and Maya’s own chaos, that seems to be where the story is leaning. Will she find order within the chaos? Or will she learn to love chaos? We’ll have to see.