Sometimes when you’re writing or editing, things reveal themselves. Things you didn’t really expect.
I’m not talking about “oh this character’s eyes are blue” or “it’s official; she has three brothers”. I’m talking about bigger things. Like theme.
I’m not going to try to explain theme here. I’m going to link you to this post for that.
I’m going to discuss a specific theme.
Society and stigma.
(That could be a Jane Austen title…) (There might be a better name for it, I’m just not sure what it is at the moment.)
While brainstorming specific points of how LASER should/could end with Lily J. (we set out to discover whether or not a couple of characters died and ended up with much more than that), I had a couple of thoughts about society.
In order to explain this concept, I am going to use were-kraken-vampires as an example. So, please imagine an ordinary man who is blood-sucking cephalopod nights during the full moon. Got it? Moving on.
Let’s put this man in an average, respectable job. Something with a briefcase and tie. He’s a school teacher. Mid-thirties. He’s a nice guy. Friendly. Students love him and the other teachers think he’s great.
Then one day, through one way or another, it is revealed that this guy is a were-kraken-vampire.
Okay, what happens?
Well, some people will absolutely freak out. It doesn’t matter if the guy is vampire-vegan and hasn’t had blood in years. People are going to be afraid for themselves and probably their children, too (he is a school teacher).
There will be haters. People who attack physically or emotionally. People who do it because they think were-kraken-vampires are evil and that attacking them is the best way to let everyone know. What’s sad is that these haters are not always just mean people. Sometimes, these people can be good people who have perfectly legitimate reasons for their hate (fear being among the reasons). But it doesn’t excuse them.
There will be people who just don’t care. “Oh, you’re a were-kraken-vampire? That’s cool, I guess. Hey, what did you think of the new Avengers movie?”
There will be people who don’t attack but don’t approve, either.
There will be supporters. “It’s perfectly okay if you’re a were-kraken-vampire. We’re friends and nothing will ever change that! By the way, what’d you think of the new Avengers movie?”
And lastly, there will be activists. “Were-kraken-vampires have rights, too!”
Of course, there are all kinds of subcategories and crossing of categories in this. There will be people who are kind of anti-activist, too.
So, what does happen when Joe is discovered to be a were-kraken-vampire?
It’s entirely possible that he will lose his job.
There are places he will be rejected.
He may lose friends. His family (unless all of them are were-kraken-vampires, too) may reject him, too.
If something suspicious happens in his home town, the blame may fall on him, even if the evidence doesn’t support that.
On the flip side, he may have pressure put on him by his activist friends. He shouldn’t keep quiet about being a were-kraken-vampire! He should speak out! Yeah, you want to lay low, especially after that thing with the filled pool that no one remembers filling, BUT YOU SHOULD SPEAK OUT. WANT TO COME TO A RALLY THIS WEEK?
Or if he’s surrounded by the people who don’t care, he may feel alone. He may even feel alone with supporters, because, though they do approve of him and love him for who he is, they may not be were-kraken-vampires and may not truly understand what he’s going/been through.
There’s a whole lot of scenarios here. I’m not going to list all of them. I don’t think I can list all of them. And really, this was just observation I’ve found interesting and wanted to share.
I have a similar society scenario in LASER. I realized that I have most of these people (haters, supporters, ect.) in the story.
I realized that, one day, when this book is published, people are going to have me sign their books and say things like “So the [were-kraken-vampires] are a symbol for [insert religion, race, lifestyle, etc.].”
To which I will smile politely and sign their book.
But I will be thinking, “No, it’s not symbol. I just wrote it because I thought it was interesting. But I’m glad you like the book and I’m glad it’s accurate. You can think whatever you want about this; it’s out of my hands now. By the way, the sequel comes out next Spring.”
Themes are funny like that. They leave room for interpretation.