frea_o: (Olivia Smiling)
[personal profile] frea_o
Choose one of your completed poems, stories, or essays. The exercise will work better with a story, but poetry and essays will do. Now, go through the exercises above (for exploring theme) to list all the themes in your piece, identify the main theme(s), and examine how you executed the themes.

Over six months ago, I finished a story that was two and a quarter years in progress, What Fates Impose. It numbered sixty eight chapters in length, spawned two long prequels/tie-ins, an AU of its own, and seven short stories. Put together, I call it all The Fatesverse. There are five different perspective characters, one of whom is inanimate. Put together, the Fatesverse totals about 552,000 words. And despite the variety of the stories (one is a dream, one is in the POV of a dummy, and the different protagonists have different life goals), there are definitely quite a few themes prevalent throughout the entire series.

Warning: if you haven’t read the Fates series and want to, don’t read this. It has beaucoup spoilers

The biggest theme in the Fatesverse is “self.” Self-worth, self-reliance, self-confidence, self-respect. At the core is the story of Chuck trying to find himself again after he’s been set aside from society for a number of years, and how those choices affect him and those around him. Along with him on this journey (or, on a journey of her own that runs alongside Chuck’s), is Sarah, whose sense of self-worth is tied entirely into her abilities as a con-woman and CIA agent. Chuck’s own self-worth is nonexistent, given that he believes that he has been thrown aside as somebody unworthy, and the idea has festered through the years. He has no way of grasping that he is actually something inspirational to those in his life, which means he often sees an altered version of the people around him rather than what they truly are (Sarah and Casey are burdened by him, for example, is a strong belief of his, while in reality, Sarah and Casey enjoy working with him because a) gunfights (Casey) and b) Chuck’s going to do something new and crazy that leads to adrenaline (Sarah)).

But in addition to the ideas of knowing oneself, Chuck is not everything he appears to be, thanks to a series of governmental tests and experiments that altered his memories and left him with psychological triggers wherein he can be controlled in classic Cold War sleeper agent fashion. Upon escaping from the bunker after a betrayal by his best friend (whose actions led to Chuck’s inclusion in the program that changed him), Chuck is forced to trust a woman he barely knows—trust being another giant theme throughout all of Fates—to protect him and help him escape from danger. They don’t escape and are instead sent to run a mission in southern California.

Between their escape and their assignment, however, Sarah is sentenced to prison for twenty-five years (and paroled), which introduces another major theme of being a pawn and being powerless. Powerlessness and the struggle against it follow Chuck and Sarah all the way to the end of the story. It affects them on multiple levels: there are machinations in the government “way above their pay grade” (a la Sarah being sentenced to prison by a council that knows everything, including her real name, her most prized possession), all the way down to their cores (Sarah cannot break away the lying part of herself, Chuck can be controlled like a sleeper agent). Also in their lack of control is the idea of Fate: when she meets Chuck, Sarah is never quite able to forget him, though she gives it her best shot. Are they fated to be together, or is a part of her broken?

Powerlessness also leads them to decide, at the end, rather than to fight the system from the inside, to make every step they can to get away from the machinations of Fulcrum and the Intersect. Being betrayed by their superiors, as well as seeing how ineffectual they are in the grand scheme of things, leads the main trio (and assorted other characters), to make their final choice.

Converse to powerlessness, faith and trust pop up time and again. Blind faith eventually bites Chuck in the ass when it turns out Sarah has lied to him about his origins, but conversely, that faith also aided him in his recovery from years alone in the bunker. Without faith that Sarah can handle everything and protect him, Chuck would never have come as far as he did before the ultimate betrayal, but part of that faith carried an ugly connotation that the person he put his faith in also made decisions on his behalf that were ultimately destructive.

The themes come up time and again: Chuck has faith, Sarah struggles constantly with being the source of that trust and everything it means. She proves herself to have clay feet, which is better in the long run for their relationship, but very damaging in the short run: upon discovering her betrayal, Chuck chooses to run and separate himself from the world. But in the long run, breaking the faith does lead to Chuck fully learning self-reliance (he blows up the bunker that held him) and eventually self-worth (he stands up for himself and pushes Sarah to do the same), though. Meanwhile, Sarah feels forced to make a career change and ends up learning of a passion she never explored (this happens after the story, in which Sarah becomes an instructor at Quantico and discovers that her natural empathy makes her a phenomenal instructor).

Another recurring theme is rabbits. You can make of that as you will, Freud.
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