I’ve done this recently on a few accounts and simply saying identity helps me focus the vision. The story follows the viewpoints of the three main characters and their struggle through identity. All of these are explored through different methods. One has their identity stripped away and must establish a new one, the second strives to make a name for herself in a predominantly male order, and the third (the youngest) has little knowledge of his family and their history, only to be introduced to secrets that make him realize who he is.
I like to think that you could take any of these three quick descriptions I’ve provided and apply them to a number of stories in all kinds of genres. That’s the beauty of the theme of identity. It is not restrictive or limited.
This is all very organic in my writing process. I did not write these out and go from there. No, I started with the character and their conflict and the theme of identity grew. Imagine the smallest of frames–better yet, a bare Christmas tree. I set it up and throughout the process of writing, editing, re-writing and editing some more, I’ve placed the ornaments, ribbon, tinsel (not just for decoration), etc. in their proper places to give the tree–or characters–identity. Muscle and skin added to the skeleton once again.
Write what you know. Well, much of my main point of view characters in everything I write has one underlying theme of identity. My writing focuses on this because I truly believe individual identity is the key to success. A character’s journey to discover/re-discover their identity and purpose in life is the quintessential most important conflict in literature (at least I think so).
So, I relate personally because I spent many years unsure of who I was, what my purpose was, etc. Same old story… It took time, patience and putting myself around people who saw the gold in me. This righted much of the upside down thinking I struggled with as a young man. Once I found what I was looking for, though, I settled within myself to be okay. Were there things that could still use work? Of course!
The theme of identity will likely be what I write about the rest of my life. My hope is that this will transcend the pages and help people. Obviously, I cannot tell every reader who they are but hopefully, through my characters, readers will find tools that make sense to them and lead them to discover what’s most important.
Call to Action: If you are struggling with identity in any capacity, I would encourage you to not lose sight or hope. Don’t merely look for others to tell you who you are. Do not seek acceptance or relationships because someone else thinks you should be this or that. Ask questions. Pursue the truth of your convictions. These will better guide you in the long run.