(1) The Character of Invitation–a normal person who lives in the mundane world more or less like all of us do everyday. Then one day, by accident or invitation, they stumble upon a hidden supernatural world on our contemporary Earth, which the reader then discovers right along side him/her. Their whole perception of the world changes forever. How do they react to that discovery? How does it change them, if it changes them at all?
(2) The guide to the secret world. The “insider” character that the character of invitation meets who shows them around. Similar to the threshold guardian in that they may not be necessarily friendly, and they exist in both worlds, the mundane world and the secret world.
(3) Returning to that normal mundane world after all the excitement is over, and seeing it in a completely new way. The same old places and people take on a new, deeper meaning. He has experienced a non-spiritual sort of enlightenment.
(4) Difference, eccentricity, or uniqueness not only creating aloneness, but connecting you to others who share your difference (the ugly duckling syndrome).
(5) An ostensibly ordinary person who becomes a “messiah” (destined hero), usually due some kind of heritage, who then has to engage in a supernatural struggle (e.g., Harry Potter, Buffy Summers, Luke Skywalker). Also interesting, the psychological effect that foreknowledge of one’s destiny can have, which is usually temporary rejection of that destiny. It’s equally interesting if they don’t know their destiny, either, and yet they have this destiny all the same.
(6) Similarities and differences between offspring and their parents, grandparents, siblings, etc. How am I a reflection of my ancestors? What bits and pieces of me, whole parts of me, come from them? And how is a parent reflected in their own child? I am interested in families that are “different”, set apart from people around them by whatever it is that makes them different–being part alien, or wizards/witches or whatever it is, supernatural gifts or an unusual heritage being passed down through the generations, or being shared by siblings. Also, rebellion against such heritage when it is part of a journey towards acceptance.
(7) Also interesting is the hybrid, the child who has this heritage on one side of the family, and is normal or human on the other side. Often this person is unaware of the unusual side
(8) Alien close encounters/first contact
(9) Supernatural or alien subcultures existing hidden within our own world. I often imagine them having created their own sub-culture due to their relative isolation from mainstream society.
(10) A psychological exploration of a fictional character. Many of my main characters are emotionally damaged, but if they are, the story is about their journey to wholeness.
(11) Crazy people–not in the sense of being emotionally screwed up, but as a way to explore perception of the world. For example, one character I wrote was essentially an “idiot savant”, a visitor from another dimension who wasn’t unintelligent, but had no frame of reference for our world and was trying to accomplish a mission here to bring one of her own kind back to her world while slowly learning the joys of this one.
(12) Identity–characters discovering a previously unknown, mysterious, or forgotten identity, or revealing a secret identity to someone else, especially when this identity is non-human or fantastic somehow, and/or part of a secret sub-culture. I am especially interested in the experience of discovering you are not what you thought they were, and how they deal with that, and how it helps them makes sense of the weird/bad experiences they’ve had in their lives.
(13) Children lost to their parents for a number of years and found again, especially if the parent never even knew about them.
(14) Fantastic places: alternate dimensions, other planets, fantasy places. I am more interested in people from those places who live here on Earth rather than writing about those places in the main.
(15) magical powers–telekinesis, ESP, ability to do spells.
(16) Artificial Intelligence
(17) I find myself drawn to urban fantasy, both in the sense of placing a supernatural-themed story in the here and now, and also in the sense of having a literal urban or city setting.
(18) Androgynous characters–cranky boyish brats; screwed-up tomboys with parental issues.
(19) Time travel, especially as it creates an anachronism/person or object out of time.
(20) An agent on a mission. They are here to do something, but from somewhere else, hunt something, find someone
(21) Someone in the establishment hiding the truth.
(22) A bad-guy smack-down
(23) The cooperation of enemies
(24) reincarnation and/or immortality
(25) Mismatched romantic couples
(26) A mysterious artifact
(27) A fantasy creature come to life
(29) someone on the run
(30) spiritual journeys/transcendence
(31) Shape-shifting, transformation into something else
(32) lost ancient artifacts
(33) rites of passage
(34) university settings
(36) voyages of discovery