Bar-Sinister will feature work on a number of interlinked themes with similar elements.

Freedom of artistic expression: Works relating to the ability and right of every person to express themselves fully and freely through the medium of art and fiction.

Dark fiction: Fiction (and other art) with elements that are considered dark, strange, horrific, taboo. Sometimes referred to as darkfic, or dead dove.

Pain: Fiction and art with an emphasis on the experience of physical and mental suffering, torture and misery, and on recovery from the same. Sometimes referred to as whump.

Romanticism: Fiction and art with an emphasis on personal romance and romantic desire, often, but not always including dark elements, strangeness, taboo, or mental or physical suffering. Sometimes referred to as self ship.