Monday, January 28, 2013

Guest Post: Hidden Messages in Our Writings

by: T.J.

From the moment humans created a common language among their peers, there have been storytellers. People who carried the tradition of entertaining, and teaching, their tribes. They created stories with messages and handed them down through the ages. Not just, “Hey, killing is bad.” But stories of who did it, why and the consequences. They imparted hard earned wisdom, hoping to keep their audiences enthralled and to take something away from each creation.

As modern day authors, we are no different. And we all have a message to send.

Perhaps it is finding the strength to survive an apocalypse. Or laugh at yourself in order to get through tough situations. To see the world differently, maybe to open eyes about other lives, problems and prompt the reader to seek solutions.

Whether it is memoir, information or fiction, every book has a message – good or bad.

It is almost an universal truth among writers. We understand it is our imagination, our creativity, churning in the back of our minds, creating a story. An alternate world, with people, places, things, conflicts and resolutions that must be put on paper and shared. It is an impulse very hard to ignore, to bury or deny.

Yet many don't understand they have a lesson to impart. Those seeking publication – no matter the venue – wish for their messages to be seen, understood, and hopefully, carried forward.

I'll be an example. Even though most of my work is in Urban Fantasy, with a lot of gods and mythology playing catalyst, you cannot miss the women's issues. Whether trying to figure out what is the right thing to do, finding the inner strength to keep trying, violence against women, protecting family, it's there. Some subtle, some not so subtle, but always present.

We talk about conflict, three dimensional characters, but rarely do we take an up close look at the message we impart to readers. And as storytellers of the twenty first century, I think it's time we do.

What do you want the reader to really take away from your book? That you can write poetically about a grassy knoll? Kind of doubtful. Most likely you have something buried in the story you feel passionate about. We all want a reader to see the inner TV screens as we do, but underneath it all, I'm betting dollars to donuts there is a moral, a belief, or life changing bit of wisdom that needs to be told.

Let the message bring your character alive. It doesn't need a neon sign pointing to the message. When your mind and creativity hit on the story, the lesson was already present. I'm saying examine and find what you are truly trying to say. It will push the story forward, help with conflict, make the characters believable as they try to learn the wisdom being imparted.

Be a Storyteller, not just a writer.

1 comment:

Michelle 4 Laughs said...

It is easier to find your direction when you recognize the message you want to send. Because recognize it or not there is some kind of underlying message.

Thanks for the reminder, TJ.