An author friend and I got into a debate over the “point” of our manuscripts. She writes to fight social injustice, to change perception, to teach a lesson. My goal is a little less lofty: to tell a good story.
She was surprised that I hadn’t set my sights a little higher and felt I was selling myself short.
Maybe I am.
Or not. I think providing entertainment and escape is wonderful and worthy of my effort. Honestly, I spent so much time in high school and college searching for an author’s meaning and underlying message that I don’t want to do it with my own writing.
I don’t think that makes me shallow, I just have a different end game.
Do your stories have a point?
Never a point when I start, Becky. It’s always about letting characters live out an idea for me when I initially tackle a story. Sometimes in the ‘after’ I’ll pick up on something (a theme) and try to massage it a little.
Personally, I think I’d get a little (i.e. a lot) preachy if I set out with a mindset of, “I’m going change lives with this story!”
That being said, there’s probably a place for both kinds of storytelling.
Hi EJ! *waves* I need to go drop by your blog. It’s been too long. I hope Texas is treating you well!
I don’t think I have a message, although if one is found buried inside, then in my eyes that’s great. I love digging into stories to find the message. I bet your stories do have a message, they are just less obvious that’s all.
I’m with Cynthia and EJ… there might be the odd message buried in the text, so be it, but I’m there to entertain and thrill the reader. I’m not a preacher (holy water and I don’t agree with each other for some reason), and I’d come across wrong trying to impart a moral lesson.
sometimes you just want to relax and read a good story. There’s nothing wrong with writing a story you love and is fun. I tend to enjoy those more.
I agree with you. Let teens find their own way. No book will do that for them. My job is to entertain…and if they get ‘something’ out of it…bonus points!
Like you, I’m all about the story. If people want to interpret the piece and find their own meaning, that’s fine–I just won’t be the one to cram it down their throats. 🙂
I think my main goals are to provide a bit of escapism, to move people’s emotions and, ultimately, to make them smile. Hopefully I can make their world a little brighter, if only temporarily. I think that’s just as important as more “serious” goals.
I do find that messages, themes or lessons creep into my books – they sort of have to, because the MC has to learn something, right? But it is sort of accidental.
Nah, you’re not shallow! People read for differing reasons, the same as people write for differing reasons. To be read for escapism, learning something, being entertained, spreading joy, creating awareness–all these things can be byproducts of our work, but I don’t see every book as HAVING to have all these things. That’s impossible as well as not necessary. 🙂
To each his own. My bookshelves are filled with Sci-Fi, Horror, and Fantasy. Those are what I read growing up, too. I just love a good story, I don’t need to be ‘taught’ anything, thank you. (As a matter of fact, I can’t stand ‘message’ books unless they’re satirical.)
I’m with E.J. — start off your book with the intention of teaching some moral lessons and guarantee you will come off as preachy. Write the story you were meant to tell, whether it be light and entertaining or dark and twisted.
Lindsay N. Currie
I never write to promote a moral or lesson. I always write the story I want to tell, knowing that each reader is going to gleam something totally different from it.
I agree with everyone else. We write to tell stories – that’s it. My stories do go somewhere (I mean, I’ve got to resolve the crisis for my MC, right?) but generally no overt moral. If it sneaks in there, it sneaks in but I don’t do it on purpose.
Ditto what EJ said.
At the end of the day, though, I think ONE of those two things has to be your goal. If it’s not, then you’re just wasting paper.