Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Continuing the Discussion

The past couple of posts have considered the job of a fiction writer, and how views or beliefs can affect the writing.

I'm cheating a bit on this post, by borrowing excerpts of recent comments, but -- to borrow something else, in this case a cliche -- why re-invent the wheel?
We all write about ourselves regardless of the precautions we take not to do so. Just as our bodies betray us with physical cues and tics when we lie, our writing betrays us with the words we use. Others who know us can see the threads. On the other hand when an agent or editor asks an author to go outside the parameters of his established mores, we can also see the artificialness of the inserted passages. - Texican
As a modern writer who has both a yen for storytelling and personal faith, perhaps that is the best way to approach it. Instead of overt ham-fisted attempts at proselytizing via fiction which will be quickly sniffed out and spurned, perhaps this audience is best reached when we grow so close to our God that echoes of the real world overflow into our fiction just as echoes of Amber, the one true world, were found everywhere in Shadow in Roger Zelazny's works. Save sermons for Sunday morning, but let the stories be stories. If there is any truth to be found, let it seep through every nook and cranny, an artistic, winsome, overflowing of imagination and literary craft. - Phy
I like the idea of telling a story first and letting any 'message' overflow from there organically. If the Message outweighs Story, I'm more the likely to fall out of the project and go read something else. But if a truth presents itself from the text, from the story, without any apparent agenda on the part of the writer, well, that's the magic, isn't it? - Phy
You commented once about how my own personality could be present in both the light and dark characters in my fiction. I think that we, as writers, do deal with our bogeymen through the characters in our novels, novellas, poetry, and short stories...I've always felt a convincing story was one that included your valid emotions. - Jade
Regardless of a writer's faith or lack thereof, why must there be an either / or: "acceptable" work, or writing? "Real" literature, or genre stories? "Serious" literature, or "commercial" fiction?

Amazing Grace, when William Wilberforce says he's caught between doing the work of God and doing the work of government, one of the abolitionists at the dinner table says, "We respectfully submit that you can do both."

Chariots of Fire, after his sister expresses her concerns about his athletics getting in the way of his missions work, Eric Liddell tells her, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure."

None of us are only one thing, nor do we have only single interests. That's what makes us humans intriguing creatures: All those internal conflicts and desires make for great story fodder.

We cannot live other people's lives, nor can we write other authors' stories. We can only write the stories that are in us, and be true to them. As Tex stated above, it's usually easy to tell when a piece has been turned into a contrivance to advance an agenda.

My advice, with a nod to the Bard: To the story be true.

Or, with a nod this time to a song from another era: Let it be.


The Texican said...

I really enjoyed some of your source material. :) Pappy

Anonymous said...

Love the Beatles reference!
I remember some of my own sermonizing--years ago--every tale had to have some kind of agenda--then. Glad I finally grew up and got over it!
You have to be true to yourself in fiction: your reader will see it, and enjoy.
Former Soapboxer, Jade


Tex - Thought you might!

Jade - Hey, I'm still equipped with any number of soapboxes. I just try to haul them out otherwhere than my fiction.