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An argument — Christian stories don't just happen

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  • #75257
    Daeus Lamb
    @daeus-lamb

    @northerner You can just email me.

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    #85520
    Buddy J.
    @wordsmith

    @daeus-lamb

    Ahhhh… yes. A respectable question indeed. And one that I believe was (at least partly) in response to things I have said before. So first, please know that I write this with a smile upon my face. I love seeing this conversation hashed out, because it’s something that I’ve thought about, and look forward to getting deeper into. Not only to disagree with you, but to clarify my side of things in a way that I hope sheds light.

    I do disagree with you, but not exactly. The way you put it I do agree with you, at face value: “It basically states that you shouldn’t worry too much about how to write a story that glorifies God because if you’re a Christian you can’t help but express your love for the God you know.”

    If you interpret it that way, then yes it is a bit unsettling. But allow me to introduce another perspective.

    I’m gonna address this first by looking at it as a teacher, or even just a guide in writing. In all of my helping people write I come across people talking about how they aren’t sure if the <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>theme</span> is working. Maybe they’re having trouble with the using God’s truths in writing, even if it’s woven in implicitly. Theme is something that really causes a lot of people to hesitate when writing, and it’s not the thing that is their greatest problem. They are trying so hard to figure out how to make it a good solid theme driven story. Not a bad thing, but possibly misled.

    Writing is a delicate process. It is a monuments task. We are trying to put something out that is so powerful it effects someone in a powerful way, and without knowing them personally. We are speaking to a world that is lost, trying to bring light. And thank God we’re not the first ones.

    God himself set the example by sending his word. He used word to bring about light. He spoke the law to Adam. He sent The Word itself to dwell among us, speaking the truth of the Almighty. He left His Word with us so that it might endure from age to age, to the end of the world. And we humans of fallen nature, that have been redeemed to a place of healing as image bearers are trying to reflect truth through a medium of books, stories. It is a gift that we can, but also a great responsibility. And I think I can speak for each and every person here in saying that we all want to use that gift with the greatest skill possible. In a way that honors and glorifies God Himself.

    I’m going to quote myself. It’s something I said to you in my beta reading of God of Manna:  “So… the theme of the story… that is something that has been the least of my focus, even in my own writing. Mostly I don’t even tend to derive a clear theme from other stories that I read, so much as looking at the subtle ways in which a character makes decisions that lead to an overall worldview. Mostly I just see it as a character going through life, learning, hurting, and growing or not. And I think I would tend to say, don’t worry about theme. When writing your characters, when working the plot, when tying it all together with prose your theme will be there. So instead of saying here is the theme, lemme say where I thought how he moved was powerful”

    In essence I didn’t actually deny theme there. I merely redefined it in clearer terms. The theme is what we mean when we write. It’s what we want the reader to come away with, how we want it to have effected them. It’s the truth we show in the words. I went on to say this: “That is how I would summarize it for you… so instead of trying to put a theme in, let the theme flow through the characters as life, and not an extra. I think you’re already onto to this to a degree, but I want to warn you against trying to put the theme in. It’ll be there.”

    The reason theme will be there is not because you’re a Christian, and it has to be there because of that. The reason theme will be there is because of the way you weave everything together, if you do it with skill. We write characters. And we write them with the understanding of where the characters start out, we move them through life, and we bring them to a point in the end. We write those characters with the presupposition of God’s truth. If God’s truth is alive in us, it’ll show in our work. If we’re applying truth in life it’ll show in our works. But it has to be based upon an understanding of weaving words. We’re not just shouting it out, most of the time. No. We’re stepping forward to serve the reader. We want to give them the best we have. So how do we do that?

    We we learn what it means to apply truth in life, we can learn how to apply that in our writing too. And it’s gonna start with understanding the character. And putting that character together with prose so strong it’s beautiful. We use that character in the story, interacting. We bring them into a plot, a world. And whether we are plot driven, world driven, or character driven in our style, it’s ultimately about the people. We have to understand writing, and people before we can write with great skill. And when someone is having trouble with theme, it’s not the theme that’s an issue. It’s how they’re applying characters, people, in a world. It means something isn’t lining up in their writing. It means they need to cement their issues in some aspect of continuity, cohesiveness, character weakness, loose prose, world building. But all of that with the presupposition of truth and Godly living.

    It’s about the foundation from which we write. And then on that  foundation we build a story, about people, about worlds, in a plot about truth, pain, healing, light, darkness. It’s all wrapping around our understanding of The Word of God.

    So to separate theme as an aspect of the story that we really need to focus on almost creates a false dichotomy.  Instead let’s look at how to build a world that reflects what we know as truth. Look at the world around. Write about characters that people relate with, that people understand, but do so with the presupposition of what man is. Put those characters into the world, weave them into a plot, and hold it all together with the thread of prose. The theme will be there. Theme is an intricate part of story, inseparable. And the point at which theme is weak we need to not worry about what’s wrong with the theme, but instead where our story is weak. Where things are in-cohesive in the plot. Maybe where our prose isn’t clear.

    It may feel like I keep repeating certain things, and I might be. So lemme close. Lay down a foundation of truth in life. Work your writing skill. And be truthful in your writing. The theme will come out of it. I’m not saying be passive. Be active in understanding how to tell a powerful story. And it will carry a theme. Don’t worry about your theme. Write well. Use strong prose. And do it all to the glory of God.

    I hope this was helpful even though it was a bit belated.

    I’m glad to be back among you, and I so look forward to hearing back from you guys. I may not be as consistent as I was in times past, but you can hope to see me at least once a week. Thank you all!

    Until nextime.

    -Buddy J., Author of The Bookshelf Staircase, Writing Enthusiast, He Who Likes Debates, and Child Of God.-

    Published author, student in writing, works with HazelGracePress.com

    #86272
    Buddy J.
    @wordsmith

    @daeus-lamb @jane-maree @ericawordsmith @taylorclogston @hope-ann

    Okay… in my last post I laid out an argument that theme is often misrepresented. I then put forth a definition for what theme is, defining it by the plot, characters, their arcs, and the intricate patterns of the character interactions in a world.

    But halfway through writing that post I was given a steep time limit left, and had to rush to finish. And I realize that in my closing I pressed certain points, without clarifications that might be helpful. I stressed things that seemed to be missing elsewhere. Thus, I’m writing a second part to flesh things out a little further, showing the fuller scope of my beliefs on writing itself, and how to portray something as implicated and complex as theme. So without further ado, I begin:

    I start by pointing out that I began my last argument from the perspective of a teacher, coach, editor, and or beta reader. This is important, because I’m looking at things from a perspective of how things look like from the outside, from the perspective of someone who’s helping your writing, not your spiritual health nor relationship with The Lord. Whereas if I were to answer from the perspective of looking at myself, knowing my heart, my relationship with The Lord, my answer would look slightly different. I know my struggles, and I teach myself differently than I would teach others. So I’ll try to cover this, showing the difference between those two perspectives, and how they can still work in unison, applying the principle of homeostasis, not equal balance.

    Presuppositions laid out, I believe that once God starts a work in someone’s life, he will bring it to completion. His growth in us is something that happens over time, from one degree to another. He is healing our ability to reflect his image. To bear it in perfection. That is not something we attain in this life though, but after death. Even so I believe that it is a work that applies to us, helping us grow. I believe that we can have faith in His healing of our state. Even though we remain fallible creatures.

    Yes, we sin. No, humans are not innately like Christ, in His holiness. But we have The Holy Spirit indwelling in us. This brings the assurance of our growth. And we are also told in Proverbs that those who seek wisdom will find it. So we are active in growth, but are only able because of The Lord’s grace and healing.

    Where does this apply? Because in writing, we as Christians should always be seeking to learn truth, to grow in holiness, and work to do His will. And that means that in our writing we are to do our best to reflect the truth of scripture, of both special and natural revelation. It is something we are to seek. And yet, in seeking we have faith that it will be given to us.

    So when I create a narrative, with anything, I’m writing character. A character is a representation of an idea, a thing (a noun that is either literal or metaphorical), or both. In fact it is many of these things put together in a complex weave, connecting abstract ideas with concrete truth. Tying emotion with logic (which are not opposites, I might add). We use all these tools to represent something. When writing about Frodo, Tolkien was writing a character. Something that represents. Something that represents truth. And he’s using a hobbit (essentially a human) to represent a human, as well as others. But we don’t have to merely use humans to represent humans. Because all we’re doing is using characters to stand in the place of what we mean. We can use a building to represent Christ. Not in whole, but in one or two areas.

    What we’re working with here is metaphor. In algebra ‘x’ and ‘y’ are metaphors, characters that stand in the place of a truth, or potential truth. Frodo is a character standing in the place of a human, one that feels, one that thinks, one that is rational, and reflects the purpose of its origin. He is in so many ways a metaphor for human life, in the struggles with sin, death, darkness. A character is a retelling of something we know… as is a metaphor.

    So why can we use so many different images to represent one thing? Where does this come from? If we think about God, He is consistent, unchanging in character. Morality never changes. His truth is consistent. It exists all around us.

    For example: growth is a beautiful thing we see everywhere, in plants, humans, spiritual and physical. How does it happen? Through an object getting what it needs. By supporting it’s system. How do things heal? Through health and strength. And these truths apply to physical and spiritual.

    Because God’s truth is so consistent and integrated in parallels all through creation, spiritual and physical, we can find an object in just about any part of creation, and see how it can take the place in representing another area of creation. It doesn’t replace in actuality, but can allow us to see things from a view of clarity.

    That is metaphor. It is characterization. And everything we write, when we put the pieces together in a cohesive web or weave, says something. Usually many things. It has a conclusion. It, as a whole, is a metaphor. A characterization. A representation. It says something about life and truth. Not a new truth, but reflecting the truth that is there.

    And there’s a danger in misrepresenting, mis-characterizing, creating a poor metaphor. It can mislead. It can speak mis-truth, pointing to darkness. An example of this being Satan clothing himself as an angel of light. Or on a closer level the sins of man. A man who suppresses the truth in unrighteousness. Or a saved man who mocks God. This is why the theme does matter. It is the conclusion. It is what we are characterizing, and characterizing as truth. So how do we apply it?

    If I’m working with someone who is uncertain that their theme is working, I’ll tell them to look at the story, look at the characters, look at the arc, look at the world. Don’t worry about your theme. That word is throwing you off. Just tell the story with these tools you’ve been given. With prose, with poetry, with periods, and commas. With strength in verse, with powerful sentences, whether flamboyant or not. And as you tell the truth in your characters, your presuppositions will come out. Your beliefs will be shown. You will grow.

    But sometimes I feel like a hypocrite. I may look down at my own stories and see them bleak. I may not see a clear theme. It sometimes makes me wonder if all my past works have been trash, just because I didn’t end on an obvious “THIS IS CHRISTIAN” note. But then I remind myself… all of truth comes from God. All of life comes from God. And I think to myself, where is God in my story? And often it’s subtle. Often it’s not blatantly Christian. Sometimes I’m telling a story of people who may or may not be believers, but they’re doing the right thing, they’re acting in truth, they’re working under the common grace of God. Something that actually happens.

    Yes, it is true that you and I still have lots of growth to do in our writing. In our life. But much of that is personal, growth between the individual and God. It many times involves other humans (maybe always, in one form or another). It’s not something I can accomplish in you. But I can point you in the write direction (wordplay intended). I can do my best to guide you, by the grace of God. . And it won’t be through forcing a theme, but telling the truth about people, characters, worlds. To seek how to better do that. For one plants, one waters, but God causes the growth.

    So then I talk to myself and ask, am I telling the truth? How can I do it better? Where is God in my characterization? In my metaphor.

    So let’s not get hung up on the word theme. It’s something that comes from a story. Woven together. And once again, remember that God works through the means of natural revelation and special. Many times He inter-melds them.

    And the theme of the Christian life? I dare to say it is about God’s works, His providence, His love, His truth, His disciplining us as a father. His truth and healing in us. His conquering death and slavery to sin.

    And our learning, and growing. An intricate path, that only he knows, but one that he knows perfectly. To the end and beyond. He will equip us for the path, now and forevermore.

    May God bless your writing, and in so your life, and the life of others.

     

    Published author, student in writing, works with HazelGracePress.com

    #86290
    EricaWordsmith
    @ericawordsmith

    @wordsmith

    I saw your last post, and I actually wrote out a response, but never posted it because it was late at night and I had no idea whether it was actually coherent speech or nonsense. XD

    As for this one, it really does clarify things.

    Presuppositions laid out, I believe that once God starts a work in someone’s life, he will bring it to completion. His growth in us is something that happens over time, from one degree to another. He is healing our ability to reflect his image. To bear it in perfection. That is not something we attain in this life though, but after death. Even so I believe that it is a work that applies to us, helping us grow. I believe that we can have faith in His healing of our state. Even though we remain fallible creatures.

    Yes, we sin. No, humans are not innately like Christ, in His holiness. But we have The Holy Spirit indwelling in us. This brings the assurance of our growth. And we are also told in Proverbs that those who seek wisdom will find it. So we are active in growth, but are only able because of The Lord’s grace and healing.

    Where does this apply? Because in writing, we as Christians should always be seeking to learn truth, to grow in holiness, and work to do His will. And that means that in our writing we are to do our best to reflect the truth of scripture, of both special and natural revelation. It is something we are to seek. And yet, in seeking we have faith that it will be given to us.

    This was my whole point in the post I never posted.

    So why can we use so many different images to represent one thing? Where does this come from? If we think about God, He is consistent, unchanging in character. Morality never changes. His truth is consistent. It exists all around us.

    Amen. I loved that. That is one of the things I am most grateful for as a Christian; that I have an absolute source of truth in God’s word and that God never changes. I am so deeply grateful for that, especially right now in the culture we live in.

    Because God’s truth is so consistent and integrated in parallels all through creation, spiritual and physical, we can find an object in just about any part of creation, and see how it can take the place in representing another area of creation. It doesn’t replace in actuality, but can allow us to see things from a view of clarity.

    That is metaphor. It is characterization. And everything we write, when we put the pieces together in a cohesive web or weave, says something. Usually many things. It has a conclusion. It, as a whole, is a metaphor. A characterization. A representation. It says something about life and truth. Not a new truth, but reflecting the truth that is there.

    That’s exactly why I write fantasy. That is the power of fantasy, I’ve heard people say that fantasy is not an escape, it is a mirror in which we see the world. Fantasy has impacted me more than any other type of story, and that is why I write it.

    If I’m working with someone who is uncertain that their theme is working, I’ll tell them to look at the story, look at the characters, look at the arc, look at the world. Don’t worry about your theme. That word is throwing you off. Just tell the story with these tools you’ve been given. With prose, with poetry, with periods, and commas. With strength in verse, with powerful sentences, whether flamboyant or not. And as you tell the truth in your characters, your presuppositions will come out. Your beliefs will be shown. You will grow.

    This is where I know for me, I see truth, but this also is not a one-size-fits-all. Take somebody who does not have a good grasp on worldview and has grown up with a lot of misrepresentations of truth. If they are newly saved Christians, or even some Christians who have just never spent a lot of time understanding their worldview, how can they write something grounded in truth if they are not grounded in truth themselves? This is where the first part of what you wrote comes in. They need to be grounded in truth. For me, I began work with fantasy that was heavily themed and very preachy. Then I realized over a year ago that I couldn’t do that. It didn’t have power, it was just preachy. That’s when I realized that I could use metaphors to make it powerful, much more powerful. That was when I spent a huge amount of time worldbuilding, but with that worldbuilding, I made sure to weave truth into the very basic fibers of my story. I believe now it is so much more powerful. I think that I had to also spend a lot of time before that understanding my Christian worldview. I think listening to speakers who do a lot of critical worldview analysis and doing a Bible study about God were the two things that prepared me to use metaphors in the right way. I agree with you that your idea works, I totally agree, but it goes hand in hand with being grounded in truth, and I would take it a step further saying that not every Christian is going to be well equipped enough to do this. I know I wasn’t two years ago. I think our stories (especially fantasy and speculative fiction) need to be redemptive and God glorifying. I would argue this doesn’t just happen without the Lord’s help. How can we do anything for his glory without his strength? We as writers MUST rely on him, I believe that my most powerful writing is the writing that I do for him and full of truth. I can’t do this on my own. Yet do I believe that I need to turn my writing into a sermon? No way. I think of The Lord of the Rings, Narnia, The Wingfeather Saga, and The Seventh World Trilogy, how they used metaphors, but have impacted me in my faith and given me hope. I am so grateful for those authors and how much they have blessed me and helped me to understand truth.

    But sometimes I feel like a hypocrite. I may look down at my own stories and see them bleak. I may not see a clear theme. It sometimes makes me wonder if all my past works have been trash, just because I didn’t end on an obvious “THIS IS CHRISTIAN” note. But then I remind myself… all of truth comes from God. All of life comes from God. And I think to myself, where is God in my story? And often it’s subtle. Often it’s not blatantly Christian. Sometimes I’m telling a story of people who may or may not be believers, but they’re doing the right thing, they’re acting in truth, they’re working under the common grace of God. Something that actually happens.

    O.K. this… I love your writing, and I think the majority of what I’ve seen has been more speculative-ish. I’m actually giving a go at some writing that is more… modern? I don’t want to say superhero, more of modernish with abilities. I’ve been wondering how to make it God-glorifying in that context. I think I’ve decided that I will use something similar to what you said. Yet I do think I need a source of hope. What are our stories if they don’t have hope? That is the biggest thing in stories that I believe we need. I think if we’re writing stories set in our own world however… I think we should be a little more careful that there IS a difference than secular fiction. Martin Hospitality, I really loved the way that was written, or my best friend’s brother’s book, When Stars Go Out. That was the first dystopian (it actually didn’t seem too dystopian to me) book I’ve ever read, and it was really awesome!! I absolutely recommend it!!! Writing modern fiction is so much trickier than speculative because I still don’t want to sound preachy, but I do believe there should be a difference between my work and secular fiction. I also think it’s possible to write stories set in modern day that are allegorical or metaphoric. I just still say that whatever a Christian writer does, they should have SOME sort of difference between their writing and secular fiction.

    Yes, it is true that you and I still have lots of growth to do in our writing. In our life. But much of that is personal, growth between the individual and God. It many times involves other humans (maybe always, in one form or another). It’s not something I can accomplish in you. But I can point you in the write direction (wordplay intended). I can do my best to guide you, by the grace of God. . And it won’t be through forcing a theme, but telling the truth about people, characters, worlds. To seek how to better do that. For one plants, one waters, but God causes the growth.

    So then I talk to myself and ask, am I telling the truth? How can I do it better? Where is God in my characterization? In my metaphor.

    So let’s not get hung up on the word theme. It’s something that comes from a story. Woven together. And once again, remember that God works through the means of natural revelation and special. Many times He inter-melds them.

    I agree yes, it is so much better that the entire story is woven seamlessly with truth rather than that we write a story and post little THIS IS CHRISTIAN notes in disruptive ways through the scenes. And yes, as we grow in the Lord, I believe that he grows us in our writing as well.

    And the theme of the Christian life? I dare to say it is about God’s works, His providence, His love, His truth, His disciplining us as a father. His truth and healing in us. His conquering death and slavery to sin.

    And our learning, and growing. An intricate path, that only he knows, but one that he knows perfectly. To the end and beyond. He will equip us for the path, now and forevermore.

    May God bless your writing, and in so your life, and the life of others.

    Buddy, this is why I love your writing. That was said so beautifully. I might need to turn that into another quote, I absolutely loved that. XD Seriously, this is super encouraging, thank you for that.

    Tek an ohta! Tek an cala!

    #86601
    Buddy J.
    @wordsmith

    @ericawordsmith

    Thanks! Glad that helped…

    And in reply to where you said: This is where I know for me, I see truth, but this also is not a one-size-fits-all…

    Like you said, this post needs to be read in understanding of what the first one laid down… and with that in mind, I have clarified that it’s not a one size fits all… but… when I’m coaching someone (the specific context of that part of the post), I may still use the same method. Because that leads me to a place where I can address truth, and weaving it into the story through the tools given, without worrying about <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>theme</span>. On top of that please note that I did add a stipulation: And as you tell the truth in your characters, your presuppositions will come out. This states that the condition is upon them telling the truth through their characters. From there I have laid a foundation to help the person work where they need the help.

    Because this really is all about the foundation. The foundation for me as a coach and teacher. And the foundation for the writer himself.

    Published author, student in writing, works with HazelGracePress.com

    #86675
    EricaWordsmith
    @ericawordsmith

    @wordsmith

    This is so totally random, but I was probably sitting on the roof when you posted this. XD Just saying, one of the absolute most awesome places to be is the roof… I will miss that in the brick box that we are moving to… Sorry that was so random…

    O.K. Yes, I think this is all well thought out and the basic foundation of writing fantasy especially (at least it is for me). Truth is the light of our stories, and that is why they are powerful. I aim to not turn my fiction into a lecture or theology 101, not a good idea, but to use truth as a beacon of hope to encourage my readers. Yes, I agree that it is best to craft a story made with truth woven in every strand instead of a story with a theme painted in. Everything is better when the foundation is sure instead of a shiny layer of paint at the end.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about what have been some of the biggest encouragements/ministries in my life so far, and I boiled it down to two of the biggest things that have encouraged me in my faith, helped me to press on and made me into who I am today have been authors whose books gave me hope and Andrew Peterson/Rich Mullins music. I can only hope and pray that I can do the same for other people by wordcraft, that is why I write in the first place.

    I had a thought this week about writing (this is one of my roof musings). I think that we aren’t naturally given the gift of hope and the ability to give hope to others. I know I have weaknesses in various types of writing and I was praying about it the other night and was reminded that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. This is where I say that I don’t naturally write Christian anything, at least not well done Christian anything. I say that if I write anything powerful, it is God’s work in my life giving me the ability to do it, but it is his strength working in my weakness (I’m not saying all this to say that you didn’t make everything clear, I’m sort of thinking out loud right now). 😉

    Now, I just have to wonder, when we write Christian stories, or we are writing truth, what exactly is the truth that we are trying to portray? Do we pick different truths or aspects of it or is there an overarching truth that we always use? Do you have any thoughts on that? I keep saying this over and over, but I think that the number one truth that impacts me and I believe I need to write about it hope. Not that my stories are fields of flowers, I actually think that if my theme is hope, my stories end up much darker. I think that when the light of hope shines in those dark stories though, that the light is all the brighter. I think Sam’s speech at the end of The Two Towers is my anthem for writing my stories. Maybe I’m sort of going off track, but this intrigues me…

    Tek an ohta! Tek an cala!

    #86721
    Daeus Lamb
    @daeus-lamb

    @wordsmith I read most of what you wrote. Skimmed a little.

    Anyway, I think I agree with the basic point — it seemed to be that you don’t have to have a mapped out super-plan for how to promote a Christian message in order to write a Christian novel.

    Writing tends to be an expression of who we are, which often works out well. I do think though we sometimes slip up. (For instance, we might have a good worldview and relationship with God, but there’s this author we envy so we try to write like him or her and end up writing a work that doesn’t express what we actually want.)

    Anyway, on the topic of theme. I do like that term, though I can see how it can throw some people off.

    Theme is not divorced from the rest of the story (character, prose, etc). It encapsulates those things. It’s just like how if someone told you nothing happens in your story, that’s technically a plot problem, but it might have a lot to do with character motivation or scene structure. Everything is interconnected.

    ‘Theme’ as a tool for writers is just a way of taking the character arcs and ideas you want to write about and present them as clearly as possible. Like how a manual on prose will teach you to writer the same basic sentence with smoother flow

     

     

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    #86812
    Buddy J.
    @wordsmith

    @ericawordsmith

    Hey! I wish I could sit on a roof… that sounds like heaven. So long as it’s cool out.

    Now! I read all of what you said, and do agree. And I acknowledge 🙂

    On your last question, I do have something to add… So as to what truth we portray, whatever it is it is a reflection of the truth of God, so long as it is truth. We are not under any pressure to create anything new, merely see it under a different looking glass. That is something I find helpful to remember.

    Secondly, I believe in writing a story that serves the purpose of ending on a sad and depressing note, to show the depravity of man, and or the sadness of man’s fall. That is an example of an extreme.


    @daeus-lamb

    Ah! Glad to hear back from you! And I agree with all the replies you made (imagine that 😉 )!

    I don’t have a problem with the term theme, so long as it’s used correctly. And it’s something that if I’m working with someone that seems to be tripping over it, I’m fine with throwing it away. This is a trick used in many areas of teaching, even something as physical and tangible as martial arts. Because people think and work through association. And my job as the teacher is to communicate in such a way that I clearly teach what I’m trying, by understanding people’s reactions to things. And by reworking how I speak by the associations that I see them making.

     

    Published author, student in writing, works with HazelGracePress.com

    #86840
    EricaWordsmith
    @ericawordsmith

    @wordsmith

    I got home late last night read your reply and made for the window. XD It is the closest thing to heaven I’ve ever found… Especially this time of year because there are fireflies and it is just plain gorgeous. And yes, it is plenty cool, I always have to grab one of my dad’s or brother’s fleeces before getting up there (why do guys always get the nice warm fleeces??? Guy fleeces are awesome in every way except for the pockets).

    The roof is the best place to think about writing/have quiet time/pray. I’m going to miss it a lot when we move…

    We are not under any pressure to create anything new, merely see it under a different looking glass. That is something I find helpful to remember.

    Yes, I do agree with that. Because really, truth is always truth, is it even possible to create new truth? That is once again why I love fantasy: It’s a looking glass that I can use to explore truth in a unique way.

    Secondly, I believe in writing a story that serves the purpose of ending on a sad and depressing note, to show the depravity of man, and or the sadness of man’s fall. That is an example of an extreme.

    With this… I agree yes, I want to have sad and stunning endings (I was contemplating killing at least one more of my main characters last night, and if I do, it will be emotionally traumatic) XD to show that stories usually don’t turn out the way we would hope or expect. We live in a fallen world where bad things happen. Yet I don’t want to leave it at that. I think even the darkest story should have some sort of redemptive quality that doesn’t leave the reader feeling depressed and darkened.

    Take the movie Gladiator for example (yes, I am mentioning this a lot because it was almost as good as the LOTR films). The story is deeply sad. Most the characters die and it is a heart wrenching film to watch. My dad was sitting there bawling by the end and I was sitting there feeling guilty that my tear ducts don’t work properly when watching a movie. The story would be downright depressing if it weren’t for the fact that it ends with hope. We watched the extended cut, and I think that it shows a little more that the main character is a Christian (we think, it wasn’t ever explicitly said that he was, but we gathered it from small things here and there). The ending is heart breaking, but it is also beautiful because it shows that even though the story is a tragedy, it doesn’t end with that. I’m trying not to give spoilers… If you haven’t seen it, you need to see it. If it weren’t for LOTR this would be my favorite film of all time.

    All I’m saying is that I do believe in dark and even depressing stories, but I don’t feel comfortable leaving my reader to wallow in that. Even if it’s just a spark, I think there needs to be some sort of hope to remind them that the dark doesn’t win. It may seem that way, but it doesn’t. Maybe the main characters die, but does the dark triumph? Because if that is all there is, then our characters had no reason to fight for anything in the first place. I would eventually love to write a tragedy, but one that doesn’t leave my readers hopeless.

    Those are my thoughts on writing sad stories/hope. When I say I want to write hopeful stories I often actually mean my stories will end up being darker, but that is so that the pinprick of light will be all the more beautiful in the dark. Sometimes sad endings help to show hope for what it really is. Gladiator did a fantastic job of doing that. Do you have any thoughts on that? 🙂

    Tek an ohta! Tek an cala!

    #86873
    Buddy J.
    @wordsmith

    @ericawordsmith

    So, I understand what you’re saying, about the darkness of stories having a hopeful (even if minuscule) conclusion… but I don’t agree one-hundred percent. I think it’s fine for readers to leave the story feeling somewhat depressed about the life of my characters. Without a hope for them. I think that within the context of life, sometimes we need to see things from a perspective that doesn’t have a peaceful/hopeful ending. Because quite honestly, many people won’t have that.

    One of my favorite movies was Solo. The StarWars movie. And I like it as a story totally separate from the SW universe. The reason being that it was a brilliantly told as a comedic tragedy. In the end I felt sad for the main characters, because of their depravity. It was a story about total depravity, something lacking in literature. And it was something told so well in a secular work. I find value in it because it told a story of truth.

    Published author, student in writing, works with HazelGracePress.com

    #86886
    EricaWordsmith
    @ericawordsmith

    @wordsmith

    I think that within the context of life, sometimes we need to see things from a perspective that doesn’t have a peaceful/hopeful ending. Because quite honestly, many people won’t have that.

    Mmmm… For a Christian yes, I think that we need to realize that yes, much of the world doesn’t have that hope. We only have hope because we know the truth about what hope really is. At the same time… I’m not entirely comfortable with that for the reason that I think stories are incredibly powerful and they shape the way we think about things. Even though it is true that writing about the depravity of man is truth, that’s not where I want to be left. Maybe I’m reading what you’re saying in the wrong way, but why would your readers feel inspired toward anything but depression if what their reading says that darkness wins?

    I’m not saying every character needs a hope of a happy life. I think of Maximus in Gladiator looking up at his crucified wife and child wanting to die, and ultimately, he does die in the coliseum as the crowds look on in silence. Yes, I can feel heartbroken for him, and even for Lucilla who loved him and now stands looking at his dead body. Yet I found hope in the story as the last scenes show him walking through the fields of wheat toward his family in the afterlife. I can also take hope that his life meant something in the end as Rome was not left in the hands of the caesar to be destroyed. I totally agree that we should portray those who have no hope, but not give the message that there is no ultimate hope. I don’t have time to type it all out just now, but maybe I’ll come back to it in a little bit. 🙂

    So, in the context of Star Wars, (first of all, hand me something to relieve the nausea I feel over the last few episodes they made with Rey. Disney has RUINED Star Wars) I never saw the Solo movie (and as they had the hair brained idea that they could make a movie about Han Solo played by somebody other than Harrison Ford, I don’t know if it would be a good experience or not). My favorite of all the movies they ever did was actually Rogue One. I thought it was pretty awesome, and I am not a Sci-Fi girl. It ended on a very sad note, and it was beautifully done. What I love about it though, aside from the plot and action, was that we know there was hope because the sacrificed they made weren’t in vain. That is one type of hope that I think is important in literature, that what we do in life echoes throughout eternity. I’m quoting my favorite line from Gladiator there. XD

    It was a story about total depravity, something lacking in literature. And it was something told so well in a secular work. I find value in it because it told a story of truth.

    Yes, I would agree that total depravity is a message that is not understood in our culture and people don’t like to talk about, but if we’re consistent, then our protagonists are totally depraved as well. What keeps them from being totally depraved without some form of hope that something can keep them from total depravity? How do you think that total depravity ought to be portrayed to readers/why should readers be exposed to this idea?

    This is an interesting topic, I want to think about it some more. 🙂

    Tek an ohta! Tek an cala!

    #87058
    Buddy J.
    @wordsmith

    @ericawordsmith

    Okay, so part of this might have to do with personal conviction… Thus, I understand your discomfort with this idea… but…

    In Solo, the characters ended on a really sad note, maybe even somewhat depressing. But not a hopeless note. Because even though everyone was still a bad guy, they were alive. This leaves room for possible redemption. Now, I can’t say exactly where the line is between too dark and healthy dark… but I think that hope does not have to be derived from the story itself, but can be brought in from an outside context. I think this is something that takes a lot of skill to do though, and is not something I feel I could confidently do. Though it’s something I’d be willing to work at.

    Yes, stories have a lot of power… and yes if we’re telling a story about bad guys, and the bad guys don’t win, and they die, un-redeemed, that could make a great story! It’d be hard to do, and I think it could really be messed up, but I think there was ways to tell stories in a way that they end darkly for the character, where he loses in the long-term. I just think it’s something to be careful with.

    Also… you’re making me want to go back and watch Gladiator again. I’ve only seen it once… and that was long long ago.

    Published author, student in writing, works with HazelGracePress.com

    #87080
    Selah CJW
    @selah-chelyah

    @daeus-lamb

    Wow, I did not see this until now, but thank you for sharing it! I very much agree with you, and have felt the truth of what you said about writing very strongly. Very true!

    Assistant Guildmaster of the Phantom Awesome Meraki
    ~ Created to create ~

    #87083
    EricaWordsmith
    @ericawordsmith

    @wordsmith

    Very true… God gives us different things to write about and different sensitivities to things, and therefore how we can write. I think this is good, I may not be able to write some things that other people are able to write, and other people may not be able to write what I write, but God gives us what we need for what he wants us to do, and in the right timing too, so maybe down the road we grow in writing and grow in our faith we might write a little differently.

    O.K. I like how you gave darkness categories, I think that does help to picture it. Too dark and healthy dark. I think that is what I’ve been trying to get at somewhat… Too dark is when we believe that it is all-powerful or stronger than light (I would list the horror genre under this) and healthy dark. Because darkness IS real, it is truth, and we need to write about it, but how powerful we portray its power to be is what I think I’ve been trying to get at.

    Yes, stories have a lot of power… and yes if we’re telling a story about bad guys, and the bad guys don’t win, and they die, un-redeemed, that could make a great story! It’d be hard to do, and I think it could really be messed up, but I think there was ways to tell stories in a way that they end darkly for the character, where he loses in the long-term. I just think it’s something to be careful with.

    I think I see where this could be done well and powerfully, that makes sense. I think that this in a way would be a tragedy, but the tragedy of it would be is that they made the wrong choices, and therefore they had no hope, have no hope, and there is real horror in that. It would have to be done in a way that doesn’t leave the reader thinking life has no hope, but to show how horrible it is to die without hope and remind us that dying without ever truly living is a sad thing. I think that it would even be helpful to people to realize that, as you said, many people do live without hope, and therefore more actively want to reach out to people without hope to bring them that light. O.K. Yes, I totally agree that that can be done and could be a fantastic if depressing story, just in the right way. 🙂

    In that case, that was probably too long ago. XD I absolutely love that movie… which is pretty obvious by now. XD  I love it almost as much as the LOTR films (which are my favorite films of all time). The story was just so complex in how it was political, but interfaced with so many strong emotions warring together under the surface. Especially Lucilla… She nearly knocked me off the couch by a few of her lines if that is at all possible.

    Tek an ohta! Tek an cala!

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