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sunandshadow
11-22-2011, 03:48 PM
For years I've taken as fact the idea that writing fiction is about communicating something to an audience. Which leaves me in a bad place, as I don't have anything I want to communicate to an audience. So I'm curious why others feel that they do have something to say to someone (which isn't better or more easily said through conversation or non-fiction). And I'm curious whether anyone things writing isn't about communication, and what it's purpose is instead (that isn't more easily accomplished by daydreaming/fantasizing).

Promethean Dreams
11-22-2011, 04:52 PM
Writing excuses episode 6.23 is about pigeon holding yourself as a writer. This episode upset me at first because the premise was that successful writers write what will sell not what they want to write. They don't lock themselves into a certain idea or genre.

I write fantasy and I will probably always write fantasy. This is because fantasy is the best vehicle for me to spread my message of compassion, and impartiality. Buddha and Jesus did it through parables and I do it through fantasy.

I believe most fiction writers don't have a message. That is good because entertainment is valuable in its own right. You probably notice those of us who are trying to communicate an idea because we are vocal about it. Don't let the vocal minority fool you. Most writers are about the art of writing itself, not messages.

NeuroFizz
11-22-2011, 04:54 PM
Of course it's about communication, but that doesn't mean the writer has to have a campaign platform. Entertaining readers requires that same level of skill in communication.

Themes exist in our writing, but there is a difference between letting the theme emerge form the story and using the theme to shape the story. The latter, if not handled well, puts the author on a soapbox, which isn't a good communication source for a novel (in my opinion). Exceptions exist, for example, when the story is metaphoric and socially or morally timely, but even these have to be handled carefully or they will turn off as many readers as they excite.

quicklime
11-22-2011, 05:17 PM
For years I've taken as fact the idea that writing fiction is about communicating something to an audience. Which leaves me in a bad place, as I don't have anything I want to communicate to an audience. So I'm curious why others feel that they do have something to say to someone (which isn't better or more easily said through conversation or non-fiction). And I'm curious whether anyone things writing isn't about communication, and what it's purpose is instead (that isn't more easily accomplished by daydreaming/fantasizing).


if you literally don't have "anything", how will you write a story?

on the flip side, if you're saying you don't have some deeper message dying to get out of you, haunting your every waking moment and making you toss and turn in your sleep, well, that's a lot of melodramatic bullshit--for some people it does indeed happen, and it is very real, but plenty of people just write stories without a borderline compulsion to deliver some deeper message to the masses. Your first sentence is a flawed premise and strict adherence, in addition to clearly tying you into knots, may well detract from anything you write. Writing isn't quite like taking a dump--the harder you strain and the more you force it, the less likely the end product will come. At least in a satisfactory form.

Do you want to write? Do you have a story? Then do it; do it for your own reasons. No two writers are exactly alike, and there is no "Message Requirement" in writing.

Quick

Anne Lyle
11-22-2011, 05:23 PM
For years I've taken as fact the idea that writing fiction is about communicating something to an audience.

Well, yes it is. But for me that "something" isn't a great revelation, just my love of history and language and science, which I try to communicate in a way that's fun and entertaining (for me as well as the reader). The reason I loved SFF as a kid was that it showed me awesome fictional worlds and turned dry facts about astronomy and biology into really cool stories.

If some useful life experience finds its way into the mix, that's a bonus, but really it's all about the storytelling.

Jamesaritchie
11-22-2011, 05:53 PM
One of the most meaningful books I've ever read, a book that changed my life, and book that got me through some incredibly rough times when I was part of a family one day, and then out on my own at fourteen, was a Louis L'Amour western called Radigan.

I think any publishable story automatically has something to say, and without the writer trying to stuff in any sort of message.

People take their own message out of fiction. Just tell an entertaining story, and the rest will take care of itself.

seun
11-22-2011, 06:00 PM
I just like to tell stories.

gothicangel
11-22-2011, 07:07 PM
I just like to tell stories.

This.

And also I want to kick sand in the face of current crop of Roman historical novelists who get it sooo wrong. :D

LindaJeanne
11-22-2011, 08:07 PM
Something that can be said clearly in the form of a non-fiction essay is best said clearly in the form of a non-fiction essay.

Fiction's strength is exploring the questions we don't have nice clean answers for yet.

If there's stuff that matters to you, but you aren't confident you have all the answers -- then you do indeed have "something to say" through fiction.

(And in my experience, you don't even need to know what those questions are, consciously. They'll show up in your writing, whether you want them to or not :))

kaitie
11-22-2011, 09:52 PM
I write to entertain, but I also believe that a good book is able to speak truths about the human condition and just life in general. It might not be a huge, epic truth. It might just be "sometimes falling in love is hard" or something of that sort.

I like to read and write things that aren't necessarily rooted in reality, but I think our ability to empathize with characters is what makes writing universal and meaningful.

Honestly, I also don't find much fault with just having a story that's really entertaining. I enjoyed Transformers, after all.

Phaeal
11-22-2011, 10:10 PM
My message is, "Whoa, this whole life thing is pretty crazy, huh? Undeath's no picnic either."

Hiroko
11-22-2011, 10:26 PM
Somewhere, somehow, a story will always have some kind of message to be discerned--even if the author does not intend for that message to be communicated.

ClockworkMuffin
11-22-2011, 10:42 PM
I don't have any unique or meaningful insights into religion, philosophy, or reality. At least, not insights that someone else can't put forward better.

Apparently, though, I have a lot to say about werewolves. I doubt it's in the same league as the above, but, there you have it. :D

Mr Flibble
11-22-2011, 10:56 PM
The message reads thusly:

I hope you like this book/story. And buy the next one.

Drachen Jager
11-22-2011, 11:05 PM
Fiction is probably the best vehicle for opening closed minds. That is why there have been philosophical dialogues for so long. They are a sort of fictional conversation a philosopher can use to 'debate' a point in written form.

In the bigger picture many Science Fiction stories, especially from the '60s and '70s were not about ray-guns, powered-armour, and spaceships. They were about the social, religious and political beliefs of their authors, and a vehicle for those authors to spread their messages.

One of the most blatant examples is Heinlein's 'Job'. Which is a re-telling of the Book of Job from his perspective. Asimov, Heinlein and Orwell are some of the best known writers in this field.

I think this is a good and important component of all top-tier SF&F, perhaps all fiction, which has been on the decline for some time now (at least in the books I've read) as we've moved increasingly into the Michael Bay realm of explosions, car chases and violence for no other reason except that it sells.

The Lonely One
11-22-2011, 11:30 PM
Do I have something to say? Naw, I'm not a preacher.

I have some questions I'd like to share with the group, though.

kaitie
11-23-2011, 02:25 AM
Somewhere, somehow, a story will always have some kind of message to be discerned--even if the author does not intend for that message to be communicated.

Or English majors will kid themselves into believing there is.:D

CheshireCat
11-23-2011, 02:58 AM
Whether you have something to say or not, your thoughts, beliefs, and philosophies will, eventually, work their way into your stories even if unconsciously. It's pretty well impossible, IMO, to write hundreds of thousands (or millions) of words, create characters out of your imagination, and not put a lot of yourself on the page, even if only in bits and pieces.

And there's nothing wrong with that.

I write to entertain, but if you read my entire body of work, you'd find recurring themes, beliefs and opinions, and if I don't share those with my characters I at least ponder them a great deal.

Mr Flibble
11-23-2011, 02:58 AM
Or English majors will kid themselves into believing there is.:D


The curtains are fucking blue (http://www.wittyprofiles.comwww.wittyprofiles.com/q/4189095)?

:D

I Suppose what I should say here is that my only intention is to write a damn good story. I may (and apparently do, according to other people ) have things to say about XYZ. But that is incidental to why I write, I don't even think about it while writing.

If other people get something from it, that's cool with me. But it's not what I set out to do.

sunandshadow
11-23-2011, 03:10 AM
I just like to tell stories.
Although I like thinking about stories, I don't really see the appeal of telling them. As a child I was always playing pretend, but I didn't try to entertain others with stories or jokes. It was about entertaining me, not entertaining others.


Do you want to write? Do you have a story? Then do it; do it for your own reasons.
Do I want to write isn't such a simple question. Do I have bits of story ideas persistently turning up in my head, yes, otherwise I don't think I'd have ever gotten started trying to write fiction. Do I enjoy the pattern-solving activity of getting those little bits of ideas to fit together into the big picture of a properly structured novel idea, yes; I enjoy brainstorming and writing synopses of ideas and I enjoy filling out worksheets/using software that asks me questions to develop a story concept. And of course I love discussing a story idea with other writers. Would I love to be a published author sitting on panels, signing books, and visiting English classes? Yes that would be made of awesome. But, do I enjoy putting words on paper or otherwise feel compelled to produce sentences, paragraphs, scenes, chapters, and eventually a whole book? No, I don't feel that urge at all.


Fiction's strength is exploring the questions we don't have nice clean answers for yet.
How exactly do you know how your story is supposed to end if you are asking a question that you don't have an answer to?


My message is, "Whoa, this whole life thing is pretty crazy, huh? Undeath's no picnic either."

The message reads thusly:

I hope you like this book/story. And buy the next one.
@Everyone stating a message of this type - I just don't see how that's enough to make you want to go to the effort of writing it. What's the point?

The Lonely One
11-23-2011, 03:24 AM
How exactly do you know how your story is supposed to end if you are asking a question that you don't have an answer to?




Since I had a pretty similar post to the person you're asking this question to, I hope they don't mind if I give my own version of a response.

It isn't about how the story ends for a specific character or characters; that much may or may not be clear.

For me, the questions asked/unanswered are the bigger ones about life, love, what the fuck it all means. The stories I write are poignant to me because they illuminate the questions we all have different answers for, or in some cases no answers at all.

I don't know if that makes any sense, but it does to me. Others can respond to this in their own way.

LindaJeanne
11-23-2011, 03:43 AM
How exactly do you know how your story is supposed to end if you are asking a question that you don't have an answer to?


Sorry, I should have been clearer :roll:

Obviously, the story-question needs to be answered.

But if you have too clear of an answer for your thematic questions, then it's going to be incredibly difficult not to make it sound preachy. You'd probably be better served by presenting your argument as an argument rather than trying to thinly disguise it as a story.

But fiction is wonderful for exploring messy thematic questions which are important to you, but for which you don't have clear answers.

(But again, I find those messy, no-easy-answer thematic elements work their way into the story whether I want them there or not. It seems to make the story richer, but man, I wish my subconscious would lay off, sometimes.:tongue)

Edited to Add, when I saw more posts had been made since I was here than I realized:

For me, the questions asked/unanswered are the bigger ones about life, love, what the fuck it all means. The stories I write are poignant to me because they illuminate the questions we all have different answers for, or in some cases no answers at all.


Yeah. What he said. :)


Somewhere, somehow, a story will always have some kind of message to be discerned--even if the author does not intend for that message to be communicated.

I'm going to agree with this as well. I think a tale well-told is always saying something -- even if it seems to be simplistic light entertainment, and that's all the author intended. Story is a powerful language that speaks to us on a deep level.

OK, that paragraph sounds like I'm taking things way too seriously :). But I do think that a story says something, simply by virtue of being a story. Something that can't be translated into simple, denotative, this-is-what-I'm-trying-to-say language.


(also, see my sig)

VictoriaWrites
11-23-2011, 04:15 AM
For years I've taken as fact the idea that writing fiction is about communicating something to an audience. Which leaves me in a bad place, as I don't have anything I want to communicate to an audience. So I'm curious why others feel that they do have something to say to someone (which isn't better or more easily said through conversation or non-fiction). And I'm curious whether anyone things writing isn't about communication, and what it's purpose is instead (that isn't more easily accomplished by daydreaming/fantasizing).

Depends on what you mean by "something to say." I don't have any big messages about how the universe to share with people, but I have plenty of stories to tell.

areteus
11-23-2011, 04:57 AM
On the one hand, I beleive that the best novels are ones that make a point, though the less explicit that point the better - i.e. no preaching. Something which adds extra depth and relevance to your work is good to have - whether that is some deep philosophical message, some desire to share an interest in something or making a social point (i.e. about racism, sexism, politics or whatever). In most good novels you will see something that may make you think.

On the other hand, it is not something I think you need to worry about. In fact, if you do worry about it you may end up overthinking it and either not writing at all or trying too hard to make a point and therefore painting said point in massive letters in red paint all across the page with floodlights highlighting it and 'please read this important point NOW!' emblazoned in the footnotes. Fact is, you may be wrong about having nothing to say. You may find that when you write something comes out which adds depth to your work. You may even find that you intended to tell the readers that the curtains were blue but still many of them seem to have inserted some complex interpretation into it which you may or may not have intended but which, on analysis by you, may be something you agree with...

So, don't worry about it. Let it happen if it is going to happen. Sometimes the muses know what they are doing and will insert the relevant bits in where they need to be. Want to make a point about feminism? Then write strong female characters but avoid blatant rhetoric. Want to explore aspects of racism in a fantasy world? Then have some racist attacks occur. If there is deep meaning to be made or found it will happen.

Mr Flibble
11-23-2011, 11:44 AM
@Everyone stating a message of this type - I just don't see how that's enough to make you want to go to the effort of writing it. What's the point?

The same as the point of, well, anything really. Because I like it.

I have stories in my head. I enjoy them, I want others to enjoy them rather than have them stay in my head and be lost. I enjoy writing them, figuring out what is going to happen, trying to evoke what is in my head onto the page. The process gives me a challenge and the end product gives me satisfaction. If readers like it too, that's a huge fat bonus. I'm not writing to change the world. Maybe to change a few hours of someone's day, give them enjoyment and entertainment. That's worth it, to me. The times a good book has taken me out of a day from hell and let me get some perspective....The little things are as important as the big things imo.

If you don't enjoy it (the writing, as it seems from your posts), well, there's nothing wrong with that. No one says you have to.

bettielee
11-23-2011, 11:55 AM
I just really love stories. I love baseball because there are so many stories in it.... I love history, because it's all one story. I've been making up worlds and populating them with unreal folks since I was just a kid. I also write the kind of stuff I want to read. So there's that.

shaldna
11-23-2011, 12:15 PM
For years I've taken as fact the idea that writing fiction is about communicating something to an audience. Which leaves me in a bad place, as I don't have anything I want to communicate to an audience.

Even if that audience is just yourself, you still have an audience.

I write for me, no one else. I have nothing to say to anyone else.

backslashbaby
11-23-2011, 04:34 PM
I take writing as an art, including performance art/entertainment. I just want the reader to feel things, things they like to feel.

My work is usually pretty cerebral, as it turns out. That's not exactly intentional; my ideas on what touches someone just come out that way. I certainly don't think the cerebral style is the only way to make the reader enjoy a work.

LindaJeanne
11-23-2011, 05:18 PM
@Everyone stating a message of this type - I just don't see how that's enough to make you want to go to the effort of writing it. What's the point?

The story is it's own point.

To me, that's kind of like asking what's the point of getting up in the morning. Or what's the point of life. You can discuss the questions philosophically, but in the end: life is it's own justification, and stories are as well.

Storytelling is a human universal -- I don't think there has ever been a culture or society that didn't embrace some form of storytelling. It's fundamentally part of who we are as human beings.

I write because the characters won't leave me a alone until I write their stories down.:D They're going to be living in my head anyway, I might as well record what they're doing, since they seem to want people other than just me to know about it.

As far as "having something to say", on a conscious level, the only "message" that drives me to write is "hey, here's some stuff I think is really cool". Other stuff worms it's way in on it's own, and can get pretty heavy at times. The things that matter to me, the things I believe in, these become part of the fabric of the story just because I'm the one choosing the words -- but it never becomes the reason why I'm telling the story. The story is the reason I'm telling the story.

And I think "here's some stuff I think is really cool, check this out" is a perfectly valid thing to be "communicating" through a story.

Archerbird
11-23-2011, 05:25 PM
No.

Ken
11-23-2011, 06:09 PM
... yes. What I've got to say, makes up the "theme" in my works as defined by NeuroFizz. 90% of that comes about by itself as it's become natural for me to slant my stuff in a particular without giving the matter much thought. The other 10% I orchestrate, intentionally, so the theme comes across stronger and registers with readers attuned to such. Maintaining balance can be tricky. If I'm too heavy-handed or obvious about it a story can get scuffed up, quickly, based on my own experience as well.

quicklime
11-23-2011, 06:22 PM
@Everyone stating a message of this type - I just don't see how that's enough to make you want to go to the effort of writing it. What's the point?


the point for me is it is my Everest. And i'd like to work part-time.

Are either likely? Perhaps not, but that's all the point I need--I set it as a challenge for me, and I intend to see it through.

There are a million reasons why, not all of them are "I needs to preach to tha masses". I don't feel I have something I need to say, but I do feel I can tell stories in an entertaining and competent manner if I try to.

Anninyn
11-23-2011, 06:35 PM
I don't see why there has to be a point. It's what I want to do. That's always been enough of a point for me.

You may as well ask me what's the point in falling in love, or eating, or breathing.

Brukaviador
11-23-2011, 09:17 PM
For years I've taken as fact the idea that writing fiction is about communicating something to an audience. Which leaves me in a bad place, as I don't have anything I want to communicate to an audience.

When you say "communicate" I take it you mean "have a political or social agenda to push". Most of us don't have the latter, but we should all have the former. The fact that you're writing anything at all shows you do have things to communicate. It can be thoughts, ideas, emotions even; it doesn't have to be turned into an after school special or PSA.

In that vein, right now I'm writing a story where the main character is an abused housewife. When I told some of my friends and family about this, a few of them grabbed hold of the idea and started running away with it, telling me how great it is I'm tackling such a complex social issue, thinking this book is going to be a great platform to spread "the word", and basically clearing an hour off their PVR to make room for my impending appearance on Oprah.

"Whoa! Hang on. Just reign yourselves in here," I said. Sure, my opinion of "domestic violence is terrible and shouldn't happen" is going to come through, but it's not the cause of my overwhelming compulsion to do this project. I'm not standing on my soapbox, yelling at the masses.

All I wanted to do was to tell a compelling story with a sympathetic character. I have ideas and emotions to communicate, but I don't have a message to preach. I'm a storyteller, not a social activist. Just build your characters, your settings, your plots and tell a great story. Let people take from it what they want.



People take their own message out of fiction. Just tell an entertaining story, and the rest will take care of itself.

They sure do. One of the best examples of that is Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. Myself and this one friend of mine are polar opposites on the economic spectrum; a free market capitalist vs. a public sector controlled socialist. When we started discussing it we were actually a little stunned to hear each others viewpoint on the book (especially the economics of the new religion), because what we thought it was about was so totally opposite from what the other thought.

Maybe we were both right. Maybe we were both out to lunch. The lesson there is that the thoughts, ideas and experiences of your reader will have a heavy impact on how the book is received. Even if you do start preaching one direction, it's likely there will be people who think you were going somewhere else entirely.

Rachel77
11-23-2011, 09:25 PM
You can certainly write a book that amounts to "here's what I think about this subject", but it's not likely to find a wide readership; most people don't like being lectured to. The "message" stories that tend to endure are the ones that focus on actually telling a story; the "message" is just an underlying theme.

It's not something I'd worry about. The things that interest you, the things that you have strong opinions about, will find a way to come out in your writing regardless of whether you consciously choose to focus on them. Concentrate on telling an interesting, entertaining story, and the rest will take care of itself.

sunandshadow
11-23-2011, 11:45 PM
When you say "communicate" I take it you mean "have a political or social agenda to push".
That actually is a lot more limited than what I meant. I was including the urge to talk about a particular subject one thinks is cool and the urge to tell stories one thinks will entertain others, etc. Any urge to send your words to other people through fiction.

shaldna
11-23-2011, 11:51 PM
No.

Care to elaborate?

Anninyn
11-23-2011, 11:54 PM
Then I'll admit I don't understand your question. Of course I have that urge, or I wouldn't write.

If you don't have that urge, it could be you don't want to write? You say you enjoy fantasising and story telling to yourself, and there is nothing wrong with that- but if you don't want to communicate those things to others, why would you want to write? It's certainly not the money!

I think the confusion is coming about because you aren't being especially clear on what you mean by 'an idea you want to communicate'.

My current WIP exists because I want to tell people about Coral and her adventures, nothing more complex than that.

Brukaviador
11-24-2011, 12:00 AM
That actually is a lot more limited than what I meant. I was including the urge to talk about a particular subject one thinks is cool and the urge to tell stories one thinks will entertain others, etc. Any urge to send your words to other people through fiction.

Maybe you'd better clarify your original post then, because it sounds from this you don't have any urge to put any ideas onto the page at all. For someone who has over 3000 posts in a forum dedicated to writing, I don't think that's the case.

sunandshadow
11-24-2011, 02:30 AM
Maybe you'd better clarify your original post then, because it sounds from this you don't have any urge to put any ideas onto the page at all. For someone who has over 3000 posts in a forum dedicated to writing, I don't think that's the case.
I have basically no urge to put words of fiction on a page. Posts aren't fiction, posts are fun and easy for me to write and don't have to add up to some overall structure they way equivalent-size pieces of a novel would.

CrastersBabies
11-24-2011, 03:50 AM
I just like to tell stories.

This is me. Never been one to turn fiction into some platform for my beliefs. I'm not much into reading material that is too heavy with authorial subtext either. Books do not change my life through any kind of political, social or theological "theory" that is being presented to me, they change my life because of character and the thing inside us that makes us human (or alien or centaur).

If I think the author is too intrusive in a story with his/her own "message," I lose interest. Quickly. Very quickly.

I guess that's why I loathed God Emperor Dune. It was hundreds of pages full of philosophy and mysticism/science theory that I did not give two shits about. But, because I had to know what happened with Leto II, I suffered through it.

Anyway, not meaning to go off on a tangent here. My goal is always to create memorable characters and to "spin a good yarn." That's more than enough. People have their own reasons. Maybe some think that they are housing the next step in evolutionary thinking and by God if they don't get their message out there, the world will suffer greatly for it. Not my kind of process. Not the kind of writing I want to read.

But, hey, it is exactly what some people love to read and write. I don't fault that. But, it's not for me. I'm not sure how to answer the question, "how could THAT inspiration (to entertain) possibly be enough?" It is for me. I'm cool with that.

If people read something in my work that speaks to them on a spiritual, political or whatnot, then great.

Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar (or a red wheelbarrow).

KTC
11-24-2011, 04:34 PM
I definitely have lots to say. I say it through my fiction, but I will never take to the soapbox through my fiction. I just weave the story...I've had tons of reviews for Summer on Fire. For me, it was a book about values and loyalty. But not one review cursed me for beating the reader over the head, yet. I try to just tell a story. I am NOT a preacher. (-:

Wayne K
11-24-2011, 04:37 PM
I have lots to say but no one really listens unless I write it well, so I do

bearilou
11-24-2011, 07:52 PM
One of the reasons I had stopped writing for a bit was when I came up on the advice that after you've plotted and outlined, after you know who your characters are and where your plot points take things to a head, after you know what your midpoint crisis is and the eventual denouement of the final story....NOW IS THE TIME TO WORK IN YOUR THEME.

And I stumbled. I have great ideas that I've fleshed out (I'm an outliner) but the moment I had to think about my 'theme' and 'what I wanted to communicate to the reader; my message' I felt like I had failed because I couldn't come up with anything.

If I don't have a message, if I don't have my theme that will move beneath my narrative, subtly weaving it through my story...I had failed at writing.

It wasn't until I realized (through my own reading, reading about the authors and their thoughts behind their stories and simply talking to other writers) that the best 'themes', the best 'messages', are those that came about organically from the writing process itself.

Now I can't stop writing! :hooray:

Chrissy
11-24-2011, 08:40 PM
I'm fascinated by how people behave in different circumstances. By what choices they make and the consequences. By hidden emotions that drive them. By what happens when my character walks down path A instead of path B. Or when he takes that left turn at Albequerque. (Or misses it.) I'm fascinated by LIFE. I've always been most touched by works of fiction (or if it's non-fiction, it still has to be structured like a story--like Laura Hildebrand). I've never really been "blown away" by a How-To Book. It's stories that make the impact. That teach me something. That send the message straight to my heart, whatever the message happens to be.

CrastersBabies
11-25-2011, 08:09 AM
I'm fascinated by how people behave in different circumstances. By what choices they make and the consequences. By hidden emotions that drive them. By what happens when my character walks down path A instead of path B. Or when he takes that left turn at Albequerque. (Or misses it.) I'm fascinated by LIFE. I've always been most touched by works of fiction (or if it's non-fiction, it still has to be structured like a story--like Laura Hildebrand). I've never really been "blown away" by a How-To Book. It's stories that make the impact. That teach me something. That send the message straight to my heart, whatever the message happens to be.

I really like this way of putting it.

:)

MoLoLu
11-25-2011, 07:07 PM
A message may be there, intentional or unintentional. But I don't think you have to have a message to write.

Communication, on the other hand, is a different matter. If you can't communicate your writing won't make much sense.

Me, I write for the story. If they contain a message then it's not intentional.

p.s. this came to mind:

http://www.mummycomics.com/wp-content/webcomic/mummy_comics/mummy_158.png

PaulyWally
11-25-2011, 08:56 PM
I don't have anything I want to communicate to an audience.

I think you do. You just don't think you do.

Even if you don't have specific things you consciously want to say, you have a very unique view on the world. And whether you know it or not, the stories you write are communicating things about yourself to your audience.


So I'm curious why others feel that they do have something to say...

I never gave it much thought. Maybe as a teacher of sorts? A philosopher?

I believe in sharing the knowledge we've acquired. I also enjoy entertaining an audience. Writing is a way I can do both. :shrug:

kuwisdelu
11-25-2011, 11:15 PM
Yes.

"You are not alone."

SPMiller
11-25-2011, 11:19 PM
Everyone says something in their fiction. Whether the writer chooses to identify and emphasize it is another matter.

sunandshadow
11-26-2011, 03:39 AM
I think you do. You just don't think you do.

Even if you don't have specific things you consciously want to say, you have a very unique view on the world. And whether you know it or not, the stories you write are communicating things about yourself to your audience.
I think I didn't say that clearly. It's not that I don't think I have a unique viewpoint. Actually I'm aware that I have a rather weird viewpoint. Instead the issue is that I don't see the point of presenting my viewpoint to an audience.

Anaquana
11-26-2011, 05:10 AM
For years I've taken as fact the idea that writing fiction is about communicating something to an audience. Which leaves me in a bad place, as I don't have anything I want to communicate to an audience. So I'm curious why others feel that they do have something to say to someone (which isn't better or more easily said through conversation or non-fiction). And I'm curious whether anyone things writing isn't about communication, and what it's purpose is instead (that isn't more easily accomplished by daydreaming/fantasizing).

The only thing I'm really trying to say through my writing is that I have a really fun story to tell. Whatever deeper meaning a reader sees is only there as a vehicle for the story.

I had one beta reader tell me she loved that I'd included a message about "X" in my book and how deftly I'd tied it to the goings on of "Y" in real life. The message she found wasn't one that I'd consciously put into the book as a message, it was just a way for me to create more tension and portray the world in a more realistic way.

Jamesaritchie
11-26-2011, 08:47 PM
If you don't have that urge, it could be you don't want to write? You say you enjoy fantasising and story telling to yourself, and there is nothing wrong with that- but if you don't want to communicate those things to others, why would you want to write? It's certainly not the money!



For me, it is the money. I enjoy the process of writing, but I enjoy a lot of things, and I don't write with any consideration to an audience. I write simply because it's something I enjoy doing that makes money.

Were it not for the money, I'd be out on the shooting, or hunting, fishing, sailing, etc., all the time. I just can't find anyone who will pay me a living wage for doing the other things I enjoy doing.

Mr Flibble
11-26-2011, 08:54 PM
the issue is that I don't see the point of presenting my viewpoint to an audience.


Well you don't have to if you don't want to. If you want to keep them in your head, or just write them for you, nothing wrong with that.

If you don't see the point, why do it? Life's too short to do anything other than what you really want/need/burn to do.

Rhoda Nightingale
11-26-2011, 08:55 PM
OP is increasingly confusing. You say you're not moved to write. Does that mean you that don't write? You don't have any projects, past or present, that you're working on? You have trouble coming up with ideas that you consider valuable? If you don't "see the point" of writing things down, either as fiction or non-fiction or what-have-you, then are you are writer? If not, what is this question even about?

Here's what I'm getting out of this--it seems to me that you think of yourself as a writer, except that you don't have the urge to write. I don't get that. All of us who fancy ourselves writers are motivated by something, whether it's the promise of a paycheck (JAR), the desire to tell stories (seun), or in my case a simple compulsion that I couldn't get rid of if I tried (I have no clear motive, I just can't help myself, although I hope other people will one day read and enjoy my stories).

If you have no motivation or desire to write at all, what exactly are you asking? Why are you here?

Shika Senbei
11-26-2011, 09:51 PM
Writing excuses episode 6.23 is about pigeon holding yourself as a writer. This episode upset me at first because the premise was that successful writers write what will sell not what they want to write.

That episode struck me as rather odd. How can you write something in a genre that doesn't interest you?

The main thing I'd like to communicate to my readers is. "I want you to put your money in my pocket!"

Aside from that, I want to communicate my ideas about the power of friendship and how people with various backgrounds can still reach a common goal. That can applicable to a lot of genres.

bkendall
11-27-2011, 12:50 AM
For years I've taken as fact the idea that writing fiction is about communicating something to an audience. Which leaves me in a bad place, as I don't have anything I want to communicate to an audience. So I'm curious why others feel that they do have something to say to someone (which isn't better or more easily said through conversation or non-fiction). And I'm curious whether anyone things writing isn't about communication, and what it's purpose is instead (that isn't more easily accomplished by daydreaming/fantasizing).

It seems to me that the works with the most expressive and powerful themes are the ones that most are often raving about. I see the point with that, because they are important issues that affect most of us.

I feel that almost any work has some message at some level within the story. Whether the author puts them in there on purpose or not, they're there. If there is no message, what exactly is the reason for writing? I'm not saying everything has to be ground-breaking or meta. The most powerful revelations are the ones readers make for themselves. So, that means we have to delicately leave them a trail of bread crumbs, not dinner rolls.

I have a message in mind when I write, but I'm probably letting that bleed through a little too much. I'll look into working on that.

sunandshadow
11-27-2011, 01:01 AM
Well you don't have to if you don't want to. If you want to keep them in your head, or just write them for you, nothing wrong with that.

If you don't see the point, why do it? Life's too short to do anything other than what you really want/need/burn to do.


OP is increasingly confusing. You say you're not moved to write. Does that mean you that don't write? You don't have any projects, past or present, that you're working on? You have trouble coming up with ideas that you consider valuable? If you don't "see the point" of writing things down, either as fiction or non-fiction or what-have-you, then are you are writer? If not, what is this question even about?

Here's what I'm getting out of this--it seems to me that you think of yourself as a writer, except that you don't have the urge to write. I don't get that. All of us who fancy ourselves writers are motivated by something, whether it's the promise of a paycheck (JAR), the desire to tell stories (seun), or in my case a simple compulsion that I couldn't get rid of if I tried (I have no clear motive, I just can't help myself, although I hope other people will one day read and enjoy my stories).

If you have no motivation or desire to write at all, what exactly are you asking? Why are you here?
I used to write. From 8th grade through the middle of college I wrote quite a bit of fiction. So something must have motivated me to write then, but I'm no longer sure what. I'd like to recapture that or find some new source of motivation, to make writing fun for me again. I kind of think it wasn't about telling stories at all, it was more about exploring myself. So I'm testing out the idea, "Is it okay to write a story that isn't really for readers, or is that just pointless and stupid?"

It seems like such a waste to play videogames all day instead, which is the main way I spend my free time. New story ideas still occur to me regularly, and I feel bad about how they are stacking up, neglected in my idea file. I still think it would be awesome to be a published author sitting on panels and talking to classes.

CheshireCat
11-27-2011, 01:50 AM
I still think it would be awesome to be a published author sitting on panels and talking to classes.

You do realize that's not all we do, right? That it is, in fact, a very, very small part of what most working writers do? We mostly write, usually pushing hard to meet deadlines.

I'd also add that it isn't always fun to be talking to classes when they're composed either of bored students who don't have a clue who you are or creative writing students who feel superior to you because you've chosen (Horrors!) commerce over art.

PaulyWally
11-27-2011, 03:16 AM
I think I didn't say that clearly. It's not that I don't think I have a unique viewpoint. Actually I'm aware that I have a rather weird viewpoint. Instead the issue is that I don't see the point of presenting my viewpoint to an audience.

Point taken.

But I think I'll stand by my original intention. I believe that all writers (especially fiction writers) present a viewpoint, opinion, or philosophy - whether or not they think they are, or whether or not they intend to.

Mr Flibble
11-27-2011, 05:08 AM
I used to write. From 8th grade through the middle of college I wrote quite a bit of fiction. So something must have motivated me to write then, but I'm no longer sure what. I'd like to recapture that or find some new source of motivation, to make writing fun for me again.

Okay then. Hmm...maybe this/ Forget everything-forget other people. Forget all those guidelines etc. Write a story that is just for you. Your ideas etc, you're just 'keeping them on record'. Write to get the story out of your head, so you can fill the gap with a new one. Write anything, if you really want to write. A journal, little notes to self.

When we're kids we're encouraged to make up lives in our head - they calling 'plays nicely by themself'. When we grow, we're told that's daydreaming and not good...

If needs be, pretend you are that kid again.

That could be kind of fun, actually....




Write for you. Because you want to.

LindaJeanne
11-27-2011, 07:11 AM
The most powerful revelations are the ones readers make for themselves. So, that means we have to delicately leave them a trail of bread crumbs, not dinner rolls.
Love this!


So I'm testing out the idea, "Is it okay to write a story that isn't really for readers, or is that just pointless and stupid?"
Absolutely it's OK. :)

Maybe it will develop into, or make room for, something you'd want to show. Or, maybe it won't. Either way: what harm are you doing anyone by writing just for yourself?

There are very few pieces of fiction I wrote before I turned 30 that I was ever willing to show anyone. Whenever I tried to write fiction, it seemed like all the parts of myself that made me the most uncomfortable somehow splattered themselves all over the page. I could only write if I promised myself no one would ever read it.

Eventually, I worked through all that, and now I write things that I hope other people will read. But even if I hadn't reached that point , the time I spent on no-one-will-ever-see-it-thank-goodness writing would still have been valuable to me.

bkendall
11-27-2011, 08:45 AM
I used to think about my writing that I had to write to tell the story of my best friend who passed away a couple of years ago. I told myself that others needed to know what kind of friend he was. Then, as time passed I realized I was never writing it for anyone else besides myself. I don't want to forget him and this is how I'm doing it. While it does have a very strong theme about friendship, that's more just for me right now. In short, and longer than it should've been, I definitely agree there's nothing wrong with just writing a story for yourself.

I also look at writing a book like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. When I'm doing a 1000 piece one, I don't start by worrying about where all the big parts are going to fit in. I start with the edge, or the framework. Then find the sky or water. And so on til it's done.

Big tasks taken one piece at a time will work themselves out. Supposing you have trouble along the way, that's why we're here.

Rhoda Nightingale
11-27-2011, 10:11 AM
@OP: Of course it's okay to write for yourself. Be your own target audience, because, in a way, that's exactly what you are. Before your work has to pass someone else's judgment, it first has to meet your expectations and approval.

Also, here's an idea: Maybe sit down with some of the stuff you wrote down in 8th grade or whatever and read it. Try to get back into the headspace you were in when you wrote it then. Hell, you might be able to take something from those days and salvage it into a manuscript--anything is possible. Or it might be horrible. I have scads of both in decomposing notebooks in my closet.

And dude, don't knock videogames. I've gotten plenty inspired by the likes of Legend of Zelda, Silent Hill and Final Fantasy. The format for storytelling is limitless.

SPMiller
11-27-2011, 10:44 AM
You do realize that's not all we do, right? That it is, in fact, a very, very small part of what most working writers do? We mostly write, usually pushing hard to meet deadlines.

I'd also add that it isn't always fun to be talking to classes when they're composed either of bored students who don't have a clue who you are or creative writing students who feel superior to you because you've chosen (Horrors!) commerce over art.Ha. I had the opposite experience in university. The department always brought in some no-name self-published writer or some aspiring wannabe who dreamt of being the next Hemingway. I wanted someone with, you know, sales.

kuwisdelu
11-27-2011, 12:48 PM
Ha. I had the opposite experience in university. The department always brought in some no-name self-published writer or some aspiring wannabe who dreamt of being the next Hemingway. I wanted someone with, you know, sales.

With the few creative writing classes I took in college, it became impressed upon me that the "academic" literary canon was quite different from the "literary" canon that actually made sales for the New York publishers.

Captcha
11-27-2011, 05:18 PM
Honestly, I think the only thing that is throwing me off about this thread is the OP's number of posts, and the fact that I recognize the user name. If it wasn't for that, I'd say we just have another case of "Wants to be 'a writer', want to 'have written' but doesn't want to do the work of writing".

Writing is hard work. It's unlikely to produce a serious amount of money for most people. It's hard to even find a market for your writings. If you don't enjoy writing, don't do it. It's that simple. There's no magic way to produce the end result without putting in the time. If video games make you happier than writing does, play video games.

In terms of having an overall message, for me, there's nothing big, just, "here's some people in a challenging situation, and here's what they do". There's definitely messages that I DON'T want to send (I've found myself changing characters because I don't want my only character of colour to ALSO be the villain, or because I want my female character to do something a bit more active), but I don't write the books with that in mind. I write the books to tell the stories.

SPMiller
11-27-2011, 08:37 PM
With the few creative writing classes I took in college, it became impressed upon me that the "academic" literary canon was quite different from the "literary" canon that actually made sales for the New York publishers.That wasn't made explicit to me at the time, but I figured it out, and that had a lot to do with why I never pursued that CW minor with my CS degree. I mean, I would have been quite happy to hear from literary-genre writers, as long as they had made actual sales. Instead, I got, e.g., hints about self-publishing being a reasonable path (insert lololols here).

sunandshadow
11-28-2011, 01:26 AM
Love this!


Absolutely it's OK. :)

Maybe it will develop into, or make room for, something you'd want to show. Or, maybe it won't. Either way: what harm are you doing anyone by writing just for yourself?

There are very few pieces of fiction I wrote before I turned 30 that I was ever willing to show anyone. Whenever I tried to write fiction, it seemed like all the parts of myself that made me the most uncomfortable somehow splattered themselves all over the page. I could only write if I promised myself no one would ever read it.

Eventually, I worked through all that, and now I write things that I hope other people will read. But even if I hadn't reached that point , the time I spent on no-one-will-ever-see-it-thank-goodness writing would still have been valuable to me.


I used to think about my writing that I had to write to tell the story of my best friend who passed away a couple of years ago. I told myself that others needed to know what kind of friend he was. Then, as time passed I realized I was never writing it for anyone else besides myself. I don't want to forget him and this is how I'm doing it. While it does have a very strong theme about friendship, that's more just for me right now. In short, and longer than it should've been, I definitely agree there's nothing wrong with just writing a story for yourself.

I also look at writing a book like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. When I'm doing a 1000 piece one, I don't start by worrying about where all the big parts are going to fit in. I start with the edge, or the framework. Then find the sky or water. And so on til it's done.

Big tasks taken one piece at a time will work themselves out. Supposing you have trouble along the way, that's why we're here.


@OP: Of course it's okay to write for yourself. Be your own target audience, because, in a way, that's exactly what you are. Before your work has to pass someone else's judgment, it first has to meet your expectations and approval.

Also, here's an idea: Maybe sit down with some of the stuff you wrote down in 8th grade or whatever and read it. Try to get back into the headspace you were in when you wrote it then. Hell, you might be able to take something from those days and salvage it into a manuscript--anything is possible. Or it might be horrible. I have scads of both in decomposing notebooks in my closet.

And dude, don't knock videogames. I've gotten plenty inspired by the likes of Legend of Zelda, Silent Hill and Final Fantasy. The format for storytelling is limitless.
Thank you to you three, that is very heartening. And a good idea, to look at what I was actually writing when I was having fun with it, and try to recapture the mindset I had then.

Brukaviador
11-29-2011, 10:18 PM
I used to write. From 8th grade through the middle of college I wrote quite a bit of fiction. So something must have motivated me to write then, but I'm no longer sure what. I'd like to recapture that or find some new source of motivation, to make writing fun for me again.

I had this exact same problem not to long ago. After about 12 years of not writing because life got in the way, I found myself laid off from work. Suddenly I had all this free time, and I was financially secure for the first time in... well, ever... so I all of a sudden just opened up a word document and started writing. Six weeks later (writing 10-16 hours per day, 6 or 7 days per week), I had a completed novel.

It was without equal the best six weeks of my life. It was a constant rush crafting (what was to my standards at the time) this amazing masterpiece of fiction. I redrafted it several times in the following few months to make it absolutely perfect and loved every second of every revision.

Eventually I started on a second project and it wasn't quite as good. I didn't have the same excited thrill crafting this second tale as I did the first one. I went through all kinds of emotional turmoil about it, fearing that I was out of ideas; that I only had one novel in me and there would never be another one. It was a bit of a panic phase, honestly.

Eventually I realized that what I'd experienced was the "first time high" of trying anything new. For example, going mountain climbing or white water rafting for the first time is way more thrilling than the twentieth time. It may still be an awesome experience, but it's never as good as the first go. To address this, people mix it up by heading out to different mountains and rivers to provide variety, trying more difficult locations, working with different equipment, etc.

Now writing may not be a physical activity, but it's exactly the same as far as that "first time high" is concerned. The problem may just be that you're getting bored with what you've been writing up to now. For me at least, the stories to follow were less exciting than the first one because I was writing more of the same. Like the mountain climbers, the solution for me was to mix it up a bit. I started writing different characters in different situations, some I wasn't entirely familiar with which forced me to do some research, as well as a bit of trial and error on the page to see what works. My current project is also venturing into some really heavy subject matter, domestic abuse, so that in itself is a new challenge.

I'm sure my situation isn't exactly the same as yours, but perhaps what you need is a bit of a reboot. Revitalize your interest in writing by challenging yourself with different writing. Try a new genre or a difficult subject. Write from the viewpoint of a character who holds values you disagree with. If you can stretch yourself a bit, you might be able to recapture more of the "wow" factor and start churning out good stories again.


And one more trap I fell into - Applying the standards of the previous work's 7th draft to the following project's 1st draft. After all those revisions, of course the last book is going to be better and the next one will look like crap in comparison. You have to keep in mind that it's an unfinished project and the quality will be a lot lower until you've done a few revisions. So focus on the plot and character, worry about the rest in future drafts.