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Story or Message?

April 10, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 92

To write a story, or to convey a message (in a novel), that is the question. But most beginning novelist will flare up and recoil at such a question. Why? Because they are confident that it can be both. They are confident that they most assuredly can purport their message via the venue of a novel.

Why is it that many novice novelists get touchy when this subject is broached? In nearly every case, it's because that individual has a message lurking within his heart and mind. In fact that message may have been simmering for a very long time, slowly coming to a boil. The next step, to that novelist's way of thinking, is to get the message out by weaving it into a novel.

So what's wrong with that, you may be asking. Sounds like a great idea.

Here's the crux of the matter. A fledgling novelist with a message burning within, will invariably produce a first draft that is message-heavy. This means the story becomes secondary to the message. It's a guarantee for producing a weak, lifeless plot.

When message becomes the primary emphasis, the result is closer to a sermon or an essay. It harks back to the time when novelists inserted, "...and so, dear reader..." speaking directly to the reader to make their point. Now the plot has become flat and cold. Today's readers have no patience with such tactics.

When the message becomes the primary emphasis, it shatters the fragile illusion of reality that your readers is seeking. (That illusion of reality is the real reason she is reading a novel in the first place.)

If you feel strongly about a subject (and most of us as novelists do!), wrap those ideas and opinions around your characters. Let your characters play out those ideas in their dialogue and actions. However, make doubly sure those words and actions belong in the story and help build the story. Otherwise, it is still author intrusion.

Keep in mind if the novel-reader were looking for the author's opinion, that reader would read the editorial page, not a novel.

Another point to be made here is this: once you have emptied your gun in this beginning novel, will your need for enforcing your message carry you through a second or even a third novel? I'm guessing the answer is probably not.

However, if your novel-writing is conceived and birthed in the womb of love-of-story now you are miles ahead.

The novelist who has an innate, insatiable love of story, can produce story after story after story - it's a natural overflow of that deep-seated love and passion. And the good news is that a well-crafted, well-told, well-written story (novel) will nearly always carry within it a strong message.

Hm.

Are you an aspiring novel writer? Are you bogged down in the creation of your novel? Are you plagued with doubts and apprehension regarding your fiction and story-telling skills? Let veteran, published author, Norma Jean Lutz help you enhance your knowledge and appreciation of novel writing. Author of over 50 published books as well as hundreds of articles and short stories, Norma Jean is a popular workshop and writer conference instructor. Through her company, "Be A Novelist," she shares tips, concepts, and intricate writing techniques right here: http://beanovelist.com. And on her blog site: https://beanovelist.wordpress.com/ As Norma Jean says, "I love to teach writing almost as much as I love to write!"

Source: EzineArticles
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