1. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    A message too deep.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by colorthemap, Jan 1, 2011.

    I'm working on a YA piece and I want to send a strong message through it.

    But I think it may be too deep for people of that age group.

    Is this reasonable?


    You may say "Just make it an adult novel" I doubt I have the skills for that as I am no adult.
     
  2. TokyoVigilante
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    TokyoVigilante Member

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    Don't underestimate the abilities of the age demographic you're writing for.
     
  3. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    Trust me I know: I'm a YA.
     
  4. TokyoVigilante
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    TokyoVigilante Member

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    Then if you get the message of the novel, then others YAs shouldn't have much trouble.
     
  5. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    Screw it I'll just go for it!
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't see why this shouldn't be perfectly possible. However, I'd advise against making the novel too "messagey", no matter what the age group. IMO, a story needs to stand alone as a story, with or without the message--preaching or writing that advertises itself as deep or profound will turn your readers off.

    ChickenFreak
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm with ChickenFreak. As a general rule, don't use your fiction to send strong messages. You tend to wind up forcing your characters into unbelievable situations just to make your point, and that undermines the point as well as the story.

    Just write the best story you can, and your message will probably be clear anyway if it comes from your soul. If it isn't, that's even better.

    Just remember that people don't read stories to get lectured to by the author.
     
  8. J_Jammer
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    J_Jammer Banned

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    Never lecture your readers.

    So if you do this message, then make sure it's subtle and no browbeating.

    Have fun. :D Messages are awesome....if you do it with prettiness. :p

    I suggest doing it and then have someone read it and tell you what it feels like. That's the best way to see if it works the way you want.
     
  9. solosilver
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    solosilver New Member

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    I feel that much of the point of literature is to make thematic assertions. However, not all writing is literature, some writing is purely for the story, which can still have a message (and usually does), but it doesn't have to be as grand and overarching as a "thematic assertion." For example, Twilight has a message, but does not make thematic assertions, while classic literature, like Fahrenheit 451, makes thematic assertions.

    If you do want to go for a thematic assertion in a YA book I would suggest making sure that it is a story that is interesting on its own, and then include your thematic assertion through a light use of age appropriate rhetorical strategies. Make sure you don't go overboard, because it can be a turn off for people who just want a good story.

    Personally, I like a good balance of story and theme, and feel that there aren't enough YA books that have substance.
     
  10. ManicHedgehog
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    Oops, please delete this post...
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    people don't read novels to be lectured or taught 'lessons'... they read them to be entertained... so if you have a 'message' you really feel has to be delivered, you'd be better off writing non-fiction...
     
  12. J_Jammer
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    J_Jammer Banned

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    That doesn't mean there are not lessons in fiction, though.
     
  13. Edward G
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    Edward G Banned

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    Many young writers are too didactic in their writing. Didactic means instructive or preachy. There's nothing wrong with writing a story with the sole purpose being to instruct the reader on the moral. But the best way to do that is by writing a story that illustrates that moral.

    The Pigman by Paul Zindell is a good example of this. The moral of the story is very important (You can't grab youth back once it is gone.) It's also a very deep moral and really meant for people in their forties or fifties. And yet, it was a classic young adult novel--still is. So the depth of the moral is not an issue when it comes to writing for the YA crowd.

    However, Zindell never came right out and stated that moral. Instead he wrote a story around it where an older man tries to recaputre his youth following the death of his wife by hanging out with a couple of tresspassing teens. In the end it causes him to have a heart attack and die.

    Therefore, show the moral through the story, never come right out and state it.
     
  14. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is where the "show, don't tell" rule really comes to shine.

    Let's say your message is the importance of self respect. You can show this by making the main character have absolutely none of it, and end up as a crack-smoking, washed up porn star, and never have "self respect" typed even once in your manuscript.
     
  15. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't underestimate your audience.
    And don't be patronising with trying to get a message across, and don't state it in the story.
     
  16. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    I quite enjoy being lectured, being preached at. There was a very explicit didactic current in a lot of eighteenth and nineteenth century stuff - fiction included. Some of it might strike the sophisticated modern as pretty hilarious: a young fellow, perhaps, is said to be reluctant to cross the River of Hard Work or is overly keen to attempt the Mountain of Vainglory (with its routes both Easy and Well-Trod).

    If nothing else, it strikes me you could have quite a bit of fun playing around with, subverting, those sorts of conventions. Though, over the length of a big novel it might get a bit tiresome..
     
  17. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, but as soon as you start subverting them it is no longer the same sort of moral work. Like Erich Kästner's Emil and the Detectives, written at a time when every children's book absolutely had to have a moral message. So sure enough, he supplied one: never send cash, always use a money order.
     
  18. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Look at it as planting a seed. The person will read it, and maybe in the future the seed you planted in their mind will bloom.

    I can think of several books I read as a teen that completely shaped how I think about things as an adult.
     
  19. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    I'm 16, and I consistently understand messages that adults have missed entirely; it depends on the person more than the age.
     
  20. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    I love novels with existential themes, exploration of philosophical issues, and sometimes I just like action or comedy.

    Also, I'd argue that Voltaire is the inventor of the science fiction, fantasy, and adventure novel and all of his stories are designed to argue a philosophical point. If you read his story Ingenuous it is clearly Tarzan, only written more than a hundred years before. Ingenuous was a story exploring Rousseau's ideas about the nature of man. So, there's quite a tradition of teaching in fiction writting, especially when it's fantastic. Currently, Iain Banks Culture novels are about successful communism, for instance.

    Pulp Fiction (action porn) is what has given SF a bad name. Also, fantasy tends to fall into the pure escapism category, depending.

    But anyway, there's a gradation it what people find entertaining.
     
  21. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Huh? Quentin Tarantino's movie, you mean? Or do you mean pulp fiction in general? In which case, please do not capitalize the F in Fiction ...

    Another large statement with a large unelaborated qualifier. What do you mean?
     
  22. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Really?

    You thought I was referring the the movie Pulp Fiction?

    Do you know what that term means related to fiction?

    The fantasy comment I can understand. Fantasy does not tend to explore philosophical topics because it's not about something that can be. It tends to be set in a nostalgic past. In the book I'm publishing on my blog I discuss in the seconf chapter what I think fantasy is which in short is what people would like to have now, and by fantasy I mean the standard Tolkien variety.

    With that being said, I have greatly enjoyed many fantasy authors and still do, but I don't think the stories are about anything more than the words on the page. I enjoy Steven Erikson a lot and the guy never met a sentence he didn't want to right, but I don't see his stories as having any deep meaning.

    How was that?
     
  23. J_Jammer
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    J_Jammer Banned

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    Themes are different from browbeating.
     
  24. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, you capitalized both words, indicating that they were intended to be taken as a title, and the movie Pulp Fiction does kinda qualify as action porn.

    Sometimes it's hard to know what people mean when their posts are sloppily typed.

    Of course I do. But your post was sloppy and so I wasn't sure you did.

    Not bad - you explained what you meant by "fantasy tends to fall into the pure escapism category". I'm still wondering what you meant by "depending".
     
  25. TricksterDizzy
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    ...Have I been reading the wrong fantasy authors? Then again, I do skip over most of the pulp stuff.... if it has dragons + half naked woman on the cover, I tend to leave it on the shelf.

    Might I suggest authors like Anne Rice (her vampire series is only horror because of the thin line between horror and fantasy... darn stupid genre definitions...), C.S. Lewis (many of his stuff is highly accessible and caries themes beyond just Christianity. My favorite book of his: Till We Have Faces. Absolutely brilliant in the retelling of the myth of Eros and Psyche), and heck, many children's authors of the fantasy genre do great work! Books like The Bidge to Terabethia, Tuck Everlasting, Ronia the Robbers Daughter, etc... Heck, I would even argue that Harry Potter has a boatload of philosophy packed into it.

    One of the reasons I love the fantasy genre is because of the ease which you can introduce philosophical themes into the fantasy setting. Which is prolly why I don't go within ten feet of the pulp fiction stuff, simply because I mourn the loss of opportunity... /sigh

    Though Chris Moore's vampire series is hilarious, even without a significant philosophical meaning. Clever and hilarious writing does a lot for me to make up for lack of philosophy.


    /end fantasy ramble

    Er, sorry. ANYWAY- To the OP.

    Never underestimate the YA mind. Heck, The Giver is a YA book and that deals with crazy heavy themes. Gave me nightmares for weeks, but then again I read it at about 12 which was prolly a bit too young. Still, the meaning of it I still remember well, and I will certainly say it impacted me.

    ...Heck, meanings like the Colorman who worshiped Tash getting into heaven stuck with me and significantly influenced the way I view god and heaven and everything in between, and I read The Last Battle at age 10. Not to mention the themes of woman empowerment in Ronia the Robber's daughter and how that stuck with me, and I read that at age 8...

    Er, basically: You would be surprised at what sticks with people at what ages.
     

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