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  1. SilverRam
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    SilverRam Member

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    Always having a hidden meaning?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by SilverRam, Mar 26, 2009.

    I apologize if this has been brought up before.

    I've realized that most, if not all, of my stories have a hidden meaning or is centered around something I feel very strongly about.

    Most of my stories are at first really cliche, and I hate their plots. This is still in the "in your mind" stage, nothing written at all. Then I can't part with the characters, and find a way to involve them in a new story. The actual plot turns out to be not to different from the original inspiration. Just not cliche anymore. It still has the raw element. For example its still a "Running from the bad guys" story in either version.

    Anyway, I've noticed that they have an underlying theme that I feel strongly about. I had a really heated debate about calling Muslims "rag-heads" with someone. It made me realize how passionate I am about race/society issues. I honestly had no idea. Then I realized several stories have a theme similar to this.

    Another example would be how one story's underlying theme is how easily the government can be corrupted. I know many people who feel that we are not being listened to by our own government. That they are no longer servants of the people, and I'm sure many of you feel this way too.(If you live in America.) I don't even know how the story got that way. I'm thinking I've been watching too many shows about cultists and murderers.

    And yet another story is how religions are marred throughout time, their original laws are tarnished and unknowingly twisted. They are turned into a beast they weren't supposed to be, and corrupted religious authorities take advantage of their power. One of my favorites. By the way I am religious, so its not an anti-religion story at all...

    Your thoughts? Do your stories always have an underlying 'lesson' or is something your passionate about? Dig deep, you may be surprised.
    (There is something you should know about me..... I ramble.)
     
  2. Just a small smackerel
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    Just a small smackerel Member

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    Actually, I think I get what you are saying. The same thing happens to me, only I am usually consciously aware of the underlying, hidden meaning behind my story that isn't as obvious as the theme or the general message that is given off of the story.

    Only, in the novel I am writing now, I only realized several chapters down the road that I had a hidden, underlying message, something that I felt strongly about, much like yourself.

    I had the underlying message that romantic love was not a pure emotion as it is perceived, but a greedy one instead, and it took me awhile to figure out that was what I was trying to say with the relationship between my characters.

    So, yeah, you're not alone in that boat.
     
  3. Nervous1st
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    Nervous1st Senior Member

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    Absolutely.

    As a reader, I love to read stories with underlying messages. Everyone sees the world differently and sometimes understanding how someone else views their world can help you understand yours.

    I love movies that hide messages, a classic example is 'Bruce Almightly' but there are hundreds I could mention. If I don't take anything away from the film or book, I feel cheated and like I've wasted my time.
     
  4. Piestein
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    Piestein Senior Member

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    Readers need underlying messages.

    And I don't know whether to thank you or curse you. My first full-written (and badly at that, but I've decided to wait a bit and properly edit it afterwards) novel was supposed to have none. It was supposed to amuse me enough during boring classes (now I've taken things more seriously ofc).

    I just discovered the underlying message. Would be impossible to see for a reader, but it could be easily there with a quick edit...
     
  5. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

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    You can take something away from any piece of literature (even if it sucks, you can at least say, Hey, I know now that I never want to write like that!). Even if the story is not geared to one specific message, there is always some moral or message that can be gleaned from it. Every story is founded on some building blocks.

    My stories usually are focused on some bigger moral message or making a point about something. I've tried my hand at satire but have never gotten it quite right yet.
     
  6. SilverRam
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    SilverRam Member

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    Just a small smackerel:Yeah, it seems many books are written to express a message. The author intended for it to come along that way.

    The message you have about romantic love its interesting, especially since you discovered it though your characters. That is exactly what I'm talking about.

    Nervous1st:I feel the same way. Seeing different views is fun and enlightening, if they don't viciously demean your own.

    Piestein:I agree with you, its definitely a driving force. I was just surprised how I learned the meaning after the stories were developed, instead of developing them after the meaning. I wondered if other writers had this happen. Maybe its a bit of a psychological subconscious thing.

    Dr. Doctor:True, but if they don't have a specific message than couldn't the lesson be interpreted differently depending on the reader?
     
  7. Dalouise
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    Dalouise Contributing Member

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    I dislike anything remotely having a "moral" or "meaning" and find the few that I have come across were either patronising or dull. I think that has arisen after watching too many Disney films but no, I want to be entertained not preached to. If a reader sees something along the lines of hidden meaning in any of my work, then that's up to them. I didn't put it there.
     
  8. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

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    Well, sure. You determine what you want your story to mean, but obviously everyone may take it differently. :p

    I always hope my messages are visible in my stuff. That's one of the biggest concerns with writing, I think - getting the message across.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Read JRR Tolkein's notes at te beginning of the Lord of the Rings, how he despises allegory and purposed domination by the author. But he appreciates that the writer is influenced by eventys surrounding hhim or her, and thise influences creep int the writing. Whatever the reader manages to pick up from that is fair game.
     
  10. SilverRam
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    SilverRam Member

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    Dalouise:Oh no, thats not what I mean at all. I dislike being preached too aswell. I'm talking about meanings just arising from works, not intentionally put there. Something you have to think about, that you'll just 'get' as you read further into the story.

    Dr. Doctor:Yeah, that is one of the things I'm concerned about. If its taken seriously and thought about I'd be happy. Isn't that the goal for many writers, that the readers will consider the story and think it through.

    Cogito:Interesting, I'll check it out.
     
  11. Nervous1st
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    Nervous1st Senior Member

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    Dalouise - I know exactly what you mean. My hackles go up the second I feel I'm being preached to and I can't stand it when authors are blatantly trying to 'teach me a lesson'.

    I meant that I like being inspired or changed in some way regardless of the subject otherwise I feel I have wasted my time. Sure I want to be entertained but I also want to learn something - about myself. One of my favorites is the film 'Shallow Hal' absolutely hilarious and thoroughly entertaining but memorable and left me taking a good hard look at myself.
     
  12. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I've always hated air pollution. School buses, in particular, make it almost painful to breathe when it's time for us to go home. But I never actively thought much about it.

    So it came as kind of a surprise when I realized that one of my two main stories right now has a fairly prominent anti-pollution message. I didn't try to do it that way, and I'm certainly not asking people to turn off their cars--those things are useful. It's just the way I worked the plot that it came to be that my characters are waging a veritable war against pollution. I can't really explain it without going into detail on the entire plot, but it was really the only thing that made sense.

    Coincidence? Maybe. Or maybe I subconsciously worked with the plot so that it ended up like this. Honestly, I don't care either way. Whether a story has a central message or not is of little concern to me; I just read to be entertained. :D
     
  13. JohnNoZ
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    JohnNoZ Member

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    John Truby's book, "The Anatomy of Story" focuses on this, a lot. Great info.
     
  14. Gone Wishing
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    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

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    It's much like a favoured stanza from a poem by Ardath Mayhar:

    That shape lives inside us
    its nature forgotten
    but it creeps out secretly
    from our fingertips


    The poem itself is speaking about crafting something physical with one's hands, but I think it applies to the craft of writing, also.

    ----

    Any allegory and/or underlying message found in a work of fiction is likely to be widely open to interpretation because everyone brings something different to the table when they read it. It doesn't have to be intentional or overtly implied for someone to find something in a story that gives them a message of some kind.

    I don't make any attempt to impose morals or lessons within my own writing, but I'm fully aware of the recurring themes I explore, and what some of the imagery I use *may* :)p) allude to.
     
  15. Eleanora
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    Eleanora New Member

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    As long as you do not set out to have a hidden meaning there should be no problems. All stories should have a meaning, but if you set out thinking about having a specific hidden meaning, your audience will feel your story is contrived.

    But, if it is natural for the hidden meaning to emerge in your story it will be natural for the reader to pick up on it and enjoy it.
     
  16. Manolius
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    Manolius New Member

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    I've tried before to purposely insert some Idea into a writing or novel, but the harder I tried to, the less natural it turned out to be, because I was forcing the thought, instead of trying to understand the feeling, work with it and manage a way to naturally insert it somewhere between letters.
     
  17. lilix morgan
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    lilix morgan Contributing Member

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    Yeah, inserting things on purpose just don't work. It has to come to you, and work its way into it.
    I have something that's hinted in chapter seven or six, and so far it's slowing gathering hints, snowballing into something huge. I'm sure by chapter fifteen or something it'll have exploded or something.
     
  18. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    I've noticed that all of my fictional writing has a theme of some sort but I never put it there on purpose. A lot of the time I'm working through the plot outline and I get to the last scene of the plot and I go, wait, what? Because I realize that I'm putting in some of my beliefs and perspectives about the world that I didn't even realize I was going to be writing about.

    I don't think it is something that can be avoided, as a writer. We all put underlying messages in our work (accidentally, usually) because there is always "us" in the writing itself. We can't escape what we believe in ourselves, so it leaks out into the pages that we write.

    ~Lynn
     

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