1. Bongo Mongo
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    Bongo Mongo Member

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    Deep hidden messeges in your stories.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Bongo Mongo, Jan 15, 2010.

    Shakespeare is often regarded as the most influencial playwrite of all time. His plays were talked about around the world, and even the kings would sit down and watch. This wasn't just because of his excellent storytelling, but because he had deep meanings about pretty much everything in life. Love and Hate. Good and Evil. Greed. Karma. You name it. He showed every side of the spectrum.

    What am I getting at? Quite frankly I have been having 'writers block' with ideas. I'm trying to think of things to put into my stories, hidden messages that so many great authors have skillfully woven into their novels.

    Do you guys have any ideas for me? A few examples:

    Culture (who is right and who is wrong)
    Government (which one is best)
    Love/Hate
    Reason and logic versus emotion
     
  2. psychedelicangel
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    psychedelicangel Member

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    Deleting all my posts, thanks for reading.
     
  3. Denied Fixation
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    Denied Fixation Member

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    I once wrote a term paper using "Crime does pay." Major score... So I definitely agree with Psychedelic!

    I would further suggest keeping the story a completely serious work. Don't clue the reader in on any level. I like the reason and logic idea. Especially writing it from the POV of someone who made a decision that was based solely on logic... or emotion and was just wrong... they need to just stand there in their wrongness and be wrong. Perhaps using the adage... "Just because you can do something... doesn't mean you should!"
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Write a theme that you feel strongly about. If you have to hunt for a theme, don't bother. Just write a good story.

    Whatever you do, don't sledgehammer a theme into the reader.

    If you write without a deliberate theme, you'll often find that a theme finds its way into your writing anyway, unless you truly have no opinions on anything. Don't force it.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I wouldn't consider borrowing plots as plagiarism. I know that people have argued both ways, but as long as he didn't borrow phrases and passages from others, then I think it's not as severe as people make it to be. Besides, it's nothing compared to what the Beowulf poet did. He basically took phrases from other works and strung them all together to make it look like his own. Genius, isn't it?

    No one spoke like that (except maybe a very small number of people). Speaking like that would be the equivalent of today's people speaking like a poem from Yeats. Sure, the vocabulary they used is the same as can be found in his plays, but the poet's ability to string together words is definitely not a representation of how people of that time period speak.

    To the OP: Write a theme that works best for you. Since those themes you listed are very common, a lot of books deal with the same issues. As a side note, I don't like when a book or movie becomes overly preachy about a theme, so that might be something to take into consideration.
     
  6. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think this is where you're absolutely right.

    To the OP: If your premise is to make "deep art" then there's a 99% chance it's gonna be pretentious and boring. If you try to squeeze "deep, hidden meanings" into it, there's a big chance it's gonna seem artificial and contrived. My suggestion is to write a story that honestly grips you and fascinates you, and then chances are pretty big that this story will have all kinds of things woven into it subconsciously. Fascination often springs from the subconscious and I think that if you as a writer try to analyze it too much and artificially mold it into something clever, the fascination will somehow be lost in the process.

    Frankenstein contains some quite profound ethical issues, and raises the question of what defines life and personal identity, but according to Mary Shelley herself, she just wanted to write a really spooky story.

    Who's to say that the writers of "deep and profound" literature put all those deep, hidden meanings into their stories on purpose? Perhaps it was unconscious decisions -- or perhaps it only exist in the reader's mind? If you put Twilight under the same amount of scrutiny as Hamlet, you could perhaps derive just as many deep, hidden meanings from it. I'm saying "perhaps".
     
  7. DvnMrtn
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    DvnMrtn Contributing Member

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    This could be just me but I think the themes you are looking at are very black and white. I think good writing explores the grey areas in between. For example, instead of culture (who is right and who is wrong) why not Culture, is anyone really right or wrong to begin with? Maybe that's the way it is. Perhaps they arn't as different as you think.

    What about all the different types of shades of grey involved with love and hate?

    I think life is a limitless source of awe and inspiration and should not be looked at in terms of black and grey. Explore the in betweens, I think it is there that you will find your answer.
     
  8. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    I don't think anyone can tell you what to write. The themes and deeper meanings to anything that is yours should be something you think is important.

    Also Shakespeare can be rather crude at times, especially the humour and violence, but thats what got the crowds in.
     
  9. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the theme or messages come through in the story told. I am not sure that they can just be inserted.

    One thing I have noticed is that different readers will come away with quite varied opinions on stories, from why a character did a certain thing, to what their ultimate motivation was, to what the moral or what was learned through the story.

    I say this as I have for several years taught one or two of my published short stories in my English classes. I find that often what a person brings to a story/reading experience influences what they take away. Sure, you can be blunt and direct, where it is very straight forward what the message is, but I don't think that's what you're looking to do.

    Just write the story and let the internal messages, if any, become part of the story itself, rather than something grafted or injected into it.

    Terry
     
  10. Irish87
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    Irish87 Contributing Member

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    You'll have to forgive me, I did not read any of the replies to the topic. If I am repeating the wisdom of another then I apologize profusely.

    As of late, each and every story, short or otherwise, that has come crawling out of my mind has reflected my opinion on personal freedoms and the evils of behavior control. The reason why so much of my work reflects this is because in my personal life those two things are incredibly important to me. Most of the time I don't put them into stories on purpose, rather I do it naturally. So, my advice to you is to find a topic that you feel inspired by, or even one which depresses the hell out of you. The catharsis to follow having an inspiration and ability to write should suffice.
     
  11. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I agree to some extent that the story will dictate the themes of the work, but not always to such an extent that the writer doesn't need to make an effort to draw them out. Consider, for instance, that you are writing about a family, just an average family. There is no theme inherent in that, until you subject them to one. You could have them be loving and supportive of each other (and thematically promote the values of family love), or you could have them torn apart (the disintegration of the modern family), you could focus on the sexual relationship between mother and father, the relationships between any one really, and come up with a different thematic direction each time.

    That idea is extrapolated fairly easily into most any plot. A novel is, almost by definition, full of contradictory ideas and discourses and voices, so while general thematic ideas ("the family", for instance)may arise organically, it's likely that you will need to work to bring out a particular thematic concern--its an intellectual process, not an emotional one.
     
  12. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Very well said, Arron.
     
  13. thinking
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    thinking Member

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    I think that, when you write, some deeper themes will emerge by themselves. Unless the point of your story is overt, then just let the characters do what they do and the deeper meaning will come.

    Then again, look at Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon. It basically slams you in the face with: "COMMUNISM IS BAD!" but it's still a great book and great writing. It depends on what you have to say. If you have a definitive statement you KNOW you want to make, then write that statement into the text frequently a. If not, then don't try too hard.

    It all depends on what you're trying to write.
     
  14. ManhattanMss
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    Maybe I was just too young and stupid to understand it, but Ayn Rand's famous novels FOUNTAINHEAD and ATLAS SHRUGGED I thought when I read them were just phenomenal, entertaining novels. I even thought they suggested a philosophy I found kind of intriguing. But what intrigued me even more than the philosophical view I started to think about was to discover that one can actually illustrate a philosophy through interesting fiction. I was studying philosophy at the time and reading some philosophers whose notions were a little harder to fully appreciate than others, so I thought it was a fascinating thing to discover how well-served philosophy could be in fiction.

    I didn't think of Rand's work as "agenda-driven" back then, although now when I look back on it, I suppose it probably was. But I don't actually remember reading frankly overt statements in the text as being responsible for this understanding. I really thought that was "my" own discovery upon reading these two entertaining, completely fictional stories.

    I read WE THE LIVING (her first novel) last, and that was much more straightforward and overtly "real." I do not remember it being a novel I enjoyed for its storyline at all. My impression of this story was that it was far less fiction and far more personal story or mission. But it was when I read this one, I realized everything she wrote was all a reflection of the very same thing (a revelation I found very disappointing at the time--I wanted more AR imagination--or ficton, as I thought of it then!).

    Having read a lot of other kinds of fiction over the many years since then, I've discovered far better novelists than Rand (which has been an enormous relief). But I have discovered as well that there is an identifiable "thread" that inevitably shows up in the various novels of authors I like best. And that makes me think that whatever an author feels strongly about will reveal itself in the fiction he writes. But whether that arises of its own nature or whether it gets teased out of the work, as Arron suggests, I think all really artful novelists will ultimately reveal themselves and themes that are important to them through their work in one way or another.
     
  15. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    It doesn't matter what hidden themes you try to convey in your story, people have different views. That's why your readers may see a theme that you didn't even intend to show---or even notice yourself---, or see the theme you try to convey in an entirely different way.
     
  16. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Very true. We often see what we want to see and that was partly my point earlier, that it may not necessarily be the intention of the writer to promote some hidden meaning at all. If you wanted to, you could get all kinds of deep and profound messages out of Twilight, which I'm sure some teenage girls would argue as why they like those books...

    George Orwell was deeply troubled by what he himself felt was the big, general misunderstanding of his books "1984" and "Animal Farm".

    Present a person with something ambiguous and they will always draw the conclusion that fits their preconceptions.
     
  17. writewizard
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    Well, in my most recent one, The Suicide Note, the main issue seems to be about the kid being bipolar, off his meds and being abused, but if you look deeper into the story, you will find that one of the threads of the story is actually about the importance of telling the truth.
     

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