Thursday, August 6, 2015

More Than Just a Story: A guest post by Gabrielle Massman

Hey guys! For today's post, I've invited the lovely Gabrielle Massman from Write for the King to share some awesome ideas about writing and a story's purpose. Enjoy!

Miranda Kulig was kind enough to invite me to guest post on her blog; I thought I would write about the most foundational aspect of writing. Without this aspect, your writing is worthless, your time is wasted, and your words mean nothing. It sounds harsh, but it is the reality for every writer.

When I set out to write my first novel, I was eight years old, and I had three goals.
1.      I needed to write a fantasy novel because I had read all the ones at my library
2.      I wanted to become “best friends” with some new characters
3.      I hated J. R. R. Tolkien for Boromir’s death, so I was going to create a beloved character and then kill him off mercilessly! Muhaha!
In case you have not already figured this out: none of those is the right reason to write anything (though they can be good secondary motivations—well, maybe not the evil one about manipulating readers’ feelings.)
A few years after I had finished my first “novel,” I picked it back up (I think I was around 11 years old at the time) and began to rewrite it so that is reflected my developing literary skills. Within rewrite the first page, I came to a sudden realization—my story meant nothing; it communicated nothing of value.
I suppose that would be alright if all that existed was this universe and that life and everything else is meaningless. But our lives do mean something. We can fail in life. We can win in life. In our lives, we can find a greater purpose and meaning. And people are desperate to find that meaning.
So then, why was my novel just a fun ride? One of my literature teachers told me that every great work of literature explores the truth of humanity and reality, and I think that is one of the great truths of writing. We writers should remember it.
Maybe you don’t set out to write your story to convey a moral or message. In fact, sometimes those who do set out, writing their novel, to make a point often fail. I would only encourage you to tackle reality—explore the hard questions. Don’t make your novel a fun ride. Make your novel a real ride. Find the truth and explore it in your writing. Pose a question about humanity, morality, God, or the universe. Then write until you find that answer.
Maybe, like me, you already have a story—a story that exists in the world for no reason other than temporary entertainment. I’d suggest rewriting it completely. Ask yourself what you are most passionate about. What bothers you in yourself? Give your characters the same flaws that you struggle to overcome each day, and make your story about the journey. What contradictions do you see in the world or in your novel? Do your characters struggle to kill the bad guys? Maybe they should! How do you deal with the gray area in life? Is there a gray moral area?
Don’t make your novel a fun ride. Make your novel a real ride. Make your novel more than just a story.

So what are your stories really about? Why did you write them? Or maybe, like me, you did not set out to tackle reality in your story. Do you have any ideas that you want to address? Just like story prompts, truths and moral questions can be a premise for a story. Maybe we can inspire each other with our moral prompts.

"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12

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