|just ignore the fact that none of my pictures ever have anything to do with the actual post 😛|
Stories change us.
As readers of them, we’re effected by what happens to the characters, the struggles and trials they go through. Most of us don’t sit down to read a novel expecting to learn something; we’re looking for enjoyment.
Or, as C.S. Lewis quotes:
We read to know we are not alone
A lot of people think writing is easy. As writers, we know that is obviously not the case! We pour our hearts into our stories. Yet at the same time, part of our stories is going back into us.
Paradoxical, I know. I’ve found that, upon writing themes and topics I’m passionate about, I become more passionate about them than before.
That’s because you can create anything with writing. Beautiful. Hopeful. Dark. Ugly. Breathtaking. Words can create anything.
And that’s powerful.
It truly is an adventure for you when you sit down to write. Those words can and will take you anywhere — places you have been, places you haven’t been. I find writing so fascinating because you’re basically exploring the depth of humanity.
Yeah, that’s deep 😛 But writing is an attempt to recreate the human experience, isn’t it? Even if it’s a fantasy or sci-fi or whatever, stories all come down to human interactions, cores, and beliefs. Character arcs are especially important when it comes to this, as they’re all about how people change and grow… for better or worse.
And that’s… incredible. Writing is delving into the depths of the human experience. Clearly, that is going to change you, as a writer.
If we read to know we are not alone, why do we write?
I think it’s for the same reason, only slightly modified: we write to learn we are not alone.
We write to discover thoughts and feelings we can’t say aloud, splashing color on the canvas of a blank page, then manipulating the words around until we say “oh, I see it now.”
We write to learn.
I know that sounds strange. Don’t we read to learn? Nonfiction, mainly?
Honestly, I think we learn more by fiction. If it’s done well, it’s a mirror to reality.
Don’t get me wrong — you’ll probably learn more practical things with nonfiction. But fiction is unique in which it appeals to the emotions. It’s not all logic and 2 plus 2 equals 4. Fiction is why 2 plus 2 might accidentally equal 5 at times. It twists your thoughts and makes you feel something you can’t exactly put into words, but you know it’s there and it feels good.
And as writers, we try to put it into words. What does hope taste like? What is the texture of joy? Why does moonlight on broken glass feel so beautiful? And why does seeing this clearly unlikable character be loved make us feel so warm inside?
Subtext is powerful. Writers explore those gray spots and bring a little more notice to them. It’s like diving into a planet of water and having to swim everywhere to find the surface. And we’re going to learn things along the way, whether we plot out the theme and character arcs or not. We’re trying to recreate the human experience — we can’t walk away from that not being changed.
When I get to the end of writing a novel, I look back and compare it to the first idea I had. The novel is usually completely different. And so am I. Because I’m teaching my characters the lessons they learned and exploring things with them. It’s like I get the opportunity to live a whole other life.
Writers live other lives. And what we learn we relate to our own lives.
But it can do go deeper than that. Awhile ago, I started incorporating things into my stories that I’d gone through, certain themes and lessons. And seeing those similar situations play out in a character’s life deepened my understanding of that theme or lesson.
One of my most favorite writing quotes of all time is this:
She wrote about souls. Words, therefore, were never enough
And that’s really the heart of writing, isn’t it? The characters and their journeys — their souls. When a story is written masterfully, we, as readers, are able to relate to them so much that we are changed. We are effected. But writers, as the authors of those souls, are effected the most, because a part of themselves is in those characters and those stories.
Storytelling is like a superpower. Words are powerful. It’s a craft I can never hope to master, and a gift I’m eternally thankful for. Our own lives are stories, after all — written by the greatest Author — and that makes the stories we write all the more incredible to us.
So write that story. Create something. Learn something. Words can build us up or tear us down, so respect this amazing craft.
Because if your story matters to you, IT IS POWERFUL.