Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Why I Write Fiction

Everyone has opinions and ideas that they want to express. We all have our world views, or philosophies, religions, theology, morals, and principles, and usually we want to share those views with others, and persuade them to our way of thinking. But everyone else in the world has their own set of philosophies, theologies and principles, and they aren't interested in yours. So we have an interesting result of discussion, debate, or flat out arguments.

How do you explain something so complex you aren't sure you understand it? You have examples, of course, lots of them, but so do the people who disagree with you. It's like they never quite see the way you can. It's as if you're explaining a specific shade of red to someone who only sees in black and white. Arguments tend to circle. Frustration arises. And through it all it seems that no one is listening.

Ideas are remarkable, brilliant things, and they ought to be shared with the world. I don't know when to stop talking where an idea is concerned, even when I realize no one will see it. Sometimes I want to bury myself in a world where Radical Ideas don't exist, because it seems there is no point to them if they can't be shared, and how can I share if no one will listen?

The answer is simple: Show versus Tell. What use is telling people that no war is worth the loss of tens of thousands of innocent lives when they hold the opposite view? But you can write a story, a tale that shows how that price is not worth what they fought for. You can write whatever you want and show it to be true. Why tell the world that every life is sacred when you can write a character who shows them, through his compassion and grief over ever death?

More than once I've had my eyes open to the reality of truth through a work of fiction. Sometimes it's not even very good fiction, but to me it's beautiful. There is no point in trying to force your view on an unlistening world. The truth of others is something they must choose for themselves. But Ideas were never meant to lurk in the dark, alone and unused. They were meant to be sent out into the world, but as missionaries, not weapons. You can never know who hears them, but you can know that somewhere they will be heard.

Show, don't tell. No one will ever even know what you are presenting as it creeps into their hearts and changes their view of the world.

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