Is There a Message in Your Writing You Want Readers to Grasp?

Most writers claim they write only to entertain, and yet messages do creep into our books whether we will it or not. I don’t write to entertain but to write the stories I want to read, stories that no one else has written. And still, the messages are there: nothing is as it seems, we are not necessarily who we think we are, history did not necessarily happen the way we think it did, and what we see is not necessarily the truth. But all that was more of a side effect. Mostly I just wanted to write good stories with good characters that I would have loved to read.

Here are some messages that crept into other authors’ books. The comments are taken from interviews posted at Pat Bertram Introduces . . .

From an interview with Dale Cozort, Author of “Exchange

I’m not big on putting messages in fiction, but one snuck into Exchange. We live in what my daughter calls a ‘bubble-wrap’ society, one that is obsessed with reducing risk to the point of keeping us from doing a lot of things we want to do and/or need to do. How does that kind of society react to suddenly being in a world that is wilder and more dangerous than the Wild West ever was? A lot of us take the benefits of the bubble-wrapping for granted, but dream about getting away from the restrictions. Unfortunately, the risk reduction and the restrictions are often a package deal. I try not to hit people over the head with that message and you can read and enjoy Exchange without ever noticing it, but it is there.

From an interview with Stephen Prosapio, Author of “Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum”

Typically I like to have lessons and character growth. I like to show how characters make either correct or incorrect choices. Sometimes the difference between good and evil is simply taking the right or wrong action. I’ll let the readers take what morals they want from the story.

From an interview with J. Conrad Guest, Author of “January’s Thaw”

The January books are composed of a number of messages. In January’s Paradigm the reader learns that there are people in the world—men and women alike—who are not very nice, and that men don’t have a corner on the mean market. Men, too, can be hurt through a woman’s infidelity. One Hot January shows that no government is benign and that we must care about a world we will not see. While January’s Thaw is largely about redemption, that it’s never too late to close the door on the past and to live in the moment, for tomorrow.

From an interview with Benjamin Cheah, author of Eventual Revolutions

The real world is complicated. Don’t seek simple answers. Seek instead complete answers. Don’t be satisfied with what people tell you. Always look for the full picture, and discard everything that does not meet the test of logic and reason. Always strive towards a greater understanding of the world, without settling for dogma or over-simplicity. Every action has a consequence. And always remember that you are free – and with this freedom comes the necessity, burden and power of choice.

From an interview with Bonnie Toews, Author of “The Consummate Traitor”

Yes, I do demonstrate a message in all three of the novels in this trilogy. What I have observed at the crossroads of humanity is that victims of atrocities can never forget what they have endured, and their resulting bitterness perpetuates revenge. This convinces me that as long as victim and perpetuator seek retribution against the other, true peace can never be achieved. But, there is an answer: the ACT OF FORGIVENESS. We understand the idea of God’s forgiveness, but the act of forgiveness becomes meaningless if we cannot first forgive ourselves and then one another. To make a difference in world peace, victims and their perpetrators must forgive themselves before they can forgive one another and live in harmony.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

6 Responses to “Is There a Message in Your Writing You Want Readers to Grasp?”

  1. Rod Marsden Says:

    One message that I hope comes through in my two vampire novels, Disco Evil and Ghost Dance is that if everyone doesn’t have certain rights then no one can safely say they have those rights or are in fact entitled to those rights. In a book I am working on at the moment I am attacking political correctness. Put simply people need to be able to talk over their differences. Put another way, if free speech is no longer free then you may no longer be living in a democracy.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Those are important messages. I think readers and writers too often get “message” confused with preaching, when in fact, a message is a theme, a way to keep the book focused, a reason for writing. If a writer has nothing to say, why write? People read books for entertainment, but still, if an author has nothing to say, why would they read that author’s book?

      • Rod Marsden Says:

        I agree with you about preaching. Having a message is great motivation for the writer and if the reader is entertained but never gets the message that is okay.
        wwith me.

  2. sandy sanchez Says:

    I can’t imagine writing stories without a motivating message. For me the message has always been that people need to notice other people and care about other people. As a child I gave the money my grandmother gave me for a movie to a WWII vet begging on the street outside the theatre. I also got into a conversation with him. When my grandmother came back to pick me up, she was upset with me but in defending my actions, I came to realize something about myself that helped direct my future as both a writer and a lawyer. LIsten to the people no one else pays attention to (of who are treated with contempt) and discover that they have interesting stories and are worthwhile people who deserve our notice and respect and concern. That is why I titled my short story collection A Mile In These Shoes and why my novels magical realist novels are intended to mythologise people who have suffered isolation, sometimes abuse but always neglect.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Sounds like a good reason to write. So many books are about characters people would notice anyway — the rich, the successful, the beautiful. I realize this is part of the fantasy people like to buy into (that they too could be one of these people if only between the pages of the book) but what’s the point of writing about such people? It’s better to illuminate lives that might otherwise remain in the dark. If we write only to reinforce what everyone already knows, then why do it?

Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: