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As writers it is easy to lose ourselves in the fictional worlds we work so hard to create.  Whether we are crafting a romance on the prairie,  saving the world from the battle bridge of a space craft, or tracking down a killer before he can strike again, those worlds become very real to us on some level.

But when all is said and done, it’s a story.

Nothing more.

Nothing less.

Granted, it may be a good story. A dynamite story. The best story of its kind since God first dictated His bestseller. But it is still just a story. A canvas on which we either tell a story for its own sake or fill it with symbolism and hidden meaning. And that’s where we sometimes begin to lose our perspective. We sometimes try to do our job and God’s. As I said in the previous post, our job is to write the best story of which we are capable, then let God deal with how it is used be it as a life changing experience or good entertainment.

I am currently writing a profile on fellow Christian horror novelist, Mike Dellosso, and he said something in the interview that is very telling.

“Horror writing is mostly allegorical. There’s a ton of symbolism at play and it all serves to better expose the gruesomeness of evil and the glory of righteousness.”

That is the key to writing fiction (Christian or otherwise) in a nutshell. The tale itself is symbolic of some aspect of real life. In good fiction we can see something of ourselves or our situation in the lives of these made up creations. And if not ourselves, the lives of someone we know. In the case of those who work to add layers of meaning in their stories, the “aha” moment may not be as obvious at first, but in both cases, in order for fiction to work, it must speak to us on some truthful level.

Many beginning (and established) writers set out to write a story that will change lives. That’s all well and good, except it isn’t our decision. What serves as a catalyst for change in one is simply a plot point for another just as what shakes one person to their very core may simply be a nice turn of phrase for someone else. Sometimes writers layer their work with hidden meanings designed to reveal themselves in later reflection. I’m not that bright. I tend to prefer the William Faulkner attitude, “If you say it’s in there, it’s in there. But I didn’t put it in there deliberately.”

Again, I’ll leave that up to God. He’s been at this a lot longer than I have. And His book is still a bestseller.

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Comments
  1. leighd says:

    Very interesting points on symbolism, whether it’s ‘by design’ or ‘by default.’ A good reminder that we’re simply helping plant the seeds — God is the One who makes something come of it.

  2. William Simkiss says:

    Overt symbolism, to me, cheapens the story. To think that all I’ve read is there only as symbols ruins all. Takes away any of the joy.

    I am pathologically unable to enjoy Pilgrim’s Progress. You could change my life for the better forever by using Narnia or Middle earth, and I would forever be the better for it.

    I guess the symbols then lie in the eye of the beholder, and not in the enslavement by the author.

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