Friday, March 21, 2014

The Problem with Message-less Story

   Last week I wrote about Message-Fueled Stories. This week its about Message-less stories. Why is this necessary? Because sometimes it is easy to read something and agree with it and say, "Okay, from now on I'll have no message in my stories whatsoever." If that's what you're thinking... think a bit more.
   Really. Think. That's one of the main reasons of story in the first place: to make one think. I like stories. Sure, sometimes I want a fun story like a comic book (not that comic books don't make you think). Most of the time, however, I want something to dig my teeth into. Something that makes me stop reading and stare off into space for a few minutes. Something that makes me go "UGH!" when the main character has to make a tough choice. Those are the stories I remember, not the silly superhero cartoons or cute cat novels (not that there's something wrong with superheroes or cats, some stories containing such elements are quite good).
   Take an example: The Missing Kitten. There's no obvious moral. However, if I looks closer, I hope I'll recognize a story peppered with sacrifice, thoughts on friendship, perfection, and redemption. You might not find much on each topic, but it can be found if one looks hard enough.
   Why put messages into stories? For the simple reason that a reader likes to think when they read. And the best way to make a reader think is through a story. Yes, non-fiction helps people to think, but it is not as easy to immerse yourself in a collection of musings. This is why story is important. What about thoughtless story? Sure, those superhero cartoons are fun for a time. But who really wants to watch a man smash stuff all day long, seven days a week? If all there is is cool CGI (or artistry) and dumb jokes, then what's the point? There's no reason to make the reader, or viewer, return for more. At some point the reader must invest an interest in the story, and one of the best ways is to make the reader think.
   To sum up, put a message in your story, but don't be overt and preachy (because that is a parable, not a story).

   What are your thoughts? Do you like to think when you watch/read? Or would you rather watch/read something which requires little thought?

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