Monday, November 4, 2019

A Request

     I’ve written so many times about the importance of a sound theme to a good story – a theme expressed by the motivations, decisions, and actions of the characters and the consequences that follow. Such a story, if its theme is true, will have incredible power to persuade. It’s the reason the greatest tales are so beloved: the enduring legends of heroism and triumph over evil; the stories that tell of personal sacrifice for a noble end; the tales that speak of love’s power to conquer any and every lesser force.

     A true theme is an “eternal verity:” a law of existence that cannot be modified or repealed by mortal men. It tells us, in turn, what we are, who we can be, and why we must be (or become) those persons. I submit that while you might (think you) already know all that, the probability that you really do and always did is effectively zero.

     (I’m battling a powerful urge to rewrite the paragraph above as a decision tree. Talk about “technical difficulties!” Please bear with me.)

     A few compliments I’ve received on my fiction have been much on my mind:

     Those readers have given me reasons to think I’m getting at least part way to what I seek to do: i.e., to depict important truths about Man and the universe we inhabit, through the decisions and actions of invented characters embedded in a challenging context. It’s a lifelong effort, to be sure. Moreover, I doubt anything I’ve written (or will) will ever be hailed as a “great book,” no matter how long and hard I work at it. But the effort appears to be worthwhile, at least in some eyes.

     But they’re stories. They’re meant first and foremost as entertainments. They tell of events that didn’t happen, among imaginary people, in contexts that don’t exist and probably never will. What is their real value, if that term has any meaning when applied to a work of fiction?

     Perhaps the video embedded below provides the explanation:

     Please, please watch it. Simply because I ask it of you, if for no other reason. No, it’s not one of mine. And yes, it’s fairly long: about fourteen minutes. But it’s important. If you have the time and patience, please view it. It’s possible you’ll never see or hear anything more important in your life.

     And may God bless and keep you all.


Tracy Coyle said...

I went to the beach on Saturday and on the way back got into a short discussion with the bus driver. Initial comment unimportant, but he said that The Matrix was his favorite movie. I said:

"Any movie [or book, or story] that alters your perception of reality is good."

Secondary belief IMO.

I did watch/listen to the entire video. Faith.

Jeff Charles said...

Thank you, Fran - we all a a deep debt to Tolkien - I am going into Lewis's Space Trilogy for the 3rd time now, 2 books down and the last penultimate one to go, again, and I hesitate just from the anticipation of sheer unstoppable power and beauty and majesty of the conclusion - I tremble before my task, knowing the almost unbearable radiant brightness and joy and love that awaits me there.

SecessionIsTheAnswer said...

I very much like that the youtube author and Tolkien exposed well written fiction and fairy tales as true metaphors for the birth, death and resurrection of Christ. I had never really considered why I always enjoyed and looked for fiction & tales where good triumphs over evil. Now it is so clear to me. Somewhat disconcerting that I never saw the connection.

Thanks so much for posting that. It was a nice and needed reminder of hope. I confess that I see no way out of our country’s descent into hell, but then that is precisely why we have our faith in God, n'est-ce pas?