Sunday, 6 October 2013

Sometimes, a tree is just a tree

I read a review for Mirror yesterday which was positive for the most part (in fairness, the reviewer also had a couple of negatives) and also mentioned a few metaphors in the writing. The funny thing is I didn't intend any metaphors let alone the ones the reviewer found. This subject came up over at absolutewrite a few weeks ago - writing metaphorically and to what extent the writer wants to insert a message in their story. I've been thinking about it since, and then reading the review yesterday which metioned the same point made me consider what I write and what might be behind the blood and the screaming.

For what it's worth, I very rarely have a message in anything I write. For one, I think it's quite hard for a lot of writers to have a message that's subtle enough to not get in the way of the most important part of the the book - the story. And for two, I'm not too interested in spreading any particular message. I'm not a stroky beard type writer (despite having a beard); I'm not one for preaching at people, and I'm not a writer who thinks telling stories makes me important.

Put simply and perhaps naively, I like telling stories. That's it. The big secret in 99% of what I write. I write for the sheer joy of making stuff up and hopefully entertaining people. Whether that entertainment comes in scarying them or grossing them out or giving them time with characters they care about, it's all good to me. As long as the reader enjoys the book, I'm a happy writer.

Plenty of authors believe they have a message to spread to their readers. That's up to them, of course. It's not me, though, and I don't believe the majority of readers want to receive any message in their fiction. They want a story and characters to take them away for a few hours or days. And if they're reading a horror story, the chances are they want fictional horrors to stack up against their own horrors and say well, at least things aren't as bad for me as they are for the people in this book. 

Basically, if you give me some of your time (and a few quid, of course), I'll tell you a story. Deal?


  1. I didn't get into writing with the plan of having a message. "Messages" make me think of Mistuh Mackie with his "Drugs are bad,mmmkay?" MESSAGE. We don't need to be beaten over the head with the fact racism is wrong, or the fact some people are gay or whatever.

    However, I do think themes often come out unconsciously in our work. Themes such as "Love conquers all," or "Crime doesn't pay."

    I think if you try to force it, it becomes a message, i.e. preachy. A theme is something that's part of your authorial voice, part of the world you create. Less preachy, more part of the story. Because it's not forced, it's natural. More subtle.

    Hope that makes sense, Baldy! :D

    1. I'm OK with themes. There are plenty of areas I go back to in my fiction whether I realise it or not, but messages...nah, count me out.