say something

Stand Up

Writing should say something. It should mean something. Every story, no matter how wild, creative, weird or unusual, is more than just characters and a plot. There is a message in all fiction.

I believe that, with all my heart.

Stories say something about the nature of humanity, hopes, fears, expectations, dreams, desires and deliverance. Through fiction, we address the complexities of equality, gender roles, ethics, societal health, philosophy, religion and the concept of legacy. Every character speaks for real people. Every plot is a proclamation. There are no tales void of implication. It all says something.

Of course, not all writers consider the message of their stories, so there are a lot of stories out there with weak, even questionable, messages. I think that’s a shame, in part because as much as you might want fiction to be pure entertainment, that just isn’t possible. There’s always something being said about life. It’s also a shame because a lot of readers gobble up those weak, questionable messages without realizing they’re doing it.

If you’re a writer, I encourage you to think about the message your story carries. Does it flush with your values? Does it match how you see the world? Is it a message you’d speak without the story? If not, why is it in the story to begin with?

Are you happy with what you’re saying about what makes life worth living? About what it means to be a healthy, well adjusted male or female? About what’s right and what’s wrong?

It takes more work, in a way, to be mindful of these things as you write, but once you see how there’s a message in every plot twist and woven into the dialogue of every character, it gets easier. And, your fiction gets more rewarding.

What’s your message? What are you saying about the world through your stories? And, just as important, what do you want to say?


About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

7 Responses to say something

  1. P. C. Zick says:

    Dex, I agree with you! When I was a reporter/columnist, I complained one day about an intern who wrote columns with no point or message. My editor said, “Columns don’t have to have a point.” I lost tons of respect for him after that because what’s the point if there is no point? I believe this in all that I write. Message is key and the reason I write what I write. Thanks for such a thoughtful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dex says:

      Love this line: “what’s the point if there is no point?”

      Indeed. And anyway, there’s always a point. No writer can avoid including his/her bias, worldview, opinions or commentary. It’s in the dialogue and exposition. It’s in the way your characters dress, relate and deal with their problems. It’s in the plot, how it resolves and what the conclusions looks like. It’s littered throughout both fiction and non-fiction whether you want it there or not. You can’t divorce yourself from your writing.

      If that’s true (and I firmly believe it is!), why not take the time to shape the message. Make it what you want it to be.


  2. diannegray says:

    So trues, Dex. I have many subliminal messages in my books and I really like the reader to go away with the feeling that they’ve ‘learned’ something without having to ‘study’ something! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • dex says:

      How did I miss this comment when you made it? My apologies!

      And, I agree with you completely. Fiction is a great venue for teaching without making the reader feel like a student. That’s a lot of the fun!


  3. I can’t help myself. As you say, it would be impossible to write without having some meaning or point come across. And, should *my point be at all *Hazy, I’d like to think my reader will find their own message in my words through their personal interpretation.

    Humans instinctively seek substance.

    Liked by 1 person

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