Writing Meaningful Stories

– I decided to make this article as sort of a first step for those writers out there who struggle to apply a practical, moral meaning to their stories and execute them in a positive way. I’ve included five tips and broken them down so that they’ll help you on your writing journey to affect some change. Happy writing!

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Choose A Theme You’re Passionate About

Writing about something you don’t care about is a waste of time, and a waste of your readers’ attention. If you’re going to say your story means something worth hearing, then make it mean something you actually have a genuine passion behind. Saying “this is to combat x,y,z popular topic of discussion” doesn’t make your story mean anymore than it would without it. Meaning comes from within your voice as a writer, so make it count toward something. Take that power and use it for something you believe in.

Use Symbolism

Symbolism is a really good technique for conveying meaning in your story. Symbolism isn’t just an object symbolizing representing something else, it’s a piece that fits into a larger idea that paints the picture which shows the message to the reader. I have a more detailed guide to symbolism, and you can find those resources below in the resources section.

Make The Plot Support The Message

The actual story you’re telling should feed the message and convey the major themes you’ve chosen to highlight through events within it. This seems fairly simple, but it can be hard to balance the message with the goal of entertaining the reader. Hence, it can be hard to keep them interested enough to stick around long enough to actually pick up on the themes. Make the events and subplots and main conflict support the message in multiple ways.

Choose An Actual Issue

There’s a difference between highlighting a really niche topic and commenting on it, and using your voice as a writer to impact change on a large scale. However, it can be tricky when deciding a specific thing to focus on in your writing, since there is such thing as a theme that’s too specific for the reader to get, or too vague to make a difference in their mindset. 

Simply saying “the theme is that racism is wrong” doesn’t really challenge the status quo or any significant dissenting opinion. That theme has been explored in depth and most people would agree that yes, racism is ignorant and wrong, but what does that have to do with your plot? That’s too vague. However, you also can’t pick a message that’s too specific to be interpreted by the everyday reader who doesn’t spend hours psychoanalyzing your work for symbol, motif, and intertextuality. Not every reader is an academic, and you have to make the message accessible to the majority, and not just the scholarly type.

Other Resources

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