Topic 4: Revealing the greater truth, or message, through fiction

by Jacqueline Windh

Well, last month we talked about truth in non-fiction. But it is so often said by writers that the greater truth is achieved through writing fiction.

So let’s take a look at that.

There are two avenues that I would like to pursue here… but of course, I am open to people taking this anywhere they want.

What is the “greater” truth, and how do we get to it? How is it that, by not sticking to the facts, by making things up, we can approach truth? I think most of us probably have an idea of this already – but I think it would be interesting to hear about examples, from your own work or from a work that you have read and that impacted you.
And especially, if you have a work-in-progress in which you are struggling to achieve this – I think that would be interesting too. What you are trying to do, and why you are choosing fiction to tell this particular truth.

OK, in a way this is quite a different branch to the subject, but it is related: What about when the purpose of writing fiction is to deliver a message? I am thinking especially of Ayn Rand, as a classic example. Her works of fiction (Atlas Shrugged, especially) were vehicles for the delivery of her philosophy of Objectivism. But there are more recent (and popular) examples of fiction aimed at delivering a message, too  for example James Cameron’s film Avatar, which had a pretty clear theme (and message, as there was a “right” and “wrong” to that theme) about First Nations land rights, and colonization and resource extraction.
So what do you think about this? Is fiction an appropriate medium for delivering a message? Or should the overall aim of fiction be “telling a good story,” and does inserting a message detract form that?

And just a quick word about our next discussion… This whole Writers Discuss thing is an experiment. I feel that there is a need for a forum like this, where interested writers around the world can discuss topics that relate to our creativity and our work. But the level of discussion in this forum so far has been less than what I had expected – so perhaps other writers are not feeling the need for that type of conversation or interaction as much as I do?

So, if you feel that this is a valuable forum, please don’t be only a lurker – please participate, and help spread the word and encourage other writers to participate! And then our next discussion topic (October 15) will be on whether we need Writers Discuss, and what we can do to make it a more active discussion forum for working writers. After I see how that discussion goes, I will make the decision on whether to keep this forum happening or not.

OK, let’s go! What do you think about searching for the greater truth, or a message, through fiction?