Christian ghostwriter · storytelling · writing tips

How to Make Your Point, Part 1

So, you have something important to say, but you don’t want to get on a soap box to say it. That’s where storytelling comes in. Aesop didn’t write about the importance of being kind to those smaller and weaker than ourselves, because some day we might need their help. He let a lion spare a mouse, then let the mouse repay him for his kindness in a most unmouse-like way. And though children may not remember a story about a bully on the playground, they’ll remember that mouse, chewing away at the ropes that bound the lion, for a very long time.

Let Your Characters Do the Talking

The really important thing to remember is to let your characters do the talking. The point you’re trying to make will sound preachy if the narrator is the one to bring it up, but if you’ve developed your characters into interesting people who are the type of people who would say such a thing, and you give them the right setting and opportunity in which to say it, it will seem natural for them to say it within the context of your story.

This is why you have to create strong, well-developed characters. Cardboard, stereotypical caricatures cannot say what you want them to say with any impact. Your readers must get to know the complete, complex person in your story, understand her so well, that when she finally says what you want to say, the reader will think, “Oh. Of course. She couldn’t have responded in any other way.”

Give your characters time to develop, before you have them take a stand—or let that stand be a part of the character you’re developing. Give your readers a chance to both get to know them and to like them. And whatever you do, don’t let what they’re saying be out of character for them, for if you do, the illusion of your fictional character will shatter.

It was Aristotle who, back in c. 350 BC, wrote, “A likely impossibility is always preferable to an unconvincing possibility. The story should never be made up of improbable incidents” (Aristotle, Poetics). And isn’t that the key? Fiction should be made up of believable characters behaving and speaking within a story that is made up of probable incidents. As storytellers, we depend on our audience’s ability to willingly suspend disbelief in order to buy into our stories. Once that happens, our characters can speak for us wholeheartedly, and no one will realize the voice is ours.

 

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