The Surface and Deeper

I would like to remind you of my Character Contest that is going on! I'd really appreciate it if you participated! Take a look at the link!

Every story has a surface: plot, character, setting, storyline, etc. But every story (or every good story, that is) has a deeper meaning.

For example, Jack Kerouac's On the Road is about some guy following this wild crazy hobo around the country doing stuff just for kicks. It's fun and sometimes painful, an all around good story. But it's really about the search for inner happiness in a world suppressing individual freedom. Gene Brewer's K-PAX is about some nut claiming to be an alien who gets tossed into the loony bin and ends up making the psychiatrist and the other patients examine their own ridiculous situations. But it's really about how love and pain shake us to our very core, along with all sorts of messages about questioning government and family structure and societal rules. The television series LOST (rest in peace, my friend) is about a group of people who crash on a mysterious island with polar bears and electromagnetic fields and immortal beings and mystical healing powers and a giant smoke monster that eats people, and the peoples' journey of, well, getting off the island. But it's really about how everything in life is so complicated and stupid and really screwed up and nonsensical and useless, except for love, which is the only transcendent, interpersonal, um, thing, for the lack of a better word.

So, when you read (or watch TV or movies) do you look at the surface for entertainment or do you look deeper for enlightenment?

If you can't tell from this post, I fall under the latter category, which is probably why I'm so messed up in the head, insane in the membrane, or any other phrase that describes a crazy person.

Also, when you write, do you write the story first, or do you write with a specific message in mind?

Once again, I am the latter. But I'm not preachy... It's kind of a tricky thing to do.

Peace, Aimee


  1. Well, it's a tricky thing for me because I tend to fall somewhere in between. For example, my current WIP forces the protagonist to kill several million (yes that is accurate) people in an effort to rescue his girlfriend. If I'm the only one who thinks that's slightly imbalanced you'll have to excuse me while I go cry in a corner.

    But the thing is, the MC knows it's imbalanced, and he's constantly trying to find a way out. But duty ropes him in, blah blah and all that, and in the end he goes through with it. I suppose the message here is that people are never equal in others' eyes. Those they care about are worth infinitely more than those they don't care about. A personal friend is more of a "person" than a faceless goon, and can be treated as such. It's a terrible yet unavoidable reality, and that's kind of the message.

    The reason I fall between the two categories is because rather than make the reader comb the subtext for the message, I make the MC actively acknowledge what he's doing and realize how horrible it is--but still ultimately following his human nature.

    Please forgive the rant.

  2. I just write the story and leave the deeper message to my unconscious, or the collective unconscious, or my characters, or whoever is in charge of such things.

    Don't I have enough to worry about, grammar, conflict, passive voice, two dimensional characters, scene setting, adverbs, exclamation points, (you are only allowed ten for your entire life, you know)climax, resolution, the list goes on and on.

    And now you add deeper message? Sheesh!

    Ug, you made me use an exclamation point.

  3. That's alright Will. I rant all the time. :) I like what you said, "I make the MC actively acknowledge what he's doing... but still follow his human nature." It is so true to life even though it's incredibly unfortunate (although I personally think human nature is good).

    Mike, you're right that there are so many pieces of a story to deal with besides deeper meaning! But I guess I'm just one of those artsy types that tries to focus on my mission rather than all the moving pieces. Doesn't usually work my way though. :)

  4. I think that I shift from entertainment and enlightenment. Sometimes I watch a T.V. show just for the humor (which is the reason I still watch cartoons :p); while other times I watch/read something that has a meaning, but is still enjoyable in the same sense.

    It's the same thing when I write a story: I try to enlighten the reader with quirky jokes. However, like you I try not to be "preachy". :)

    Also, Miss Jodoin, I enjoyed your blog very much, so I would like to give you the Versatile Blogger Award. You can accept it by either going here (