The Importance of Human Life in Story

Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of Twilight from the perspective of how it has been criticized for some bad things that are featured in the book. However, what I forgot to mention was how there was a theme that resonated throughout the book series, which was the importance of human life. When you really think about it that is the most important aspect that we as writers can bring to our writing is how important life can be. Let’s go back to looking at my favorite example that I have mentioned on here several times, The Hunger Games. Yes, as much as the book mentions death, there is still deep down the underlying theme that life is important. This comes up in the second book when Katniss is touring the other districts and she brings up Rue, who reminded her of her sister, Primrose. The thing that we find is how tragic her death was how Katniss is reminded of it again and again how Rue’s life was cut short and what could have been for Rue.

Granted, that is not a happy example of how important life is, but when you think about some of the other books that we read, like Charlotte’s Web. Fern really brings up in the first few pages that life is precious and that if she was a runt her family would not have disregarded like her father was going to do with the pig, who would become Wilbur.

But as much as these examples, show the importance of human life, we as authors can show the same through our characters. Yes, we have death in our stories, but at the same time, we need to show the balance of how life is important too and all the great things that come from living. Think back to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, yes, Charlie Bucket’s life was doom and gloom but once he entered the chocolate factory he got to experience the wonder that was the factory. The same can be said of The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy enters Oz and sees Muchkin City for the first time or even the Emerald City for that matter. These are wonders that they got to experience in their lives. I’m not taking away from Alice, but we did not find the same wonder that was explained to the reader as we did with Charlie or Dorothy for that matter.

That’s one thing that we need to do as readers, which is to show the wonder that can found in fiction let alone fantasy. As much as I like and love Game of Thrones or The Hunger Games, there is still something that can be said when a world can take a hold of you and show you the wonder that can make your imagination soar and show that life can be wonderful once you find that bit of magic.

How should we as writers think about our Novels?

Lately, as I’ve been working on the Raven Prophecy, some ideas have come to mind about what sort of posts should I write on here, and this has been one that has been toying in the back of my mind. When we sit down to write, we think about what words we should use or how a character might say something at a current moment, but we should be thinking more deeply about our work. I’m saying that our novel should be political but thinking about how our work will be analyzed in the future. Furthermore, how do we add depth to our writing and add those hidden meanings?

If you want a great example of this, look at Wicked by Gregory Macguire. Yes, Wicked in its soul is an adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, but when you really start to read the book or even the series you start to notice that the Wicked series is heavily political. This Oz is hugely political and the biggest point of contention in this Oz is the idea of Animals versus animals. Animals are the ones that can talk, such as is the case with the Couderly Lion. The other more latter, animals are the ones that don’t talk. In the heart of this political contention is the point that Animals are being treated just like regular animals, and furthermore, due to this fact, a civil war of such is brewing against the Wizard of Oz. Now you can take this can compare it to other times when civil liberties have been discriminated against other races. This is a bigger meaning that has been adding to the subtext of a novel.

How do we do this as writers? Very carefully, for we can make it a subpoint or a main point of the book. It is the course of the novel the point is there and it either helps drive the character on the actions that he/she will take or it will be a small driving force for the character. A great example of this is the Hunger Games. When looking at the Hunger Games Katniss main driving force is to protect Prim, however, as we go further into the books we realize that the there is a war brewing within the smaller districts against President Snow and the bigger, more powerful districts. Katniss sees that Snow is a threat to her and as she goes on the victory tour to the other districts she starts to notice the seeds of the war and destruction. But still, one thing is her main driving force, and that is to protect her sister, Prim. Yes, she becomes a symbol for the war but she never really wanted it but she becomes it in order to end Snow’s reign, but when she sees that the seeds of what Snow started will continue with the new regime she puts a stop to it by shooting it with an arrow. But of course, this is when her main driving force is no longer there and the only thing that she has left is to become a tool for the war.

Yes, we should tell stories, but when we add subplots to our stories we are giving them both depth and life. I’m not saying that you have to be political unless that is what your story needs but just add a bit more to it to give it flavor. If you want another great example of this you can use a tool, like the ring of power in the Lord of the Rings. The ring is not only a magic ring, but it can be seen as a drug. A good, for nothing drug. It is an addiction that must be destroyed by fire. The ring represents the thing that everyone wants, it can also be looked as money and power, but deep down when you have tasted that addiction, you want more and you keep going back for more. In the case of the ring, it allows the holder of the ring to have a naturally long life, furthermore, it also makes the holder of the ring a target for the dark lord. There are so many ways that you can look at the ring but that is what adds depth to the story.

I say look at your writing and look at how you can add depth and subplots to your story to make it breathe and make your readers think. That should be how we look at our writing, our novels, and the stories that we tell.