Don’t Overload the Bridge

By Michael

Every good writer is burning to say something, and fiction writers are no exception. Though their job is to tell a story well, they often have a message they want to get across too.

Many seasoned fiction writers would say, “Don’t do it!” Concentrate on your story. Let your characters do what comes naturally to them, and don’t turn them into puppets for your beliefs. I try to take that advice, but I can’t always do it. The message is often what excites me about writing the story.

If you’re thinking about how to squeeze your message into your story, imagine a ravine. A deep, flooding ravine. You have to get your readers across it.

So, you build a bridge. You create believable settings and characters, and let them do believable things. You look at your story, and ask others to look at your story, with the question, “Does this ring true?”

Then, you load up your readers into a bus to drive them across the bridge.

Oh, and you also load up your message, your cargo, into the storage area under the bus.

Will your bridge stand the strain? Have you built it strong enough and sturdy enough to hold up under the weight of your profound message to the world? Will the bus make it over without crashing through?

If not, build the bridge again. Don’t let your readers try to cross it until you’ve made it ready for them. The heavier the message, the stronger the story has to be. The characters need to be so believable, the plot so engrossing, that your readers won’t worry that the cargo you’ve stashed underneath their feet is going to put them into the bottom of the ravine.

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3 Responses to “Don’t Overload the Bridge”

  • Thorn

    Good advice here. I *always* end up dumping a novel if it’s too obviously trying to teach me something.

  • Krissy

    Well put.

  • Nathaniel

    I don’t mind a lesson inside of a book. I just want the lesson to be apparent when I’m done reading. When I’m looking at the lesson in the face at the middle of the book, then it’s no good.
    If I must realize the lesson in the middle of the book, let it ring in the deeper chords of my person. Give me something to think about later.

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