It has long been debated, on Holy Worlds and beyond, whether one ought to point explicitly to God through one's writing. Personally, because of how my life has progressed and how I view my writing, I have trouble keeping a direct connection to God out of my writing. I never defined it as preachy because I never saw myself as the kind of author who would have heroes who gain magical powers to fight off demons of selfishness or specifically mention that every character who had a swearing habit and did not repent would surely suffer in the afterlife.
A few months ago I assigned my students a story analysis worksheet in which they would identify the theme of a story through various stages of conflict, the repeating phrases, what characters win and lose, and how the hero finds redemption. Grading those worksheets blew all of my delusions of subtly as well and thoroughly out of the water as the whale did Jonah in the Veggie Tales movie.
The examples that had me facepalming over myself were The Lion King and Finding Nemo. The Lion King communicates the dangers of irresponsibility through painted scenery and two arguments about a lack of food. Neither of them ever say that Scar is failing because he is irresponsible or too demanding. They simply say that he is not like Mufasa. When Simba learns the balance of forgiveness, self-worth, and responsibility with the help of some clouds and a mandrill who never states anything plainly, he returns home to protect his people and is immediately mistaken for Mufasa. The family resemblance is the primary reason, but the thematic reason is that he is emulating the same traits that made his father a great king.
Finding Nemo had moments where it was more obvious. "Just keep swimming" is a metaphor to those of us who are not fish, but it is rather easy to tell what it means. Still, we only learn not to judge a book by its cover when we meet sharks, an angler fish, a trench, and Squishy. The more carefree fish is one of few who can read, and not all clown fish are funny (but they should let loose a little). "Just keep swimming" becomes more than a cheerful little ditty when it is adopted by a school of fish caught in a net rather than forgetful Dory. The seagulls scream "Mine!" and have nothing to show for it, while sea turtles lives to be more than one hundred and fifty because they go with the flow.
I think nowadays, with so many people expecting a theme, we are more afraid of subtlety than we used to be. Look at how constantly Disney needed to mention that "you can't marry a man you just met" with Frozen and have the themes explained and stated by the characters. Not that Frozen wasn't good int its own right, but it did lose some of the charm of previous films because it stated everything so plainly. Think of how much people enjoy books such as Harry Potter because they can read through it again and again to find a new theme or a hidden wink to the dominant one.
We all work in words. For me, that often makes me tempted to state myself plainly in dialogue because my themes excite me. The first draft of my novel if fraught with pitfalls of moral ideals rather than images of contrasting environments. Sometimes my subtlety goes over my readers' heads, but the thing is not to let that stop me from weaving a tapestry rather than painting a billboard. A writer can still say as much through a landscape as a painter, and words are ours to master in desolate scrub lands, and in eager seagulls.
You can't spell grin without ̶gRIN
Words are my ̶bread and ̶butter.
Haud Retene Haud Reverte
All resemblance to persons, people, friends, relatives, quotes, cultures, artificial intelligences, inside jokes, pets, unclaimed personalities, sentient objects, extra-terrestrials, inter-terrestrials, and draperies living, dead, undead, or comatose in any of my work are purely coincidental, incidental, circumstantial, inadvertent, unplanned, unforeseen, and unintentional. There's seriously no way I was referring to you. Honest.
The story so far:
Birthright: Eleventh chapter pending. 28280 words.
Heritage: First chapter drafted.
Legacy: Character and plot development stage.
Get a feel for the land. Visit Lor-Amar today!
Other novels on the brain:
Seven Arts Story
The Queen's Knave
All Librarians Are Secret Agents