It’s also been reality since people started writing.
… so maybe I was joking about the authors being evil. This isn’t a conspiracy theory blog after all. Even if we enjoy torturing readers and smashing their hopes at the last second, I so far haven’t come across any authors who actually want to destroy the world. However, authors do have an almost disturbing amount of control over what we think and do. Don’t believe me? Keep reading!
Some people love pretending that they’re purely logical. They’ll act like Sherlock Holmes, never getting riled up, often acting emotionless and impassive. Other people are the drama queen of drama queens. They get emotional at the slightest hint of anything out of the ordinary, always jumping between tears and shouts of joy.
The truth is, however, we human beings are creatures of both logic and emotion. We have both our heart and our head to help make our decisions. We have essays, speeches, how-to books, and other non-fiction to please and influence our logical side; and we have fantasy, science fiction, crime, and all other fiction to please and influence our emotional side. Yet while we may think that only non-fiction is teaching us and influencing what we think, both non-fiction and its far more interesting sibling fiction influence what we think.
Authors cater to your emotions through their writing.
This makes us dangerous.
Not dangerous as in “I have a sword and awesome magic powers, so do what I tell you to do or else” but dangerous because we can change what you think without you even realizing what we’re doing. Now that I’ve told you, you’re probably going to notice it a bit more, yet it’s still there, in every book that you read. The main character will go through a character arc, starting with one belief and ending with another one. Whatever the character arc has to deal with is the theme of the story.
These themes can be pretty much anything. True love, courage, faith, global warming (if you want to be all ‘modern’), morality, or anything else that the author feels moved to write about. If done poorly, you’ll end up with a preachy novel that shoves its message in your face. When done well, you’ll end up with a beautiful work of moving and inspiring literature. Left out completely, you get fluff fiction.
When reading, we need to be aware of these themes and how they’re influencing us. While reading a book or watching a movie, look for what the protagonist is struggling with emotionally, and what they decide upon as the answer to their problem. Then ask yourself if you agree with their conclusion.
This will allow you to both see what the book is teaching you, and decide whether you agree with it. Sometimes you will, and sometimes you won’t. I’ve come across both situations while reading, both in wonderful stories.
Don’t Stop Reading!!
Just because you can be taught and influenced through reading doesn’t mean that you should stop. Books are an incredible way to learn valuable life lessons, see other peoples’ perspectives on life, and (obviously) learn about really awesome magic systems.
However, when reading, we need to pick books that will teach us valuable lessons, no matter what genre. Just as you wouldn’t read a non-fiction book that teaches you nothing valuable or relevant to your life, you shouldn’t read fiction that isn’t written to both delight and instruct. This means to stay away from fluff fiction.
It doesn’t, however, mean that every book you have to read needs to be a super deep and desperate feeling story by long-dead authors. Plenty of modern day authors put themes into their stories. Brandon Sanderson, Jeri Massi, and J.R.R. Tolkien (okay, okay, I know he’s dead, but he’s also one of my favorite authors) are all wonderful authors who write varied, interesting, and meaningful books. I’d highly recommend checking out some of their books, whether online or at your local library.
Well, there you go! Another blog post finished. Until next time,