The Value of Values in Writing

In light of the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, last Friday, I can’t help but think deep thoughts, and long to comfort others. Is there more to life than just a few shorts years? I believe yes. It is one of the main reasons I write.

I am a fool in society’s eyes when I believe we should aim for the goals of honor and truth and compassion? As I read comments about the news articles concerning the shooting, one reader  ranted how it was just a person making a bad choice, that those who called it evil are “blaming the boogie man” for the tragedy. I sat up at that, since I had earlier named it as evil. It does make me wonder whether this person believes in love and compassion, equally abstract but real. I can hear him saying, “quit giving credit to anything higher for any good things; we made our eyes to see and minds to think and choose and our muscles to walk and put the sun in the sky…” Ah, the stark differences between atheists and Christians.

We cannot control natural disasters. We cannot control what others do. But we can control what we do — how we act, how we react. We writers are taught to get our main characters into the deepest trouble we can imagine, and then have them struggle to break out of it (happy ending) or fail (tragedy). Life is made up of people making choices — honorable, neutral, or evil. In the face of unthinkable disasters, can we (or our characters) choose the value of doing what is right? Will our characters be true heroes or merely people who make good or bad choices? Think of an event, natural or human, to whip at your characters, and then sit back at your keyboard and see how they react.

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One thought on “The Value of Values in Writing

  1. Love this, Sandy. If we want to have something of value, we have to actually have values first. (And humility, too. Sometimes we humans get a bit uppity, thinking we control more than we do….)

    Literarily speaking, to me, a character with no sense of values for whom everything is relative is a sort of boring character. If there are no absolutes in the world, then who cares about a character’s choices? If it’s all relative, then what does that character’s choice actually change? Because I want to read about change and growth, about a character overcoming something really hard. Yes, *people* are a mix of good and bad, and some situations are complicated–but there’s still got to be something True in that world to measure things against, or there’s nothing to anchor the meaning of the MC’s choices to.

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