1. I just finished up reading James Scott Bell’s Conflict and Suspense, and he touches on this. All books should have a theme, and that theme is what sticks with you afterward and makes you think.

    He had some great examples from a wide array of books, and one was from a hard-boiled detective novel, of all things. The detective is getting ready to save his secretary from the bad guys, and he’s standing outside the door with a machine gun, pondering if this makes him as bad as them. Then he decides that no, he has to be hardened and soulless to take out the bad guys, so other people can live the lives he can’t have. He’s the one standing between them and bad guys. So he goes in and blows the bad guys away. For a hard boiled detective novel, I thought that was a pretty good moral.

    In all stories, there comes a point when the hero must dig deep and figure out what he’s fighting for. That’s the real meat of a story and it gives us that little thrill. That’s the point of the whole novel. Sometimes it’s really good and sometimes it’s not, and books live or die by that character’s choice.

    Diana Wynne Jones just died, and she wasn’t saved. I read Reflections, a collection of her essays on writing, and quite a few anecdotes from her bizarre childhood. Getting to the end was heartbreaking, because she never reached a point where she could look back and say, “God meant it for good.”

    Even though her characters reach that point in some of her books.

    • notleia says:

      Really? Diana Wynne Jones just died? I kinda feel bad that I haven’t read her books, just saw the Miyazaki interpretation of “Howl’s Moving Castle,” which I did like, but was apparently much different than the book.

      • It’s been over a year ago now, but it still seems really recent to me. I feel like I’ve lost a friend. I found her through the Howl’s Moving Castle movie, too. Then the book was so much better! All of her books are good, and all libraries have a couple. I just reread Archer’s Goon and laughed all the way through. I also recommend the Lives of Christopher Chant, and Dogsbody. Those are my top favorites, but you can start anywhere.

  2. Kristen G. Johnson says:

    Thank you for this reminder! Very needed right now in my writing life (and the rest of life too.) Thanks

  3. Greg Clardy says:

    Carpe Diem

What do you think?