Writing fiction can be a tricky thing at times. Trying to find the right balance of reality and make believe, not to mention finding an emotional connection with the reader so that they genuinely care about the characters is sometimes as precarious as toting TNT down a pot hole filled road. A story should be organic and flowing with very little if any plot outlines because the intelligent constant reader can always smell when they are reading fiction that is trying to beat them about the head with the author’s personal beliefs, ideals and self-imposed theme.
Themes are common throughout literature and are not a bad thing by any means, in fact they are tremendous when they work but are boring and repetitive when they do not. The worst mistake an author can make is to set out to write a book based solely on a particular theme. The story, the story, the story, the story, the story is the most important thing. I could write that for two more pages and still not emphasize it enough.
The story should be thought of as a living breathing thing that takes on a life of its own, an unpredictable wild animal, if you will. Forcing this unbridled creature into a theme is like cramming a grizzly bear into a tiny cage. It is unnatural, it is appalling and as a writer you should be ashamed of it. The best themes, just like the best stories are the ones that take root with an idea then grow and expand as the story unfolds. Most of the time these themes are not noticed by the writer until they are well into their story or are in the editing phase. These naturally occurring gems should be nurtured and embraced because they do not come around that often and they can spark a real emotional connection with the reader.
In all the manuscripts I have completed over the years I always had a starting place and an ending place in my head before I typed a single word. I think most of them are pretty good stories and there may be some involuntary theme in a few of them but I never really paid attention … at least not until now.
As I am nearing completion of book 3 from The Tesla Gate Trilogy I was suddenly struck with the realization of a theme common throughout the book, one that I was not consciously aware of as I wrote but is now as plain as the nose on my face. When I considered the origins of this theme it occurred to me that it is not only true on a macro level of man’s inhumanity to man but also on a micro level although maybe not as bloody and terrifying.
There are few if any people in history that woke up one day and said “I’m going to start being evil today”. At man’s heart we genuinely want to do the right thing and our actions are guided by what we believe to be the right thing. Right and wrong are generally in the eye of the beholder and what affects our interpretation of these two choices is ignorance and arrogance. Ignorance is typically fostered through generations of racism, generations of hard core religious teachings or generations of upper class snobbery … just to name a few.
There are also some people who embrace their ignorance because of an inferiority complex and feel it is right to abuse the ones they have called friend, colleague, co-worker or partner if it suits their needs. Even though I tended to focus more on the ‘heavy hitters’ in book 3, these are the ones I see most frequently in day to day life and quite frankly they can be every bit as disgusting. While they may not be ripping out hearts because it is what their god wants them to do, they mangle the emotions and the souls of those that cross their paths for their own selfish benefit.
Yes, the offenses to humanity are radically different and I would not presume to put a simple run of the mill narcissist on the same level as a Hitler, I am not ignorant to the differences there. But the thing is, their seed of behavior always comes from the same place … the ignorance of their own ideals. Perhaps it is upbringing, perhaps it is culture or perhaps it is religion. But I think most commonly it comes from a lack of self-worth, a deep feeling of inferiority which fuels a deep ceded jealousy of anyone they perceive to be a threat to their own self-importance. They have no problem using others under the guise of friendship to get what they want, but then will discard that person when their objective is complete. Many people would describe this as an evil act but more directly I think it is a clear demonstration of ignorance, ignorance of the definition of friendship and loyalty. In their minds it is a means to an end, a perfectly acceptable act to satisfy their own desires and thus the satisfaction breeds arrogance which makes the ignorance that much more difficult to overcome.
These people generally become lost in their arrogance and have little hope of change outside of some life changing event, but even that does not always work. The truly ignorant and arrogant will use that event to further their own agenda, because sympathy is a powerful tool in the hands of the ignorant arrogant narcissist.
Personal relationships are next to impossible for these people and they end up living a hollow, empty life with friends that have the same goals of using others. Karma hits these people hard in that way but the crazy thing is they don’t realize it because the ignorant arrogance won’t allow them to.
I focused my attention in book 3 on the truly despicable people in the world, the murderers, rapists, molesters and genocidal maniacs. They are indeed very different from the everyday narcissist but I believe the origins to be very similar. It is evil to treat your fellow man as a means to an end just as it is evil to murder people in the name of religion or anti-Semitism, but they are two very, very different offenses. I do not believe man to be inherently evil, I believe man commits evil acts due to their own ignorance and continues their behavior due to the arrogance that quickly arises from their actions.
Man was given a rule, a very simple rule to live by thousands of years ago. Regardless of your religious beliefs it is the best tool for common sense I have ever seen, and is an instant cure to the ignorance that plagues so many on our planet today.
“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
There is always time for redemption, you just have to want it, overcome your ignorance and act on it. But nobody can help them unless they want to help themselves. I could write a book on the examples of how man’s ignorance affects their fellow human beings but I think I will stick to writing fiction. Sometimes answers can be found there too.
I guess another theme of book 3 is probably redemption, but we won’t go into that here. The trilogy will be starting on July 10 and it will be quite a ride!