Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What do you hope to accomplish?

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."
Ben Franklin

I'm reading a book called, "Fablehaven" right now. It's the fourth book in a series by Brandon Mull, who happens to be an LDS author. I believe it's actually a middle grade book, though its more than four hundred pages and could easily appeal to older teens and adults. It's a fun action packed adventure with battles of good versus evil. There's nothing overtly religious or preachy about it; it's just good entertainment where the good guys win. Its the kind of book that I want to write.

I contrast that with another book I read last week (I won't mention the name), but it was a young adult fantasy that had a message of promiscuity and radical feminism. It left me feeling frustrated and upset that this is the message deemed appropriate for young impressionable teens. It also reinforced my belief that we can make a difference through our stories simply by offering an alternative to that kind of entertainment.

I don't imagine that anything I write will change the world. But I do hope that I will contribute to entertainment industry in a positive, uplifting way. I hope that I will write the things that I would want my children to read. The things that put messages of honor and integrity into their minds while fascinating and entertaining them. It's a modest goal, but one I hope will have an impact in some small way.

I also hope that my children will be influenced in a positive way by my desire to pursue a goal and develop a talent. I hope they will see that it is possible to find success in your chosen endeavors while maintaining your standards. And that they will see the joy that comes from exercising our creativity and also working hard. If my writing only influences them then it will have been well worth it.

What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?


  1. I hope to help others find their inner creativite genious. My motto is "Everyone is Creative!" I want to show them how, build confidence and inspire!

  2. Mary, I love that! And I agree with you. I think that's a wonderful goal.

  3. Yes, I have the same goals as you, Candi. I just hope that I can create strong characters for youth to emulate. And I love that my kids can see me pursuing my dreams. I hope they will realize that anything is possible.

  4. You will Candi, you will! I know it! And um, I'm all about changing the world! I can't wait! Jenni

  5. I wish I had the same goals as you all. What I hope to show comes more from what I'm doing, then what words I'm putting on paper. I want my children to ultimately learn that dreams don't have to end with childhood, and that not all dreams have to have dollar signs at the end of them to be viable.

  6. Great question, Candice!

    I'm mildly ashamed to admit that I haven't ever really thought about using my writinng to make a positive impact. I mean, I would totally love that, but the true reason I started writing, and the goals I have as a writer are as simple as creating the worlds of my imagination and sharing them with others.

  7. Kasie, Well you got your non-reader reading and writing, so obviously your writing is already having an impact.

    Jenni- Little by little we can make the world a better place. NO doubt about it.

    Shanti- You definitely do share one of my goals, though you stated it much more eloquently than I could. I would want my children to learn that same lesson.

    Renee, We all have to gain some personal fulfillment out of this or we wouldn't do it, and we definitely wouldn't keep doing it! I think sharing the amazing worlds that are constantly expanding in our heads is very worthwhile! I think I should have added personal growth, and sanity to my list of things I hope to gain from writing.

  8. I have pretty much the same goals as you. I want to provide an uplifting story, while still showing the dark side at the same time. Because you have the dark to let the light shine through. So many LDS readers see something in a book written by an LDS author and say things like, "I can't believe she put that in there. She should be a better example." This is a hard balancing act for us as LDS writers. We have to be true to our characters as well as ourselves. Let's be honest, the bad guy in our stories aren't going to say, "Ah shucks" when something goes wrong. They're going to be ugly and mean. If children are our audience I think we can get away without using bad words, but it would be harder in an adult book. I think I would probably do something like...@#@#@ I don't really know how to approach this problem in the best manner. What do you guys think?

  9. There is absolutely nothing for me to think on this matter. When it comes to creating a wonderful story even with evil characters I don't ever, ever think the author should compromise her values to write what a character wants us to write. I make a deal with them. It's the only time I draw the line. I say something similiar to this, "Look, buddy. You asked me to write your story ME. You know how I feel about using that situation or those words so you and I will either A) revamp and rewrite the scene to a mutual agreement or B) you find someone else to tell your story, because it won't be me."

    I feel if at any time I'm writing a scene I'm not comfortable with and I can't rewrite it to work with the story and still be challenging enough to keep readers hooked without upsetting my morals/beliefs then I'm not a good enough writer anyway. I personally LOVE the challenge of coming up with alternative solutions to problems. My favorite so far is from The Northanger Affect. Where after much dilberation and battle of wills Jaden and I finally came to terms with this (PS the present tense are italicized in the MS as thoughts):

    Jaden chuckled as he pulled himself out of the chair and stalked over to my bed—his dark eyes glittered dangerously. All the sudden I found myself wishing I wasn’t alone. He was a werewolf after all and everyone knew their moods changed extremely fast. He prowled right up to me and leaned over.
    “Yes, you fainted.” His eyes hungrily devoured my face and I gulped. There was something seriously addictive about danger—I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was. “You’re really lucky I like you, because I could’ve eaten you right then on the street.”
    “R-really?” My eyes were huge.
    Jaden grinned his slow sexy smile and leaned farther down. I sunk into my pillows. Do something! Scream! Bite! Push! Something! Why in the world are you frozen? Only vampires are frozen! That did it. Just as I opened my mouth to scream Jaden covered it with his.
    Oh my gosh! About ten rapid heartbeats pounded before he released me.
    “Got it,” he whispered above my lips. “I told you I’d kiss you again.”
    “Urgh!” I growled.
    He grinned, still hanging above me. “And you didn’t even push me away.”
    I was pushing now. But he was ignoring me. He lowered the scant few inches to kiss me once more, this time I was prepared. With an evil gleam I bit him. Hard.
    “Holy—!” The slew of foul language that escaped from Jaden’s mouth as he jerked away from me would’ve made a sailor blush. I wasn’t a sailor. My face stayed stone cold. In fact, I was ticked. I was more than ticked. This was my turn. I invited him up to my room to discuss things on my terms.
    What in world does that idiot think he’s doing trying to kiss me in my bed!? If my daddy were here Jaden Black would’ve been thrown outside on his head—werewolf or not. Boys weren’t allowed within a ten foot radius of our bedrooms at home. Now I know why! The jerk!
    “Are you through?” I smiled my short tight smile at him.
    “Holy mother of Pete’s sake!” He made an attempt to curb his temper as he stomped around covering his mouth with his hand. “What’d you do that for, huh?”
    “That was only your bottom lip. Come near me again and I’ll bite your other one,” I stated calmly.

  10. Exactly Jenni! I mean you had sexual tension and swear words without either one ruling your story! This is what I'm talking about. It's still in there. Because your character was strongly against both you were able to show it in the right light. But what about a character that struggles with both, or doesn't have an opinion, do we give them an opinion that coincides with our values? Do we ignore the characters struggle with evil temptation because it goes against our ideal values? Or are we truthful? When I was in high school, people swore around me. It didn't mean I did or that I agreed with it, but that was the environment. Do I ignore the environment and tell a sugar coated story? See what I'm saying?


    Here's an article on exactly what I'm talking about. And I think Jenni's example is a good option for us. There are so many ways to show evil without succumbing to it. I'm still trying to figure it out. My problem right now is that my story is still too neutral. It needs more darkness, I just have to come to terms with how much.

  12. Nikki- That's a tough question. You are right that there is evil and our characters need to fight it. And sometimes we have to show that evil, or the results of it. And there definitely is an age appropriate way of doing that. I mean I let my four-year-old watch Disney's Robinhood with arrow slinging and sword fighting, but I would never let him watch Lord of the Rings at this age. Yet I personally thing Lord of the Rings is an amazing story of good versus evil written by a very religious man.

    I also think of books like "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe." C.S. Lewis is one of my heroes as well as one of my favorite authors. I think he writes the epitome of meaningful fantasy. As a child I loved his book, they never taught me anything but good, but yet he didn't shrink away from showing that there was evil out there and that it needed to be combated.

    So really the question is how to best go about it. This is such a personal decision. It's like asking someone what's okay to read and watch. You'll get a different answer from everyone with a few distinct boundaries that we might all agree on.

    My personal decision is that I don't want to write anything that might influence someone to say or do something wrong. This might simply affect the words I choose to let my characters say, but in a broader sense I think about how am I portraying darkness. Am I portraying it as inviting and fun, or am I portraying it as evil? And how am I portraying goodness? This is just as important. I want my hero or heroin to really be a good guy. That's not to say they can't make mistakes, but they have to learn from those mistakes.

    I'm annoyed when there is a lot of swearing or graphic descriptions of violence or sex in a book or movie. I try to avoid it when I can, but I'm disturbed when a book or movie portrays darkness and evil as appealing or inviting. There could very easily be a book or movie that doesn't have swearing in it that is far more damaging or twisted than one that does. Sometimes I think a romantic comedy could be more damaging than a horror movie. Romantic Comedies often portray promiscuity and risky behavior as desireable and without consequences. Whereas a horror movie at least make evil scary.

    I'm not trying to say we should writing gruesome horror, or not writing romantic comedies (*ahem* I'm writing one right now). :) But I'm just trying to make the point that there are no simple rules, but there are probably a few boundaries that we might all agree on in this forum. What degree we choose to show evil is a fine line between having something to contrast the good with and delving into something we shouldn't, and I have a hard time making that decision for my own stories. I definitely wouldn't want to be responsible for making it for someone else.

  13. I just showed you what I would do. Obviously Jaden isn't a member and neither is Claire for that matter. did I hide the fact that Jaden swore? No. I just didn't SPELL it out. You can still write a great book, an AMAZING book without actually writing the words that can offend our Father in Heaven. Anyway, this isn't meant to be something that will change my mind. It's my opinion and something i believe strongly in. Something i know, the Lord is guiding me with as I write my own stories. I will and ALWAYS will be afraid of offending the Lord or my Father in Heaven especially when i need His help so much. And because I feel He is having me write books that show that you don't have to it spell out to get your point across. ever. So I guess, in a sense, I really am hoping to change the world one book at a time. LOL! Which is the whole reason I formed the blog, that and the Lord asked me to! LOL!

    As to the article... Holy Cow that's long! But, I would much rather have read what one of the prophets thought of this, than a LDS fiction author, no matter how great he is.

  14. It's good to hear how other people approach it. It is about accomplishing a feel good story, but without overcoming some kind of evil, the good feeling isn't as satisfying. What do other people think? (I like discussions, let's hear all sides)

  15. When I say, "I try to avoid it when I can," I mean reading it and watching it. I don't write those things. :) Just thought I would clarify in case you all thought I write graphic sex in my books. LOL! I don't :).

  16. I think Card has a great point in the article about the three kinds of evil in fiction.

    Evil depicted in fiction.

    Evil advocated by fiction.

    Evil enacted by fiction.

    Depicting is the safe spot that I'm aiming for.

    I just read a book about a teenage boy that is a diagnosed sociopath. A large part of the story is about his internal conflict of good vs. evil and how he sets rules for himself to avoid becoming a serial killer.

    It is intensely dark, but it never forgets the difference between good and evil. There is even a point in the book where the demon, who is killing people in this boys town, seems to have more humanity than the boy himself does, and the boy recognizes it and thinks about it. It is fascinating.

    It is a perfect depiction of being able to explore good vs. evil without ever making it appear that evil is good. It is also an awesome example of how to write a believable and fascinating villain. It is Dan Wells' book "I am not a serial killer"

  17. I've thought a lot about writing to influence others... to touch people, to inspire people. I love public speaking and think writing may be a good way to create a platform, so that I may have more opportunities to speak. But mostly I just write to keep the voices inside my head quiet. :)

    Actually I came here today looking for someone to understand... I just finished my manuscript. Big sigh. It's done. I've fielded it out to several friends and associates that I think will be honest and constructive in their feedback. And now I'm just waiting. I feel like I've asked someone to the prom and I'm waiting to here back. Do these people not realize that it's my heart and soul inside that 250 pages? That they need to stop everything in life and sit down and read from beginning to end so that they can tell me what they think? Even if they don't want to go to the prom with me, knowing is better than this openended, my soul is literally on the chopping block feeling that I've got right now!!

    I'm new at this. I've never really opened myself up for criticism like this - never written anything and then purposefully put it in to the hands of someone that wasn't offering a grade in an English class.

    Someone tell me they understand how totally vulnerable I feel right now. I'm not getting much sympathy from the nonwriting corners of my universe... :)

  18. I totally get you Mommy J! I so want everyone to read my stories right away, so much so, that I don't wait till I finish my book. No, I send each chapter one at a time to my faithful readers! Who I then call and hound until they have read it! But I also have been the reciever of stories, and haven't gotten back to the writer very quickly (Sorry, Shanti,& Sugoi, I really am going to catch up with you stories!!) Good Luck Mommy J. The first critiques are the hardest. But it won't take long before you start telling your friends to quit being nice and to tell you the truth! LOL!

  19. Eeeh! How crazily exciting for you! We have all been there done that--multiple times! It is the scariest, coolest thing EVER!!! Let us know if you need anything. Especially once you've gotten these critiques back and make changes. i'd be more than happy to help out if I can. I've only been doing this a year, but the stuff i would've never gotten to where I am without the help of other people. So many wonderful people the Lord put in my path at the right time. That's why this blog was formed anyway, to help aspiring authors. You can contact me on from my blog or shoot an comment here and it always goes to my inbox. Good luck! We're all rooting for you! And yeah, BTW we so know what it's like to have a lot of non writer friends who just don't get our madness! LOL! Jenni

  20. Jenn- Perfectly said. You always have such insightful comments.

    Mommy J- First off a big congratulations to you for finishing!! That is a huge accomplishment. Secondly, I definitely hear you. The first time I submitted my stuff to a writers group I was terrified. But it definitely gets easier. I would just say that you should make sure that you are giving you work to other writers, not just readers. Both have their place, but other writers understand what it's like to be in the position of having their work read. I also find other writers give the best critique. A reader may be able to tell you what they did and didn't write, but another writer will be able to tell you why they didn't like it more often.

    Hang in there. I know it's scary and exciting. I'm almost ready to send out an MS and it's making me nervous thinking about it. :)

  21. LOL! that should say with they did or didn't LIKE, not write. ;)

  22. I was thinking a lot about this very subject this morning. I recently read a book that I was REALLY enjoying. I was so eager to see how it ended. About three-quarters of the way through the book the MC lost her virginity. And I understand that this happening propelled the story forward. However, it was HOW it was written. It was very sensational. Just...gross. It left my spirit feeling sullied and heavy. I shut the book and left it forever. I didn't care how it ended anymore.

  23. Mommy J--so been there. I remember looking at my husband close to tears, saying, "If you thought it was any good, you would drop everything and read it in one sitting." He was like, "Kasie, I'm so sorry. I really like it. I didn't understand that you wanted me to swallow it whole." I've chilled out since then. But it's like leaving your children with babysitters, it is always in the back of your mind, even when you've done it a lot. The first time though, wow, the first time was hard. So, hang in there. I promise it gets easier. And it is the ONLY way you will grow as a writer. Because you need others to see what you can't.

  24. LOL, Kasie - That happened to me the first time my husband fell asleep while I was reading him my first chapter. I didn't let him read anything for a VERY LONG TIME! I also have chilled out, and realized that his advice is usually the best I can get because he can't pretend. He can't lie to me. So I get honesty. That is what we want as writers anyway, right? right?? LOL!



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