Meaning and subtext. Well, hell, why not take a shot at it today? I’m behind on posts, so I have to get one or two prepped and scheduled if I want to actually stay ahead of the game. And, yes, that means the once huge backlog I had (about two weeks’ worth of posts that were stacked up and scheduled) is officially gone.
I got sidetracked by…well…the real world.
Damned real world.
LEAVE ME ALONE, REALITY!!
You know that old MythBusters saying? Yeah, that’s me…
Err, sorry…lost the thread for a minute there. Back to the point.
Wrath & Tears was a story about corruption and revenge and, most of all, love. But – yep, always a but – that wasn’t what it was about. It was about suicide. More specifically, it was about the despair and pain that lead to the act.
It was about a friendship and a love that, in the end, weren’t enough to save a life.
I’ve lived that. I’ve been in Connor’s shoes. What Wrath was about was both easy for me, and was the hardest thing in the world.
Silence is different. Where Wrath was external – about something outside of Connor (and me) – Silence is very much internal. It is about Connor’s own despair and survivor’s guilt. More than that: it is about the search for some form of faith and meaning in life, both for Connor and for me.
It comes down to a “quest” to justify and fulfill the sense that life is meant to be…more.
How do I do that?
The simple answer is: I lose the inhibitions. I pour myself, emotionally as much as mentally, into the writing.
But that answer is trite and facile.
The reality is that I have to think and plan. Any good story has meaning and subtext. It may or may not be obvious, but I guarantee you: if you remember a book (or play or movie…) it said something to you.
But when said story gets preachy, or – worse, by far – self-indulgent? The journey from memorable to shitty happens at Warp 9. I try to very much keep that in mind. When I plan out the scenes, I (try to) ration out the emotion and subtext as much as I do backstory and exposition.
It ain’t always easy. Err, it ain’t ever easy, to be honest. But then again, that’s why writers get paid the…err, let’s just stop that line of thought right now. The damned real world is still lurking, in spite of my best efforts to ignore it…
When you get right down to it, hitting the right tone and level of subtext with Silence is a real challenge for me. In some ways I’m not quite as openly invested as I was with Wrath: the memories of those suicides that touched me personally are very real, and are in their own way concrete and “quantifiable.”
In other ways, however, I am far more invested in Silence: the emotions and thoughts are mine, which makes them rather more powerful, if somewhat nebulous and hard to “use” on an intellectual level.
Not to mention the fact that I have to take a plot about greed and corruption* and factional/corporate politics and weave it on top of a story about guilt and pain and the quest for meaning…
*Err, yes, that is indeed a focus for all of Connor’s stories…
Maybe I should switch to decaf for this one.