Ask a Question, But Never Answer It — #MFRWauthor

It’s week 28 of the MFRWauthor 52-Week Blog Challenge, and this week’s prompt is it’s a Life Lessons in My Books. I love this topic, I just wish I had more time to work on it. With a house still full of grandkids and half a dozen projects in various stages, I’m having a tough time carving blogging time out of the schedule.

Years ago, long before I published a single word, I read a book called If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland. That book was a life-changer for me for many reasons. One of them was her section on writing honestly. The entire quote is quite long, so I’m including only a snippet here:

635190If you want to say that Fascism is terrible, don’t write a novel to prove it, for readers will feel: “These are not real people in this book, but a lot of conversing types, pushed about to prove that Fascism is terrible.” No, it would be more effective, instead of the novel, to write straight, honest exposition, and tell just why Fascism is terrible. For in fiction, Chekhov said, you can pose a question (about poverty, morality, or whatever it is) but you must not answer it. As soon as you answer it, the readers know you are lying, i.e., forcing your characters to prove something.

What Ueland says about honesty in writing and Chekov’s wisdom on the subect made an immediate and profound impact on me, and I’ve tried to write that way in every book I’ve published. I try not to tell readers how to feel or what to think, but to explore all sides of a question to the best of my ability and let readers decide for themselves how they feel and what they think.

Heart 01You’ll never find a book of mine in which I’ve intentionally tried to tell you that love conquers all, but you will find books in which I ask whether love really can conquer all. You’ll find books in which I ask whether a person’s obligation to another is more important than their obligations to themselves. I won’t try to tell you that you must forgive someone for a wrong they’ve done, but I will ask if there is anything another person can do that is totally unforgivable, or whether everyone on the planet really does deserve a second chance.

Are there life lessons in my books? Perhaps for some. Perhaps not for others. Only my readers can answer that, and each one would have to answer the question for him/herself.

Girl in Sun SmallI have heard from readers who decided to give their marriage a second chance after reading one of my books, from one who decided to seek counseling for depression, and from a few who have decided to try repairing a family relationships. Those letters are all extremely rewarding, of course. Any writer would be happy to know that his/her words made a difference. But my main objective is always just to look at a question from every angle possible and see where that takes readers individually.

This is a bloghop, so make sure to check out the other authors participating in today’s topic. You’ll find their links below.



9 thoughts on “Ask a Question, But Never Answer It — #MFRWauthor

  1. Meka James says:

    I agree. I don’t set out to force any idea one way or another in my books. I simply write to tell a story and what comes out of that is a surprise, even to me. LOL I never thought my words would have any sort of life changing effect on someone. I did get an email from a reader that was eager to read Not Broken because she’d been in a relationship similar to what I put Calida in and she wanted to see how Calida recovered. That was deep because honestly I never expected something like that. It did make me stop and wonder how many others might be in the same place, but the whole thing was totally unintentional.

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