Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesdays, where I post (you guessed it) tips on writing every Wednesday at 5:00 PM ET. This week’s topic:
What keeps you reading a good book? Is it that the book has really good conflict? Great plot? Compelling characters? All of the above?
When a book has all of these elements in just the right doses, it is a masterpiece that we come to know, love, and carry with us wherever we go.
How to sum all this up in a word:
This week, we are going to talk about the importance of hope, from the lightest literature to the darkest.
IS HOPE REALLY NECESSARY?
Yes. You’ve likely heard that a surefire way of creating a compelling story and protagonist is to
- Make your protagonist an underdog of some sort
- Establish conflict early on
- Let us fight with the protagonist
These are all very valid points, and again I would like to point out the possibility of the summation of these traits in a single word: hope.
Without hope for a certain turnout, you wouldn’t turn a single page.
So why would your readers?
From the lightest literature, like Goldie Locks and the Three Bears to the more depressing, the character(s) are looking for something. And to be looking for something, there is and has to be hope—hope of finding or attaining that thing. If there is no hope in your book, you will quickly lose readers, for without hope, what purpose is there?
NOT TO SOUND MORBID, BUT…
Think of hope in terms of life. Why do we keep living? If you believe in God or a higher power, believe in an after-life, you have hope. But what if you don’t? What if your life is all you have and you don’t make even a dent in the scope of all the universe? What is your hope? That you will make a difference in the world? But why does that matter, if you, and even the people you help, are going to die?
Super depressing, right? I promise there’s a point.
The point is, both people who believe in spiritual after-life and those who don’t keep living.
Because they have hope. They have hope for something bigger than themselves. Helping others. Helping animals. The environment. Really, they want to spread more hope around because do you know what hope does?
It keeps us living.
And to get very serious, to have absolutely no hope results in death. Suicide is the result of no hope. It is the absolute absence to the absolute extreme.
Which is part of why literature, I think, is so important. The very structure of it sets us up for a journey, a reason to join a band of misfits on an adventure that may be scary, or strange, and horrible at many times- but because it is leading toward a destination we, as both main character and reader are fighting for, fighting toward, we fight on.
This is hope. Hope for something better. Hope for a changed world. A different world.
Hope is one of the best things you can spread. I choose literature as an avenue for that. I do not believe in cheesy, moral tales for the hope of instruction, but for the desire to give hope and the desire to live. Life does not always turn out “right;” neither do stories. But stories can provide insight that real life can’t. Touch us in a way that our everyday lives are sometimes incapable of. For me, literature is a way to provide hope to the hopeless, catharsis to the burned, a friend in times of need, and a friend in times of gladness.
Your characters do not have to live happy lives—but they have to live lives.
Why not give them something to fight for, so that we will have something to fight for, too?
Alyssa Grace Moore
You can also find Alyssa on Twitter: @alyssagracem
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