In this final installment of my Philosophy in Writing series I would like to review and put everything together instead of discuss of anything new. In my first post I talked a lot about what means can be used to show both your philosophy and the intended message of the story. I specifically talked a lot about symbols and how important they are in any story. The symbols you choose are most obvious vehicles of your philosophy and it is important to think very carefully about them. Whether something is symbolized as good or evil, light or dark, or any of the other limitless possibilities will ultimately determine how the reader will interpret your story, and thus, what message you send. For this reason I emphasized the importance of being intentionally implicit or explicit in your symbolism and philosophy. Obvious symbols may be easier to interpret correctly, but as I pointed out, Tolkien believed an implicit truth is more likely to have longer lasting effects on the reader. In the case of Tolkien, his symbolism and philosophy was so deeply embedded into his writing that there are still aspects of his writing that prompt debates between scholars.
This leads me into yet another topic that I brought up; the author’s intent. As an author you want your ideas and concepts to be understood clearly but this will not always happen because every reader brings some amount of subjectivity and presuppositions to what they read. You have to balance the explicitly obvious ideas that you are presenting with the more subtle implicit ones to be most effective in communicating your overall goals. The reader is, in essence, the final piece of your story. You write as much for them as for the story itself, and your work will, ideally, have an impact on their lives an change the way they think about the world. This is a huge responsibility to bear, but it is also a great privilege that we have as writers. Even if only a few people ever read your works, you will still impact those people in some way.
Now, along the lines of author’s intent I discussed the importance of experimenting with different ideologies and systems of belief than your own. Diversity to your style will not only attract a larger audience of readers, it will also allow you to understand people groups in a much more intimate way; even if you disagree with them, you will at least gain a common ground to begin with and can find a connection there. What’s more, it will improve your over-all writing style and allow you to write characters with more depth and diversity of emotions and reactions because of their unique view of the world. Learning about different philosophies or beliefs and the concepts that must be accepted to make them work will not only improve your writing, but also strengthen your own views on life, or maybe even change them (and this is not necessarily a bad thing). In conclusion, philosophy is as important in shaping your story as it is in how you story will be understood, and as such it should be embraced and utilized to its fullest extent in the writings of every good author.