Stories With Meaning

I guess this is at least something just to vent about briefly, though if anyone's got any ideas on the subject, that'd be nice too.

I've been trying to work on short stories and flash fiction and stuff on the side, on account of wanting to someday make money at all this. There's a short story I recently completed that was primarily meant as something fun, but I wonder if it's to the detriment of the story. Me being a neurotic mess, I keep wondering if it's one of those cases of "Ok, it's a short story, but where's the big lesson for everyone?"

So now I'm going a little nuts over here, thinking it's probably ok if there's no teaching moment, and then the other half of the time, thinking it's not so ok.

Maybe it doesn't matter either way. Or maybe it does matter, and its an indication of another problem, like rushing through two plot threads. Or maybe I'm not cut out for this.

For anyone thinking of participating, does anybody else get like this about writing?

Stories don't need to have the intent of having meaning behind them. I mean, I personally don't. Rarely do I write something with even the thought of a theme in mind. Usually if I attempt at writing something with some kind of meaning. The few times I do and I try to keep it so I'm not hitting readers over the head with stuff.

I don't seem to have any trouble putting meaning into my stories. My favorite topics, and thus the ones I write about because it's what I know and love, are all about human nature and the sacrifices people make. Lends itself pretty well to having meaning in everything I do.

That said- I am not above meaningless drivel short stories just for the fun of it. Good practice, good relaxation, and generally a pleasant experience. If you had fun doing it, then count it as vacation time that just so happened to be somewhat productive.

I think it comes down to why you wrote the piece. If you wrote it to be fun and it is, good work.

I never really worried about meanings or lessons or teaching stuff myself. I'm usually focused on just being entertaining. That said I do often have trouble thinking of theme of my work. But that's the sort of thing that I guess I usually just sort of assumed will come after the fact. I mean a lot of people just kind of derive their own meaning from the work anyway So chances are your intended meaning might get missed anyway.

I find that if I focus on creating a well-crafted story with strong, unique characters and a compelling storyline, the themes will reveal themselves. If you analyze my writing, you'll probably see things like strong female characters, fun, successful introverts, logic winning over uncontrolled emotion, and various other things I believe in. "Write what you know" very easily becomes "write what you believe".

I find writing is part meticulous attention to detail, part just letting your subconscious meld things into a harmonious whole. In terms of morals/lessons, I think they often come across better if you just let them happen rather than craft a story with them in mind. It's very easy to get heavy-handed with the preaching.

I don't think a story absolutely needs to have a deeper context or meaning but I do agree that there is a dearth of stories with meaning on the internet. Then again, most stories do manage to incorporate some sort of meaning or argument or issue within their storyline so yeah there's that.

Meaning comes about whether you want it to or not, so I wouldn't worry too much.

One thing I will say is that you don't want the story to meander without a final purpose. You know, short stories are such a tricky form, and one of the trickiest bits is how important the ending is. The ending has to flow from everything else that's gone on in the story. So it needs to have a point, even if it doesn't have a meaning.

It's sort of hard to explain, but you have to be able to show that the character has changed in some way, or you have to be able to show some insight that the character's journey can bring to the reader. Just a little something at the end of the story that makes them say, "Oh, that's what was going on."

Here's a line I like from Michael Eric Dyson, which can maybe help explain where I'm going with this: "Writing is about contrived naturalness: rigging the system of meaning to turn out the way you want, and making it look normal and inevitable in the process."

The ending determines whether the reader leaves the story feeling satisfied or not, so it is really important to ask. How is your story turning out? Did it have to turn out that way, given everything that preceded it? What is the reader going to be thinking about, once they've finished the story?

Depends. Stories with meaning typically(I think) require more mental processing almost, and if the moral lesson taught is brought over in a patronising or opinionated way, then it could cause more evil than good. And it's hard to write a moral lesson as not patronising or too opinionated. Thus, I think that stories without meaning are easier to write and easier to process, but that well-written stories with meaning provide excellent food for tought and lots of dicussion, which is nice.

Oh and @PsychoGecko, if you ever translate your series into book form, I will buy. Buy. Buy. Buy. Buy. For all my friends(Or at least those who aren't to sensitive). I absolutely love your series, personally regarding it as the best book,web serial media, or ANYTHING I have ever read, watched or listened. You are an awesome writer.

Personally, my stories develop meanings organically. I hardly ever sit down to write with some big moral idea in mind, or even a teachable moment. But the characters sort of tell their own story after a while and that ends up having a theme, in and of itself.

FRoM wasn't originally going to be about the meaning of family. It was just going to be a fun romp of a writing exercise but it eventually blossomed out of control into the beast that it is today. The fact that it became, to me, an examination of how we form familial relationships vs. what we do with the family we're born with is incidental to the original purpose.