What’s It All About, Alfie?

What’s it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?

(Opening lines from the 1966 Dionne Warwick song “Alfie”)

I can’t help but ask that question about fiction. What am I doing and why am I doing it? The hours I put into writing and the hours someone else puts into reading – what’s it add up to?

Here’s Sally Apokedak‘s conclusion of the middle grade novel we just toured, The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice:

The Year the Swallows Came Early is a beautiful book that gives a deep message with a light touch. Readers will take from it much or little depending on what they are ready to take, but they will grow from reading it. Because the characters in the book grow.

That’s the way I want to write. I want to create a story with a deep message, but I want to do so with a light touch so readers, all readers, will grow as they are ready to. Not because I tell them what to do but because they see the change in my characters. They see something winsome, something worthy, something satisfying, something that rings true and builds on what they know to be so.

From my analysis of The Year the Swallows Came Early I saw an amazing attention to detail that contributed to the creation of “a light touch.”

Now I’m wondering, do deep messages ever really “emerge,” or are those that do so, doomed to be light messages?

Published in: on February 26, 2009 at 2:01 pm  Comments (5)  
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