I've been pondering the importance of stories in my life. I remember wanting to step though my closet and meet Aslan, I wanted to be brave like Frodo and loyal like Gurgie (The black cauldron series). I dreamed about fantastic futures with fairies and unicorns and hidden magic waiting to come alive at my touch. Stories helped me cope, taught me to dream, to believe and to imagine. I still believe that anything is possible. (Ask my husband. The poor man often has to deal with my unending determination to make things happen which can be difficult when its nearly midnight and the thing I want to happen is fixing the garage door. Where is that magic wand when I need it?)
Recently I read "Uglies" by Scott Westerfield. In his post apocalyptic world of super model humans, where everyone normal is ugly until they are surgically turned 'pretty,' the adventure is good. The characters are likeable or hatable depending on their purpose and the conflict is clear and compelling. However, that is not what makes the story important. The importance of the story is the message. There is no preaching, no fable, no eye-rolling moralizing. Instead the entire story weaves into the readers mind the idea that making people pretty is crazy and being normal is awesome. Bring on the asymetrical faces and uneven brows, the thin lips and fat lips and glasses. Being unique rocks. I haven't read the other books in the series yet, but I'm looking forward to them.
Because of my memories of what stories did for me as a child and because of the importance of story in my life, I've been thinking that I want more importance in the stories I tell also. Think of your favorite books and what they taught you or made you feel.
Great stories, I think, are the ones that carry their message between the lines, woven into the fiber of the characters until the story and the themes are inseperable. I think we need more books like that in today's market and less fluff for the sake of fluff or action for the sake of the next video game. Can't fun adventures also inspire us and make us want to be heroes?