The Hidden Agenda
Oh it’s there. It may be so subtle you can’t find it but it’s always there somewhere. It’s the writer’s hidden agenda. It may be as simple as “Good triumphs over evil” such as in Star Wars or as complex as “The Holocaust” in Toy Story 3 but rest assured the writer’s agenda is there. A writer’s schema isn’t always something the writer consciously admits. And usually the story is better if the author is only vaguely aware of his or her own plan. Also for the reader, discovering what agenda the writer has is not paramount to a good story. I have enjoyed countless stories both on and off screen only to find out years later what was hidden between the lines.
In non-fiction the hidden agenda usually isn’t hidden, if it is maybe the book should be rewritten. However for fiction writers, many may not even realize they are trying to say something when they are creating. I was halfway through writing Darkwater when I realized my hidden agenda. (What is it? Extra cookies if you can guess it)
If you’re not sure what a fiction author’s agenda is for telling the story, it’s not something that should cause you to lose sleep. You should however as a reader, mull over what is the meaning behind the story. Knowing the writer better will give you a more solid foundation for his or her work and help you enjoy a deeper connection with the author.
Writing your Belief
Why did you write that? It’s a common question you’ll receive as an author. And I find often it’s a difficult question to answer. Oh yes, you could give pat answers like, “For the money” or “I always wanted to write a novel” but those are only surface reasons. Those are not the REAL reasons you write.
As a fiction writer it is a good idea to have at least a tentative grasp on why you are writing the novel. Is it to ease the pain of childhood? To grieve for someone? Or To signal a new direction in your life. Or maybe you have something you want to say about the world around us. Like in Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien’s book about Catholicism (yep and you’ll never guess who the parallel is for Jesus Christ).
Whatever your agenda is for writing your piece. Do not feel obligated to push it into your readers face. Few if any books have ever been successful by preaching at their reader. OK, maybe Animal Farm, and the Bible. Though if you read the bible it never forces you to swallow its concepts or beliefs. Though if I were you, I’d take every opportunity to devour the Bible. (Hey do you see my hidden agenda there? I hope so it’s blatantly obvious).
Just remember that your readers may not believe what you do, so don’t make your agenda so obvious its slaps them in the face. Their reading your book because they love the genre or they love you. Either way let them enjoy it. Who knows they may have an epiphany later in which they say “Oh that’s what it was really about.”
DW is an author and an artist. He has been creating paintings and photographs for over 40 years. He lives in Eastern Kansas with his daughter, a large epileptic dog, three cats, and a barnyard of chickens and ducks.