I feel full of vim and snark, which is somewhat like vim and vigor, only more, um, snarky. In her original post she asked some mighty good questions. My take, a long-winded reply, alluded to Courtney’s own answer: Be true to the story.
Courtney was talking about truth and I was talking about honesty, which are almost the same thing. There is a nuance I was trying to convey (and failed), which is you can be true to yourself as a writer, but dishonest with your story.
How can that be? I am not entirely sure I can explain it correctly. But I can tell you for certain, Max knows. Max wrote about almost the exact same thing. He says:
“Another giant, oily blemish on the face of teenage literature (that was entirely intentional) is whatever urge compels writers to clumsily smash morals about fairness or honor or other cornball crap onto otherwise fine stories. Do you not think we get enough of that in our parents’ and teachers’ constant attempts to shove the importance of justice and integrity down our throats? We get it. I assure you, it makes no difference in our behavior at all. And we will not become ax murderers because volume 120 of Otherworld: The Generica Chronicles didn’t smother us in morals that would make a Care Bear cringe.”
I know, I know, it seems like my poor blog is Courtney Courtney Courtney blah blah. But she is talking directly to why I toss books in the recycle bin. Literally. I come across a story I deem dishonest and I throw it away. I will not expose my children to it.
Here’s my ultimate take. A story is sometimes dishonest despite the author’s intent because he did the easy thing, rather than the hard thing. A morality tale can be an excellent story, even one Max would like.
If it is told in an honest fashion.
“Truth is sought for its own sake. And those who are engaged upon the quest for anything for its own sake are not interested in other things. Finding the truth is difficult, and the road to it is rough.”
My friends—all I simply ask—write about what is, not what you wish it to be.
By the way, you can thank Courtney for these little bits of wisdom by buying her book.