The Moral of the Story
Recently, I got into a fairly substantial argument with a friend of mine about writing a story with an important life lesson in the end. He believed that it wasn’t necessary at all, and that writers are stupid for “preaching to their audiences with their biased point of view.” Although I can understand his viewpoint, some of the best stories are told when the writer is presenting a moral lesson to be learned.
It is my belief as writers, we are obligated to give our audiences something to think about.
Effective stories are ones that give the audience feeling. We all can relate to Alan Parrish in the 1995 film Jumanji.
This is a morality tale about facing your biggest fears in life. A true coming of age story, Alan must learn what it takes to be a man, and stand up for what is right. Despite how it fills him with fear, he knows he has to face this challenge head on. Who can’t relate to that?
This entire movie is one driven by characters who are afraid to face their greatest fears. There is a lesson to be learned in that, we must do what is asked of us. It may cost us our lives. It may mean finishing a task we never accomplished. Whatever the case may be, we as writers can educate the audience on how to be better people.
There are reasons why parables like The Boy Who Cried Wolf stick around in everyone’s minds. We strive to be better than characters we see. Reading books, seeing plays, or watching movies is therapeutic. We are reminded of our follies, and are given the remedies we seek.
We shouldn’t be afraid to give our audiences advice on how to live. Take another film and musical classic, The Sound of Music. Fräulein Maria is set out to do a task she doesn’t feel is right for her. After watching over the Von Trapp family, she falls in love with Captain Von Trapp. This fills her with fear, and she runs away, back to the abbey.
This film classic burns itself into the hearts of everyone, and has withstood the test of time through it’s important moral lesson. We must have confidence. When we are frightened, we need to think of brown paper packages tied up with strings. Above all, we must “climb every mountain. Ford every stream. Follow every rainbow, ’till we find our dream.”
Self help books are best sellers, for people long for direction. My friend may think that writing morality tales isn’t necessary, and maybe so. I however, believe it’s an integral, almost primal force in our culture. Fairy tales have withstood the test of time, as they are deep rooted in important life lessons. Despite your beliefs, the parables in the bible reflect important moral lessons we all must strive for. Jesus told these stories to people who flocked to him in the thousands, just to hear a tale of morality.
A moral lesson can be the focal point that ties your entire story together. It helps eliminate everything that isn’t necessary. If your scene, character, or plot point doesn’t do anything to string together your premise, then eliminate it from your story.
All in all, give people a reason to pick up your book. Give your audiences a reason to see your movie. Writers can help make the world a better place through the art of story. The moral of my story, is that writing for social change has always been a focal point in my life. What’s the moral of your story?
What are you writing for?
This entry was posted on June 29, 2012 by stigmatascript. It was filed under Books, Plays and Theatre, Screenwriting, Writing and was tagged with Alan Parrish, Jesus on the mountain, Jumanji, moral writing, Parables, the moral of the story, the Sound of Music, writing for social change, Writing Tips and Tricks.