I saw Jeff Daniels on a local morning news show talking about his new series “The Newsroom” (which is great by the way). What struck me about this particular interview was that he never spoke about the main theme behind the show–how the news has largely become propaganda and fluff aimed at ratings and money rather than the truth. Maybe he couldn’t talk about that, because he was sitting in just such a newsroom at the time. A strange juxtaposition — funny and sad at the same time. One of the anchors on the show, which they were saying was mainly pointing out the truth about politics (definitely a theme in the show), asked Jeff if the opinions on the show weren’t tilted toward that of the writer (Aaron Sorkin). Well… duh. Of course they are. How can they not be? I do think Mr. Sorkin tries hard to be fair toward all sides with the idea of producing a true quest for the truth. The point here for this blog is that all writing is going to be tilted toward the opinion of the writer. You don’t have to agree, you have to absorb and make decisions based on what you feel about their “reality.” Does this count in all fiction?
One of the things I have held as a quest all my life, even as a child reading, is that if I can read a book and come away with some fact, feeling or belief based on what I’ve read, it is a GREAT book. Deep down, I think most writers have a message somewhere in their story that they truly believe in, want to show to the world. It isn’t that they want to hoist that belief or version of the truth on you, they want to expose you to it and let you make your own choices. That’s the way it should be. Certainly you’ll find some who are determined to convince you of their beliefs, but good writers don’t do that. They lay it out in a pleasing manner (the story) and let you develop your own feelings on the matter. Good writers trust their readers to form sound opinions of their own and enjoy the fact that they aren’t always going to be the same as their own.
Here is an excerpt from Hell’s Own, to give you an idea of how a concept can be shrouded inside the story, and help to bring the character to life. As a writer, I have my own opinions, and they will always shine through the writing. It is also important to understand all viewpoints on a subject, however, or the writing will be lopsided. You have to be able to play devil’s advocate (so to speak) and try to keep your opinions from overshadowing characters with opposing views. It can make for some pretty interesting conversations with yourself as you do it.
Christine’s Angel–Excerpt from Hell’s Own
Alex crawled out of the fountain sputtering and heaving. Blood flowed freely from the cuts on his chest and back. His arms shook as he braced himself on the edge of the basin. His wings, soaked and heavy, hung back like limp rags.
As he panted he looked up straight into the biggest, bluest eyes he’d ever seen. Blue like the skies of earth. Blue like his dreams.
A timid smile quivered on the ruby lips of the petite female human. In her hands that trembled at the sight of him was a sign bore the words:
SALVATION IS YOURS-JUST ASK.
Alex raised a brow. His weary mind couldn’t decide if it were a sign of hope, or a cosmic joke—or if she were a proper candidate for a refreshing feast.
He studied the figure of the woman. Golden hair glistened like spun sunlight in tight, short curls around her cherubic face. Surely an angel had landed before his eyes. He blinked to clear his mind. Blood pulsed rapidly in her veins. He could hear it. His mouth watered. She was ripe, and looked oh, so tender. A spark of desire lit in him.
Too much blood rushed away from his brain too fast. What hadn’t been lost on the ground got redirected. A wave of nausea threw him to the grassy surface and made him forget any desire.
He wretched and willed his eyes to remain in their sockets with every heave that threatened to explode his head.
His bruised body begged for relief. As if in answer to an unspoken prayer, two tender hands lifted him by the shoulders.
He looked up into her eyes as he rose up with her assistance. Her enchanting eyes shimmered with curiosity, but her face bunched up with uncertainty.
Alex held up a bloodied hand. “Don’t be afraid,” he wanted to laugh at her awed expression, but he was too weak to manage anything but a shaky grimace, “you’re safe with me. I don’t have the energy…” He felt himself slump into her arms just as his words slurred, and his mind went blank.
Christine Temple lugged the limp man to her car. Every muscle in her twenty-two-year-old work-out-fit body felt inadequate to the task. She leaned him against the side of the car to catch her breath and he slid to the ground in a heap.
Her heart raced as she studied him. The marvelous wings were enticing.
She reached out a tentative hand. Her heart fluttered when she touched the smooth leather skin of one limp wing. It flinched at her touch and she jerked back.
Okay, fine then, be touchy. There was work to do anyway, she glanced over at her discarded sign on the grass and ran for it.
She hurried around to the trunk and flung it open. With a shove she thrust her sign in amongst a trunk full of similar placards, all with different sayings scrawled on their face. She shoved aside a large bag of canned food. The food pantry would have to wait. Her eyes scanned the contents of the space and stopped at a raggedy blanket. She pulled it from the clutter, and slammed the trunk shut.
When she got back to the angel’s side, blood had streamed beneath him in a horrifying pool. Could an angel be mortally wounded?
With a moan she pushed the man into her car and struggled to fold his obstinate wings in around him. She staggered back as they pushed against her and hung in almost dejected fashion out of the open door.
They were amazing.
Cool and slippery like she imagined a bat’s would feel if you touched one. They were big too. She started to doubt she’d ever be able to get them inside.
“Look,” she said to the wounded appendages that she thought just might have a life, and feelings all their own, “you have to cooperate here unless you want to be dragged down the street caught in the closed door. That’s going to hurt. I promise you that.”
The wings trailed out of the door and lay limp on the ground.
Christine hunched, and leaned in over the passed out figure slumped on the seat. She touched his shoulder and gave it a shake. “Hey,” she said. There was no response. “Oh, God, please don’t let him be dead.”
As if in answer to her prayer, the man stirred and looked up at her through pain filled eyes.
He wasn’t focused. She couldn’t remember ever seeing such dilated eyes. Not a speck of color shone around the huge, black as coal pupils.
“This is bad,” she thought out loud. “Come on, Mister.” She shook the limp shoulder harder.
The sound of a man’s voice startled her. She looked up through the windshield. A small bald man stepped over a ridge in the grass where the battle had taken place. His eyes were big as saucers. She worried that others would come and discover her angel, and take him from her.
The little bald man paid her no mind, but she looked across the street. Others were coming out of hiding. They might.
In a frustrated shove she crammed the wings in over the man no longer being gentle. She just wanted out of there.
Christine looked over at the flaccid form on the passenger seat. Nobody would believe this. She’d captured a real honest-to-goodness angel. She wrinkled her nose. He didn’t look like an angel in the books. He didn’t smell like one either.
A bemused smile flickered on her lips. What exactly did an angel smell like? Especially one fresh from battle with one of Satan’s demons.
She jerked to attention and swung her head back to face the road when one of the dark angel’s eyes opened a slit to peer up at her.
Christine gripped the steering wheel in a white-knuckled chokehold.
“Are you really an angel?” Christine turned back with hope, but the mysterious angel man was fast asleep once again. “Well, fudge sickle.”
Her mind raced trying to decide whom to show him to first.
Her mother adored angels. Every nook and cranny of the house Christine grew up in had an angel in some form. Beautiful crystal, delicate china, cutsey crochet, painted on velvet, watercolor on paper, oil on canvas, funky psychedelic prosaic, ceramic, hand painted plates, if it had been created, her mother had it.
It drove her father crazy.
This would make him blow a fuse.
Her mom would freak. A warped smile twisted on her mouth. “Yeah.” No, she shook her head to clear the thoughts. She glanced back at the wounded being beside her. Lots of people would be interested, but not yet. A live angel would be much better than a dead one.
She swung the wheel, and turned toward home.
Tami Parrington is a freelance writer and author of seven novels including Hell’s Own. Check out Hell’s Own on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Hells-Own-ebook/dp/B001B8QFF4