Writing and the Human Condition

There really is nothing new under the sun. I think Solomon was correct.

Perhaps, writers know this more than most people. Each time they string together a sentence, they are stepping on the toes of someone who has come before them. Each time they craft a character, they are describing countless other people who at one point roamed the face of the earth.

There are only a limited supply of storylines. Does the protagonist do it for greed or for love? Does she do it for revenge or for an ego boost? Is pride the downfall? Will he have the courage to go on?  etc …

This is what makes writing great fiction such a difficult task. How can one stand out of the crowd and do something unique? Do you think the “Hunger Games” was not influenced by “The Most Dangerous Game?” Everyone is standing on the shoulders of someone else. Perhaps this is where sci-fi and fantasy are so popular with some authors – creating new worlds and aliens which have never been seen before; but, remarkably, even those are limited to the tried and true human-condition storylines we have all come to know and love.

The names may change and the details may vary, but the story is very much the same.

A key, at least as far as I currently see it, is to be as creative as possible within this framework – maximize the human drama to such a degree as to pull on the heartstrings of the reader – but you can’t cheat and be cheap about it or you’ll end up writing a Hallmark movie without even knowing it. (Sorry, I do think that Hallmark has its place. I personally would rather watch one of those than a vampire story, but I digress.)

Authenticity is crucial, and so, in my estimation, is purpose.Because ultimately, I believe everyone in life wants purpose or at least hopes there is some grand purpose for the madness around them. This is the element I love to write about – giving a protagonist an ultimate desire – a spine – a superobjective – a goal that is bigger than themselves which can highlight the human condition in all of us.

The themes and struggles remain the same, but the stories remain fresh as long as the readers are moved to be believe in the characters and hope for their success. At that point, it doesn’t even matter if the characters achieve their goals because the writer has achieved his or hers.

So I will continue writing about the human condition because I love writing about humans. Nothing is more fascinating. Endless possibilities – tried already in the past – can still live on as stories worth telling.

That’s what I try to do. Sometimes, I might even succeed.

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2 thoughts on “Writing and the Human Condition

  1. Solomon was VERY correct! I once read that every story you come up with is a product of what you’ve seen/read/heard before—and I think that is so true. As authors, I think we need to focus not only on the story we tell, but also the WAY we tell it, since that’s what can set our prose apart from others’.

    Great post!

    • Absolutely agree. The way we tell it is crucial. Luckily, each of our own experiences can play a wonderful role in shading our writing in interesting tints of color. Hopefully!

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