Stories mean different things to different people. For some, they are simply a form of entertainment that are seen from the point of view of an outsider. A means of escape. For some they are a form of social commentary. A way to open up the conscience of the reader to a new way of thinking. While others are a way to avoid a potential threat. Animal Farm is a great example of this. As an allegory, Orwell’s masterpiece is a reflection on the events leading up to Stalinist Russia and a warning to a society on the brink of totalitarianism.
For me, it starts with the consequences of the inner person. If it is true that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks then this would be also true with the choices we make. Do I exist for me or for others? That’s a question that we as a people struggle with our entire lives. How does it affect the children of a father who refuses to get counseling? I can tell you from experience that it affects them for the rest of their lives. It changes who they are. Even to this day, I have an inherent trait that whenever I walk into a room, I assume that no one wants to speak to me. And now it seems that I’m getting too old to want to change.
Choices have consequences.
At the same time, I can’t just tell a story about the consequences of our choices if the only choice expressed in the story leads to negative consequences. That would be too depressing. I think this is why people are moving away from dark stories. They want hope. So do I.
So when I come up with a story, there has to be an issue at heart of it but in the end, there has to be a hope. That’s where I start and go from there. There has to be a shot at redemption and while not everyone will take it the choice has to be there. It has to have a purpose. From there, I branch out into setting and what I call the superfluous but important things like plot and the ever-important conflict. If you’re going to tell a story about the human condition there can never be enough conflict.
And every once in a while an explosion or two can’t hurt either.
Leonardo Ramirez is an author of Children’s Steampunk, Speculative Science Fiction and a graphic novel. He is also a husband, father and a 4th degree Black Belt in American Karate. You can visit his website, Science Fiction for the Human Condition at Leonardoverse.com. His books are available for purchase on Amazon.