Chatper 6: Theme and the Interior World

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Reading assignment:

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


It's a blistering hot day. The sun is directly overhead, the wind refuses to blow, and there isn't a bit of shade in sight. But, luckily, relief is in front of you; two nearly identical pools of water. The same size, the same shape, they both look lovely and cool.

When you get closer, you see that one of the pools is quite shallow, the kind toddlers would use to splash around in. The other...it slopes down quickly and you can't even see how deep it goes. You pause at the edge of the deep one, think of putting your foot in, but hesitate. With water that deep, that dark...how can it be safe?

So, you step into the shallow water and it's good for a moment. Your feet are wet but you quickly realize that they aren't cooling off. The water isn't any cooler than the blistering air around you. Still, you try to hunker down, get deeper into it, but it barely goes up to your ankles and there's no way you can soak yourself in it.

The best you can do is reach down and splash a little water onto your neck and shoulders. But with the sun glaring down onto you, the warm water isn't refreshing. Instead, you feel more like you are basting yourself, like a turkey in an oven.

You look over at the deeper pool. Even after stepping closer, you still can't make out the bottom. You wonder, for a second, if there is something deep in there that you won't like, then the thought pops up...what if there is something down there that doesn't like you?

But, with the sun, the still air, and the basting water behind you, this is your only chance for relief.

You stick a toe in, just an inch. The surface is just as warm as the other pool, but you push your foot in a little more, just to give it a chance. As you sink down a bit more, you feel it. There, under the surface, it's cool. No, it's cold compared to the blistering air around you.

You feel the corners of your lips go up in a smile as you stare down at it. "Whoo!" Your voice is high and loud in your ears as leap forward and crash into the water. You sink, the cool water covering every bit of your skin and the sun and heat are forgotten.

For a moment, you tread water, close your eyes and just soak it in. Then, you look down, into the darkness. Yes, there may be something in deep water that's scary, something you don't want to confront, but the cool water is all that you need right now.

The smile still pulling at your lips, you dive deeper down.

This, dear writers, is what readers go through every day. And often, they have it even worse.

When faced with the decision of what book to read next, they often can't tell how deep the water is and have no idea what they are getting into. The cover doesn't help and the description is supposed to be about how nice the surface of the pool looks. But they don't know the answer to their big question...will the story just get their toes wet, or will they be able to cannonball in, soak themselves and escape from the worries and pressure that surround them in the rest of their lives? Will it be a story that they will remember?

Now, don't get me wrong. Sometimes the shallow water is wonderful. The reader can kick around in it, splash and just have some light hearted fun. Or she may just not be in the mood for all the effort she has to put in to swim in the deep water, because that can be hard work for the reader. These are the reasons we have a lot of action and comedy movies...sometimes we just want to kick back and relax.

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