Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Role of Storyteller

In my role as a fiction writer, I consider myself primarily a storyteller. I have listened to some great oral storytellers over the years who could keep you entranced as they spun a tale. I am not glib of tongue and rarely give more than the essential details when telling someone about an incident I've been involved in. But when seated at a keyboard, I do my best to create stories with depth that entertain readers. My intent is not to espouse opinions or champion particular causes, as do writers of what is popularly called literary fiction.

Having said that, I do occasionally find my characters discussing matters of a more philosophical nature. When I'm caught doing this, I usually go back and read the passage with a feeling that authors sometimes experience when reading a passage they haven't looked at in years: Did I write that?

I encountered one of these "aha" moments when reading a review of my first post Cold War political thriller, Beware the Jabberwock. The review was written by Lee Boyland for Military Writers Society of America. Here is the passage he mentioned (quoting from the book):

Ex-FBI Agent Burke Hill comments regarding his initial  reluctance to get involved in a counter-espionage operation:

"I got all hung up on legalities and ethicalities. I finally accepted Cam Quinn's version of reality, that you can't fight unconventional wars with conventional means. I guess the important thing is to be honest with yourself and not compromise on your search for justice."

The answer to his dilemma is given by CIA Director Marshall, who winds up with:

"To achieve justice, which, as you indicate, is our ultimate goal, we must introduce another concept called equity. If the outcome of the action is equitable, then justice has been served."

Although I make no effort to espouse a particular point of view, I'll have to admit that some of my characters reflect my own feelings. But others may express diametrically opposite sensibilities. As I indicated earlier, I try not to get too philosophical. I don't write with a message in mind. I write with a good story to tell.

I hope you enjoy them. I'll have a tenth to add to the list shortly. Stay turned.


Marja said...

I don't think we can help but put at least a little of our own thoughts into our characters. Suffice it to say, I've thoroughly enjoyed your books so you must be doing it right.
Marja McGraw

Chester Campbell said...

That's true, Marja. Thanks.

Melissa Sugar said...

I always see some of me in my characters, both the good and the villains. I am a new follower of your blog.