You may not see it right off the bat or even understand what the message is within a story. Sometimes there are no agendas, but other times, a hidden message can be found within the text of many books. There are times that you as the writer don’t realize your own message until you examine your own over all story plot of what you want the reader to get out of the story. A few times, it’s just a warm fuzzy feeling after reading the story, but other times it can be a huge message.
Harry Potter series: moral of the story is love trumps hate. It was love that saved Harry’s life in the beginning, and it was ultimately love (the power Voldemort didn’t have) that won in the end.
Hunger Games: Many things can be said for the Hunger Games series: love, gluttony, sacrificing one self for the benefit of others (Katniss took her sister’s place, Peta took a beating to give Katniss bread, Gale fed his family and Katniss family while she was in the arena, etc), selfishness and greed on Snow’s part, and so on.
Lord of the Rings: there was a lot of character’s sacrificing their lives for the greater good. But you can also see that bravery and doing what is right no matter your size or skill can still be accomplished. Frodo is often looked at as making the hardest sacrifice for carrying the ring for so long and over coming the evil – but look at Samwise. He, I believe, had the greater sacrifice and bravery. He was only a gardener and yet, he stood by Frodo’s side through the worst of it. He fought Orcs, Shebo, Gollum and even his own temptation of the ring.
Twilight: Another story of love. Don’t judge the person by what they appear (vampire or werewolf) but look inside to see who they really are. Though, Bella is very much enraptured by Edward’s beauty, so that does take away from the moral.
Books sometimes don’t need to spell out their morals like the older fairy tale stories do or even make big political statements.
I’m not saying you have to insert a message to your story but there are times you want to leave the readers with something when they turn that last page of the book. You want them to remember your story and have it come back to them as time goes on. Maybe even recommend your book to others. Or at least, I do.
As you can see, my examples above were not just children’s books, but adults read as well. We all need that constant reminder lately that we need to do right.
Subliminal messaging doesn’t have to be the main plot of your story or even the character’s personal growth. But it can be an underlining lesson the character has or sub character(s) have to learn in order to accomplish their journey.
A bit of a closer look for an example:
Think back with Harry Potter – Harry’s best friend Ron Weasley struggled with jealousy. We all saw it as we read through the books, even the movies helps clarify the situation too. But both times when Ron gave into his jealousy, he eventually came back and apologized. We all know that jealousy is wrong, but as humans, we struggle from time to time with it too. J. K. Rowling not only made the character relatable, but also showed that jealousy is wrong and can cause people to make wrong decisions that affect more than one person.
(I’ve been rereading Harry Potter so that is why there is a lot of mentioning of HP in my posts).
Just a small suggestion: if you chose to make a political stance in your book, choose your topic wisely. Be ready to make that stand over and over again just in case you are confronted about it. I’ve seen several authors take strong stands in public with politics and they get dragged through the backlash and their work gets ignored. Study the politically issue from all angles, not just your side. And also, the political stance may be popular now, but maybe not ten years from now or fifteen or so. Don’t let your work only be a fleeting moment. Make it stand the test of time so that future historians or language art’s teachers can recommend your work as a subject of study to examine this era of time. Think of Grapes of Wrath or How to Kill a Mocking Bird. Both tell a story with moral lessons, but also make strong political stances.
L. R. Mauck