What Are You Trying to Say?

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’ So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say.”- Ernest Hemmingway, from his memoir “A moveable feast”
Do we try to tell the truth with our stories? And if we are, what are we trying to say? A friend once gave me some great advice. Whenever you begin a new writing project, you have to figure out what the story is about. What is your message, what is the character supposed to learn, if anything at all. There needs to be some sort of direction to a tale, a purpose to give the words substance. If not, then how will the story take shape. I suppose, on the other hand, its alright to let the words create their own story. I suppose that is another thing entirely. I suppose that might be a study into your own subconsciousness, and what you write would be your own hidden thoughts and desires made known through words. But that idea is for another time.
Once you know what it is you are writing about, my friend tells me to never let yourself forget it. Remind yourself, at the beginning of each writing session, every time you work on this project, what it is that you are doing. The best way is to figure out a sentence or two that would describe your story perfectly, and then use it as a mantra.
“It is about a girl who begins a quest to find her parents, and in doing so re-discovers who she is in the horrifying world she lives in.” Yes it is dark, but it is about discovery, and the exploitation, and acceptance. Perhaps the ending isn’t quite thought out yet, but it’s taking shape around this general idea.

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