Thursday, May 10, 2012

Am I Being Too Subtle?

One of the interesting aspects about writing a book is how others perceive the end result. Sometimes as an author I like to have fun with story structure and other times I bury things in the text. I think, however, that a lot of times nobody picks up on it. 

In An Echo Through the Trees there is a reference to a painting created by a secondary character (Karen Krause) which she calls "Virtue". When she announces the name of the painting to a friend at an art fair, and then comments that nobody seems to be buying it, he replies, "The price is a bit high."

After I wrote that passage, I came to the realization that there was a double meaning to that specific part of the conversation, although the characters themselves weren't aware of it. It was sort of a comment on how many regard virtue as a great thing, but often give up on its pursuit because the cost really does get high after a certain point. In other ways, it was an indirect reference to Romans 3:23 which states, "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

In Theft at the Speed of Light, there are multiple references to songs (both Christian and secular) that occur in conjunction with the main character, Alex Poole, and the main antagonist, James Malloy. If you dig into lyrics of each of these song references, they more or less reflect where that character is at the point in their life. I guess it was my first (and maybe last) experimental attempt at adding a "soundtrack" to a book.

I didn't do it just for the sake of experimentation, however. It does tie into the fact that Malloy plays guitar. Also, in the scene where he is overlooking one of his own bank branches going up in smoke there is a subtle reference to the apocryphal story of how Nero supposedly fiddled while Rome burned. In reality, Nero may have started the fire himself, or at the very least took advantage of the situation for his own gain. What followed, of course, was more Christian persecution.

Like subtle references, however, there are also times when it is better to leave things out.

In one of my latest releases, Gathering the Wind, I purposely left out a great deal of weather related science. I was not trying to be ignorant about the subject. In fact, I actually read a great deal of science articles on a routine basis and even just finished listening to a college lecture series on nanotechnology. I left the information out in many places because the science of global climate change is still in flux.

For example, over the past several years there has been a signicant push towards developing more earth-friendly energy systems. There are some great leaps occuring right now in solar technology (due to nanotechnology no less) that may dramatically improve the efficiency of solar cells. Wind farms are also springing up all over America. Yet there was a story the other day about how wind farms themselves may be contributing to global warming.


So of course a few days later all sorts of counterarguments started appearing.

The list goes on and on, and I realized early on there was an inherent danger about putting such information in a book, especially if you want that book to have a shelf life of more than a couple of months. The goal of the book, however, was to examine what the Bible said about the subject. I was also cautious about trying to interpret various End Times passages because frankly, there are a lot of details that won't be known until that time is upon us.

Anyway, after watching several behind-the-scenes documentaries for various movies that have come out over the years, I get the impression that lots of artists do this type of thing, whether they are creating movies, composing music, painting, or writing books.

Even microchip designers have been known to get into the act by placing images onto printed circuit boards.

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