What is Your Worldview and How Does it Affect Your Writing?

What is your worldview?  Your worldview consists of five major items:  1) Your concept of the most real thing in existence (your notion of God or of ultimate reality); 2) Your view of the essential nature of the external world (ordered or chaotic, material or spiritual); 3) Your idea of who we and others really are (your concept of human nature); this includes your idea of how you know and your notion of what happens to us after we die; 4) Your understanding of the good (ethics); and 5) Your understanding of the meaning of humanity’s sojourn on earth (the meaning of history).

Your worldview is like a map in that it may fit what is really there or it may be grossly misleading.  The map isn’t of the world itself, only an image of it, more or less accurate in some places, distorted in others.

*Note:  the information in the above two paragraphs come from How to Read Slowly by James Sire, part of the Starting Points world view study.

How does your world view affect your writing?  Some people will say they can write a story without a specific message, to which I would respond that you may not consciously intend to include a message in your writing, but whatever your belief system is, it will show in your writing.  You cannot turn off your belief system to write, or to do anything else.  Your belief system is part of who you are and you can change it, and, therefore, change the message that comes through your writing, but you cannot be void of a belief system.  Even if you say you believe in nothing, that is your belief system, and it will show through your writing.  You cannot completely separate yourself from your characters or your story.

Therefore it is important to know what your belief system is.  As a Christian, I do not believe that every story I write has to have a message of salvation that is blatant and loud and clear.  A story may have a need for that, but I believe most stories will be more appealing if the message is subtle and not in-your-face.  I do not sit down and decide what message to put into a story before I begin to write.  As a matter of fact, most times I do not think about the message at all.  I concentrate on my characters.  I want to create characters that create emotions within the reader; characters that the reader can identify with, relate to, sympathize or empathize with.  At some point, I stop being the creator of the characters and the characters begin to tell me the story.  They let me know their thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires and the things they are going to do and say and where they are going to go.  And, there is always a message:  a message about relationships or about a character realizing who they really are or what they are meant to do, a message of hope or of despair or of love or of family or community, or loss, etc.

Your world view comes out in the words you choose to use to tell the story and in the actions, thoughts and dialogue of your characters.

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