Why We Need Hope in Fiction

As I was exercising the other day, the lovely auto-play chose which song I would next listen to. A secular song, one I never before heard, came on, and while there was nothing inherently bad about it, it got me thinking.

The song could easily be a character song, and I may use it for that purpose one day. But what really struck me was how most of the lyrics contained no hope. Music possesses the ability to control our moods, whether that is uplifting or evoking sadness or nostalgia. This song did not uplift me. Instead, it reminded me of a faceless soul standing on the edge of a cliff, staring at the swirling, misty hopelessness below and asking, “Would anyone care if I jumped off?”

It struck a chord. Whether good or bad, I cannot say. But I went from trying to be positive and telling myself to survive the workout to thinking about that sad, almost dark song for the rest of the day.

I then listened to a Christian song, Valley of Death by Skillet, and compared the two. Valley, unlike the other song, contains hope. A surge of it that tells the listener no matter how trying a time or how dark the valley they’re currently in, God is in control.

The songs are similar genres. But I rather listen to Valley because it gave me hope.

There’s not that much difference between books and songs. Of course, in songs, the words are set to music, but they both carry the power to affect our emotions. I was rereading Resistance by Jaye L. Knight recently and found the book altering my mindset. I’ll admit the sorry state of affairs our country is in often gets me down, and I have to work to keep my eyes on the Light and not the darkness inhabiting the world.

While Resistance is fantasy, and thus set in an fictional world with fictional events and characters, it gave me hope. The characters endure all types of trials and difficulties, some similar to what we may experience in the near future. What keeps the book from becoming dreary and depressing is the hope Knight infuses through the characters’ faith. I finished the book feeling encouraged. Just as the characters had hope because they knew Who was in control, I could have hope because I know nothing will happen outside of God’s plan.

That’s the power of words, which is why it is so, so important for writers to infuse their stories with hope. There’s nothing wrong with approaching heavier topics, or digging into how fallen and evil humanity is, but we cannot only include those topics. We must offer hope.

Hope can strengthen faith. Brighten an otherwise-difficult day. Provide a reminder that, though the world can and will worsen and grow even darker, the Believer’s end is not death, but eternal life with Christ.

I’m not saying don’t include heavy topics—merely, don’t let those themes be the only topics you include. If I did not include hope in my stories, they’d be too dismal to read.

Words are possibly the best medium through which to convey hope. Writers, we have been given a duty to infuse hope into our stories, no matter how heavy they may otherwise be. Our end goal should be to uplift and encourage, not depress.

Let’s guide our readers toward the Light, not the dark.


11 thoughts on “Why We Need Hope in Fiction

  1. Issabelle Perry

    First off I LOVE LOVE LOVE Valley of Death by Skillet! One of my absolute FAVORITE songs ever!!!! *high fives* *suddenly gets the urge to go listen to it right now* *plays the song* In fact, what you’re talking about is actually a huge reason why I choose Skillet over secular artists friends of mine like. They talk about how certain songs express what they’re feeling. I get that, I mean, that’s a huge reason why I listen to Skillet, because they put my mood into words. BUT they don’t just stay there in the dark and bleak. They show that even if life’s hard right now, God’s good. God’s here. And He’s in control and has got me. I hope those are the stories that I write, they’re most certainly the ones I aim for!! And I definitely agree about showing hope in our stories!!!! But like you said, it doesn’t mean we should shy away from hard topics, we just show them in the light of God. He’s greater than any darkness. And because of that, we can have hope!!! LOVED this post, girl!!!! (And sorry for the long rambling comment. 😉 )

    Liked by 2 people

    • Madi's Musings

      YAS! It’s my all-time favorite Skillet song. *Totally didn’t listen and squawk along to it today while doing laundry*

      That’s what I’ve noticed about a lot of secular songs. They’re not bad in and of themselves; they just have a tendency to be depressing. But how can we expect secular songs to convey real hope when their singers do not know the Source of hope?

      Don’t get me started on how much I enjoy Skillet. XD Granted, I’m not fond of all of their songs, but I quite enjoy the majority of them, and I also really like John Cooper’s podcast. Yes! They tackle the hard things, but they don’t stay there.

      I was looking over “DECEIVED”, “IRON”, and “Shattered Reflection”, and if I didn’t include hope (at least, I try to), they’d be so depressing and dark. That’s not how we Christians could convey ourselves.

      Amen, sister! Yes, He is. Thank you. ❤ (No worries! Rambles are welcomed here. 😉 )

      Liked by 2 people

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