I’m sometimes asked how one learns how to write a novel. The only sound advice I can give is “Read, read, read–and then read some more!” C.S. Lewis was a professor of literature. He would have known what good writing looks like. So you read, you study, you imitate–and if you have the talent, the technique will draw it out.
Just one word of warning: you’ll wind up writing what you read.
The story-teller’s art is as old as humanity itself; and since the invention of the printing press, the story-teller’s audience has grown by leaps and bounds. Until now.
If you love a movie or a TV show, be it known that somebody had to write it before anyone could film it. And someone had to read it. But fewer and people are reading. Fewer and fewer are getting the stories.
Reading is one of those things you get better at, the more you do it. I can tell you that as a person trained to teach developmental reading. Even without someone to coach you, if you keep at it, reading will come easier and easier to you. And for a good reader, with the right kind of book, it’s like having a movie playing in your mind.
How much the poorer I would be, without reading! Never to have stepped through the wardrobe into Narnia, never to have watched Lord Peter Wimsey solve a mystery, never to have roamed the dead sea bottoms of Barsoom, nor visited The Shire, nor explored the ocean’s depths with Captain Nemo–oh, but I could go on all day!
Just to show you I’m not trying to trick you with a stealth commercial, let me say it out in the open: yeah, you ought to read my Bell Mountain books.
Now, what good does it do to fill our heads with stories that are not true? Always bearing in mind that the parables of Our Lord Jesus Christ were not about real people, real events, and so, strictly speaking, “untrue.”
For one thing, these fictional stories do contain abundant truth. They can serve as parables. They can teach moral truths.
For another, stories, like sleep, can knit the raveled sleeve of care (borrowing a line from Shakespeare). When your life begins to look like the lyrics of the Car 54, Where Are You? theme song, you can escape into your favorite books–or into new stories altogether, to see what you might discover.
The more you read, the more you’ll retain; and the more of your reading you retain, the better you’ll be at expressing your own thoughts. I realize that applies to all reading, not just reading fiction. But it certainly doesn’t not apply to reading fiction.
Reading is good for you! Period. Civilization would never have gotten anywhere without it.
The movies spent a lot of money on special effects, but frittered it all away by cringing from C.S. Lewis’ story as he wrote it, in which “Aslan” clearly represents Our Lord Jesus Christ. Never mind what that bog-hopper Liam Neeson said about Aslan being Mohammed and Buddha, too. Really, sometimes I wonder what actors use for brains. Soggy cereal?
The old BBC series may have relied on unconvincing costumes, but one thing they did get right was the spirit of the enterprise.
“If I can’t rule the world, then there won’t be a world!”
Having lived through two world wars, C.S. Lewis understood the temptations of nihilism and the rage of those who reached for absolute power but couldn’t grasp it. He wrote about it several times–in The Chronicles of Narnia and in That Hideous Strength are two examples that come to mind.
To boil it down all the way–C.S. Lewis was an atheist and could very easily have remained one all his life: so whatever quibbles we might have with his theology, however late he came to work in the Lord’s vineyard, he did the best he could.