How to incorporate allusions into your work

First, let’s make sure we understand what we’re talking about.

Like any good piece of fiction, the primary motivator of events in your story needs to be character.  This is called having a character driven plot.  Most young writers struggle with this a lot.  They get a cool idea of what drama they want to happen but fail to ensure that their characters are motivated to do it.

The best way to avoid this is to recognize that your story WILL evolve as you write it.  It’s one thing to imagine the entire thing play out in brief.  It’s another to write out scenes out with a focus on questions like “What do my characters want in this scene?”  “How are their wants in conflict?”  “How does their personality influence how they pursue what they want?”  “How might the other character misinterpret the actions of the other character?”

You may find (correction — you will find) that as you write the scene out, you’re characters aren’t quite motivated to do what you wanted them to do.  If you force them to do something outside of character, the tension fizzles and what you end up creating is melodrama.

So just as writing from a plot-driven prospective can hinder good writing, so does writing from the direction of creating allusions.  If you happen to be a Christian or Catholic author (like myself), you may be tempted to write in order to preach.  PLEASE don’t do this.  Forcing Christian allusions doesn’t work.

Allusions aren’t something you start out intending to write.  They stem from your own background.  How were you raised?  How well read are you?

Take the “Lord of the Rings” for instance.  Tolkien once said that his drafts were unintentionally Catholic/Christian.  It is in revising (Not just fixing a few sentences, but even rewriting entire scenes) that the Christian/Catholic allusions (or other allusions) became more intentional.  And so it is best to seek to understand your own imagination in order to strengthen any allusions that come out of your work.

In fact, if you are a Christian writer, it is important to understand that good biblical allusions are subtle enough that they don’t turn off a secular audience.  In fact, don’t be surprised if other Christians criticize your work for being unChristian all while completely missing all the Christian allusions you placed brilliantly in your work.

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One thought on “How to incorporate allusions into your work

  1. Pingback: 5 Reasons You Don’t Want Me in Your Book Club – Petra Engisch

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