Story versus Message by Randy Davila

Shortly after the launch of the Visionary Fiction Alliance in 2012, Randy Davila, president of Hierophant Publishing and Hampton Roads Publishing Company, wrote a post for visionary fiction writers that remains relevant today. Therefore, I’m resubmitting it as our first post for 2017.

Randy Davila The Gnostic MysteryFirst purpose of fiction

Visionary fiction authors have one of the hardest jobs as writers—to both entertain their readers and to introduce them to new metaphysical topics, which the readers may have never been exposed to before. The most successful authors, of any type of fiction, understand that the first purpose of their book must always be to entertain.

Unfortunately, many times we see visionary fiction authors who feel so powerfully about their message that they let it become the central focus of the story, and drown the reader in metaphors, exercises, theories and unnatural dialogue all in the name of conveying their message. They have forgotten that their readers came to the fiction section of the bookstore to be entertained first and foremost. This is where the fiction author can run into the most difficulty in trying to reconcile their love of the story for the love of the message.

We, as fiction authors, have been told time and time again to “show, don’t tell”—and your metaphysical or spiritual message is no exception to this rule. To keep the reader engaged, you must show them how your character’s negative thinking is drawing negative circumstances into his life; or leave room for the reader to intuit how the character’s dreams about the Divine Feminine correlate to her real-life experiences. Showing the reader how these theories work instead of simply telling them that will help them to learn your message gracefully through the story that you are conveying. Remember, the art of great fiction is in what the author doesn’t say rather than what they tell you explicitly.

“Show-don’t-tell” at its best

If you’re ever in doubt or are unsure of how this show-don’t-tell philosophy can work in fiction, I strongly suggest reading one of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books by Rick Riordan (or if you have kids, you may have already read them!). Riordan is able to not only tell a story so engaging and entertaining that his books have been turned into blockbuster movies; but also, teaches school-aged children about Greek mythology to the extent that some teachers are even using his books in their classrooms. In fact, most kids who have read these books are more knowledgeable about Greek myths than their parents! They didn’t start these books with the intention of learning about Greek mythology—instead they picked it up as a bonus from their enjoyment of the books.

This is how visionary fiction (and any type of fiction) authors must think of their story. Is the plot compelling? Are the characters relatable? Is there a story here that will entertain the people who open the book? These are the main components of any fiction book; and an amazing thing happens when our readers are enthralled by the story, characters and setting… suddenly they are taken into a separate world of our creation where they are able to effortlessly open their minds to these new ideas without ever noticing that they are learning.

The secret to a visionary fiction author’s success is simple: give your readers a great story and teach them along the way.

Randy Davila is the author of The Gnostic Mystery available on Amazon, a contributing author in Pearls of Wisdom: 30 Inspirational Ideas to Live Your Best Life now! and the President of Hierophant Publishing and Hampton Roads Publishing Company. Between the two publishing houses, he has overseen the publication of books by authors such as Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, Neale Donald Walsch, Richard Bach, Jack Canfield, and many, many, more.

As a publisher, it is Randy’s goal mission to bring as much information about the publishing industry to new, up-and-coming writers in the hopes that this insider knowledge will help them to convey their messages to publishers and the world at large. In his classes on publishing, Randy provides a road map for potential authors to follow in order to get their books published in today’s competitive book market.

Please visit Hierophant Publishing, Insight Events USA, or Red Wheel for the full line of books that Randy publishes. Check out the Author Community hosted by Randy Davila on Facebook.



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2 Responses to Story versus Message by Randy Davila

  1. Victor Smith says:

    Valid redux here. Have to add a Percy Jackson novel as well as Randy Davila’s The Gnostic Mystery to my reading list. Got me to musing and wondering whether we are overlooking the Harry Potter series as perhaps the most obvious example of VF. I admit to not having read more than blurbs or watching only a few scenes from the movies, but still I wonder. Any thoughts there? Would not a future or alternate universe according to JK Rowling be a kick?


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  2. Really important points here about VF. by Randy Davila. Especially from his viewpoint as a publisher.

    I agree with you, Vic, about the Harry Potter novels. Btw- the novels are good, and the depth, craft, characterization, VF elements, dark fore-shadowing, only get better as the novels progress. I held off reading them for some time, and was pleasantly surprised and pleased with them. They accomplish what VF aims for.


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