TCWT: By the Examples of Books

It’s time for December’s Teens Can Write, Too! blog chain post (and I almost forgot!). This month’s prompt was:

“What works of fiction have taught you by example, and what did they teach you?”

In a way, this is a very difficult and very simple question to answer, and I don’t know how much I’m going to write. Every book or film or piece of fiction has a moral which they show through example, even the most fun of fictions, but in spite of that, only some have really resonated with me.

The Secret Garden (1993) PosterI was watching The Secret Garden this afternoon – on TV for the Christmastime – and it occurred to me that one of the big themes of the book as portrayed in the film is people lie. The adults kept Colin a secret from Mary; Mary kept the garden a secret from Colin until she was sure he wasn’t just a clone in personality of his absent father. Mary asks the maid to keep her presence in Colin’s room a secret from the strict housekeeper (played brilliantly by Dame Maggie Smith). Adults lie, children lie, all the same. They make up these stories – the garden isn’t the secret, in the end – and these elements bleed through to our lives – because, of course, it’s from there that the writers get their inspiration.

But that’s negative, and that’s not the point. What fictions like The Secret Garden – those quaint, unlikely children’s books that stuck around longer than the author ever would have expected – show us by example is that life gets better, regardless of the troubles you get dragged through. You can make your own ending, your own solution and garden in the hate that grows. And if you find that rose, you cling to it with all you have, because happiness is the key.

Agatha Christie’s mysteries taught me, by example, not to trust everything at face value. Sure, I’m clinically hypervigilant at times and have an untrusting streak, but it’s also a great attribute to have for someone who loves and writes mysteries – it keeps me knowing and appreciating that there are more facets to a story than those we first read (a great skill for the writer, I guess). Plus, I love Poirot’s bizarre attention to detail, since it mimics the kind of appreciation to detail that I myself have.

Hercule Suchet is judging your life decisions. 😉


So many books go over the problems one faces in reality but at a higher, more fantastic level. To defeat the evil dragon rider, your mentor has to take the lethal blow and sacrifice his life. So many sequels pull on this idea: a character has faced loss in a previous books, but they brush themselves off, maybe cry a bit, but go back to trying to defeat the evil.

Well, that’s the SFF side of fiction. Contemporaries have taught me the smaller things. Jacqueline Wilson’s books showed me that friendship can be varied, but still as genuine as the innocent friendships made through childhood. And that’s certainly been true IRL. We don’t know what we are going to experience through life – or whom we’re going to encounter. Even the stories in Wilson’s historic books show that friends can come from anywhere, and true friends will stay.

Judging by the stack of recent books I’ve read and written, I’ve learnt something more than a practical magic of living – the art of fighting. Not battle-fighting, and I’m not even referring to the art of fighting for one’s friends. I mean the art of fight scenes. I’m finding writing fight scenes are a lot easier nowadays, so, I’m terms of my own ‘literary’ career, books like the Skulduggery Pleasant series have taught by example.

Also, they’ve taught me that life is painful, but we must keep working towards the ultimate goal of saving the world being good to each other.

The Harry Potter series helped influence young me that having intelligence is not necessarily a bad thing, nor is having only a select crew of true friends. These are great thoughts for a child to have in mind when growing up in such a world full of the idea of popularity and material wants. That brings me nicely around to the film Mean Girls: if anything, that piece of fiction may influence the idea that cliques are fun and fulfilling – but then one must remember that it depends if one is in the right clique (if there is such a thing). It’s all well and good experiencing the fun of the Popular clique when you’re in it, but then, just as Cady comes to find out, if being Popular is at the expense of others, then it’s not worth it.

So, fiction – it can talk about friendship, about love, loss and recovery. It has kind of taught me a lot about the real world, as it’s meant to, really. Whilst we read to get away from real life, we also experience and learn the truth about real life from reading.

Boy, that became more philosophical than I intended. To finish off, I’ll say that Soulless taught me that even the women who are considered outcasts can bag the best of men (or women). Win for us. 😉

Tehe, with that in mind, I’ll leave you.

Do follow the rest of the blog chain. Of course, I always take the later dates, but that shouldn’t stop you from reading from top to bottom. Or, whichever you please.

25th – [free day] <Yulemas, Teen Writers!>>
27th <<You are here>>
30th and
31st – (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)


5 thoughts on “TCWT: By the Examples of Books

  1. These are great ideas, and I love how you chose a few movies to go in with the books you chose! There’s certainly a lot of stuff to think about in the areas of morality and mystery… Yes. Also, plus one for women bagging men at the end. That always gets points, yes yes yes.

  2. YES! I like your focus on books’ more philosophical teachings. That’s always been a big thing for me. I love books best when they’re subversive, yes, but mostly when they make me think about something like friendship differently, or give me a deeper understanding of the people around me. (That last part is why We Need Diverse Books. 😉 ) Great post!

  3. Great post! Love what you said about Secret Garden. I hadn’t realized lies were a theme in that story before but now that you say that it makes complete sense. I need to reread it.

    Same goes for what you said about Harry Potter and Poirot and learning about fighting when the times get tough. Great post.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Lily. Yeah, I didn’t realise that until I was rewatching the film and thought “hmm, there’s a lot of simple deceits”. After all, it’s more literary than anything, and though Mrs. Medlock is an antagonist in some ways, Colin’s and Mary’s biggest challenges are actually getting over their emotional barriers. I can see why it’s such a popular story with staying power. 🙂

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