DISCUSSION: Stories With Hidden Messages - V2

Original topic: DISCUSSION : Stories with (or without) Hidden Messages

I decided to make a V2 of this topic since there’s a lot of new community members here now and I thought it would be interesting to see some new opinions/see if some old members have changed theirs :slight_smile: You don’t have to answer all/any of the questions below but I do want to talk about what kind of hidden messages you see in Episode stories.

Questions~

  1. Why do you think authors include hidden messages (like morals of the story) in their story.
    1a. Do you think that they include it on purpose?
  2. Do you yourself, like stories with clear morals?
  3. Give an example of a story you read in which there was a hidden meaning.
  4. Does every story have a moral / hidden meaning / hidden message?
    4a. Is this necessarily a good thing? Can it be a bad thing?
  5. Can a story ‘just be a story’
  6. Can a reader find a moral, totally different from the authors?
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-rubs hands together- I like hidden meanings so much that I put several in my story, and then talk about them on the forums before my story is even published, which sadly defeats the purpose and makes them non-hidden meanings. Oops.

1. Why do you think authors include hidden messages (like morals of the story) in their story?
I know I do it because I like to. I consider myself to be very thoughtful and philosophical, there’s rarely a moment when I’m not over-analysing something, everything from the human condition to basic mathematics. Everything has depth to it.
1a. Do you think that they include it on purpose?
I’d say it’s definitely possible to have an unconscious meaning that even the author didn’t intend, but somewhat unlikely, unless it’s some meta-meaning about amateur authors, like “sexy scenes will get a lot of clicks” or “mildly toxic relationships can appear hot when the consequences aren’t shown.” But it’s also possible that an author’s opinion leaked into the story without the author intending it. There are plenty of us who don’t stop to wonder why we do things. :woman_shrugging:
2. Do you, yourself, like stories with clear morals?
I don’t mind it when stories leave everything out in the open, sometimes I need that if I’m new to a specific topic. But I also like to interpret things my own way. There are times when I’ve been reading a story and I’ve had a certain direction for it, and it’s been nice when the author hasn’t gone out of their way to squash my interpretation.
3. Give an example of a story you read in which there was a hidden meaning.
The story that I’ve been thinking about as I type this (besides my own, of course) is Wings of Light by How_Novel. It’s a story with layers, and a poetic style that leaves some leeway as to how you interpret the characters and the setting. It mentions moments through the characters’ childhoods, with some symbols that are brought up multiple times. The author does offer some guidance as to what the symbols mean, but there’s also some wiggle room.
4. Does every story have a moral / hidden meaning / hidden message?
Nope.
4a. Is this necessarily a good thing? Can it be a bad thing?
It’s definitely fine; even IRL, some people like Shakespeare, some people like cheap erotica, and some people find the time and place for both.
5. Can a story ‘just be a story?’
Yep. As above, there are some stories that don’t have a lot of depth, they’re only meant to provide an escape. In the aforementioned cheap erotica, you can look for a deeper meaning, and the only thing you’ll find is “yuck.” :joy:
6. Can a reader find a moral, totally different from the authors?
Yep! Back to my story, I lay out at least 3 philosophical or satirical questions/themes, some I stress pretty strongly, others lurk below the surface, but there are other ways to interpret it, even some that I’ve anticipated. And honestly, even the top 3 just kind of appeared when I was writing the first version, I didn’t intend them when I sat down to write. An interpretation isn’t necessarily wrong if I didn’t intend it, and it’s kinda cool to imagine someone seeing my story from another angle.

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This made me laugh. Lol, thank you for your input :smiley:

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Why do you think authors include hidden messages (like morals of the story) in their story?
I like to think it’s because there are so many young readers on the platform, and this is kind of a way to “teach” them and show a good example. I know this is not what stories are mostly about, but I like to think it :sweat_smile:
Also, because morals usually come with a happy ending, and people like reading stories like that.

Do you think that they include it on purpose?
I believe the authors who include morals, they mostly do that on purpose. However, there are many stories that send wrong messages to their readers, and I hope think those authors are not really aware of what they are doing.

Do you yourself, like stories with clear morals?
Yes. I mean I don’t need it to be said directly, I prefer if it’s just hinted on or something. But I would love to see more stories like this on the app.

Give an example of a story you read in which there was a hidden meaning
I can’t really think of any better examples than Silent Night by H. Noelle. The whole story is written without dialogues! The directing so impressive that the message of the story becomes clear without the characters having to say a single word.

Does every story have a moral / hidden meaning / message?
Tbh I doubt this about certain stories, but I can’t say it for sure because the moral of the story usually comes to light by the end, and I either haven’t finished reading them or they are not completed yet. I think endings where MC and LI get married and live happily ever after can be considered as a moral too, even if it’s kind of “cliche”.

Is it necessarily a good thing? Can it be a bad thing?
It can be bad, and I’m mostly concerned about stories revolving around abuse and bullying. These are very sensitive subjects and unfortunately many authors write about this without knowing how to portray it well, and this can do more harm than good.
Besides this, I have to mention stories that glorify Stockholm Syndrome and psychotic love interests. And sometimes this go together with stories about abuse, which is even worse :confused:

Can a story ‘just be a story’
Yes, definitely. To me it depends on the genre. For example if I’m reading a comedy, I don’t really expect to see any deep messages. It’s great if there’s still some though.

Can a reader find a moral, totally different from authors?
Yes. For example, I really like open endings, when the author leaves things to our interpretation. Even if it’s not intentional :slightly_smiling_face:

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bump

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1. Why do you think authors include hidden messages (like morals of the story) in their story.
Maybe because it’s important to them or because it’s something they have been thinking about and want to include in their story.

1a. Do you think that they include it on purpose?
Some might, some don’t and some may come to think about messages to include while the story is developing. :nerd_face:

2. Do you yourself, like stories with clear morals?
I like it as long as the “moral of the story” doesn’t come across as forced. It can be really nice if it comes naturally.

3. Give an example of a story you read in which there was a hidden meaning.
I’m not sure. I have to read more stories on Episode…

4. Does every story have a moral / hidden meaning / hidden message?
You probably could find a moral/hidden meaning/message in most stories if you’re searching for one independent on if it’s intentional by the author or not.

4a. Is this necessarily a good thing? Can it be a bad thing?
I think it can be a nice touch if it’s well done. It could be bad if the “moral” takes away from the actually story and makes certain actions unrealistic or out of character.

5. Can a story ‘just be a story’
Probably, depends on the reader.

6. Can a reader find a moral, totally different from the authors?
Yeah :+1:

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Bump

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Why do you think authors include hidden messages (like morals of the story) in their story?
We all have things we would like to share. I guess authors sometimes either do not want to portray the message as the main focus or they fear backlash, and that is why the messages remain mostly “hidden.”

Do you think that they include it on purpose?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

Do you yourself like stories with clear morals?
I like stories with clear morals I agree with. I can read stories that are quite the opposite of that, but if the message is not one hundred percent explicit in this case, I appreciate it more.

Give an example of a story you read in which there was a hidden meaning.
To be honest, I have never read a story with a hidden message. That said, I will never know what was exactly going on in the author’s head when they wrote the stories I read. There might have been a hidden message I missed, or there was simply nothing actually hidden because everything was clear to me.

Does every story have a moral / hidden meaning / hidden message?
The thing with hidden messages is that they are tricky. A hidden message can be obvious to some or nonexistent to others. The author themselves may deny the presence of such hidden message, if questioned. So, my answer is no. Some stories openly express all their messages.

Is this necessarily a good thing? Can it be a bad thing?
Nothing wrong with it. If a hidden message is a bad thing, but, like, an unacceptably bad thing, then it is not hidden at all. Some readers may ignore it or think it is right or acknowledge it and its wrongness but say they still enjoy the story because it is merely a work of fiction. Whichever the case, it does not mean that the message is hidden.

Can a story ‘just be a story?’
Certainly. More often than not, people read too much into simple stories.

Can a reader find a moral, totally different from the authors?
Absolutely. How many times has a reader criticised a story for the negative message it sent, while the author denied such message? Or said that the message has not been interpreted correctly? I mean, in most of those cases, the author most likely handled a controversial topic poorly, but let’s also accept that sometimes we interpret what we want to interpret.

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Why do you think authors include hidden messages (like morals of the story) in their story.
To give their story a purpose… Or just because they realized had the power to teach something that they cared about.
Do you think that they include it on purpose?
I think a lot of the time, it’s unintentional. There message is usually pretty clear when it’s been included on purpose.
Do you yourself, like stories with clear morals?
Yes, I do. I like being made to think.
Give an example of a story you read in which there was a hidden meaning.
Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh… I know there’s a lot and I keep trying to think of another author to use as examples but still Amanda Michelle always comes to mind because it’s pretty clear the lesson you’re meant to learn from stories like Equality or Reality.
Does every story have a moral / hidden meaning / hidden message?
I think so. Whether the author means it or not, there’s just always something to take away from any story. Unless it’s one of those trashy spam stories on the app that literally make no sense. But honestly, can you call them a “story” to start with?
Is this necessarily a good thing? Can it be a bad thing?
I meeeean, I think it’s a good thing that there’s always something to take away from something you’ve probably spent hours reading but I think it’s a bad thing when authors aren’t aware of the message they’re sending themselves.
Can a story ‘just be a story’
In my opinion, no.
Can a reader find a moral, totally different from the authors?
Yes. I think when an author is unintentionally including subliminals then duh, of course the reader probably takes away something different to what the author meant. But also, I think some authors write with the intention of the message being open to interpretation. Only Us by Coovu was a good example of this, but the story got removed.

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Bump :thinking:

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We are all always interpreting what is happening around us, so it’s no different when writing a story. Additionally, smaller themes or messages can (and should) illuminate different aspects of the larger themes throughout and points of the story. Hidden messages can help readers engage with different characters and have a better understanding of the story at large.

I mean, ideally…yes. I think often authors are trying to write specific scenes or move certain plot points forward and in order to do so send messages they maybe didn’t intend. But you can tell when an author has thought about the details of their characters and situations so that hidden messages and concepts come out and reoccur in the story.

This is an interesting question. I definitely don’t like reading a story where I have no idea what is going on or what the point is. BUT I will say the stories that resonate with me tend to have messages that evoke questions rather than tell me what to believe. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having clear moral messages - and, depending on the nature of the story - there are some things that should be clear. But for example, a lot of stories will give off the message that “love conquers all,” which is not a terrible thing, but I enjoy not having to take that at face value. Rather than accepting that love conquers all, I would connect more deeply to a story that makes me question what we mean when we say “love.” Are we talking about interpersonal (and usually romantic) relationships? Are we talking about love as a radical practice to combat injustice? Are we meaning it in one way when talking to others and are they interpreting it in a different way?

In general, the questions people ask are usually more important than the answers. Or rather, the questions they ask give more insight into their reaction to and interpretation of the story and that’s the beauty of creative endeavors.

This is difficult for me to answer because tbh I don’t finish a lot of stories lol. There are a couple that I think are set up to deal with hidden or deeper meanings, but they’re still in their beginning phases.

Yes. Our realities both shape and are shaped by the media we consume, among other things. Not everything has intentional hidden meanings, but all stories convey messages to readers. For example, going back to the comedy genre - there may not be an intended moral to the story, but based on the content of the story, are you sending the message that levity does indeed have its place when dealing with difficult issues? Are you, through degrading humour, sending the message that it’s ok to joke and laugh about everything, even if it harms other people? Those are generally not intended hidden meanings, but they are there. So whether it’s a good or bad thing I guess depends on how much consideration the author has put into the messages they send and their general understanding of the world.

Not really, no. But that isn’t to say the purpose of the story can’t be just for entertainment or to give others an escape from their reality. Doesn’t change that all stories are shaped by the author’s view of the world. You can write a cute story about friends that’s “just a story” in the sense that you’re just reading about their day to day lives. But you would still be sending out messages. Those messages might be “everyone is deserving and capable of having nourishing relationships” or “some relationships aren’t worth holding on to.” Nothing exists in a vacuum, but the general purpose or messages of a story don’t necessarily have to be deep or difficult to figure out.

I think this goes back to what I was saying before about stories that encourage readers to ask questions. I think it would be difficult for readers to find a moral or message that was completely different from what the author intended, but I think they can find and developed more nuanced understandings from the stories than just what the author put into it. Of course, I think there are messages about ~the power of love~ in stories that I don’t pick up on because I find the relationship toxic. So I guess in that sense, an author may be trying to say that love can change people and I’ll find that the kind of “love” they’re portraying destroys people’s sense of self and encourages them to accept manipulative behaviors from people who supposedly care about them. Which I guess means the answer to this question is yes lol. But in general, I think readers are more likely to expand on hidden messages rather than find something totally different. Not impossible though, of course.

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