The Take Home Message

I haven’t posted for a while because I have just been so busy. My day job is taking up more and more of my time and energy – out of office hours too.

Well Ordo Lupus is now published at and any reviews comments would be gratefully received.

I had this idea for promoting it: to hire a wolf and put a sandwich board on it with a poster of my book and walk it around the bookshop districts of London ie Charing Cross Road and the Embankment. I have actually made enquiries of a theatrical animal handling company but I cannot see it happening. It has to be illegal cos even with a young tame wolf which is muzzled, it’s got to be capable of some damage with its claws if it gets riled.

On to the main subject of my blog today.
I recently joined which is a network of writers who review each other’s work: its mostly short stories but they do novels too Ordo Lupus is in the queue for the second week in June but I tried my short story Inchoate first to see what would happen. I had a huge response and I had a hard time answering all the emails. Most were very polite and all were constructive.
One reviewer complained that Inchoate didn’t have a ‘take home message’. It’s fairly obvious what he meant by this but I had never come across it before and never really felt any need to include one. In fact, I think many of my stories do not have a simple message. Inchoate is about an adolescent/young alien who is given the job (probably his first) of monitoring early man/hominids in North America 2.4 million years ago. He botches it and sparks premature consciousness in man, which has a knock-on effect. He is put on trial for it and then subtle clues indicate that not all is as it seems. I think it’s true of all my stories that contemplation is needed and indeed consideration in its ancient context (that of religious focus on one’s own thoughts after absorbing something). That may sound pretentious and it’s only something I aspire to – I am not saying I achieve it always. This requires subtle clues which lead to varying levels of subplot if it is successful.

I must say I don’t like being preached to and I find stories that have a simple ‘lesson’ quite annoying and even a simple message unless its something totally new or very subtle.

Anyway I tried to explain all this and that I didn’t see that one absolutely always had to have a ‘take home message’ but he was having none of it. I am not sure if I am right or if he is right. Any views anyone?


10 thoughts on “The Take Home Message

  1. A take home message – hmmm? I do believe that it helps to leave your reader with some sort of ‘aftertaste’ (Sweet, bitter or even bittersweet) or ‘subconscious resonance,’ but I don’t think it necessary in an Aesop’s Fables fashion to imbue your work with some sort of moral point; leave that to the children’s authors. Well, I think the main thing about any literary work is that it must have entertainment value. Then again, some people like hamburgers and others fancy hotdogs, so the old adage of ‘You can’t please everybody’ applies.


  2. i agree with Gary, take home messages and morals should be for the kids. as an adult i resent people telling me what i should and shouldn't do. that said though, if the entertainment value is high, it can be forgiven.


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