For today’s discussion on @webcomicchat.
Q1: How do you define the “moral of the story”?
A practical lesson it teaches. Can be a deliberate anvil-dropping, but any well-written and complex story will have natural morals, in the sense of “if you, too, behave like this, you’ll face these consequences.”
e.g. a moral of The Lord of the Rings (and by extension DM of The Rings) might be “don’t underestimate your gardener.”
Q2: Are a story’s morals and its themes the same thing? Why or why not?
A moral should be an outgrowth of a theme, but a theme doesn’t necessarily lead to a moral.
e.g. if one of the morals of Sleepless Domain is “reaching out to your friends can help you deal with a traumatic loss,” that comes from the way it handles the broader themes of loss/grief and friendship.
Contrast something like Catball & Clown Girl, which arguably has themes of friendship (and hatred, and cat-ness), but I don’t know that you can draw any useful lessons from it. It’s just cute.
Skipping around because this one’s related:
Q4: Do a story’s thematic elements need to reflect any of its morals? How so?
…how would you get a moral that doesn’t involve any of the thematic elements? That’s like asking if the answer to a riddle needs to reflect the setup.
I guess you can read this as “do the characters need to behave in accordance with the moral,” in which case, no. You can have a story that centers on Bad People Doing Bad Things (consider String Theory, or Bruno The Bandit), and interpret the moral as “hey, don’t be like that guy.”
Q5: Tell us about your favorite stories with a central moral to share!
Ehh. Anything with a “central moral” is likely too anvilicious to be a “favorite story.”
Good storytelling and character development needs to be at the center of the writing. Morals are just an outgrowth, an aftereffect, of that focus.
Q3: What are some examples of stories (including your own) you see with morals imparted in them?
I think the most obvious moral of Leif & Thorn are “communication is important, even (especially!) when it’s hard work.” Maybe with a side of “be kind to people, because you never know what they’ve gone through.”
…Readers, any other nominations?