Blogging Distarcted alt header image with evolved logo and alternative site text.

Community PulseAs an author, I feel that it’s important to keep up with current trends in the writing community. From themes to genres to marketing, things are always shifting and moving, and the best way to be relevant is to keep your fingers on that pulse. This has recently struck very close to home for me as I have a desire to return to an epic fantasy story I started a few decades ago and would like to finish the series. The problem – that first book didn’t age well, and without a significant overhaul, I don’t feel it will do well in the current market.

One of the problems I face is that the story I wrote is a boy’s adventure. As such, it only appeals to a limited audience, and a couple of the characters are similar enough that they can kind of merge together on the page. In the time since, I’ve learned a great deal about writing better characters and the importance of multiple perspectives to storytelling. My conundrum revolves around determining if I can replace characters without feeling forced or disingenuous to the overall story.

While struggling with the decision to rework or abandon it, I’ve been reading through author forums and discussions to see how others handle this type of issue and found something troubling.

With recent events here in the US and around the world, there seems to be a trend in fiction – Writing to Moral Lessons.

Some refer to this as woke writing, usually in a negative context. I believe that label misses the point and sadly carries a prejudiced connotation. There is a long history of stories with messages of right and wrong that address social injustices. Fairy tales are full of warnings about the perils of bad behavior, Wuthering Heights teaches us how to love, To Kill A Mockingbird clearly displays the evils of racism and how it shapes society, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy inspires us to enjoy life and stretch our imaginations as far as possible. The difference is that these authors make the issue part of the story, not the point of the story.

Yes, there is absolutely a need for awareness and diversity. However, writing a fictional story with the intent of preaching morals isn’t necessarily the best way to go about it. Activism takes many forms, there are numerous ways for writers to participate, and I encourage you to do so. Write letters and create social media posts – personalize the subject with love, outrage, and hope.

Fiction is entertainment. With so many writers vying for the attention of an audience, those who seek out and read this type of fiction are not likely to be the ones who actually need to learn that moral lesson.

Character BuildingInstead of writing towards a moral, create characters with perspectives that enhance the story. Doing so will create diversity without forcing it. In fiction, you get to choose how to cast a light on things like hatred, prejudice, and injustice. These should be an aspect of the story – something to be overcome, not its theme. Generally speaking, moral epiphanies don’t address these issues, they preach to them. Show the reader the strength of diversity and the benefits of equality in the characters’ actions while telling your story, let their actions show the reader a moral compass. The first rule of description is to show, don’t tell. This should also be the first rule of writing morality.

In truth, it should be the first rule of morality in general. If more people acted with a social conscious instead of just preaching it, things would suck a lot less out in the world.

Come back for a new writing topic in two weeks

If you enjoyed this writing blog, please share in your favorite social media platform.

And subscribe below for news and new content alerts.