Message Fiction

For my three loyal readers:

An interesting blog post  from Superversive SF writer Marina Fontaine about message fiction.

This was the comment I wrote below the post, currently awaiting moderator approval.

The real problem with message fiction is not the message per se, but the fact that it’s incompetent in how the message is presented. While phrase “message fiction” is fine rhetoric, as dialectic it fails miserably.

Why? Because fiction by it’s very nature is intended to carry messages. In fact, if an author does a horrible job putting in a message or messages, the readers will make an effort to find one. So complaining that fiction has a message is essentially missing the point.

What people really mean by message fiction rhetorically is more accurately called didactic fiction dialectically. Robert McKee had a section about this in his book Story, where he uses the example of an anti war movie that beats you over the head with the message that war is bad over and over until you want to pick up a gun just to anger the storyteller.

Fiction is designed to impart messages like “Good will triumph over evil” subtly, allowing the reader to reason themselves into the message. Fiction is also designed as an argument for and against whatever point of view the author is espousing.

What makes left message fiction so bad is that they are hilariously unsubtle about their message, thus shattering the suspension of disbelief, annoying the reader, and preventing the reader from reasoning themselves into whatever argument the author might have had.

Just my two cents.


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