Sarah explains how not to be a victim

Sarah A. Hoyt has some excellent advice to everybody called No excuses, No regrets about why adopting the identity of victim is a self destructive idea.

I was talking to Charlie yesterday about the problem of “social justice writing.” By which we mean writing that is more concerned with conveying the “right message” delivered by the “approved group” writer than with telling an entertaining/uplifting or otherwise interesting story-that-earns-its-own-keep.

First of all, of course, there is the fact that a story that relies on “right think” to justify its right to exist might not bother with less glamorous bits of craft such as making sure your reasoning makes sense throughout, or that you have established the character’s traits to evoke an emotional response from the reader and catharsis at the end of the story.

In fact, in this “writing to effect social change” shares the exact same drawbacks as writing fan fiction. As a former fan fiction writer (Jane Austen fanfic. Yeah, I know. Exciting. Shud up.) I’m just glad I was a professional before I started playing in fanfic. It is all too easy to acquire bad habits from writing fanfic. For instance, if you’re writing Pride and Prejudice fanfic, all you have to do is name the character Lizzie, even if you set it in modern day, and the reader immediately imbues it with every characteristic of the Jane Austen character, without your having to do any heavy lifting. In the same way if you name a character Whickam, everyone knows he’s a cad or worse and never mind making his faults believable or foreshadowing them.

Writing the politically correct story is much the same thing: introduce a minority character, be it racial, sexual or religious, in one of the approved “categories” and the readership, which are “fans” of social justice will immediately imbue that “victim character” with all the characteristics of noble victims ever penned since Jean Jacques Rosseau rode the noble savage into the sunset.

Because of that, “message writing” will always be inferior to “entertainment writing” when viewed in the dispassionate cold light of day.

Change how fashionable the message is (and frankly the left seems to do that every few years, as a matter of course) and today’s “masterpiece” becomes a story only of interest to historians of passe modes of thinking, if not an outright heresy to the people trying to pretend that we’ve always been at war with Eurasia.

But there is more moral peril to “message writing” because of the very mode of thought it encourages amid its practitioners; a mode of thought best described as “seeing oppressors under every bed.”

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