For avid readers, the act of sitting down and opening a book is meant to distract from reality. Consuming a piece of fiction is supposed to be a practice in escapism, transporting us to worlds beyond our imagination. However, is fiction purely a genre of whimsy and fun? After all, don’t the best stories also have a learning component or at least an element that examines the word? Since the beginning of time stories have been used to educate and explain as much as entertain. Yet today we expect fiction to only enthrall and excite, stories anytime it appears there’s more to it, well, you’re reading too much into the subtext.
But shouldn’t fiction also seek to examine the world in which we live? Whether readers like it or not, even fiction writing is a part of the moment we live in and should be able to reflect that. Consider Dr. Suess’s classic The Lorax. The story is a great children’s story on its face, but what makes it great? The Lorax is one of the most blatant stories around in regard to its attempt to promote a cause.
Although the Lorax himself can be a rather unpleasant character at times, the message unquestionably resonates with readers. Contrary to what we might believe makes a good story, it may be the obvious message of The Lorax that makes it memorable. The appeal made by the narrator at the end of the story both highlights the severity of the of environmental exploitation and what needs to be done. If fiction has a long history of containing moral lessons and values, then shouldn’t it maintain that tradition?
In fact, the argument could be made stories should preach some sort of message to the audience. Writers and other storytellers have a rare platform and should be able to use that platform should they want to. Although the story needs not be overly preachy, that does not mean it cannot contain a message for the reader. At the end of the day writers, like every other person, have causes and principles close to their heart.
The stories writers craft should be able to promote or share these causes and principles. Arguably, a storyteller or writer could create a product that is more raw and passionate. Remember, what makes The Lorax so memorable is the appeal made at the end. That appeal is not as meaningful if the cause it speaks of is not so real, or present in our world. There will always be readers who decry such attempt by writers to bring real world lessons into their writing. But, given that even these make believe worlds have a role to play in the way we remember the present day, even fiction should reflect the problems we see and deal with.
Youtube Channel: Open Road Media
Featured image via Strangely Progressive
h/t The Atlantic