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WG.101: The burden to Moralize!

All right, people, it’s welcome back to Writers’ Guide 101. It’s been a long, long while. But we are back and we are back differently. Whilst in the past, our lessons here were kind of serious all-attention-to-duty online classes, this time, we are going to “interact”.

I refrain from usually “talk” because a certain amount of seriousness must be upheld.

So… WG.101: The burden to Moralize.

This is kind of revisiting our very last lesson where we talked about: Literary Fiction vs. Genre Fiction. But in this case I am plain talking: FICTION in its entirety.

I want to open the interaction by asking: Why do you read fiction?

That is a serious question, please. And everyone one participating in this class… I think we can call it class *wink* So, everyone participating should answer this: Why do you read fiction?

Now, Fiction is simply everything written that is not Non-Fiction. We all know that, I know.

You know why I read fiction? And yes, I read fiction… A LOT. I love it. Been reading fiction, I mean my kind of romantic fiction, since I was nine. And the only reason I read fiction is to be: Entertained.

That, dear people, is the reason most people… cancel that. That, dear people, is the No.1 reason EVERYONE who reads fiction reads it: to be entertained. QED!

Hey, hey… Hey! Let us establish that truth and agree on it: We, you and I, read fiction because we want to be entertained. God’s truth. No lies. No pretense. No biggie. Fiction is basically for entertainment. You go after it, so to get entertained.

Simple.

Now, why is TM reiterating a known fact, you wonder?

A simple reason. And I want you all to get into “my reason” with me.

The burden… heavy, gigantic, neck-breaking, talent-truncating burden that as a Fiction Writer, I have the primary responsibility to teach you a lesson. To moralise you. To teach a moral, possibly a dozen of it, in my fiction story.

You know why it’s a burden? Because I am a FICTION Writer and the primary, major, No.1, singular aim of fiction is to ENTERTAIN!!!

So… I’m a Fiction Writer who’s meant to entertain you. It’s Fiction… I’m giving you that needed momentary escape from reality. Fiction… Unreal… same meaning. You get?

Why are we turning it into something else… especially here in Nigeria, people?

Why do we want every damn thing we read to teach us a moral?

“What is the moral of that story?”

Stop asking over-conservative, tight-assed archaic questions and get with the real deal. You read fiction… It doesn’t owe you moral lessons. It owes you unimaginable entertainment and pleasure.

Jeez! Do you know there are people who ask: What’s the moral of this film when watching Harry Potter?

Hello!!! There’s no moral… Not a consciously in-built one… It’s a freaking fiction-based movie. Not real life. Enjoy it! Don’t philosophize it!

So much is expected of Literature, and these days, Fiction Literature, that I ask: Why the heck are you reading it instead of the encyclopedia on the Philosophy of Life, huh?

Hey again… I’m not disputing that we, as Fiction Writers, cannot “teach morals” via our stories. We can. We do. BUT that is not our primary responsibility.

It is not.

You have Non-Fiction Writers to perform that duty in your life. They are everywhere. Teaching you everything: 10 steps to win yourself a man. Top 5 ways to become a millionaire. Become a Superstar Christian in 30 days. Make your marriage a dream romance… and blah-blah-blah.

You want those moralistic books? Get them!

You want fun, entertaining, unrealistic, mushy, intriguing, blood-heating books? GET OURS!

But don’t get ours and then cry: “I didn’t even learn anything.”

Sister, if you were looking to learn the “reason why you are here on earth”, then you should have picked the Bible not my Kiss By Moonlight.

And brother, if you are after a “realistically detailed book on the sights and sounds of Lagos City”, then download Google Map and stop asking me why I wasn’t “location-detailed” in Match Made In Heaven.

Hey, no one actually asked those questions. We’re illustrating here. All right?

All right.

My point is: Fiction: “In it, you expect to be entertained, to be enchanted and to be transported to the make-believe world created by the Writer.” (I kind of borrowed this quote)

So, when you read it: Enjoy it. Take pleasure in that “unreal” story. Be a part of that marvellous world in which live the characters you are reading about for as long as you are reading it. And when you drop it, if you came away with any “life lessons”, thank the Writer for going the extra mile. But don’t complain and wrongly critique the story because you expected to learn why you should not be fornicating in a Romance novel.

Do you know this “moral battle” is mostly African based… and in particular, a Nigerian factor?

We are too self-righteous. Over-religious and heavily pretentious. Gosh!

Fiction is not meant to solve moral decadence. It is not meant to fight social injustice. It is not meant to debate political allegiance. If it does any of these, that is the “extra” thing, not the “main” aim.

Dear people, I am choosing to cry out because that burden is truncating my talent.

When I wrote For Better, For Worse…

By the way, do you have that “fiction” textbook?

If no, how do you plan on participating in a Fiction Writing class without textbooks na? Abi, you don’t know all my published works are the textbooks and teaching manuals for this class… except otherwise stated.

Oya, contact me with your #600 recharge card let me send you the FBFW textbook. If you fail na, you go start to dey blame lecturer.

Other teaching aids available, so do the needful and stop distracting the class. You want to photocopy… Na by like that I go chop?

Em… Where were we jor?

Ehen… So, when I wrote FBFW (that’s For Better, For Worse… for newbies *wink*), I wasn’t thinking—”hey, I want to impact a moral lesson, so I’ll write this story.” That wasn’t my thinking at all. I had a storyline and I allowed that storyline and the characters lead me where they wanted to.

Whatever lessons were in-built into that story came after my first goal: Tell a story of people hurting in marriage from the main perspective of the man. That is why my main protagonist was Perez Osasogie and the second main protagonist: Stanley Metchie.

When we get to Characterization, you will understand better. No be today class.

But my point is, when I’m writing, and as a so-called Genre Fiction Writer, I begin from a place of  “plotting” and I lead from there. My No.1 aim is always: Make it something universally enjoyable.

Sometimes, I have a lesson to teach: Like in Sweet Forbidden. I read several chronicles on SDK, and thoroughly disgusted, I told my sister I was going to write a story that will highlight the lesson that you can’t always cheat and get away with it. So I did.

But even with that lesson in mind, I was still a Fiction Writer out to entertain her readers.

All right, we have yapped enough. What exactly are we saying?

Are you a fiction reader? Do you go after so-called Genre (categorized) Fictions like: Romance, Mystery, Crime & Detective, Thriller, Horror and so on?

If you do, then you are primarily reading to be entertained. Own that truth. Accept it. Announce it. And live it.

Don’t over-burden us please.

Can you imagine that while writing Kiss By Moonlight (I hope everybody has this fiction textbook? If not contact me with your MTN #200)… While writing KBM, I kept fretting over the zodiac signs predictions factor… “Oh God! Hope they can relate and know this is fiction?”

After a long fretting, migraine-inducing wasted time, I hissed and told myself: “na dis thing dey make me tire to write for Nigeria o. I go soon remove o. If Dem like make Dem no know sai na fiction no be real life. O wo lo kan mi.”

After I told myself that, I delved back into my writing. Midnight Dance nko? (contact me if… you grab na? #300 MTN) Every time I had to deal with the gallery/artworks part, I fretted. But at the end: It is Fiction. Fiction, not reality.

So, my people, don’t let conservative, “tight-assed” Non-Fiction readers make you feel less like a reader like they enjoy making us Fiction Writers feel less like Writers. If they ask you: “Wetin this book teach you sef?” Tell them: “To laugh and relax… gaskia!”

And when you want to judge, critique or review a Fiction work, begin with: “Entertainment-wise, it was”… Because that is the No.1 aim/objective of Fiction. The rest na jara.

Class is over. McSteph, clean the blackboard and Zinnie, dismantle the projector. I will see you people First Thursday of March.

If you have questions, the comment section is your friend. If you don’t, just say something… something brilliant o. Ehen!

Remember: Tell us why YOU read fiction?

No.2 Question (no be only one question Dem dey set for exam. Dis one no be Masters class, na Pre-degree): Which of TM David-West’s fictions entertained you most?… Woh, I no mean free-read o. Contact me if you never ever do the needful o.

All right, I love you all… See ya… *removes Professor cap and scratches grey hairs as she strolls out*

***

Fastest finger: MTN: 8051.8119.3660.9401.

…talk if you load am o.

*eBook Purchase made easier! Via: *RECHARGE CARD PINS!*

17 Responses to WG.101: The burden to Moralize!

  1. mercy says:

    aunti! my daddy say I wee buy my textbook next week dah u shu pls nhor send me out of class. Gosh!this was an awesome read. U know I actually had that issue with some readers. I write for my department’s editorial crew and most of my creative works are horror blood curling types .my friends …bout 70% of em are crios,Christian and or medical ppl and they just read and ask….what are u teaching?dt ppl shd fear?what’s d moral?it affected me so much I manipulated some of my already finished writeups to fit into a moral standard.and for a while I’ve simply stopped writing horror and went with non-fictional narratives and jokes. thanks for this lesson….pry purpose of fiction is entertainment
    why do I read?basically I read to be entertained and to escape into a world of make believe authored in d writer’s head and m usually fascinated by d settings of books….with how d writer draws a map in his head. Lemme shut up ,my epistle too much.

    • Gosh! Gosh! Gosh!… I so love your comment. This is what I’m talking about. When we truly comprehend what fiction is. Imagine reading a creative journal and demanding for “moral”… mtcheew. Tell them to go read their Motivational books and Bible… no time. Lmao.

      “it affected me so much I manipulated some of my already finished writeups to fit into a moral standard”……….. See what I mean? Mercy, that is how people’s opinions were beginning to affect me. “Where is the moral?” “I learnt this”. “It taught me that.” But for heaven’s sake, it’s fiction and my primary duty is to entertain and enchant you.

      My dear, stick to your style o. Don’t allow them ruin your talent. Hypocrites! They will read Stephen King and praise him on end; then they want you to be “Sunday-School Teacher”… whoosai! It’s Fiction… Genre Fiction for that matter… abeg we should relax and chill in this country for once. Why praise Foreign-based Fiction Writers for same fiction style you belittle your fellow countrymen for, eh?

      Please Mercy, go on writing your horror jor. Me, I want to read them. Don’t stop o. Do your thing. More than half of them will spend money to buy all the Romance novels published in Paperbacks… wetin you dey find there: how best to live a pure life? If I hear…

      My love, thank you for this jor. I can like partner in crime… lol.

  2. mercy says:

    lmao @sunday school teacher.its really a serious sth.I’ll send some to ur mail next week when I subscribe…same time I’ll buy my textbooks,I need my teacher’s opinion. and I think I’ll write tonight… this is enough motivation to pick up my rusty pen and write sth..it’s bn soo long!

  3. Glowing Kosnie says:

    I love love fiction and started reading it since I could read cos mom made sure we read all kiddies stuffs then…

    Remembered wen I was about 8 years old and we went holidaying in Grannie’s place, I became so bored one day I ventured into my uncle’s room ransacked the whole place looking for what to read and discovered these letters which my uncle was writing then to a particular girl and the girl kept on returning all the letters with her replies insisting she wasn’t interested so I sat down there and devoured these letters, finished reading all, I think about 10 or so letters, replaced them back and left the room thinking Noone will know I had sneak in there…Uncle came back from school ‘Unical’ later and immediately knew something was wrong, in all the kids in the house he came straight to me to ask if I entered his room, was still contemplating whether to lie or not when Grandma ‘God Bless her Kind Soul’ came to my rescue but uncle insisted dat I am the culprit then when the other uncle ‘they’re Twins’ got back, the first thing he said was it’s Koko o cos that girl can read even Nepa Bill with the way she is…and everyone laughed cos of that comment but that really made my desire to read fiction voracious esp Romance and the likes…

    Remembered another time Mum caught me with a Mills and Boons in my JSS 2 she said if I dedicate the time I used for reading novels for my textbooks then I will be an A+ student,she even started hiding her Hints and Hearts Mag then but I will always look for a way to read them and I always did find a way…Lolz ‘don’t ask me how o’ during my SS1 she practically forced me to the Science class and my school counselor couldn’t comprehend why I will have all As in the Science subjects and prefer to be in the Arts class…it became an issue till Mum came to our school and I was ‘Fixed’ in the science class….

    Sorry for the long epistle but in all what am trying to say is I have Always loved Fiction right from when I was young till now, read all de pacesetter series then, cos it entertains and you find yourself visualizing the characters, and even seeing yourself in the make believe world…forgetting some life’s burden for a period and dreaming about prince charming and living happily ever after…lolz

    Sometimes the story touches you in ways you can’t explain and you become very emotional about it, Hubby noticed my love for reading while we were dating and ask why I do not write that I will make a good Writer but I told him am already a ‘Good reader’ so there’s no point

    Lemme stop here abeg…Thanks TM for All the Wonderful, inspiring and entertaining write ups…You do have a Very Loyal reader here Sis!!! Keep up Entertaining God Bless

    • Dang, naughty 8 yr old Kosnie. Lol.

      But Kosnie, as I was reading through I started to wonder if you are related to me. In short, I wondered if that was a second part of me from somewhere. Cos I was once in my grandma’s home and bored stiff, went searching thru my “cousin’s” room. A cousin we called “Uncle”. And this cousin is also a twin. Life’s so weird. Lol.

      I also loved Hints. Chei, you just reminded me something. One day, on ALL ABOUT GIST, I will tell you pple. Lol.

      But indeed, fiction is a beauty meant to take us from our sometimes boring world into a more exciting world and the No.1 gain is: pleasure.

      Thanks for the comment, Kosnie,and for so loving my works *muah*

  4. Iyke David says:

    Entertainment is the main reason why I can’t do without fiction.
    Though there plenty lessons that can be derived from reading fictions.

  5. Grace David says:

    Yaaaaay
    Thanks TM for the 200# .Thank God I decided to try my luck

    • Lucky you. Wonder how Mercy & Kosnie didn’t see it. Or maybe it was a Network Provider factor.

      Meanwhile, why you no comment proper on the matter at hand Na? Come back o… Lol

  6. Dharmmy says:

    People and deir wahala. what have they done with all the morals they learnt from childhood till now. Fiction is meant to entertain(one is caught up in the writer’s fantasy/world). Life isn’t all that serious- u gats loosen up and free ya mind. Ma’am spicy, keep doing you

  7. FavouriteShades says:

    Lols…. Ermmm….at a point…I had to check the web-address again…like is this TM….you went all freaking this … Freaking that and then the attempt at Yoruba.. Pray who is your Yoruba tisha?

    Ookay… To the matter at hand…I read mostly to be entertained…something to relax with after a tiring day….a few hours escape from real-life into the enchanting world of make-believe..but I also find myself picking lessons from fiction even without been overly conscious of doing so….thankfully your books have done more than entertained me,they have brought to forth deeply held beliefs,they have made me objectively question behavioural patterns and chart new paths from them.

    BUT

    I do understand why the burden to moralize…I remember been on a particular blog last year and one of the commenters was asking the writer if she believed in pre-marital sex as her stories always had consistent scenes of unmarried folks doing the do….I think the writer just ignored the commenter(as it she should, I never really checked back). Personally I was just bemused, they are just fiction stories ,wetin consign you with the writers values as relates to pre-marital sex…it didn’t seem to occur to that commenter that the fact that the writers fictional characters were doing the do before the ‘I do’ doesn’t mean she is in favour of pre-marital sex

    TM….as Nigerians living in Nigeria… We can like to be overly religious so I’ll advise you ligten or offload the burden to moralize#nuffSaid

    • My Yoruba tisha is 4 years in Lagos *tongue-out. Lol.

      Amazing comment and so on point.

      Really it’s “offload” the burden to moralize. How can we not get that a Writer is also a representative of many people? And of course, they are all “fictional” people. Imagine asking about her values… say what? Lucky reader on a different blog. Me… I would sit back… and respond.

      Why the pretense, by the way?

      Sex is being abused. It’s been turned casual. So, why didn’t that reader think that the Writer was being “realistic” and not “moralistic”, huh?

      Therein lies our pretentious nature. You want to learn morals but you are reading a non-Christian labelled Romantic Fiction… who you dey deceive? Mtcheew!

      The fact of it is even if the Writer is interested in being “realistic”, readers will still myopically judge because they don’t want to acknowledge the reality that unmarried folks are having more sex than married folks… and they are part of the No.6 commandment breaker… simple!

      Fave, I have come to a whole new stand. Write according to the dictates of my conscience, of my talent, of the particular genre and of the true nature of characters I am representing.

      See, Prue would succumb and have sex with Clarence after keeping herself till she was 24. But Zinny learned to hold back and wait for the wedding night. Of course, none of us are now sure if she and Tasie will make it to waiting for wedding night… but hey, it’s all fiction, so no matter.

      Point is, every character reveals herself/himself differently. And if I want to be an objective writer, I will represent both rightly.

      Besides, unless my primary goal as a Writer is to “teach morals”, then I have to be true to the Genres I write. Too many Romance fictions without “romance” begins to feel boring. That’s just the truth.

      You can eliminate Romance or Sex in Mystery or Crime & Detective, but you can’t entirely do it in Romance. The hero and heroine might not go all the way, but there MUST be romance… or it’s not a Romantic Fiction.

      Do you know that some folks felt bad that I wrote about homosexuality in the Calvin & Cate series? Like WTH! It’s happening in the society and we are Writers, we take whatever “true” inspiration we can get!

      Do you know how many married men are living double lives in this ?

      Abeg, let me get back to work jor. Renewing Covers images at the moment. Thanks for the rich comment, Fave. Have a great week.

  8. Hmmm… entertainment first for me because I look for me a story when I’m bored. I don’t mind a long and hard laugh while reading so also I try to learn new words, grammar and lessons if any.

  9. Toyenlon says:

    Sure,i read fiction for entertainment. I love reading so much so that when i was in secondary school then people thought i was in art class and not in science class. I love reading to the point that a teacher will be in class and I’ll put my novel in between my notebook and be reading then….lol. Things I’ve done for reading fictions. Apart from entertainment, it also builds your English too.

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