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.
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?
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.