I’ve been listening to a lot of the back episodes of the “Unjustly Maligned” podcast. The premise is to find a property (book, movie, television) that receives a lot of hate and bring someone on to explain why the hate is not deserved. Sometimes, the episode is great, such as the episode on Twilight (still don’t like it, but I certainly understand its popularity more). Other episodes are frustrating.
The reason is several of the episodes are less on defending the property for its story or setting and more on its “message”. Example is when they had Brianna Wu on to talk about Star Trek Voyager. Personally, I liked Voyager and I thought Janeway was a good skipper. Instead, the discussion was pretty much “Voyager has STRONG WYMYN!”
I know that some of you are saying, well what did you expect from a person best known for leading SJW’s in Gamergate? The truth is that I have friends who I disagree with politically, but can totally geek out with over Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, etc. Instead, it was message being more important than story.
This is the crux of the argument. What is more important, message or story? Story or message?
For me, the story will always be the most important. Characters need to be in a story because they bring something. For me, it’s because they drive the plot. My current project (which is taking far longer than it should) has a gay character. Did I choose to put a gay character in to check off a box or so that some of my readers will identify with him? No. I chose him because he helps drive the plot.
Message fiction has its place. A good chunk of my “invisible friends” are fans of Ayn Rand’s works, and they’re all message fiction. Parables are message fiction writ small. Sometimes a person does need to see someone like them doing great things to kindle their own greatness.
I choose to write story over message. Those are the stories that need to leap out of my mind.