- fic•tion [fik-shuhn] is any form of narrative which deals, in part or in whole, with events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary and invented by its author(s). (from wikipedia)
This may piss some of my peers off. I'm okay with that. Ready for my next brilliant revelation?
You did not have to write that novel.
You wanted to write that novel. You may have felt compelled to write it. But, at the end of the day, you did not have to write it.
Believe me, I understand how characters can get into your head and scream to be let out. Heck, I have a whole barracks of characters, and they all take turns running up to the glass and bang on it to have their stories told. But, as much as they egg me on, it's still a want, not a need.
When you have to write something, you are doing it for a purpose. You are trying to sell someone something–whether it's selling the boss on approving your budget, selling your constituents on keeping you in office, or recruiting more bigots for your hateful diatribes. The most important piece of your writing is THE MESSAGE, whatever your message is. Buy this. Validate me.
When you want to write something, you are doing it to tell a story. To answer 'I wonder what would happen if....' The most important piece of your writing is sharing your creations. You're giving the world a piece of you, honing it, and putting a piece of yourself out there. Here I am. Enjoy me.
That's not to say you can't pass something meaningful into your fiction. You can present an idea, or blend a movement into your stories. You're basing your work on humans, after all, for the most part. People have thoughts, and ideals, and beliefs. That's part of being human. Your fiction shouldn't ignore these things, and done as a part of the story, can be very effective and move people to tears, or to action. That's part of what all writing is. Manipulation. Pure and simple.
When your primary goal in your fic•tion is THE MESSAGE, you will fail, only grabbing the most loyal to your cause. Your fictional novel goes from being entertainment, with a side of activism, to an all-out manifesto. Bludgeoning your readers repeatedly with your MESSAGE will turn readers off. Your message will get lost, and the backlash will be astounding.
We've all read examples where the have to write has contaminated the want to write. Believe me–it shows.
You owe it to your characters to showcase them, you owe to your readers to respect their ability to understand and interpret things for themselves, and you owe it to yourself to enjoy the fucking ride, without cursing the journey.