I consider myself an intentional writer. I write everything with specific purpose. Still, the idea of “intentional fiction” may be confusing to some, so I thought I would clear it up (and connect with others who love it!) by posting a little question and answer.
What is intentional fiction?
Intentional fiction is when you write on purpose. This is when the content of your story is for a very specific end – to create a positive impact in the world. This means every aspect of the story is there for a reason, not just to make a good story, but to communicate a specific set of ideas to inspire change in the reader.
Why write intentional fiction?
Because it is the responsible thing to do as a writer. Even if your purpose for writing is to entertain, the concepts in your stories influence how readers see reality. With that kind of power, wouldn’t you prefer to positively influence reality? Wouldn’t you rather make the world better?
What kind of content is important to intentional fiction?
Any story content can be important. That said, emotional content sticks with readers (not necessarily sentimentality, but plot that provokes emotional responses). These are the things they remember. So relief, love, fear, tension – all these kinds of things can elicit visceral reactions in a reader. But also subtle things are important to consider, like how many characters are women or men, or POCs, or gender fluid. It’s important to consider social structures, and how these influence the characters. It’s also important to consider how conflict is resolved – if there is violence, what happens as a result, and how it is used is all incredibly important. In short, no aspect of the story can be ignored or written off as having no impact. This is the difference between an intentional writer and someone who writes carelessly as to social impact.
How did you come up with the concept of intentional fiction?
After I did some research on rhetoric, my eyes were opened to the power of narratives and how they structure our reality. I realized that many fiction writers employ tropes and concepts without fully recognizing the implications and influences for readers. These are things that advertisers are very conscious of, but fiction writers? Not as much. Sometimes there is a key concept emphasized, as in many sci-fi works, but the whole story may or may not be structured with this thought in mind. I wanted a group of fiction writers to take back the entertainment narrative and transform the story.
How can readers get involved in the intentional fiction movement?
If you’re a reader who wants the narrative to change, it’s important to support authors who are working to do this. This kind of thing is being done intuitively by many POC and LGBTQIA writers, and they deserve our support in this important work. Likewise, there are writers working to address issues like reproductive rights, climate change, bullying, and even spiritual health in fiction writing. Wherever a writer addresses issues that need discussion, share their work. When something resonates with you, share. By focusing on these different narratives and sharing them, we amplify their impact. This is how humanity can move and grow.
This sounds really big. Does all fiction have to do this?
Yes it is really big – the same as anything that really matters. And no. No one has to do anything. But don’t you want it to? Don’t you, as a good person, want to help spread good stuff?
Spread some good stuff – if you’re a reader, leave a comment below about your favorite intentional fiction! If you’re a writer, and this resonates, join the Intentional Writers group! We’d love to have you!
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