What does fiction mean to you? Is it meant to be entertainment, or should it be used as a vehicle for waking people up, conveying horrific information that many would not normally choose to know about? Sometimes one, sometimes the other? Or something in between?
I've been thinking about these questions lately. I have seen Schindler's List and American History X three times each and been deeply moved by both movies, and yet I walked out of Syriana a third of the way through, unable to watch any more. I know that one of the aforementioned movies is not fiction, and another is inspired by a memoir, but lately I've been left with a feeling that my fiction sensibility has been abused, with too many people trying to tell me stories that are really news casts on how awful the world has become. I'm wary of films that are nominated for Oscars now, because so often this seems to be a criteria for the award. We're overdosing on reality nowadays, and I worry that fiction will be the casualty.
Alerting the world to injustice and other serious problems is admirable. But one of the tenets of fiction is escapism and entertainment. A story can also make a difference to a reader simply by passing on messages of hope, and viewpoints that are positive and uplifting.
If it's well written, too, it has the right to be a memorable book.
Do you write to escape, or do you write to change the world? Or something in between?