It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing a fantasy, a murder mystery, or any other kind of novel. The surest way to gum it up is to have an agenda besides just telling the story.
Yesterday we watched an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit because Amanda Plummer had an award-winning part in it, playing a schizophrenic who’d been the victim of a sexual assault. She was good, all right, although the rest of the acting was kind of wooden and mechanical: sort of like what you’d expect from Hollywood screenwriters who think, “This is the way New York cops talk–like puppets.”
But what was really wrong with it was the show’s fetish for “diversity.” Because of a need to represent every identity group in New York, the script had to accommodate a bewildering parade of characters–and even then they left out African pygmies and transgender types. The story staggered under its burden of identity politics, and we got the impression that watching this show on a regular basis could get quite tiresome.
“Oh! But this or that group will be offended if we don’t include a character representing it! We’ve got to be inclusive!”
You can’t tell any kind of worthwhile story if you’re standing on a soapbox.