The vagueness of the "good message"

A common piece of advice I have been told is to “send a good message with your story”. I am concerned because how will I ever know if whatever makes a “good message” today will be the same tomorrow? The future is hard to predict and I’m not exactly writing simple little picture books over here.



Lmao. The problem is this idea of good:

Is it moral?

There’s absolute morality, such as parents should justly raise their children together into better people than themselves.

Is it situational ethics?

Situational ethics is aware that while parents should jointly raise kids, that some parents are monsters that their children should not be subjected to.

Is it depending on who is looking at it?

Let’s say your parents are x-phobic, but they done a great job of raising kids to adults (who will then fall out over the x-phobic thing).


Parents who are absolute trash on EVERY level but affirming on the things the other parents are x-phobic about.

Which side do you call a good message?

Which is more damaging, to have parents that raise you to be strong and independent that you can’t stand to be around as an adult or parents that would willingly let you starve all your childhood just to cheer your adult stances on so they can try to leech of you for the rest of your life?

Or are you going to write a cinnamon roll parent?

In the midst of this, all I can see is avoiding truly bad messages and let GOOD sort itself out. You’re not writing potty training books for babies.


Don’t worry about it. I have the Churroverse and people still read it :joy:

But yeah, to answer your question, I agree. What is ‘good’ according to the media now (LGBT representation, diversity, views outside of the bible) wasn’t good 50-60 years ago. That was all outlawed, and people lived very different lives.


Who’s told you to send a good message with your story? I’ve never heard that before, although I agree that every story has a message whether you intend to put one in or not, so make sure the message you’re conveying is something you want to convey. That doesn’t necessarily mean the message is good, though. Cli-fi books generally say the environment’s going to hell in a handbag, which isn’t good. You sure they didn’t mean good as in strong? ¯\_(ﭢ)_/¯


I think they meant “don’t be racist” but what is considered OK today may not be considered respectful in 10 to 30 years from now. That’s what I assume because they didn’t feel as if they needed to explain themselves.

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Ah! Ok, that makes sense. (*^-‘) 乃

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Don’t e racist is kind of timeless, though.

The iteration of it is VERY time sensitive. To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn both had a “don’t be racist” message, but they did it as products of their era and Twain gets hell from modern readers who need a safe space.


“Have a good message” has been a piece of advice circulated long before today’s standards of what is respectful/not okay. I think what people mean is that you convey a message that says something, and whatever you want to say with your story needs to be intentional.

There’s many stories that were well-intended, but the message got lost in translation because the execution of that message was tone-deaf and under-researched. A good example of this is 13 Reasons Why. The message was to be self-aware and to highlight the impact you can have on people, that your interactions with them influence their life. However, the message they ended up conveying (moreso in the adaptation, but the book isn’t without its problems) was very harmful for the victims they were attempting to represent and speak to.

I think “have a good message” is an especially complicated way of saying “choose your words carefully”. Your impact, how you convey things, is going to have an influence on the public if you choose to publish. How you wish to convey that message is important to consider and has been important to consider since stories were first written.

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It gets weirder when we talk about stories that are meant to convey support for certain philosophies, like confuscianism. A lot of Americans would hate the principles of it, with its respect for elders, obiedience of superiors, and its idea of living in harmony with society. To a lot of people, those are terrible messages to send.

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That’s just it: one man’s law is another man’s sin.

You want a complex message, you make THAT the message.

Sometimes the message of a book is pushing the end of a paradigm (showing where a given philosophy breaks) and isn’t a matter of a negative or a positive but a condemning of absolutes. (Les Miserables was not condoning theft, it was condemning the philosophy that man cannot change. Us later audiences only see theft of bread being harshly criticized, when that wasn’t the original intent.)

Here’s the thing: I believe in absolute laws. The thing is a beleive in relative understanding and sinful societies that force people into a corner. There is no grey, but the context of our lives makes it very hard to see the correct answers.

In the end, it makes me look like both the extremes of unyielding holier-than-thou AND begging for mercy because there’s no way to get it right.


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