“It’s Just a Story”: We Underestimate the Power of Literature

When we open a fiction book, it’s purely for the sake of escapism. There’s nothing to learn from these stories and nothing that should make us think. People should stop politicising stories because acting like they have deeper meanings is pointless, right?

Wrong.

I’ve had people tell me these sort of things frequently since I became a writer on Episode Interactive. That’s probably because I spend way too much of my time arguing with people on the forums about diversity standards, tasteful stories, and representation. I often discuss the importance of creating positive portrayals of certain sensitive scenarios, especially on an app aimed at such a young audience. When I try to tackle these areas of improvement, I am met with a great deal of push-back. People will completely shut down, refusing to engage with difficult topics and have a proper debate because they’re “just stories”. That makes me cringe really hard at my screen. I wish that these people would have a wake-up call. Good stories aren’t just about writing some words on a page and creating pretty pictures in our heads. No writer should ignore the power that their story can have over their readers. Yes, Episode does have the potential to generate some amazing stories and writers are powerful – and, as you probably already know, that means responsibility, folks!

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin

So, my wonderfully inquisitive-minded friend, I hear you ask: “Why can’t I just write whatever the hell I want to write? Why do I have to think about the implications that my story may have?” Well, before I answer you, I have to tell you that those are some excellent questions! I guess the most important thing to cover first is the impact of art in general on the mind. This involves delving into the worlds of two of my biggest loves: literature and history. Lucky you.

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