All Fiction is Exploitative

I cannot write fiction, because I cannot in good conscience reduce a character to his traits. While waiting in line to purchase Biscoff cookies (Europe’s favorite cookie with coffee!) at a CVS Pharmacy, I watched an excited, likely homeless, black woman look at a stuffed bear that was on sale for Valentine’s Day, and exclaim how it was a million dollar bear, but was actually reasonable and fair, and not marked up as much as it could be. Her accent, diction, demeanor, and appearance fit exactly in with the stock ‘slightly-unhinged-vagrant’ archetype. A good writer of fiction would have no qualms about using her as a character.

But she should not be reduced to those traits. There is more there. But in writing, you can only describe so much, and what isn’t written does not exist. Whitman was large, contained multitudes; we all do. But we cannot grasp them. We exploit our traits, and others. We cannot help but exploit some while ignoring others. Life is fractional.