While searching the archives of The Ensign, I ran across something I had never read before: a two part series by Richard Cracroft on Mormon literature published back in 1981.
And here’s an excerpt from part 2:
In fact, the future of LDS fiction will probably be closely linked with Home Literature, for the LDS writer and the LDS reader share an abiding faith and hope in eternal principle, in the possibility of billions of happy endings. Thus we will have more faith-promoting fiction. And we probably will have still more fiction dealing with LDS history and with characters in the Book of Mormon and the Bible. But, above all, we will have more fiction about Latter-day Saints endowed with real, human problems, problems which can be overcome as well as problems which can defeat and destroy. The effect of the gospel in the lives of such characters afford great fictional possibilities.
But the message of Mormon fiction, while inevitably moral, as is most fiction, need not be painfully blatant. Many of the sweetest messages of life are subtle, and the important messages of truth which LDS fiction will be charged to carry can be aimed at readers schooled in reading well-crafted fiction, at readers who rejoice in the elevating message as subtly suggested through skillful character development, dialogue, setting, symbolism, metaphor, and language. Well-written literature challenges the reader to read to understand—not simply to dismiss—to prove the message, dark or light, and to ponder the implications of his or her new insights. Good fiction thus calls for good readers.
At the heart of such literature will lie the examination, in fiction, of the quest for faith, of the tension inherent in being in the world yet not of the world. It is not a new dilemma, of course. But, daily, the dilemma is renewed in the lives of all faithful men and women, and thus the old tensions continue to provide a springboard to significant new moral fiction. As a creative religion, the restored gospel will teach writers—and readers—to find new and fresh and inspiring yet technically sophisticated ways to create a fiction which will measure up to the great dilemmas of human experience and to the grand message of the Restoration.
Good fiction calls for good readers. Mormon fiction…need not be painfully blatant. The dilemma is daily renewed.