Monday, November 1, 2010

Political Suicide?

I thought since tomorrow we were going to cast our ballots it would be a good day to talk about politics. Don't worry I'm not going to try to sway you one way or the other. I thought it might be an interesting discussion about whether or not to include politics in your novels.

Personally it is a subject that I cannot stand. I find the TV attack ads disgusting. The sound bites that take quotes completely out of context, the out and out lies, and exaggerations from both sides make me want to throw my remote at the TV.

What really bothers me is that it seems the distance between the views of the left and the right is wider than I can ever remember. The left is so far left that they cannot even see the center, and the right really isn't much better. It's as if each of their political views are on polar opposites of the universe and there is no common ground whatsoever.

I mean we have a bobble head talk show host calling a woman candidate of an opposing view a bitch, and a candidate for governor calling their opposing candidate a whore. What the heck is up with that? The country seems more divided than it's ever been and that bothers me.

OK, so what does that mean to us writers and writing?

What it means to me is that if your writing exudes a political point of view, half of your potential readers may not like it, and that sucks. I think writers should be free to write want they want, regardless, but I think there are certain topics that can affect the market for the book, and not in a good way.

I'm not talking about out and out characterizations of the current administration, what I am talking about is if a character's actions seem to be those of one party or another. If the reader doesn't agree with the political point of view of your character, they may decide to put the book down, or maybe not recommend it to a friend.

I picked up a book from a new author, and that's exactly what happened to me. In a number of scenes I felt the character went way overboard toward a particular political point of view, and one that I don't agree with. It was so blatant that it disgusted me, and I put the book down. I have no idea how the book ended, nor do I really care.

I'm not talking about a situation where a character does something I don't agree with, because it's who they are. In this case there were a number scenes that felt almost forced. I felt they were put in simply to show the character as being from that political point of view and for no other purpose.

It may be important to some authors to have characters show a strong political point of view, but for me, I think it detracts from my stories, and potentially alienates half my readers. I think no matter how hard you try not to, your political leanings are going to come through the story, but I try not to be blatant about it.

What about you? Do your stories reflect your political view?


  1. This is the best post in Adventures in Writing all year.

    On one hand, we as authors are not politically sexless citizens.

    On the other hand, unless you can talk politics in a rational, logical way, your talk sucks. It sucks so very much.

    This is what happens when authors write to their opinions, rather than their values. They are preaching.

    My stories don't reflect my political views, but they do reflect my value system which touches politics. Indeed, I wrote a book steeped in politics, but I left it to the reader to agree or disagree with the various political values that each character displayed.

    Once a book goes from telling a viable story to trying to be smarter than me, I stop reading. I put that author into The Suck column and move on to other forms of entertainment and enlightenment.

  2. Simple Answer: I don't understand politics so I don't see how my stories would project a political view. Intentionally, anyway. :)


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