Friday, October 10, 2008

To Preach Or Not To Preach, Do You Need Ask? By Robert W. Walker

An interesting discussion arose on a chat group I am a member of regarding the author's politics and if his novels ought be politiking for him, and if said author politics ticks you off to the point of never reading said author ever in life again. My quick and dirty reply was fast in coming -- if a story or novel is a set up for me to have to SWALLOW a certain political point of view--even if I agree with it--no, I hate to see it overtaking an otherwise perfectly good story.

The key word in fiction is storytelling, not non-fiction or essaying, or telegraphing messages. While a fictional piece of work cannot but have political points of views and ideiology embedded as say within the worldviews of the various characters-- reflecting life thereby by the by, that same fictional piece better not be peopled with cardboard cutouts of supposed representative ideologies, that is characters who are simply propped up and propelled by the author's personal political views for the express purpose of pushing an agenda be it Scientology or liberalism or facism or any other sort of ism, including Christianity in my view.

The novel may have a Christian message but if the entire thing is a prop job for religion, yeah, it will turn me off and away from its author or authors. In fact anything heavy-handed in a story will do that to me or for me.

Too much historical matter that may overtake the story element that is ongoing now, too much science in a science fiction tale, too much gadgetry in a submarine WWII tale, too much pontificating, lecturing, gouging, or just plain blow-hard stuff on the part of a character who is obviously set up as the blow-hard mouthpiece for the author.

Now of course authors can and will get their digs in, and information of one sort or another favoring their worldview or politics will most surely be embedded in a novel or story, be it Hemmingway or Faulkner or Twain or me, Rob Walker, but I detest the notion that a story is built around a political rant--or any sort of rant, quite frankly. If a story illustrates, demonstrates feminism--shows me, fine, ducky, wonderful then it works. However, if another author dealing with the same subject rubs my nose in it, pushes it as a platform, TELLS me what to think, I'm gone, out of there. No thank you. Does not matter the subject. If I am involved in the lives of the characters, I care about what they care about, and that holds true for good and evil characters. If I feel their pain, not if I am forced to sit through a lecture on the childhood that lead them into goodness or into evilness.

Does it make sense? There was a lot of contention and back and forth over this issue and so am hoping to shed light on it here as I feel if you want to send a telegram use Western Union....spoken by a quite famous filmmaker to his writers once upon a time. In my estimation, there are huge differences between an Oliver Stone film than a Roger Moore film--his name's Roger, right? The docu-drama that gets me inside the heads of the characters as opposed to the documentary that does not show me a life but rather tells me how to think and perhaps react to the same subject.

Does it make sense? Whether does or nay, happy writing anyway! And oh, say, I charge HALF, half what Donald Maas and his group of "novel editors" charge you for developmental and line editing, and I do a better damn job, so there! Check out The Knife Editing Services when you're ready to go under the knife for the "book autopsy."

Rob Walker is at - new site, new novel, new cover art!

1 comment:

Norm Cowie said...

My characters are college students, therefore they have opinions on politics, religion, who has the best French fries, etc.

They discuss the issues ... I just sit back and let them go.