Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Whisper, Don't Yell

Remember that what a character says and does, judgmental words they use like "stupid" or "evil" or "ugly" or "fat," tell as much about them as what they are describing. Watch some of the day-time talk shows and tell me which guests are more persuasive and believable -- the calm, objective people or the ones screaming slurs and calling names?

Of course, if you have every character who represents your view as a "good guy" and all the "bad guys" are the ones who hold opposite beliefs, then your story becomes lop-sided. In that case, I, as the reader, begin to feel as though you're beating me over the head with your issue.

Whatever it is that you're trying to get across, whether it's a political or religious belief or just the theme of your story, like "Family comes before all others" or "Love transcends death," be gentle. If you can't possibly see anything redeeming about the opposite side of your leanings or the people who hold beliefs contrary to yours, then how can you possibly write about them? And if you can't write those characters, then do some research. Go visit, observe, live, or immerse yourself in that area, lifestyle, religion, political arena, music -- whatever. Keep at it until you learn what is good, believable, likeable, just, acceptable, or at least objectively presentable. And if you still can't write the opposite viewpoint, switch subjects.

Present an almost-balanced offering of all the sides. You can slightly skew it toward your viewpoint, but be subtle and even-handed. That's much more likely to convince me, the reader, than ranting and raving and presenting only your side of the story.

1 comment:

  1. This is excellent advice. Fiction is supposed to be entertaining, and I have quit reading a book that was too heavy-handed in advocating a particular position I didn't agree with. The author lost all hope of converting me to her viewpoint, while I would have been much more likely to seriously consider her ideas if she had been more subtle.


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