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Politics in prose. Or, should I write what gives me passion or what I think will sell?

October 25, 2012

My work in progress is awesome. Seriously, if you’re an agent, this is the work you want to represent, if I can ever finish the stupid thing. (I know you aren’t supposed to pitch that way. It as a joke…mostly.)

The problem is, the protagonist is a more-or-less conservative talk radio host. For vast tracts of people, right away, they’re going to hate him. Most of the writery people I follow on Facebook don’t seem like a conservative talk radio host would be an appealing protagonist.

And for other vast tracts of people, they might like him–or the idea of him–until they get to the part where issue X is referenced, and his stance isn’t quite what they’d like to see.

It’s all part of a larger story about how Democrat-Republican has become–for many–like Yankees-Red Sox. Whatever happens can is arranged around the presumption that my guys are good and your guys are bad–and how people are manipulating those fights to distract us from issues, so they can forward their agendas. My concern is that Red Sox fans wouldn’t look past the fact that the protagonist is a Yankee to find the deeper point.

I disagree with you position on government involvement in health care. You got a stinking PROBLEM WITH THAT?

I’ve bounced that around, even thought of switching the protagonist’s politics to make him more appealing to more of the people who stand between my story and its publication.

And I keep going back to a quote from Star Trek‘s Jean Luc Picard: “If we’re going to be damned let’s be damned for what we really are.” (By the way, in case you needed to feel old, that show debuted 25 years ago.)

So, I go with it the way it is. And delve into the murky waters of politics and art, hoping that enough people can understand that the other side is human, too. Because that’s the story I want to write.

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3 Comments
  1. October 26, 2012 9:46 am

    Too right, Chris. Instead of changing yor art to appeal to gatekeepers, seek out gatekeepers who appreciate your art the way it is. Yeah, I know that’s easier said than done.

  2. Susan Berry permalink
    October 26, 2012 9:54 am

    Although I am no expert in writing, from a reader’s perspective and a struggling writer, I agree for a couple of reasons.

    The first is a serious careful reader will realize when the author does not write from their heart. To me that is not the point in writing unless it is the authori’s goal to turn out books upon books upon books for the sole reason of making money. An author who turns out the same old same old with only the character’s names or details of the plot changed are easy to read, but I do not remember much about them and would not re-read their books or see the movie. I still remember Anna Karenina and the Fountainhead.

    Second, a protagonist that does not fit in the stereotypical mold, but breaks boundaries is a good thing, if it is done right. It is how the profession and genre grows. Otherwise, a robot could write books. The connection between the reader and the author benefits as the reader eagerly awaits the next book knowing that the author will take them to places and give them experiences that would remain unknown to them, but for the author.

  3. October 26, 2012 11:16 am

    A new author should go niche readers, because it’s easier to get noticed among the millions of books out there if you carve out a niche. As for pleasing the gatekeepers (The New York publishing establishment) forget it. They’re not interested in new authors. Either self publish, or publish through a small press.

    Because of Amazon Kindle books, this is the greatest time ever to be a new author. LQQK at me. If I can do it, anyone can. Keep writing.

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