Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Pushing Your Agenda or Alienating Readers

How far is too far? With mid-term elections coming up and tempers rising faster than my blood pressure when I see pictures of Hugh Jackman or The Rock...sigh... Uh, sorry, lost my train of thought. With so much controversy now and, lets face it, always, how far do we want to push our own agenda?

I'll be honest, I've read a few books, articles and even posts on different loops that so irritated me, I've stopped buying a particular author's work. Is that narrow minded of me? Probably, but I'm only human. If someone's particular view on politics, religion or even some non-controversial subject offends me, I'm less likely to buy their work in the future.

No, I don't expect people to think like me and heaven knows, I'm wrong many more times than I'm right. But neither do I want a particular's authors view of controversial subjects thrown at me. I want a good story, not their political views. Even if I happen to agree with them, I don't think it's appropriate. It pulls me from the story.

As writers, we walk a fine line to stay neutral and never offend anyone. I don't think that's even possible. Even though we're writing fiction, we have to keep the story as believable as possible and therefore, someone will always disagree with something we've said. I'm sure, though I'm not published, that I've offended one or more persons in my writing, for one reason or another, without meaning to. But controversial subjects that we all seem to have strong opinions on, I steer clear of and greatly appreciate others who do the same.

What about you? Does reading an author's work where you can clearly see their particular views are being pushed offend you, or do you overlook those issues? How do you keep your own views out of your work, or do you even worry about that?


Carla Swafford said...

If Charles Manson wrote a book, I would never spend my hard earn cash on it. But if Tom Cruise did, yep, I would buy it and I don't agree of many issues.

Yet at the same time, if the book was not entertaining and filled with opinions I think were irrational, I wouldn't pick another one up for nothing.

Blogging with opinions I disagree? Only if it was in her/his books.

jennifer echols said...

I have some pretty unusual, very strong opinions about world issues etc., but I think you would be hard-pressed to find them in my novels. I've actually said in a novel that the h/h voted for the same President, but I didn't say who it was or what party he belonged to, because that didn't matter AND I didn't want to alienate the reader if she happened to be from a different party. The point was that they agreed on the matter = hint hint harmonious marriage later.

Christy said...

I think in one of my books, I said the hero was a liberal conservative and the heroine was a conservative liberal. That's as far into politics as I wanted to get.

jennifer echols said...

Jennifer Crusie has a cute book called "Strange Bedpersons" in which the chick is a liberal Democrat and the dude is a conservative Republican. But that's a big part of the Obstacle to Love for both of them, so it works. I think all you have to do is keep it out of the way of the story you're trying to tell.

susanna in alabama said...

One of my favorite mysteries is The Alienist, by Caleb Carr. While it very clearly has a lot to say about the treatment of young boys and women in the late 1800s, it's so ingrained in the story that it doesn't feel political.

The next book of his I picked up was "Killing Time", a futuristic thriller. It was so heavily weighted with his political views on information technology and the environment, that I couldn't finish it. It felt like a sermon tract.

I've not seen that tendency so much in romance authors, at least not to that extent. But there are a lot of little hints here and there in some romances about how the author views life, some of them very different from my own views. Ultimately it comes down to the story - if it's well done, I'll forge on. After all, I have friends and coworkers who disagree with me on all kinds of things. But, like with a book, if all they talked about was that thing we disagree on, I probably wouldn't be around long.

I guess I could have just said "ditto" to the previous comment, couldn't I? :D