My daughter is stirring up a glass of chocolate milk. We’ve found a sugar free version that I originally bought for myself, but the snack has become an every (or close) afternoon tradition for my precious redhead. It got me thinking about this topic though. Once the chocolate is in the milk, it isn’t coming out.
Even if she doesn’t stir it up, a little chocolate will come out with the milk. A trace. Even more as she reaches the bottom of the glass. Sort of like authors and opinions. Just like the days of objective reporting are effectively gone, there’s little chance of an author penning 80,000 to 100,000 words without inserting true feelings.
I’m not a highly opinionated person. You won’t see me comment or even like political statements on Facebook. I don’t read a lot of propaganda from any party. That’s not to say I don’t have opinions. Some might say I’m a coward. Maybe they’re right, but it is in my personality profile to avoid conflict and I actively work at peace-making. Politics, if it’s anything, is certainly conflict-starting.
Give me a field of dandelions anytime!
But even I, with my attempts to keep my social and political opinions to myself, (Notice I don’t keep my spiritual opinions hidden!) let some of the ideas in my head come out in my writing. It does.
Just like the chocolate can’t be separated from the milk, an author can’t write from the heart without letting some of those heart issues stir up and seep out into her words. Tweet This!
I find this hitting me as I plan for my NaNoWriMo book that I’ll start on Friday. (NaNoWriMo=National Novel Writing Month) My story deals with some of the poorest of kids in Dallas, and I can’t help but get a little worked up when I do the research into the area of my story and learn that the program I’m providing in my book isn’t actually available in any form. Those feelings will likely come out in my writing.
But that’s not always a bad thing. I loved Robin Carroll’s book Deliver Us from Evil though it dealt with child trafficking, a difficult topic for me to wrap my brain around. You better believe her disgust over the entire issue was made plain.
It can be a detriment to fiction, though when the issues grow and grow, though. I used to love to read this mainstream series where the cat and dog were main characters in the stories. Delightful mysteries with just a smidge of romance entering into the series. I drained the library of them, six at a time!
Then I noticed the social agenda of the author. First it was subtle, one of the female characters avoided men and always hung around women. Then whispers and rumors began to surface about her sexual orientation. Next thing I knew, she and her lady friend were getting “married” and the cat and dog were wondering why it couldn’t be a real marriage. Really? Could the author be any more transparent with her personal campaign?
Even the Library Review noted that it would no longer review the author’s books as long as her agenda overshadowed the plot. Which it did in the last book I read. It was little better than a documentary on the subject of gay marriage. No matter where you stand on the topic, when you pick up a mystery to read, you won’t likely be happy about reading pages and pages of propaganda.
And that goes for any topic. It’s important for authors of fiction to make sure their plot is the focus. Every scene must move the story forward. If someone is killing off drug pushers, the author’s feelings about drugs and the manipulators who sell them will certainly come through without having to donate a page or even a paragraph to expounding on personal issues.
Did I say I never share my opinions? Oops.
Your turn: Have you ever read a book, or started to, that had such obvious propaganda you wanted to put it down?