Wednesday, January 26, 2022

A fine line

Over the past several years, the US has become objectively more polarized politically. Have you accounted for this in your recent work in any way? If so, how?

by Dietrich

Most of my novels are set in times gone by, so the stories have nothing to do with the current political or social climate.

That said, I do allow my characters to shake out their own views, political or otherwise. No matter what the setting, the stories are told from the point of view of the characters, and these imaginary folk have to be free to express themselves. Their thoughts, words and deeds have to be authentic, character-revealing, and they have to move the story along in some way.

I don’t have to agree or disagree with them. And yes, there are certainly sensitive issues at play these days. However, while staying conscious to what’s going on in the world today, in times when even Mr. Potato Head’s had his noggin on the block, it may be easy for a writer to become overly cautious. 

So, I have to ask, can one lose the art in the effort of weighing and measuring?

My aim is to engage readers and take them on a journey while immersing them in a time and place. Tiptoeing around the words and censoring could lead to less than believable passages. And readers can become detached from the story when certain elements just don’t ring true. 

To some degree, most of us in the real world are flawed. Who hasn’t misstepped or misspoken? And characters in a novel have to be like this to be credible. Choices they make reveal something deeper about their integrity or the lack of it. However misguided they may be at times, I take care to stay out of the way and let the story unfold, allowing for the characters to find redemption or succumb to unwelcome consequence –– just like in real life. 


“I’d rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph.”

Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

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