Advice for Novelists--I


Reading through the most recent Stephen King Opus, which right now promises to be something very different from his usual (did he learn something from his son?), it seemed that it might be advisable to give some suggestions to authors who had become too big for editors to any longer control their tantrums and whims.

As this is the first of several such possibilities, it would be better to confine such recommendations to a single point. If you want to write nonfiction, do so. If you feel the urgent need to editorialize, write to your newspaper. But whatever you do please, please, please do not interrupt the flow of your story, do not intrude so much on your characters, that we are left with the author's political opinions popping out here and there throughout the book.

In Mr. King's case, I have no desire to know that he is a frothing at the mouth Bush hater--and yet, he seems bound and determined to let me know before the end of his book that Bush is responsible for everything from the extrinction of the Dinosaurs to the war in Iraq. While I might have some sympathies with the latter view, I find the need to express any opinion whatsoever in a work of fiction deplorable. This is not versimilitude--it is in fact merely dating the work in the worst possible way.

If you want to write a political novel, disguise it--make it science fiction--set it in an equivalent era or in a place that addresses the particular issue you want to vent on--or better yet, abandon the novel part and write yourself a nice juicy piece of political diatribe--get it out of your system entirely. Everyone will benefit from that--most particularly the characters on whom you are imposing views that may or may not be germane, but views that are certainly quite distracting from your main point.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 3, 2008 7:12 AM.

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