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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Politically Incorrect


No sooner had I posted the previous post than I came across the same topics being discussed on Tess Gerritsen's blog, Novel Rocket .

I have had readers confuse my characters' words and philosophies with my own. If I have a character who is a misogynist or a racist, that does not mean that these characters represent my views. As an author, I must write in many different voices, and rarely (at least in my fiction) are any of those voices my own.

If an author is writing about murderers, rapists, and drug dealers, it would be unrealistic not to expect to hear curse words within their dialogue. If the protagonist is a prostitute, there may be graphic references to sex or more colloquial phrases used to describe certain body parts or sexual acts. If a character is a racist, especially if the story is set in a racist environment, readers may expect some racial epithets coming from the mouths of certain characters. But keep in mind, you, as the reader, are hearing only the words of the fictional characters, not the views of the author.

Just as an actor may bear no resemblance to the role he plays, an author may bear no resemblance to the characters he writes. Yet you, as a reader, may still find some stories offensive. I have written stories dealing with domestic abuse, torture, bestiality, drug addiction, war, politics, religion, totalitarianism, assassination, homosexuality, gay prostitution, insurance companies, drunkenness, death, the Holocaust, murder, egotism, loneliness, dementia, aging, and racism, to name a few. Often my stories are raw. I don't sugar-coat and I avoid euphemisms. My characters don't say "gosh" and "darn". I write for grownups, not children. Those easily offended by mere words or concepts, should not read my books. I won't mind; I’m only irked by the hypocrites who complains about my use of “bad words” or “blasphemous ideas” but rave about HBO’s “True Blood” or “Deadwood” - there is more sexual deviancy and foul language in one night of viewing HBO than in my entire body of published work.

For those interested in the topic, there’s an ongoing discussion on political correctness in the Kindleboards Forum.

The other thing that irks me is the Ten Percenters. These are the folks who read the 10 percent preview on Amazon, or only read midway through a story or novel, and proceed to render a judgment based on a partial reading. One cannot evaluate a work until it has been read in its entirety, and placed within its overall context. For example, if you watched only the first two-thirds of the Bruce Willis movie “The Sixth Sense” and wrote a review based on that partial viewing, without having seen the ending which places everything else in the film in context, you would have missed the whole point of the story.

So, don’t confuse the author with his characters, and read a story or novel through completely and judge it in its proper context.


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