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I HATE BEING PREACHED TO

November 11, 2014

My avid reading is a font of inspiration, no doubt. Case in point is the book I just read. While I won’t go into specifics, I will revisit a subject I’ve talked about numerous times.

PREACHING

What to I mean by preaching? Instead of telling (or showing) a story, say a thriller or mystery, the story is a thinly disguised attempt to sell an agenda. This agenda can be about any subject, whether it be religious, political or about an environmental cause. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the tone and the heavy-handedness of the prose. It’s whatever gets in the way of the reader’s enjoyment of the genre.

To some people, especially if they righteously agree with said preaching, they don’t mind. In fact, they may not even notice. However, I think the majority of us would rather just read a good story without agendas getting in the way.

THE UGLY OLD AGENDA AGAIN

Lots of us, as authors, have biases, whether consciously or unconsciously. We can’t help that our feelings color our writing. However, there can be a fine line between where your biases show through and where you’re simply telling a story that has nothing to do with it.

It’s when we go over the line and turn what starts out as a benign story into something else that an agenda shines through. Say, you write a mystery but you’re all fired up about a current political subject. Before you know it, the mystery takes on the tone of that political subject, and when you finish the story, it ends up looking like a propaganda sheet thinly disguised as a mystery novel. Maybe you did it unconsciously, maybe deliberately. Whatever the case, it’s an agenda.

ALIENATING AUDENCES

Okay, now I’m going to preach. I’ve said this over and over again. When you write to a specific agenda, you polarize. Once you take a side on a subject, you’ve automatically pissed off half the crowd. What’s going to happen? You’re going to lose half your audience! Why do that? Why not write mystery, thrillers, romance, westerns, whatever genre for everyone! Why not keep your audience wide?

When you write to a specific audience, sure, you get a bunch of people that will love it and agree with you, but wait a moment. They love it and agree with you, but you’re not getting any converts. You are preaching to the choir! You are simply getting them to go “Yeah!”

So what?

Sure, you may get a few into buying your books, thinking what you say makes sense, so you may earn some converts, but more than likely, your readers are going to already agree with you because word of mouth and reviews will get around and you will attract that audience: Half the crowd. If you’re okay with that, fine.

SHOULD BE SEPARATE GENRES

I’m a firm believer that Barnes & Noble and Hastings should create new categories at their stores for biased fiction. That is, fiction with an agenda. Whether it be political, cause or religion, these books should be separated from the regular genres so that we who like to read without being preached to don’t waste our money. One can only dream!

SUMMARY

I’m very careful to keep political, religious and sexual views to myself, or at least not open and public. I’m a writer of fiction. Sure, I have views on things, but I have no intention of alienating my audience and I don’t feel it’s my duty or obligation to espouse my views to anyone else. I’m not a politician or activist. I’ll leave it for them. I’m an author that wants as many people to enjoy my books as possible without them having to worry about me trying to push a political, religious, environmental or sexual agenda on them. How about you?

Happy writing!

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