Years and years ago, while browsing through the fantasy section of Barnes & Noble… or was it Borders? Yikes!
Location aside, I came across an introduction that well belongs in my catalog of observed “blatant examples of author bias.”
I don’t remember the title or author, and I probably wouldn’t mention them even if I did. But I will never forget the first page or two, which described a hard-core main character eyeing up a villainous entity.
Called a litterbug.
Now, the name alone might not have been instantly lame if not for the writing style, which was dramatic. Very, very dramatic, with this litterbug creature literally composed of litter and ready to devour anyone it could.
I’ll admit I put the book down with a sneer, the very opposite of impressed with the self-righteous display.
Should we litter? Unless someone holds a gun to ours heads and says, “Litter or your life!” I’m gonna go with probably not. But to turn it into an apex predator that stalks the streets looking to devour hapless pedestrians?
Well, let’s just put it this way. Even with a better name than “litterbug,” there would still be worse examples of author bias out there. But perhaps not many more as pathetic.
No doubt, liberal or conservative, you can think of examples of author bias in books – fiction books included.
(If you can’t, you might want to expand your reading choices.)
How did you take them? Unless you’re so hardcore that you automatically take offense at anything and everything that disagrees with your ideology… it probably depended on how the writer presented himself.
Was the tone respectful? If so, I’m guessing you kept reading. Maybe even stopped for a moment to consider the perspective.
Otherwise, that book might be sitting in some smelly garbage heap somewhere. It’s a rare reader who likes a self-righteous lecture, after all.
Your blatantly-displayed biases may turn readers off.
Normally, people don’t appreciate being told they’re idiots or monsters or other negative descriptors for what they believe. They’re usually much better persuaded through more respectful interactions. It’s like the old saying: You catch more flies with honey then vinegar.
Likewise, you catch more readers with more subtle means than shoving your biases in their faces while screaming, “Eat it! Eat it!” This doesn’t mean you can’t present your beliefs. It’s only a caution on how to.
Write what you want to write. Just consider being civil, sneaky, or at least utterly engaging as you do.
There are books I’ve thrown out and authors I’ll never read again because of the snootiness they display. The absolute certainty that they’re right and anyone who disagrees is beneath them.
Without naming any names, here are some other examples of blatant author bias I’ve seen in fiction:
All men are scum
All Christians are idiots
Really bad things never happen to people who believe in Jesus. They’re always saved from earthly sorrow in the nick of time.
All three overgeneralizations – and far too many more where they came from – are unattractive. And frankly, I have better things to do with my time. So should you.
The same applies to our readers.
There are benefits to treating them like thinking creatures who can make their own decisions. Benefits like bigger audience bases and greater sales potential.
Besides, if you really are so passionate about the issue at stake… don’t you want to do something more than preach to the choir?
Preaching to the choir isn’t going to change anyone’s mind. Yours included, by which I mean you’re not going to expand your ability to defend your position.
Really, there are a billion (okay, maybe just a million) benefits to presenting your beliefs in a polite manner. Try it out, and see what a world of difference it can make.