Podcast Audio Link: Click here.
Podcast Transcript: Hi, genuine writers! This is Innovative Editing’s Jeannette DiLouie officially welcoming you to episode #11 of The Genuine Writer Podcast. We keep things short, sweet and to the point here so that you can learn what you need to learn and get back to writing already.
Today’s episode is sponsored by Writing Your Novel, Book 2 – Create Compelling Novel Characters: How to Make Your Heroes, Villains (and All the Rest) Stand Out. This e-booklet – which I’ll include the link for in the description section below – delves further into the main topic we’re focusing on in The Genuine Writer blog this Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
In fact, we’re going to be covering characters for the next four Genuine Writer weeks and five calendar weeks, with the discrepancy coming from the fact that I need to take a week off in the middle somewhere, since I’ve got very important maid of honor duties to attend to.
That aside, if you want to follow the whole series, you can sign up by going to www.InnovativeEditing.com and scroll down to The Genuine Writer sign-up box toward the bottom of the page. And, again, if you want all that information right now in an easy-read, all-right-there-in-front-of-you format, you can scroll down on the podcast page to the orange-lettered How to Make Your Heroes, Villains (and the Rest) Stand Out reference.
I’d tell you how to find me on Amazon, but that would require me to spell out my first and last names, which would take up way too much time. And you’d probably mess it up anyway. Everybody does.
As for today, we’re going to address the character of your fiction or nonfiction work. Not “a” character, as in the protagonist or antagonist or best friend figure in a fictional narrative, but “the” character: the appeal or feel of what you’re working on. If you’re tuning into this as a business writer, business blogger or personal blogger, what we’re going to discuss easily applies to you every bit as much as fiction and nonfiction writers.
What got me thinking about all of this? Well, there’s been a large amount of controversy surrounding a recent movie release, at least according to the YouTube accounts I tend to listen to. I’m not going to see the thing myself since I’ve long-since given up on the franchise it’s a part of. It was boring and disappointing me far before this point, so I don’t see the point in wasting any more time or money on anything else it produces.
I’m only saying this to establish that, honestly, I have no direct opinion on the subject. So if you can figure out what I’m talking about, don’t shoot the messenger. I come in peace – which, incidentally, is not a clue to my cryptic reference.
Or maybe it is in a convoluted, round-about way? I don’t know. Who cares. Moving on…
Many critics – not me, people; critics – said the movie in question was wildly biased and insanely pushy with the propaganda it was promoting. Now, you could say that the movie behind it had the last laugh since it’s been killing it at the box office. (With that hint, I’ve pretty much spelled everything out for you, I know. But do me a favor and let me persist in thinking I’m being clever anyway.) The cast and crew have to be smirking at least a little at how much they’re raking in the profits. Which, again, might be justified and might not be. As a good friend of mine likes to say, “Not my circus; not my monkeys.”
With that all said, for those situations when such smirks are not justified, it’s important to point out how money is not and should not be the end-all, be-all of anything, writing included.
That might sound snooty and self-righteous, in which case, I apologize. That’s definitely not my intention. Truth be told, I like money quite a lot. It buys me books, for one thing. For another, I’m an unabashed capitalist who is all about creators and owners being free to set their own prices for their own inventions, information and property, with consumers everywhere being equally free to fork over their money or say, “No thanks.”
As both a business and a consumer, I’m even more into the idea of offering quality goods and services for reasonable amounts of money. But there’s a keyword in that equation, and it isn’t money.
Every single one of us has our own opinions, as well we should. We’re not meant to be mindless carbon copies of each other. However, there’s a way to express those opinions without degrading ourselves or those around us. We should be passionate about what we believe, just not at the risk of our own integrity or the integrity of what we’re working on.
Now, this can mean different things for different kinds of writing. For fiction, it means not sacrificing your story for your personal point of view. Never force your fiction to fit an opinion, no matter how strong it may be. If it feels like you’re trying to shove a square peg into a round hole, rest assured that it’s going to come across as awkward as it sounds. Which means that anyone who isn’t on the same diehard bandwagon as you is going to see you as an amateur who has to beat people over the head with a club to convince them instead of eloquently swaying them over to your side.
Basically, you’re preaching to the choir alone.
This applies to almost the entire spread of mass-produced Christian fiction, which routinely maims its characters, plots and dialogue in order to fit in with the Bible verses it so desperately wants to promote. As a Christian myself, I value those verses. But that doesn’t mean I want to read a story that champions them without simultaneously upholding what fiction is supposed to be. If these authors want to list off Bible verse after Bible verse, then perhaps they should write Christian nonfiction and leave the storytelling to people who can handle both elements simultaneously.
For anyone snickering at Christians writers’ expense, you might want to check your own prejudices at the door. Don’t think that other groups are immune to this issue, no matter their worldview or genre. There are plenty of pushy, sloppy, downright unreadable propaganda pieces out there from environmental perspectives, political perspectives, and societal perspectives, just to name a few.
We’re all capable of creating stories that forget they’re stories. And so we always have to guard against that tendency.
As already mentioned, nonfiction writers don’t have to worry so much about story integrity. But they’re not off the integrity hook. Not even close. If anything, they have even more at stake in this regard.
I’m not big on mentioning fiction authors who I wasn’t impressed with, even if I was utterly unimpressed with them. But non-autobiographical nonfiction authors deserve greater scrutiny since their whole job is to promote the truth about a certain matter. Therefore, it’s downright unacceptable for them to defend their biases blindly or otherwise simply assume they’re right.
This isn’t targeting any specific group. It applies to every single genre, age group, race, religion, nationality, continental affiliation, ethnic affiliation, gender, orientation, skin color, mindset or any other classification we can possibly come up with as human beings. Right or wrong, we like our comfort zones. I know I do. And, to be sure, there’s a place and a purpose for comfort zones. But publishing a book is not one of them. Publishing a book is about stretching yourself, and if it’s a nonfiction book, it’s also about encouraging your readers to stretch with you.
So get stretching already.
I’m sure I could ramble on about this for a while, especially if I end up mentioning the historical nonfiction writer I was going to as an example of what not do. But you know what? Let’s just cap it right there and call it a day.
Oh, except for one more thing – business writers, business bloggers, personal bloggers and the like all share the same burden as the nonfiction category described before. What it comes down to is this: treat your individuality, your intellectual capability, your craft and your readers with respect at every possible turn. That doesn’t mean you’re never going to be wrong, just that you’ll be able to hold your head up high regardless of what you write.
Thanks for tuning in to The Genuine Writer Podcast. It was awesome to have you here as always, and very happy writing!