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  1. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    How Political Can You Get Without Blacklisting Yourself?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by frigocc, Mar 4, 2019.

    My character is a very opinionated person, and, while it doesn't show up often, occasionally, he'll make a political comment. I'd like to get traditionally published, and don't want this ruining my chances. Here's an example of one:

    The name also has to be marketable. If you pick a dumb one, newscasters won't take you seriously, and businesses won't give you endorsement deals. They'll make up an even dumber name, and your reputation will suffer. On that same note, it can't be just one word. Only villains and try-hards have just one name. And unless you're on a certain end of the political spectrum, you won't get sponsored as a villain.
     
  2. John-Wayne

    John-Wayne Madman Extradinor Contributor

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    Honestly, Zero... the moment you bring up anything... be ready for a fire storm. It's best to avoid it at all costs.
     
  3. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Could you think of a better way to say something similar without being political? I could just scrap it.
     
  4. John-Wayne

    John-Wayne Madman Extradinor Contributor

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    This doesn't seem bad or political, but one thing I learned is if you keep it very vague both sides will agree and assume you are attacking the other side. I had this happen many times with my old job, where I would make a general political comment and kept it vague enough that they agreed despite the fact that if they truly knew my political views, they wouldn't have agreed.
     
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  5. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributor Contributor

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    What are the circumstances of your story? Because it sounds like it's dealing with some degree of fictional circumstances, "sponsored as a villain" sounds like something distinct, in which case the political implications on the real world are more easily defensible. That's why most of the most political and vehement fiction is through analogues, say, The Handsmaid's Tale, which is often interpreted, particularly in the modern tv version, as an attack on large sections of the Christian Right. And there is right-wing fiction out there as well, though probably less that is widely publicised.
     
  6. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Potatoes again? Supporter Contributor

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    There are a variety of different publishing houses, and some of them specialize in serving one end of the political spectrum or other. Do a search on Amazon for authors who are known for their political slant and find out who publishes them, who their agents are, and you could be on your way to stardom within that community if your writing is up to spec.
     
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  7. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    I'm going to get crucified for suggesting that I want to be successful, but I want to get on with a Big 5 publisher.

    @Oscar Leigh The circumstances is that it's a satirical book about becoming a superhero.
     
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  8. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    I agree.
    I wholeheartedly disagree, but then again, I like political jabs in fiction. Not everyone does.

    If you need everyone to be on your character's side, sure. Cut it. Remove all political material in fact. If it's true to the character, and you're just worried about it being unpublishable, stop worrying. Tons of popular books have politically opinionated characters. Some reflect the author's views; some don't. If you want it balanced in a way that doesn't make it seem like you're preaching your own personal views, have other characters offer the dissenting opinion. There's nothing wrong with expressing yourself though, if that's the goal with that character.

    Some of this will depend on your genre and target audience, obviously. Satire is the perfect platform though. What would a Christopher Moore book be if he removed all religious and political opinion? You wouldn't even consider him a political satirist, but it's in there, and in his case, at least half of that's in the narration. He makes these statements and observations as himself, not just as characters.
     
  9. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    Nothing wrong with that either. If the only reason you write is for money, there are easier ways to make it, so I doubt that's the case. We all want to succeed in this. Well, some people do it just for fun, but most of us want the world to read our work and love it.
     
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  10. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Why do you wanna know, huh?
    It's going to be hard to never be political at all, unless you don't count obvious analogues and implications. Most stories end up touching vaguely on some political issue. e.g. Nazi analogues are very common
     
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  11. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    Uber driver?
     
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  12. John-Wayne

    John-Wayne Madman Extradinor Contributor

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    Yeah, I might have been a bit extreme on that comment, It can be done. If you leave it vague enough most will enjoy it as they'll think it is a jab on the other side. as I mentioned in another post, this is something I did often without the others being fully away of my political affiliations. and there are some statements that pretty much everyone can agree on such as Politicians being corrupt as fuck.

    I like to joke, "you know how you can tell a politician is lying, their mouth is moving" , "you know how you can tell a corrupt politician, they ran for office,"

    those are things that pretty much appeal to a broad spectrum. It's like which do you trust more a Lawyer or a Politician.

    that's true, I am sure even in my own stories there are some political biases I am not aware that I am doing, and some I maybe aware of. :) . but I try not to be preachy if I do.
     
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  13. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributor Contributor

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    I think the "preachy" bit is important in responses here. Work that aren't "preachy", that have more fair and restrained representations, even when opinions are a large part of the story, they tend not to be received as so political. The Dark Knight Rises touches upon the Occupy Wall Street movement as inspiration and larger issues of violence, justice, equality and restraint but it deals with those issues without any complaints. Even more so, Firefly is sometimes help up as a libertarian bastion amongst liberal-hollywood content, but it was produced by a vocal liberal so clearly there is room for people to sympathise with a point without making it an attack on differing views. I've never heard any left-wingers anywhere accuse it being an anti-government right-wing propaganda, which left-wingers are capable of doing even against other left-wingers. Indeed, I believe that is something fiction can do better than in current US political dialogue elsewhere so it's kind of a cool thing to have. Black Panther made what was ultimately a liberal-ish point about racial peace, avoidance of violence and open international relations, but it was also interpreted as a Trumpian defence of closed-borders nationalism because it sympathised with that viewpoint, and it also had a black-radical character as the villain. They were wrong about it supporting the closed-borders thing, but it shows how sympathising can take the sting of out of disagreement, to the extent that some people believe they can twist as going in another direction.
     
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  14. John-Wayne

    John-Wayne Madman Extradinor Contributor

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    agreed, "Preachy" may be the keyword here.

    even I can watch stuff I don't agree with, if it's not being preachy. Many youtubers I like turn out to be atheists, and some have strong opinions but don't tend to be preachy or at least seem fair minded. and to some degree, I tend to ignore those sort of videos as well, when they are made.
     
  15. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    My dad used to say, "I can't be a Republican or a Democrat either one. My mom told me never to join a gang."
     
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  16. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Potatoes again? Supporter Contributor

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    The other thing is that you can write a story with a character with strong political opinions without it becoming a polemic if your story shows that those are his/her opinions, not the gospel truth. You don't need them to be wrong, just within a spectrum. Get too far to one side or the other and you've got Atlas Shrugged, but look at something like Primary Colors, which was directed and performed by a whole bunch of people who were pretty pro-Clinton but still presented him as having noble aspirations but being of flawed character. That's what I hate about Designated Survivor, all the main characters are so shiny and clean and pure, even their flaws are those of being so shiny they blind everyone else in the room.
     
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  17. John-Wayne

    John-Wayne Madman Extradinor Contributor

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    :superlaugh:
     
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  18. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

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    There are plenty of successful, bestselling writers who reference politics. Tom Clancy and Stephen King are two good examples, though most long running thriller or mystery series that I’ve read will make at least occasional references. You’re good. Just don’t touch any third rails unless you want to be controversial.
     
  19. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    realistically that doesn't seem particularly contentious …

    Just write the book

    Then self edit it

    Then try to get an agent
     
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  20. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    Is that all? Here I was trying to make it difficult. :)
     
  21. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    the steps are easy to outline - actually achieving them on the otherhand…

    However my point was the the OP hasn't yet even written a first draft - its very premature to be worrying about what a publisher might think
     
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  22. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I'm wondering this myself as my WIP features two teenage boys and they say some pretty vulgar, crazy-ass things.
    It's a pickle. If you pick one side of the fence you'll alienate the other side. And if you don't get the 'viewpoint' of the side of the fence you chose right then you've narrowed your audience even further.
    I set a rule for myself if I diss one side I'll have to diss the other. I'm using humor so maybe it will work out.
     
  23. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    what the publisher cares about (and the agent) is will this sell ? and will it sell without causing us lots of protests and bad press?

    If you've written a book about the white aryan resistance after blacks, Jews, and Muslims take over the world - then the chances are high you need to resign yourself to selling it out of the back of your truck, at gun shows, to people named Cleetus and Billy Joe.

    Likewise if you've written a deeply politically incorrect book about how rape is fun..and totally justified if you're ugly (vis the Ryan elder threads) no one will touch it with a barge pole.

    On the other hand if you have a super hero being mildly un PC that's totally saleable (its also Deadpool but hey that sold), likewise if you've got a couple of teenage boys dissing the world.
     
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  24. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I add politics into my writing quite often. It can be hard not to when you are writing contemporary fiction. And a little politics can make things seem more current, more now. I agree with the others who say not to get preachy. Fiction with politics doesn't have to be propaganda or push a certain viewpoint. But this is one of the things that I think can add texture to a story. It's not something I would shy away from, and political books are published all the time. A little politics handled with care isn't going to get you blacklisted and is unlikely to be the reason behind a rejection, provided you're not getting preachy or writing propaganda. I don't really think there's much that will get a writer blacklisted other than plagiarism.
     
  25. JannickStAlice

    JannickStAlice Member

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    I'm sure it really doesn't matter if it's a quality work, and it makes sense in context.
     

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