Lately I’ve had several clients come to me with the same problem—they want to make a point more than they want to tell a story. That’s fine for essays, blogs, even non-fiction books, but fiction is not the best place to make an argument, not unless you want to join the ranks of propagandists.
Of course, propaganda can sometimes change the world. Uncle Tom’s Cabin brought the brutality of slavery to life in 1852 and inspired many to join the abolitionists and, later, the Union army. People fought and died because of that book. But today, kids are only likely to encounter it in history classes. No one’s reading it for fun anymore.
On the other hand, Huck Finn also changed the world, undermining prejudice by introducing readers to Jim. Yet Twain’s book is still read in literature classes. And for fun.
So what’s the difference between propaganda and a novel that broadens your readers’ minds?
Respect for your characters, for starters. [Read more…]