A few weeks ago, I was teaching a class on writing authentic antagonists to a group of children. I asked the kids, aged nine to twelve, to yell out the name of their favourite villains so I could write them on the board. The idea was to get a list of favourite villains, and then break down their attributes and what made them such great antagonists in their own stories.
We started with the villains I expected: The Joker, Voldemort, Darth Vader, and so on.
Then a couple of the kids started laughing to themselves. They whispered to their friends nearby, and there was more sniggering. “Do you have another villain to add?” I asked, expecting, perhaps, Professor Pippy Pee-Pee Poopypants — the antagonist from the Captain Underpants movie, and a name guaranteed to make anyone with a juvenile sense of humour collapse into giggles.
Instead, the kids shouted out the name of a prominent American politician.
Writers and Politics Don’t Mix
The issue of whether or not fiction writers should share their own political thoughts in public places, especially blogs and social media, is one that comes up time and time again. I’ve certainly been warned never to share my own politics online.
“You’ll lose potential readers,” common wisdom says. “You won’t get an agent. You won’t get a publisher. No one cares about your opinion. Your job is to entertain with your stories, not espouse your political beliefs in public.” [Read more…]