Don’t Let Politics Ruin Your Novel

I’m reading a novel by a well-known author that is supposedly his best yet, but 1/3 of the way through I’m finding it really slow in spite on an inventive plot. So, I went over to Amazon to see what the readers were saying and they were saying that it was pretty good. What I noticed, though, was the large number of negative reviews that criticized the author for injecting his political ideas into the novel when they had nothing to do with the story line.

When I write novels set in the 1950s, I often mention the politics and products of the time because, in addition to ambiance, they show what the characters are dealing with. I wouldn’t do this with a novel set in current times unless it was a political thriller. Doing so will alienate readers from other political parties for no reason. I see this a lot in current TV shows where, inasmuch as Hollywood in generally liberal, I believe the writers and actors are playing to their colleages rather than making a better story by saying something nasty about, let’s say, Donald Trump.

I no longer watch the Academy Awards because they are filled with snarky, “we know better” political comments. They apply only if a movie is a political movie. Otherwise, they’re a bunch of rich actors and actresses giving us their unsolicted political opions as though that’s what we tuned in to hear.

Doing this not only spoils the Oscars, but contaminates TV series and many of today’s novels. It’s the author or the producer grabbing a bully pulpet where none exists. If I’m reading a police procedural novel, I don’t want the characters loading up their comments with policial BS favoring any party.  I see authors doing this in their work and imagine that they think–as they write–“look how savvy I am.”

No, you’re making cheap jokes and juvenile banter at the expense of your work. Readers want a great story and your politics is stealing that story away from them.

–Malcolm