Write for Your Reader, Not You

Guest Post by Gary Morgenstein

There is a great disquiet in the country, which I try capturing in my novel. But that raises the issue of the role of a novelist in writing about social issues. Should we be impartial? Or Ayn Rand-like in using fiction to put forward a specific agenda?

I prefer having a strong point of view – but balancing that among many characters. Especially now, where there are such hardened positions (though historically, America has more often than not been polarized on subjects from wars to abortion), it is incumbent on a novelist not to push away an audience at the expense of finding another.

Some will disagree. They will say, write a liberal or conservative novel. If that is what you believe, you aren’t being honest — Hemingway’s great advice to writers. But is that the role of a novelist? Shouldn’t you embrace as many points of view? Bottom line, whose point of view is most important – yours or your reader?

I opt for reader every time. That is for whom you are writing. You should respect them by providing a wide palate of perspectives and let them decide, without beating people on the head and telling them how to think. If someone criticizes the President, it is fair to have someone defend him.

In my novel, my characters say things which, frankly, I strongly disagree. But that is the character, not me. I am writing a story to be read and, hopefully, appreciated. If I wanted to write for a narrower group of existing converts, that’s something else. That’s where you have talk show non-fiction with the screeching polemics on both sides of the aisle, posing as journalists.

Novelists have a harder job because we must create and obey guardrails. We must convince people of the truth of our fiction. And storytellers must respect  their readers. ‘Cause without them, we don’t exist.

Gary Morgenstein is co-host of the Purple Haze radio show, Thursdays at 9PM/ET at blogtalkradio.com/mediablvd. In addition to his dating and relationship book How to Find a Woman…Or Not, Morgenstein’s novels include Loving Rabbi Thalia Kleinman, about a divorced man who falls in love with a beautiful woman rabbi; Jesse’s Girl, a powerful story about a father’s search for his adopted teenage son, and Take Me Out to the Ballgame, a political baseball thriller, as well as the baseball Rocky The Man Who Wanted to Play Center Field for the New York Yankees. His prophetic play Ponzi Man played to sell-out crowds at the New York Fringe Festival. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, surrounded by lots of books and rock and roll CDs. He is Director, Communications, for the Syfy Channel.

 

Please visit him at www.garymorgenstein.com.

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Posted on May 20, 2010, in Featured Authors, Mystery/Thriller, Publicity & Writing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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