Don’t Antagonize Your Readers

Dorothy Parker, supposedly, wrote a book review that included the comment, “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.” We’ve all read something that fits this quote, I’m sure. I could name about three I’ve read in just this past year.

I just finished another book like that – I will NOT mention the author or title because this is strictly my opinion.

Why didn’t I like this? Certainly, it wasn’t because it was badly written, or have illogical situations, or have a disappointing ending. I didn’t care for it because the author did something I truly hate to see in books and novels or even in contest entries from potentially to-be-published authors.

As part of the story, the author makes disparaging remarks about another character strictly because that character’s political beliefs differ from those of the main character (and, I presume, those of the author). Please note I’m not even mentioning which political party is being insulted because I’ve read books that do the same for the opposite (as well as other) political beliefs.

Since the majority of people belong to either the Democratic or Republican parties, my question is: WHY would an author potentially alienate HALF of their readership?

You are very much mistaken if you assume that everyone who may read your book thinks along the same lines as you.

If you’re writing a non-fiction political commentary, fine – go ahead and rant all you want. But if you’re writing fiction, please for the sake of your readers, don’t insult the other person’s beliefs. Don’t make Democrats modern-day, drug-using hippies or Republicans up-tight, money-grubbing yuppies or make other political views look ridiculous. Not only is that insulting to potential readers, it makes for two-dimensional characters that aren’t very interesting to read.

Apart from the above rant about how this author treated differing political points of view, the book wasn’t all that bad – it’s not something that’s going on my keeper shelf, but fairly enjoyable. However, because of this author’s remarks, I will certainly be less likely to pick up another book by them.

I’m sure this author will not miss my $.60 in royalties (which they wouldn’t have gotten anyway because I checked it out of my local library), but losing potential readers can also affect your potential royalties.

Think about it before you write it. That’s all I ask.


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