What to do when your plot doesn’t match the politics/beliefs/values of your friends? This had not occured to me until one day a friend commented on a book I was working on and I realized that she was worried that a character might act in a way that could send the wrong signal to certain readers.
How much responsibility does any writer have here? If a character undergoes a trauma, and a reader happens to have had a smiliar experience, how much should the writer worry about this? To say that you can’t consider the possiblity of every single reader is one obvious answer. To say that you have to be true to your story whatever it and however it goes is another. But perhaps those answers don’t fully address what I’m trying to ask.
Sometimes my characters act in ways that are foolish, crazy, or wrong–hence they get to be in a novel! But it amazes me how many people out there seem to think that by writing such characters you are condoning such behavior. I mean, witness the anti-smoke rules in movies these days. I don’t smoke, but telling a writer a character can’t smoke because kids will see it…it bothers me. Granted, putting in smoking because a cigarette company has paid for product placement makes even less artistic sense. Hey, it should be up to the writer–is it true to the character?
I’ve also rumblings about regulating certain kinds of film and stories which could possibly make a story like Romeo and Juliet illegal because teenagers have sex. Good heavens–do they? I suppose new laws like this would mean I’m in trouble…
But some vague law that may or may not do what it threatens is not my immediate concern. More relevant to my unpublished life are my friends who I hope will not see me as an immoral person because of the things I write. Of course, worse would be if they just saw me as a bad writer.
Anyway, I am going to write the story and some will follow, perhaps others will not. I’ve still got to go.