Writing Weirdness

Published October 23, 2016 by nruhwald

book-read-relax-lilacI apologize for missing last week. It’s midterm week at the ‘ol tech school.

Given that writing a blog post is not necessarily a great drain on time you wouldn’t think it being midterm week would mess up my blogging schedule so much.

But hey, look at that. It did.

Without further ado, I’d like to talk about writing weirdness. Not writing weird things, but the weird things going on in the writing world.

Specifically, something I keep hearing people say. Usually something like: “I don’t use my writing to express my viewpoint,” or “nobody likes to be preached at” etc.

The thought pattern behind this, I suppose, is: writers should avoid putting their personal opinions into their writing because people do not like encountering viewpoints contrary to their own, and heaven forbid anyone should mistakenly think the person with an opinion is “judgy.”

By the fact that I’m bringing this up, one could assume that I don’t agree with this kind of thinking. It’s not so much that I don’t agree. I just think people who say this are missing something rather obvious.

We are all unique. Our opinions and worldviews are as unique as our fingerprint. This is why nobody ever writes the same story. We all know this.

Then why would anybody think that at least part of what they believe and how they see the world is not evident in their writing?

Whether a writer makes a point of discussing something in a novel is irrelevant. Who they are will show up in what kinds of characters they create, and what kinds of stories they tell. It’s not a bad thing.

How you view the world and what kind of experiences you’ve have will shape your idea of what a lousy person looks like. Your choices of antagonists will reflect that. Likewise for your protagonists.

Your opinions are going to be in your story anyway. Other people may not notice. Some of them will.

Sometimes I like to read through another writer’s work, published or otherwise, and make guesses about what they believe from that. And then find out more about them from their profiles and bio’s and such to see if I was right. (Saying this just to prove a point, not to brag,) but I’m right about 90% of the time. I can spot a fellow Christian from a hundred yards.

People who can write convincingly from another perspective are rare. I can also tell if a writer chooses to have religious characters, (because, you know, most people do believe in something) but are not religious themselves.

Okay, I guess it’s obvious I don’t agree with the kind of thinking that says you shouldn’t put what you believe in your writing. I think it’s silly, because what you believe is in there anyway. (Especially when people say they don’t put their beliefs in writing and then advocate for diversity in writing. Isn’t diversity all about different world views and experiences? How do you keep opinions out of that?)

It’s okay to have an opinion and put it somewhere where people might see it. All else being equal, a well-crafted story with someone’s opinions in it is still a good story.

People are too scared of opinions other than their own these days. Knowing this, it’s tempting to pack our own away. But wouldn’t it be better to learn to express our views and receive other people’s views in a non-combative way?



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