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How to write political fiction

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Old 11-02-2006, 03:23 PM
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Default How to write political fiction

How to Write Political Fiction

Political fiction is timely literature that seeks to change some facet of society or that persuasively espouses a particular political viewpoint. Political fiction can truly be powerful: stories have time and again served as a catalyst, a call to action, to inspire people to change their world. Only time will tell whether your story will have this lasting impact, but this much is certain: writing political fiction is fun and cathartic. Here are some steps to get you started as the next Voltaire, John Steinbeck, Ayn Rand, Gore Vidal, or George Orwell.

  1. Read political fiction. There's no better way than reading quality political fiction to get inspired and learn the tricks of the trade. Authors such as those listed above are good choices, but there are many, many other worthwhile works.
  2. Think about what you want to change or call attention to. Chances are you've already got something in mind.
  3. Narrow down what you want to attack. A very broad attack on, say, "the government" is unlikely to create powerful writing, but too narrow an attack, such as one on a single person, generally won't serve to bring about meaningful change. There are many exceptions to these generalizations, though. You basically just want to make sure that your theme is broad enough to keep the story interesting and narrow enough to allow you to explore it deeply.
  4. Choose your approach. The first impulse is usually to attack the subject earnestly and directly. This can be effective, but many times indirect approaches such as satire and allegory are more powerful. Satire, in particular, is a fun genre to write and, if written well, to read.
  5. Base your story on real circumstances. You probably won't use senators' real names, and you may not even use a real country as your setting, but the more connections your story has to real places and real events, the more likely readers are to understand and relate to it.
  6. Write a great work of fiction. Ignore for a moment that the urgent message of your book is far more important than the trite diversions on the bestseller list. Political or socially-conscious work is truly valuable, but that fact doesn't give you license to write a boring or poorly written story. If you really have something important to say, say it well, and make your book every bit as engaging as popular fiction. See the related wikiHows for tips on how to write fiction.
  7. Revise and edit your work once you've completed it. The creation of a good book typically involves 1 part writing to 3 parts revising and editing. See related wikiHows for help.
  8. Publish your work. It can be hard to find a publisher for controversial political fiction. The best way to get your story published is to make it an entertaining, high-quality work of fiction. If you've got that, but you still don't have a publisher, look to smaller presses, or publish the work yourself, either on paper or on the internet.
  • Watch the news to see if your subject remains relevant. Some things that are likely to remain relevant for some time include: terrorism, security, attempts at total equality, or the struggle of the poor.
  • Don't rant. If you just want to vent, you can write for yourself, post on an internet bulletin board, or start a blog. Political fiction is well crafted storytelling, not a letter to the editor.
  • Having trouble getting started? Try this approach to get your ideas flowing (it's a bit formulaic, but it might get you somewhere): choose what you want to attack; create a protagonist (main character) who is in conflict with the government, your antagonist; determine the fate of your protagonist; figure out how to get your protagonist to that fate.
  • Don't be surprised if vested interests try to stifle your publication. In some countries, you can be imprisoned or even executed for writing political fiction, while in others you may simply find that publishers won't touch even a really great story that's too controversial.
  • Beware libel and slander suits. Political fiction will usually offend at least some people, and if those people are obviously characters in your book, they may bring lawsuits against you. In some countries, libel requires that you tell a lie about someone, but in others, such as the U.K., libel laws are more broadly interpreted.

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Last edited by xfacktor; 11-02-2006 at 03:26 PM..
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Old 02-17-2012, 06:53 PM
LumeAurais (Offline)
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This is really good advice, thanks! I've been considering writing some political things but I didn't have much of start because I haven't read much. (Will be doing so as soon as possible! xD)
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Old 02-17-2012, 10:16 PM
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Don't rant.
I am John Galt.
There's a place for those who love their poetry
It's just across from the sign that says "Pros only"
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Old 02-28-2012, 09:20 AM
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I've been wondering about your step 5 in fiction generally. How close to reality should it come?

For example: you're reading a fiction novel and a character talks about a real event that occurred, say, 15 or 20 years ago--not something revolutionary like landing on the moon, but something more discrete, like a small-time scandal that came to light during a presidential campaign. On one hand, I think it's okay to weave in minor relevant details to lend some credibility, but, on the other, it can at times become confusing if the author shifts between real and fictionalized events.

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