You’ve Got Politics in My Story!

For those of us who wish to write fun commercial stories, there may come a time when we ask: should politics be a part of our stories?

To some extent, they always are. Your story may be advocating for or against certain behaviors and mindsets just based on which characters are right or wrong, what plans succeed or fail, or what makes the characters’ lives better or worse. And even seemingly innocuous mindsets like, “just be yourself,” could have political ramifications in certain contexts.

On the other extreme, sometimes politics are the central focal point of the story. In Margaret Atwood’s dystopian The Handmaid’s Tale, her world is based upon exaggerated and terrifying(ly plausible) misogyny, where women are denied rights and turned into nothing more than a breeding tool. This makes the entire work a feminist tale, while still maintaining character and story and art—but you couldn’t have the story without the politics. And quite clearly, that is Atwood’s purpose.

There is nothing wrong with telling a politically-themed story; in fact, there can be a lot right with it. There is also nothing wrong with telling a simpler story with less politically-charged themes. Ultimately, you have to tell the story you are called to tell.

But consider what your story is saying, whether you know it or not, about our world and how to live in it. You can take the opportunity to strengthen those messages to take a stand, or soften them to make them more subtle, or even change them if you happen to disagree.

Stories are political because life is political—own it, and your stories will be even stronger.

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About J. Sevick

Just write.
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