by Cathy Yan, Social Media Assistant for Laura Thomas Communications
Artwork by Katie King
When you think of opinionated writing, the first things to pop into your mind are almost always non-fiction styles. However, many popular works of fiction are written to subtly reflect the author’s opinions on controversial issues. These authors indirectly but artfully convey ideas through the actions and dialogues of their characters. Though the result is a complex and deep piece of fictional work, the process is not at all complicated.
First, you need to be very clear of your issue, opinion, and what you want to achieve through the piece. Let’s say you are concerned about climate change and want your audience to cut back on their carbon emissions by walking to work or school. In this case, your issue is climate change, your opinion is that automobiles contribute to it, and you want to convince your readers to look for other, more eco-friendly modes of transport.
After you figure out what you want to write about, you will need to devise a plot to effectively convey your ideas. For this example, you can choose to write a short story where the protagonist lives in a future where the earth is in ruins because of climate change. Your plot does not have to completely revolve around your issue, but it should heavily relate to it.
Because many issues are extensively covered by journalists and authors alike, you will need a very good reason to convince potential readers to read your work instead of the work of other authors. The most straightforward but potentially difficult way is to create a shocking and original plot. Your plot will have to be unique and thought-provoking in order to hook an audience.
Another way to hook readers is to make your work emotionally deep and moving. If you choose to do this, you should do extensive research on human nature beforehand. Your writing will need to be realistic and focussed on how the characters are feeling in response to their situation instead of on the situation itself. Try to use complex adjectives and adverbs instead of standard ones like “happy” or “sad” to describe the character’s emotional state. Make sure not to get too lost in emotions, though; your priority is to convey your ideas pertaining to your issue.
In fiction, an outright statement of your opinions is unusual, so you must find other ways to convey your point of view. One way to do it is to live through your character. Make your character like you and let their actions and attitudes mirror yours. Something that is helpful is to write down a few personality traits of your character before writing so you are very clear on what their morals and values are. This is to make sure your character is consistent throughout. Character development is encouraged, of course, but it should be in accordance with your character’s personality.
When you’re writing something controversial, you have to remember that there are two sides to every story, and your writing will not be agreeable to all. However, as a writer, it’s important to be aware of your stance on issues and stick to them. At the end of the day, hurtful words from a few bitter members of the opposition won’t matter; what matters are your thoughts and your determination to throw them out there. And who knows? Maybe your writing will convince previous rivals to second-guess the validity of their opinions!