Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Random Writing Tips – Social commentary

I had the idea for this post some time ago, and at first it was going to be pretty lighthearted.  But as I thought about it, it took more and more serious turns, until I wasn’t sure what I was trying to say.  Hopefully, this tenth or so version will make some sense.

We all have ideas on politics, or religion, or whatever, and as writers there is the temptation to use the platform of our writing to spread these ideas, even if they don’t necessarily fit the story.  This is a broad definition of social commentary.  But one person’s social commentary is another person’s ideological screed.  Years ago there was a show coming out that didn’t really look interesting to me.  But then one day Twitter exploded with people talking about an episode and how brave they were to “go there.” So out of curiosity, I started watching the show.  It wasn’t really for me and when I got to “the” episode, I couldn’t even finish it.  Because to me the social commentary felt so ham-fisted that it felt like I was being beat with the whole pig.  Don’t get me wrong, the issue they brought up is important, but it was like going in to have the oil in your car changed only for them to start repainting it.  Yes, it needed done, but it wasn’t what I signed up for today.

Social commentary is great when it works, but it is so easy for it to not work.  And I think the easiest way for it to not work is to try to do too much with it, or to make too big a deal of it.  Stories are like meals.  While some are fine with plain fare, most readers/watchers want their stories seasoned with some clever writing.  And if the writer wishes to garnish it with a bit of social commentary, that’s fine, although some will just push it to the side of the plate.  I think the reason social commentary often has a bit of a negative connotation, is because writers are afraid of being too subtle and their message being missed by the public, so they go superliminal

So if you feel the need to add some social commentary to your writing, remember, it’s best as seasoning.  Some might miss it, but if you add too much, you’ll probably annoy more people, which kind of defeats the purpose.


Image from Pixabay.

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