aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,
aprilhenry
aprilhenry

Alexander McCall Smith on "It's only a story"

Alexander McCall Smith has an interesting essay in the Wall Street Journal about what writers owe readers, and how people react to fiction. In part, it says, "It can be very inhibiting for an author if he or she knows that what happens in fiction is going to be taken so seriously. I write serial novels in newspapers and have learned the hard way that people will readily attribute the views expressed by characters to their authors. In one of my "Scotland Street" novels a character called Bruce, a rather narcissistic young man, made disparaging remarks about his hometown. Although these were not the views I hold about that particular town, I was roundly taken to task, with the local member of the Scottish Parliament suggesting that I should be forced to apologize to the offended citizens. I pointed out that these were the views of a fictional character, who was just the type to make such remarks. That did not help."

"In another novel, I had Isabel Dalhousie give up breastfeeding rather too quickly for the liking of the leader of a pro-breastfeeding organization. Again I was told that I should make a public apology to those who believed in persisting with breastfeeding. That sort of thing is quite alarming, and it is such people who need to be told, politely but firmly, that it is just a story.""

Read more here.



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