Changing the World Through Fiction

I recently gave a presentation at the Cat Writers’ Conference called Changing the World Through Fiction: 7 (plus 1) techniques to effectively promote your point of view and was asked if I had recorded it. I had not, but I do have a this for you:

Today’s society calls for more from a fiction writer than a fluff-piece. It’s our obligation to bring light to the causes and conflicts of our world. In my presentation, Changing the World Through Fiction,  I offer methods that even the coziest of writers can implement to gently present their values within their story.

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If you feel something strongly, it’s easy to talk about it. Sometimes ad nauseam. I’m like that when it comes to cats. I love cats, have cats in my home, I foster sick cats and volunteer at a cat shelter. I attend classes about cat health and behavior. I write cat mysteries and cat poetry as well as a little cat fantasy sci-fi.

It’s not just a cute kitty thing with me; it’s a lifestyle, a relationship, and with it comes responsibility. A lot of bad things happen to animals in this world, and that must change. Indian visionary Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” I’ve chosen to be a cat advocate, both in real life and on the page. It may come down to saving one cat at a time, but it’s okay. No kindness is ever too small.

Sometimes I get carried away talking about shelters, rescues, or animal aid. People’s eyes glaze over, and they begin to hear only the words: cat cat cat cat cat. If that happens at a meeting, they can just walk away, but if I bore them on the page, they will put the book down and may never pick it up again.

As fiction writers, it’s important to remember the point of our writing is to tell an entertaining story, but that doesn’t mean we can’t educate and enlighten at the same time, without using soapbox rhetoric or putting our readers to sleep.

  1. Pick your battles, and your cause. You can’t champion everything. Choose 1 or 2 matters significant to you.

  1. Tighten up. Keep your cause-talk short, but make every word count.

  1. Establish your place. Use epigraphs, quotes, or an afterward as the vehicle for your cause.

  1. Why so serious? Don’t forget to include your cause’s lighter components.

  1. Show, don’t tell. Weave the cause into your story instead of pitching it on its own.

  1. Whisper, don’t shout. Be subtle: don’t give in to the urge to lecture or preach.

  1. Write to entertain. Make it fun. After all, that’s why people read fiction.

“Eliminate the negative.”

As my father-in-law often sang:

   “You’ve got to accentuate the positive,

Eliminate the negative,

Latch on to the affirmative

Don’t mess with Mister In Between.” 

    –Music by Harold Arlen; lyrics by Johnny Mercer; singer: Bing Crosby 1944 

All causes are based on something bad that needs to be changed, but keeping your attitude “positive” will leave your readers feeling optimistic about both your cause and your book.

Thanks for playing along, and please let me know if you have any questions. Now, go out and change the world!

Mollie Hunt, Cat Writer

www.lecatts.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Mollie Hunt

I am the crazy cat lady, animal shelter volunteer, Trekkie, and mystery writer. I live in the rainy Pacific Northwest and will watch any TV show or movie filmed here. Even though I am of a goodly age (sixty-something) I go to Star Trek conventions in costume and am not afraid to be by myself. I enjoy my life in the cat lane. Words to live by: Spay and neuter; Live long and prosper; Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
This entry was posted in CAT WRITERS, Crazy Cat Lady Mysteries & More, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Changing the World Through Fiction

  1. Hi. Great article and I wish I had been able to be there at CWA to hear this in person, and to meet you. The best messages are those we get without being forced, and I do feel we should be messengers for good, but never shy away from explaining the bad side of life, too. My plus one now, is that there is always a plus side we can end up on….
    Toodle pips and purrs
    ERin

  2. chrisscatmeow says:

    Really enjoyed reading this and looking at the pictures…I love cats,volunteered at Cats protection read about them enjoy my boys company. I would have loved to be a foster mum and thought when my son leaves home this is what I would do alas I will always have to care for my 20 year old son. I read Island Cats and would loved to have went to Malta on the Island of Goa there are many strays that need help. I thought I would be able to go somewhere and live the rest of my life helping Cats and kittens…but this is not to be….

  3. I know your presentation had to be most wonderful!

  4. Valentine says:

    I bet your purr-sentation was very popular with attendees! Mom wishes she had been there. Maybe next year. Purrs.

  5. Allison says:

    Finding a passion can really help give one a voice. I spent several years being aimless with my writing. At the same time, I was feeding feral cats, socializing shelter animals, and fostering homeless animals.

    When I began blogging for a local animal welfare group, I found my love. Now everything I write is about animals. I’m also thinking about taking some classes and maybe volunteering at a shelter.

    Thanks for this article. I’m sharing it with my writing group.

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