So I’m leafing through Stephen King’s ON WRITING book, realizing that I’ve read much more of his non fiction than I have of his fiction, and I come to a place in his text that I can really empathize with.
He talks about people getting mad at him because of things his characters do, say, or think. Maybe a character is racist or swears or clubs people with dead cats. Somehow, people get offended and angry – as if these characters were the mouthpiece of the author. But their not. They are characters that come into the story…they have to live and breath a little and the author has to let them do what they do…or they don’t breath and they die and they become 2 dimensional.
It’s the author’s job to be honest, and present (in fiction) what that person would actually say. People don’t say “oh beans” when they hit their finger with a hammer. They say “Oh shit!!!”
In his words:
“The point is to let each character speak freely, without regard to what the Legion of Decency or the Christian Ladies’ Reading Circle may approve of. To do otherwise would be cowardly as well as dishonest, and believe me, writing fiction in America as we enter the twenty-first century is no job for intellectual cowards. There are lost of would-be censors out there, and although they may have different agendas, they all want basically the same thing: for you to see the world they see . . . or to at least shut up about what you do see that’s different. They are agents of the status quo. Not necessarily bad guys, but dangerous guys if you happen to believe in intellectual freedom.”