It’s very hard, as a conservative writer, to refrain from negativity. We are, frankly, angry. We conservatives have come into our own, electing a president who seems to actually have the potential to make changes we want – and our own party blocks him. We are under concerted and often violent attack if we conservative writers exercise our one real power: our voices.
Over and over, I see conservatives using that great power in futility: to slay our enemies in effigy within our fiction, to show them receiving their just desserts, to expose them as the pathetic and weak figures they are. That’s fine in small doses – Roy Griffis’s Lonesome George books speculate on what famous liberals would be if they were mugged by reality, for instance, and show them learning why their thinking has been wrong all along.
The problem is, though, we often focus on that negativity toward liberals and ignore the great positive elements conservatism is built around. I have yet to see a great conservative novel focused around our contributions to abolition, for instance, or our contributions to grassroots-drive civil rights. There has been no novel about conservative American values battling the horrific excesses of the Progressive eugenics movement during the years between the World Wars, or how those excesses led to both the Great Depression and the development of the socialist New Deal, later expanded in another time of Progressive energy into Johnson’s Great Society.
Novelists are uniquely situated to highlight our conservative strengths and ideals. In my own work in progress, The Joneses, I use the oppressive weight of a small neighborhood homeowner’s association to allegorize how our own freedoms are being taken from us by an over-powerful federal government we cannot escape. I also use business and political corruption in a small town to show that the activities liberals have commonly described as capitalist crimes are, in fact, a form of liberal fascism antithetical to the growth and freedom treasured by conservatives.
And I do it using characters who genuinely strive to be good people in a tough world, characters who attend church and teach their children common sense and when to fight back. Characters most conservatives would embrace as their kind of heroes.
Contrast that to using a cardboard Bruce Willis tough-guy hero who fights blatantly evil liberals in bloody gun fights, or who destroys Islamic terrorists like a kitten discovering toilet paper. Sure, they feel good. But are they really saying what you want to say? Are they constructive in promoting your ideals, or just lots of brutal fun?
That does not mean you can’t use some of your writing as catharsis. Just every so often remember to focus on characters you admire because of who they are deep inside. If you aspire to write serious fiction, be aware that the more negativity you use in conservative fiction, the closer you are to writing pulp.
As a quick exercise, look at the hero of your current work in progress. Is he there to kick bad-guy ass, or is he there to teach what conservatism is? Does she bathe in her enemy’s blood, or is she protecting children caught up in an abusive social work system? Are you providing conservative solutions, or cathartically destroying terrorists and liberals?
One way tears down. The other way builds up. Which perspective would you prefer to write from?