I read a lot of conservative fiction – classic genres like short and long stories, poetry (yep, there is conservative poetry), a few plays, novels, true stories and wildly imaginative ones. And I read in all the modern genres from the gooshiest romance to the hardest of SF. I follow that up with assiduous television and movie consumption. I do this partly because I am of ecumenical taste in stories, and partly because I am trying to figure out this conservative fiction thing.
For a contrast, I also read a lot of politically liberal fiction – same genres, same reasons. This is in general not my reading of preference, but you must experience the dark to appreciate the light.
In this pursuit, I have read good books, average books, and abominations that should be killed with fire and buried in concrete. The good ones, in every classic and modern genre, on both political sides, have one thing in common: the author has drawn his politics primarily from theme and character, and to a lesser extent from plot and milieu. (Educated writers will recognize these as the four primary building blocks of story.)
Some examples: Captain America, in his most recent movie incarnation, draws his conservatism from character, quite literally. He started out as a scrawny guy full of heart and courage who is given a body and a more-than-a-symbol shield allowing him to show us all who he really is. He’s inspiring – and exemplifies conservative ideals. His frenemy Iron Man is the ultimate entrepreneur, despite the flaws and fears that often have him seeking out limitations eagerly offered by liberal politicians and the women in his life.
Robert Bidinotto’s novel Bad Deeds features Dylan Hunter, a tough guy for hire, taking on environmental terrorism funded by corrupt government figures in cahoots with big business, a perfect example of nascent fascism. His employer: a small, upstart fracking company that just wants to be left alone. Bidinotto does the best job I ever saw of smoothly and gently explaining how fracking really works. Oh, and the book’s theme: the little guy fighting government corruption – or drain the swamp.
Pretty much every traditional romance novel ever – not this newfangled women’s fiction or sassy professional girl stuff. Traditional romance adheres to the HEA – the happily-ever-after ending in which the hero and heroine get married and, usually, have children. Sassy girls find themselves, but romantic heroines find the perfect man. I suspect strongly that this underlying desire for a traditional relationship underpins the fact that secure, married women vote conservative.
Roy Griffis’s The Big Bang novels are set in an America that has been violently conquered by Islamic terrorists. The nation has been divided into caliphates, civil rights replaced by sharia, and caught in the maelstrom are both revolutionary conservatives and very confused and upset liberals – including celebrities we all recognize. Griff does a lot with the material he has created, but his story is all about what the new setting does to his characters.
Similarly, retired Army Lt. Colonel Tom Kratman introduces us to a Europe that has been thoroughly Islamicized by the Muslim enemy within, the Eastern elements that in real life today are slowly forcing the birthplaces of Western culture to submit to Allah. His Caliphate shows us a Europe brought low, a civilization ended not with a Bang, but a whimper. Kratman, a lawyer who once served in Operation Enduring Freedom with the Army’s 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), is a natural with his East v. West theme. (It’s FREE on Kindle right now – damn, folks, go read it!)
You can do this yourself in your fiction. Forget about the thinly-veiled ripped-from-real-life plotlines and characters. Start, instead, with conservative ideas. Perhaps your theme can be “taxes are too high for healthy growth” or “the welfare state creates hellish ghettos because it robs children, potential good citizens, of the drive to develop potential.” Avoid using political statements or judgments in these themes; keep them general, addressing problems that consume you. Then build your story and forget the theme.
Create characters who have conservative traits you admire. Don’t create a Mary Sue (the only one that works is Captain America!) Instead, build a real person you could enjoy a beer with, or who you’d trust to take care of your kids.
Create plots designed around liberal/conservative conflicts – abortion, environmentalism v. conservationism, the Second Amendment. Avoid the ones that the left has to build straw men to advance – racism, gay marriage, the glass ceiling. Let them beat up their puppets, and focus on the real issues that directly affect many of us. Draw your plot from your theme.
Optional: place your characters in milieus that ensures real danger and plot conflict. An abortion story could be placed in a neighborhood where an abortion clinic is being built next door to a Catholic or evangelical church. A farmer is forced to fight environmentalists who want to reintroduce and protect wild wolves near his sheep farm, or you could try a paranormal twist and make them werewolf environmentalists.
Then forget the politics. TELL THE STORY. The politics will take care of itself.