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If you’re a writer you probably came to the craft wanting to express something. If it didn’t have anything to do with your personal life perhaps you needed to get your voice across about an event, opinion, or even retell a story. In that way, you knew that you had words that needed to make their way across the page so you began to scribble them down. But, what if you’re a fiction writer and you’re tasked with writing stories? How can you take something personal and create the political through the fiction craft? I’ll tell you the top five ways to incorporate social climate and messages throughout your work.

1. Create Dynamic and Meaningful Characters

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Typically, politics emerge from social interaction. The interaction between two people created something that can be commented on which then gave rise to a government or state. The people are the characters that create a given society so in fiction writing there can be features that set them apart such as a political belief, religion, sex, level of education, or even social class. All of these things work at intersections of identity which then fuses the background of a character and impacts the plot in various ways. In essence, create multicultural characters.

2. Comment and Create a Specific Setting

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There are places in society that can cause more or less social tension to happen. For example, bathrooms can be symbolic in that they can serve as an area where queer people are accepted or denied or where races are divided. Historically, bathrooms have been a place in society that has caused conflict. However, there are other settings such as a park, classroom, or even a restaurant where cultures can clash over politics.

3. Play with Concepts

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The reason why there are so many dystopian novels flying off of the shelf has nothing to do with who the writer is but everything to do with the concept. Most of the time, concepts that are well written revolve around a “what-if” scenario that incorporates some kind of social change. A dystopia is a corrupt society, however, the societal disruption happened due to some flaw in the social climate. So, make a dystopia where the concept is strong enough to be written alongside a multifaceted arc. This will give way to commentary on everyday life by distorting the idea of “what-is.”

4. Retell the Original Story

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The retelling of a specific story can be impactful if the story is clear to the reader. It can also serve as a way to change the way that history was once written. When retelling, sticking to the plot can make it clear as to what is being done, but don’t fear to stray away from the way the original story opens or close. Changing how certain characters are perceived can be a great way to convey a sense of hopefulness or despair in parallelization to our current social climate.

5. Shift the Point of View

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Lastly, changing the point of view can make the reader realize a different truth from another angle. Remember that in fiction in order to make our readers care we have to have amazing characters whose personalities are what we want to follow. If we can hook our reader to watch the story unfold from multiple different lenses then they are more likely to empathize with the political message you’re trying to convey. A great portion of writing an amazing story has to deal with empathy. And, a key component of that is choosing whether it’s the first, third, or rotating point of view that you want your reader to relate to.

The last thing I said aloud was “help!” I don’t remember too much about what happened the night before, but what I can recall is that there were three doctors dragging me by my hands and feet towards a padded white room. I don’t know if they had the plans of keeping me here for a while, but it’s like my memory keeping coming and going. I’m trying to recall everything that I was doing before this hospital came into my life but I can’t remember much of anything.

It’s like everything before today is a blur. I can barely recall my name and address. I keep saying it to myself over and over again, “Hollie Holmes, 34, White Terra Lawn #5063” but even repeating it doesn’t feel exactly right. How can I have been brought here against my will? Who did? And, the more I ask myself all of these questions the crazier I feel. I begin to feel as if I’m living in a circle.

Is there any way that I can get out?

Just when that thought crosses me the doors to the padded cell opens, “Miss. Holmes. You have a visitor.”

He was holding a clipboard with a face mask on and all white scrubs. I started thinking about who it could be and all of a sudden it occurred to me that I didn’t remember anyone from my life before. I didn’t remember if I was single or in a relationship, I couldn’t recall what my apartment looked like or my house, I didn’t know whether or not I lived alone or with other people if I drove… It’s like my life is a blur. “So, you going to get up or just look at me?”

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I stood up slowly, I could feel all of the medicine that was inside of me. It was as if I was pumped with morphine. I don’t think I was supposed to be moving for weeks on end. I was wobbling very badly. I tried to make my way towards the door but my body fell forward as if my strength gave out. What was happening?

The doctor, from his eyes, was smirking. It was as if this was some game. What’s being played? How did I end up here? No matter what, I knew that I had to go find out who this visitor was or what they wanted.

I got up from the floor, again, only to feel the trembling worse. The doctor was tapping impatiently on the clipboard. I couldn’t believe what was happening, but, I didn’t have time to think. I took the surprise of what it is.

He leads me down a long corridor. My hands were tied in front of me by cords. I felt crazy, but I couldn’t remember what I did to get here. He was chuckling as he walked behind me. “Did I tell you to stop walking, girl? Your visitor doesn’t have all day.”