The Devil in the Pages: How to Play Devils Advocate

Hi Jim,

I saw that you give out writing advice and was hoping you could help me. See I’m taking my first shot at writing a political satire story, but am finding it increasingly difficult to write from the perspective of someone I don’t agree with. It’s getting very hard to write without sounding superficial or condescending. Do you have any suggestions?

Best-
Maria


Hi Maria,

That’s a good question and one that isn’t always easy to answer. As human beings, we all have preferences, beliefs, biases, and worldviews that are specific to us. Many of our core values and beliefs are deeply integrated into our personalities and often very difficult, if not impossible to change.

So with that in mind, how do we work through them. How do we betray our own senses and beliefs and become the devil’s advocate?
The way I see it, there are a few ways…
1. Get involved in debates. On my private facebook profile, I’ll often post a political question or issue based either on current events or something I’m writing about. My friends list is full of people from both sides of the isle… some more mature than others. Most of the time, I’ll get a couple of troll posts, as well as childish name-calling going back ad forth. However, then one or two people who are looking to have a ‘drop the mic’ moment come in with an intellectually sound, cited argument. Reading through these arguments can often give you the answer you’re looking for whether you agree with them or not.

2. Have someone else write it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with collaborating on a work with another person if you’re completely stumped. Just make sure that this other person has the maturity to post their views without going into attack mode.

3. Do a little soul-searching. This is something I typically do when I debate points. I come up with my argument and then carefully examine it to see where someone could poke a hole in it or use a piece of their own logic to refute it. In that way, you start thinking as they do and very quickly, you can form a cohesive argument.

Remember though, just because you’re writing it, doesn’t mean you agree with it. There is such a thing as playing devil advocate and its a perfectly reasonable thing to do in order to get a point across.

I remember back in college, trying to write a short story from a German soldier’s perspective during WW2. My goal was to have the soldier condemn what Hitler did, but defend WHY Germany let him come to power in the first place. This soldier wasn’t supposed to be the moral or ethical right, but I at least wanted people to know that perspective in order to gain a bigger understanding of the context behind World War 2. In the end, the soldier would be executed following the Nuremberg trials.

Well… I live in the United States. All of the known Nazis have long since been deported. Any that could still be left are likely either dead or in hiding. However… their children and grandchildren remained. Most didn’t want to talk about it, but a few were able to give me some insight into the how and why that we aren’t really taught in school.

So I was able to find some information that helped me make a decent argument.

Anyway, I hope this helps.
Readers, what do you think? Do you have any advice for Maria? Let her know in the comments.


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

 

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