In A New World Where Writers Are Presidents, Politics Functions Through Fiction: New Short Story by Focus on the Family
The election last night was a HISTORICAL FIRST: a man who made his fame initially through writing good books is now the President of the United States.

But is the right-wing going to take this lying down? No! They are human beings, too, with the same murderous pride, the same love of justice and values--and the same urge to create.

In the rules of formal dueling, the aggressor invariably chooses the weapons of engagement. President-elect Obama has chosen literature.

His opponent--Focus on the Family--shall do no less.

Conservative science fiction--on the march!

Focus on the Family, suddenly forced into the position of dissenter, has responded like all dissenters: they have turned to fiction. They have written a short story for the delight of a new America. "Letter From 2012 in Obama's America," apparently written by committee (or at least credited to committee), is narrated by "A Christian from 2012," upset at the sweeping changes that the Obama presidency sweeps into power over the course of its first four years. Among these:

- The Supreme Court has voted--to legalize gay marriage!
- The Boy Scouts of America have disbanded, rather than be forced to admit homosexual Scoutmasters!
- Doctors are forced to provide artificial insemination for lesbian couples--or they could face prison!
- The military is actively recruiting homosexuals, in a twisted form of affirmative action!
- A 2011 decision repeals all FCC restrictions on pornography! The airwaves are littered with filth! Nothing can anymore be banned, nothing controlled!
- Terrorists have swarmed from the mountains of Iran, completely overwhelming Iraq! Their bombs have gone off in two major American cities! Which two? Wait and see!
- Nuclear blasts from an unchecked Iran have destroyed Tel Aviv!
- Wicked Russia has retaken all of the former Soviet satellite countries--as it has always intended!
- Now that the poor can get free health care, the rich must wait two years for their cancer treatments! People over 80 are euthanized to ease the strain on our socialized health care system!!
- The rich--are no longer rich! Since taxes on them have increased so much, everyone who earned more than $200,000/year has closed their business--why should they have to work so that the government might steal?? All heavy industry has collapsed! Atlas has shrugged! The breadlines swell!
- Conservative talk radio no longer exists, since the Obama-backed FCC now requires equal time representation on the airwaves for all viewpoints! Conservative radio listeners literally cannot stand to listen to alternative viewpoints, so they stop supporting conservative talk radio altogether! It's no longer safe!!
- Homosexual activist groups, in a coordinated terrorist denial of service attack, have stopped large bookstore chains and from carrying Christian books! The word of God is crushed beneath their violent jackboots!!
- America has become a fallen nation in the eyes of God!

We at the Fiction Circus applaud Focus on the Family's decision to finally court the vast fiction-loving electorate, to seek out those crucial, tremulous single-issue fiction voters even in the rat holes and tenements where they survive. And just as we at the Fiction Circus appreciated all of the feedback we received on our brief attempt to seize power during the early days of the American financial crisis, Focus on the Family will surely appreciate the writerly advice that we offer them on this, their freshman effort at fiction writing.

1. Show, Don't Tell!

This is the biggest flaw in this entire story. The power of fiction is the power to show someone what it would actually be like to live in the world you have created. As it stands, Focus on the Family's effort is just a catalog of terrible events. Think how much more exciting it would be if we really *saw* those events unfold--

President Obama leaned back in his chair and relaxed. With a wave of his hand--his muscles sinewy, taut with the force of a liberal mandate--the door to the Oval Office swung open.

It was hard to see the eyes of the man in chains. Obama liked to imagine that they were red, that they were defiant. He felt a low echo of pleasure from his Presidential loins. Another wave, and his appointed Attorney General kicked the man in the small of the back, sending him into the room.

The President rose from the desk and sauntered, like a panther, to the center of the room.

"Dobson," he said. "It's been a long time coming, this day."

"I s-still believe," coughed Jim Dobson.

Obama smiled--the smile the sheep in the polling booths never got to see. The true smile.

"You believe in those old legends," he said. "Then this should be a mercy to you."

He leveled the gun with its single bullet--the bullet he had, on the day he sold his heart to Satan, consecrated with the blood of the unborn. The bullet that had, for thirty long, climbing years, been waiting to find the brain of this man on the floor.

As he pulled the trigger, the lights blacked out.

"God damn!" he howled. "God damn this inefficient solar power grid!"

His bullet was spent. And he could hear the wheeze--the regular, faithful wheeze--of the man of God on the floor. Through the darkness of the room came the whispers of deliverance."

Isn't that a better way to show people how realistic and convincing your scenario for America's future is? Isn't that a good scene? If you would like to use this scene in any of your future fiction, please send $5 to:

The Fiction Circus
Basement Hole #17
Long Island City, NY 11106

2. Know Your Readers' Sympathies!

A good fiction writer is faithful to two things: his own visions, and his responsibility to conjure those visions in the mind of his audience. This means not only sensory details, but emotional and intellectual context. If you haven't done the work of teaching the reader to see through your eyes, your perspective will not be convincing or interesting. Your fiction will fail.

This passage, for example, presents problems.

The Justice Department soon began to file criminal and civil charges against nearly every Bush administration official who had any involvement with the Iraq war.37 During his campaign, Senator Obama said, "What I would want to do is to have my Justice Department and my Attorney General immediately review the information that's already there and to find out are there inquiries that need to be pursued."38 In order to facilitate these proceedings, President Obama rescinded President Bush's executive order that had prevented presidential papers from being released, and millions of pages of previously secret White House papers were posted on the Internet. ACLU attorneys have spent four years poring over these papers looking for possible violations of law. Dozens of Bush officials, from the Cabinet level on down, are in jail, and most of them are also bankrupt from legal costs.

Now, you and I are adults, Focus on the Family. We know that of course it's a complete travesty that men who have broken the law are, in the year 2012, sitting in jail since the secret documents in which they have confessed their crimes are now public. We know that crime must remain secret and the guilty unpunished. But your crazy liberal readers may not know that it's a bad thing for people in power who have broken the law to be in jail!

To solve this problem, you might have written a scene like the following:

Rumsfeld leaned back on the chaise lounge and stirred his Manhattan. Stirring didn't help--it was ashes in his mouth. Cheney was quiet. Together on the glass-enclosed balcony they looked out over the city of politics--the city of miracles. The city that tomorrow, when the verdict came in, they would never see again.

"Dick," said Rumsfeld. "What we did--we did for America. Didn't we?"

"You know it," said Cheney. "I know it. HE knows it."

His long finger pointed to the starry heaven above for the last time.

"Sometimes I wonder if He knows it," said Rumsfeld.

Cheney shifted his massive bulk and sipped his drink. From his pocket he withdrew his gun. He stroked his lips with the barrel. Those full lips. Those lips that used to hold such power.

"I don't know," he said. "But I know that He forgives the ones who solve problems."

And maybe it was the liquor, maybe it was the situation, maybe it was the air--the sweet American air, the air of freedom before the police crashed in tomorrow and ended it all. But Rumsfeld's hand reached out, found its purchase against the warm, aging flesh of his criminal partner--his friend--his soul. Cheney answered the embrace. They fell into each other, hands restless, clawing--clinging for handholds, dizzy from the vertigo on the way down from the grace of the mandate--hands answering hands one last time, before the people they had blessed took their blessing away. Body answering body one last time, here in the cold March wind across the glass balcony over the city they had saved, together.

The price for this one is $10 because it has a sex scene in it.

3. Character Development!

Who is this Christian from 2012? I want to know more about him--or her! When did this Christian first know he or she was a Christian? When did he or she lose his or her virginity, or did they? What is his or her socioeconomic status? Age? Favorite color? Could they at least be eating something while writing the letter, and maybe the letter gets stained with food and tears, and they're mad about it because now that the economy has collapsed since all of the wealthy people have stopped creating jobs, food is scarce? (That way you can show the character's favorite food, as well as include some sensory details.) Maybe at the end of the story they say they're going to eat the letter for fiber? Maybe the story ends with Russian Al-Qaeda shock troops breaking in with Obama's head on a pike, saying I REPENT through his damned, necrotically-animated lips, and he quickly writes GOD BLESS AMERICA before they run him through? Wouldn't that be rad? $15.

I could go on, but I think you should just put this piece away for a while, Focus on the Family, then come back to it in a few months and see what you think you could improve about it. Sometimes you have to take some time away from your writing to really see it for what it is.

In conclusion, Focus on the Family:

Thank you for your submission to the Fiction Circus. We regret that it does not meet our publication needs at this time. We wish you luck on finding a publisher for this story, as well as with your writing career.

The Editors

Posted by future on Wed, 05 Nov 2008 13:42:41 -0500 -- permanent link

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