Being Preachy

I haven't done a good rant in awhile, so here we go: I don't know about you, but I can't stand when writers become preachy with their work. It's one thing when you have a point and you do it subtly, a completely other thing when you bash readers over the head with your personal feelings.

Case in point: I just finished reading Nothing To Lose by Lee Child (well, listening to it, actually, as it's one of the audio books I'd grabbed from the library to keep me company on my commute to work). I won't give the whole story away, but basically there are these two towns in Colorado, called Hope and Despair, and Despair (surprise, surprise) is the town where some bad stuff is going on. Anyway, as the book progresses you find that the town is acting as an underground railroad for AWOL soldiers, taking them to safety in Canada. And Jack Reacher -- an ex-MP -- figures it out but it hesitant to do anything about it. Why? Because, he says, he knows where the soldiers are coming from, watching their fellow brothers die in a war that doesn't make any sense.

Would he, Reacher, have gone AWOL? the book's female protagonist asks.

No, Reacher answers, because he doesn't think he would have been courageous enough.

Okay now, to be clear, an author can do whatever he wants with his characters. It's best to have the characters act on their own, of course, doing what makes sense, but hey, if the author wants to have them start tap-dancing even though there's no way they'd know how to tap-dance, more power to them.

I've only read a few Reacher books, and for the most part I like them. They're entertaining beach reads, which is all they're meant to be. They pass the time. The only book I've really liked so far was The Hard Way. And don't get me wrong -- I like Lee Child, so this has nothing to do with him. I would be doing this rant for any other writer.


For the same reason I get pissed off by movie stars shoving their political opinions down our throats. I don't care how many Oscars you've won, how many of your movies became blockbuster successes -- off-screen, I don't give a shit what you think or say, and those people who do follow you word for word are nothing more than sheep.

Anyway, I'm getting off track, so here's the deal:

Authors should not speak their own personal viewpoints through their characters.

I don't see Jack Reacher actually believing that it takes courage to go AWOL. not an ex-MP like him who usually sees the world in black and white. For starters, it's not like there was a draft and these soldiers were forced over into the war. They knew what they were getting into when they signed up. And this has nothing to do with whether or not you agree with the war but rather whether you feel soldiers should be considered heroes for running away and hiding.

Obviously Lee Child does, and so he forced Jack Reacher to say the same.

Personally, the preachiness took me out of the story a bit. While I was enjoying it before -- would have given it three stars on Goodreads -- his mini-sermon forced me to give it two stars.

Every once in awhile I'll read a book and see the same thing. Dean Koontz seems to do this all the time with his social commentaries, and yes, they are annoying. He could do them subtler but no, he needs to bash the readers over the head because, apparently, we readers are morons.

On the other hand, some writers do manage to get their point across without being preachy.

And then you have other writers who just write a damned good book and don't try to persuade us one way or another. All they do is try to entertain us, which, if I'm not mistaken, is the whole stupid point anyway.

So now I ask you -- what are some books or movies that turned you off because they were too preachy?