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Fools, Heretics and Fiction

There was a live-streamed debate at church today, involving two prominent scientists, one a "heretic" who accepts evolution, and one a "fool" who doesn't - they're the authors of The Fool and the Heretic, a book I really must read!

These two men described how, on first meeting, they were each quite sure they'd correctly defined the other. But then they talked, prayed, ate dinner and talked some more. Gradually they realized that, while each believed the other's position to pose a threat to Christianity, they could still respect each other's intelligence AND each other's faith, and they could be friends.

In novels, characters often hold differing opinions. Sometimes those opinions agree with the author's; sometimes they don't. The author's job, at the start, is to keep their own opinions separate from the characters' - just because you believe all creationists are fools, you don't have to make them all look foolish in your book. A second task is to make sure the characters, even those you don't agree with, are self-consistent.  Just because you believe all scientists are heretics, you don't have to make them anti- all things good (including good math and science).

Then the editor's job is to spot when characters fail to be true to themselves, protect the author from preachiness or accidental heresy, and make sure the potential publisher's rules are obeyed. (Just because you think publishers appreciate debate doesn't mean they want real debatables in their fictional characters.)

The best part of the editor's job is reading such fun books and meeting such fascinating characters, be they fools or heretics. I really must read that book!

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