Do Novelists Have to Be Politically Correct?

This article popped up on the Write Conversation blog:

The novelist’s subject matter is certainly controversial, and it set me thinking about some of the problems I faced in 2015, when writing my second novel, Who Kills A Nudist?

Briefly, the plot includes a murder victim found at the location of a nudist colony on a Cornish beach, used by mainly gay men. The likely suspect is also involved in drug smuggling and people trafficking. I have my own opinions on these subjects, but none of them are bigoted. My fictional characters, however, display hostility towards gays and illegal immigrants. People who are ill-educated or politically biased aren’t likely to use politically correct language.

I wrote a short sentence in the way that my right wing, hardline retired detective talks, having him say something about the gay nudists in a dismissive and inflammatory way, describing then as ‘deviants and shirt-lifters’. It’s certainly how he would speak, but it’s not how I think. It rings true, but has the potential to taint me—not that I’m that bothered, as after making 650 queries, I’m bulletproof!

All the same, it raises some interesting problems. We can’t make all of our characters politically correct, otherwise the narrative will be bland, safe and boring. An out-and-out baddy can go berserk, saying and doing what he likes, but what about more ordinary people who casually express opinions that might stray from what is acceptable?

Have any of you faced similar problems writing your stories?

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