by Terri Wagner
My father watches The Bill O'Reilly Show on Foxnews pretty much every night. If I am around, so do I. I particularly like his last segment where he reads emails that have been sent to him. I imagine there is just one person whose job is to vet those emails and then quite possibly O'Reilly makes the final choice. Most of the ones read are as requested by him "pithy."
Very recently, he added another last segment called Tip of the Day. The tips are wide ranging and interesting. The problem is that most people do not like that new segment. The email review as O'Reilly puts it is overwhelmingly against the concept. He keeps asking why.
So I thought about why. Now, mind you, I am NOT answering for the rest of the country or the world for that matter. But for me (as the prophet Joshua once said), the tips smack of hectoring. Is it delivery? Not sure. O'Reilly can at times be rather pompous sounding. Is it subject matter? Can't really judge that because the subjects have been all over the place...health, self help, etc.
For me it's the "truthfulness" of the tip to which I object. "Who" made that decision that blah blah blah is best for me. What was "their" criteria to make that determination? Why should I trust "them"? It comes down to the truth.
As writers do we often or sometimes sacrifice truth for pith? I know out of the many non-fiction books I have read, the ones that suspend judgement but offer only the facts are the ones I enjoy the most. These books do not offer up tip of the day...only here are the facts, draw your own conclusion.
Right now I am reading No Higher Honor by Condoleezza Rice. It is an excellent dialogue on what she went through, how quickly crises developed on her watch as National Security Adviser and later Secretary of State. I say dialogue because it is like she is talking to you the reader about what was going on. It is a serious tome, full of hindsight observations and humorous anecdotes. Mostly it is about how a woman faced some of the most significant events in our country's recent history. Well worth reading.
Would I take a tip of the day from her? Actually yes I would. Why? I trust her by reading about her perspective. As writers, we have a responsibility to be truthful in our writing. That may be much more difficult in fiction, but I suspect that long-standing serial fiction hero writers would vehemently disagree.
As O'Reilly puts it, "What Say You?"