In my dystopian novel, Day, the son of a fascist dictator, is trying to convince Analise, a young genetic mutant oppressed under said fascist dictator, that the dictatorship's laws allowing censorship of speech and press, imprisonment of genetically mutated humans, and rigid class structure are in place to keep the general population safe. Day says mutants are dangerous and subhuman, that too much freedom (i.e the ability to always speak your mind) is bad, and that his father's rule is benevolent.

Day's father, the dictator, is the villain of the story, and is an evil guy. The dictatorship sucks, and isn't benevolent. But Day is absolutely convinced that what his father is doing is right, and good, and justified. He's honestly naïve and brainwashed into thinking cruelty is salvation.

I am not a fan of dictatorships, I'm not a fascist, I don't agree with censorship or oppression of anyone. I don't agree with the villain I'm writing, which is why he's the villain! And I think that's why, when Day tries to convince Analise that the dictatorship is good, the entire conversation falls flat.

How can I write from the point of view of a character whose beliefs, at best, I disagree with, and at worst, view as immoral and inhumane? How can I give Day convictions in his beliefs when I myself have no such convictions?


12 Answers 12


Have him appeal to history, not philosophy.

You’re approaching this problem from the wrong angle. You can’t have the two characters both make the same type of argument — an appeal to ethics/morality — because one of the arguments is inevitably going to be ‘better’ than the others, making the other one seem phony and strawman-like. In our real-life culture, there are very few instances where both sides effectively advance ethics-based arguments, and they usually arise from very specific and non-generalizable circumstances. (An example is the issue of abortion in the Western world.)

Instead, most issues in the world have a “principled” side, which tries to derive right-and-wrong from first principles and axioms, and a “pragmatic” side, which tries to derive right-and-wrong based on what happened in the past, and who benefited and suffered from it as a consequence. For a physics analogy, think of the Principalists as the theorists of public policy, and the Pragmatists as the experimentalists of public policy. Most people in both groups tend to think they are supremely right, and that the people in the other group are deluded idiots, so this is a great way to get two opposing characters with equally deep convictions.

Here are some examples from U.S. politics:

  • Gun control. Conservatives oppose it because they believe in a fundamental right to self-defense (principled view). Progressives support it because they look at the costs and historical consequences of such a policy — school shootings, domestic terrorism, etc. (pragmatic view).

  • Foreign wars. (Classical) Progressives oppose them because they view war and violence as fundamental evils, and that fighting fire with fire is a moral fallacy (principled view). (Classical) Conservatives support them because they look at the world and see many examples of bloody conflicts and human suffering that could have been prevented given early intervention (pragmatic view).

  • Planned economies. Progressives support them because they believe in economic equality and public stewardship of the commons (principled view). Conservatives oppose them because historically, they encourage corruption and depotism, to the extent that most people living under them flee their home countries (pragmatic view).

  • Affirmative action. Conservatives oppose it because they believe the rules of any system must be impartial, that artificially distorting them to favor certain participants over others undermines their legitimacy, and that hardcoding such offsets into policy amounts to collective punishment (principled view). Progressives assert that no real system exists in a vacuum, and argue that context-blind policies have historically failed to produce fair outcomes (pragmatic view).

While you may have specific and firm stances on each of these issues, reasonable people can be found on both sides of any one of them. If there weren’t, they wouldn’t be salient issues today — they would have been resolved a long time ago, and without much controversy.

So how does this apply to Day and Analise? Give them a historical context where Day has a plausible justification to believe the things that he does. This essentially becomes a worldbuilding problem.

that the dictatorship's laws allowing censorship of speech and press, imprisonment of genetically mutated humans, and rigid class structure are in place to keep the general population safe. Day says mutants are dangerous and subhuman, that too much freedom (i.e the ability to always speak your mind) is bad, and that his father's rule is benevolent.

The dictatorship had to start somehow, right? (And remember, most dictatorships come to power with broad popular support, otherwise they would never have been able to seize power.) So let’s say in the Time Before™, society had a “mutant problem”. Certain bad apples in the mutant population were doing Bad Things™, and because of their unique abilities, it had terrible consequences for their victims.

Because mutants were lower-class people in this society (because in your story, they are an oppressed group), most of their non-mutant victims were other poor people. Although mutants were not more likely to be criminals than the general population, the free press sensationalized “mutant terrorism” making it seem like a bigger problem than it was. This caused radical anti-mutant groups to appear among the working class, which fed into the cycle of violence.

The dictatorship established itself amidst the crisis, riding the wave of anti-mutant populism into power. However, even though the dictatorship is squarely anti-mutant, it is still a government which needs to enforce order and stability to continue existing. Having bands of radical vigilantes roving around is helpful in the short-term, but detrimental in the long-term. Remember that the number one threat to any dictator is not the opposition, but radicals within their own party. When the resistance fights the regime, it legitimatizes it. When the fanatics fight the regime, it undermines it. That’s why Franco sent the Blue Division away to fight the Soviets. That’s why Xi Jinping today is cracking down on Communist youth.

Since fanatics, by definition, are disagreeable to most of the population, you now have a dictatorship that can, sincerely, present itself as

  • a solution to the mutant problem,

  • an alternative to the fanatic anti-mutants,

  • a protector of the ordinary citizens, and

  • a keeper of the peace.

You could probably write a plausible character that subscribes to that.

  • 13
    You might want to provide a little extra emphasis that your political arguments are merely examples. Both sides can typically muster some kind of argument in both realms for each issue you name.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 11:40
  • 11
    But also be aware that any position can be a mix of principle/pragmatist arguments. Foreign wars, for instance. Liberals will argue moral issues (principle) at the same time objecting to levels of military spending (pragmatist). Conservatives will argue effects of early intervention (pragmatist), but this is based on objections to the situation being intervened with (principle). Sometimes both sides will argue principle - an example being Gulf War I (1991). Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 15:42
  • 3
    That breakdown of controversial issues shone a light on things for me, politically. I was probably aware of the difference, but hadn't thought about it. Especially how each side is pragmatic sometimes and historical in others... Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 18:44
  • 7
    The breakdowns of political views are rather questionable, as both sides argue both on principle and practice. For example, conservatives also argue pragmatically that affirmative action is bad for minorities (cf. mismatch effect, bigotry of low expectations). Meanwhile, the progressive argument in favor of "fair outcomes" is also a principle argument--how do you decide what's fair if not by principles? So you may want to add that these are simplified versions of the conflicts. Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 20:52
  • 10
    I absolutely love this answer. As for the commenters arguing that each argument is a mix of pragmatism and principle, well, duh. Of course. But the point still stands: usually, it's one principle against the other, but when some principles (like, totalitarian beliefs) are bad, the pragmatist view enters the action. Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 14:00

The world isn't all black and white - it's grey and gray. There are arguments to be made for dictatorship. Consider, at the very least, the famous joke "a camel is a horse designed by a committee." It emphasises the ineffectiveness of group decision-making. What is democracy, if not a country run by a committee?

You agree with the opposing arguments - lovely. (So do I, but that's beside the point.) You've got to learn the logic of the side you disagree with. Read the relevant philosophers (starting with Plato, Hobbes and Machiavelli), structure your character's argument around statements that make sense.

Don't make your character an extremist; nobody is going to get on board with a statement like "we should kill them because they're ugly". But a statement like "how can a person without the education to understand the implications of certain actions demand that the government take those actions?" is a more nuanced argument, and not a stupid one at that (comes from Plato). And shall I remind you that dear democratic Athens voted to execute Socrates, because his ideas were "unsettling"? So maybe letting the massed rule is not such a great idea after all, and somebody wiser should protect them from their own ignorance and prejudice? Nuance and "making sense" are key.

The arguments that are most interesting from a story perspective are usually not the ones where one side is "right" and one is "wrong", but those in which one side (or both) takes their argument too far - they have goals one can agree with, but they use means which get out of hand; or, alternatively, arguments where one side is too idealistic - where what they say would work if only everyone in the system (or at least, the ruling class) were good, smart, honest and responsible, instead of being regular people with failings, at best.

  • 10
    "What is democracy, if not a country run by a committee?" It can also be a country run by a mob rule.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 11:35
  • 9
    "You've got to learn the logic of the side you disagree with" best line ever .... because so many people dismiss the arguments from the "other side" without actually understanding what their argument is.
    – UKMonkey
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 14:55
  • 2
    A citation of Dune would be most welcome; Paul Atreides was a benevolent despot: “Constitutions become the ultimate tyranny," Paul said. "They’re organized power on such a scale as to be overwhelming. The constitution is social power mobilized and it has no conscience. It can crush the highest and the lowest, removing all dignity and individuality. It has an unstable balance point and no limitations.” Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 14:55
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    @jpmc26 what is a mob but a very large committee? :)
    – Mr.Mindor
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 21:00

The most entrenched conflicts are those between parties where right and justice are on both sides.

Day is not wrong, he has been shown the big picture. Perhaps when he was fourteen, his father took him aside and explained a few things to him. He might have told him that as leader, his first duty is to protect the people. In time of war, it is expected that lives will be lost, but protecting the many is still the aim. He might have told him that these mutants are an invasion from within, identical in appearance to the people he must lead, but a potential dire threat. It is his duty to keep his people safe, therefore the few whose wings are clipped are just the price of safety.

Day understands that his father, his generals and advisors are not ravening beasts, but people who must keep him and the rest safe. The powers of some mutants are terrifying and knowing that steps have been taken to identify and restrict such people gives him a sense of security.

Consider the movie Looper, where a character with such strong telekinesis wreaks havoc and drives the MC to hunt him down as a child. Unrestrained power is most unsettling and the idea of these mutants who could kill, might kill and maybe a few have killed can be enough to get a ghetto going.

Day wants Analise to understand that no harm is meant, that more lives are saved, that freedoms are protected and it might be possible - if she were willing and able to collaborate - that these benefits could filter down to the imprisoned mutants.

The needs of society in general are more important than the happiness of a few.

The dichotomy of right and wrong rarely applies when talking about national security.

Day will argue logic over sentiment and safety over freedom. He will not see his father as evil - nor will his father see himself so. The necessity is to blame, if blame there is, not the instrument and architect of the people’s safety.

Monty Python has a brilliant skit in Life of Brian regarding the tyranny of the Roman occupation of Judea. One character asks ‘what have the Romans ever done for us’ and another answers.

Answers keep coming until the line becomes “All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, fresh water system and public health system, what have the Romans ever done for us?”

Your mutants, in order to resist effectively, must understand both sides. As the MP rebels have done, they grant that good has come, but the Romans must still be removed.

To have a credible resistance, they must know what the cost of their rebellion will be, that many will suffer in the short term for hoped for future benefits. The good of the many is their goal.

Your villain should not just be a bad guy who hates mutants - too flat. Make him someone who has reason to fear what they can do, having seen it himself. He overreacts and for the good of the many, few must suffer. Intelligent characters who unswervingly know that the destruction of X is best because it will bring about Y are more chilling than a nasty person who just wants to hurt people and he is more chilling because he becomes real.

  • +1. Except I think we're both trying to open the OP's eyes; not teach them anything about writing.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 1:38
  • Perhaps, but if I were writing such a character, he would be certain that his father was doing the right thing. Unpopular, but having the courage to make the difficult decisions to keep the people safe. If he is not sure, why would he bother to try and convince the girl?
    – Rasdashan
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 1:47
  • I like the idea of "Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." However, do we know that mutants are a smaller % of the population? Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 9:33
  • I think it is implied in that this dictatorship is successfully containing them.
    – Rasdashan
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 17:36

Give him a compassionate reason, even if it is wrong

Like maybe mutants sometimes murder their friends in uncontrolled rages.

Day believes (correctly, from one of your other questions) that these mutants don't have control over their emotions. Day's father seems stern and heavy-handed, but it's because he's seen so many lost to these mutants. No one can stop all murders of course, but these mutants are something different. Just one of them, in an instant, can kill anyone within distance.

Justify the negatives by doubling down on compassion

People are afraid. They want a strong force to crack down on these mutants. Day knows these generals and ministers, he grew up around them. He knows they are good people, not tyrants. They have to show extreme force because these mutants look like anyone. Most of it is just "security theater", that means everyone expects to be searched so it works as a deterrent. If there are "good" mutants, they will stay away from populated areas. The extra security, and routine military searches, work to keep us all safe.

Innocent lives are saved every day. That's all he really needs to know.


He's honestly naïve and brainwashed into thinking cruelty is salvation.

You're still putting your own words in his mouth. He was brainwashed into believing cruelty population control was the only means of salvation. Understand why he believes that: it's a necessary evil. Because in any dystopian novel that I'm interested in reading, overpopulation is going to have been already dealt with or is an integral part of the plot.

It's a real concern in real life and some countries already have seemingly draconian laws about how many children you can have. But if those laws didn't exist, those countries would be in pretty dire straights.

What might be considered immoral by most (and perhaps even yourself), the thing that would be the most fair to everyone is not likely to coincide with anyone's beliefs - I didn't understand that until my mid-thirties: I don't like it when Neo-Nazis march. But now what I like even less is when people say they can't.

IMO, you as a highschool student, have at least a decade of practicing putting yourself in other people's shoes to understand their perspective before you can write in 'evil mode'.

  • Answer #2: Answer a bunch of knee-jerking Stack Exchange questions with a wholly objective answer, instead of the one liner you were going to throw at it and walk away. Do some research. What are the facts. What are the two or more sides. What's everyone's beef? Most importantly IMO: what's the law say? (you know, the law: written descriptions of culturally acceptable behavior)?
    – Mazura
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 2:02
  • 1
    is this meant to be a comment on another thread?
    – user18397
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 2:16
  • @Thomo - Somewhat (to the opposition of one of my other answers). But it's also how to practice.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 3:05
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    The part that's missing (the missing link between the two) is how I invent the 'correct title' in my head so that I can answer your question. In this case I had to remember my point of view from 20ya. This post's perspective is clear enough; what it lacks is any (key word, objective) view otherwise. You cannot write from that perspective if you've never even bothered to look.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 3:24

The main issue is that you have created a stock villain without depth. You have given him a son in the hope to give him a voice, but there is nothing to voice because they are both just extreme stereotypes: the fascist-dictator and the naive-dreamer.

You need to rework your villain. Give him a purpose that you can agree with, and make his actions justifiable, both wrong and right. The best villain you can hope for is one that could almost lure you into agreeing with him.

In its current form and in your current state of mind there is nothing truly that can give a decent shape to your one dimensional dialogue.


There's this really amazing scene from the 2000s cartoon Justice League that shows this brilliantly. Essentially, the League make contact with an alternative Universe version of themselves that have taken a sterner hand in their "heroics" to the point where they are the villains of the episode. It was important for the audience to understand, they didn't make a universe where evil wins and good loses... this was effectively the same universe up until the "Justice Lords" decided they needed to get tougher. One of the most brilliant ways they did this was a scene where the League!Batman and the Lord!Batman were in a fight and both were perfectly capable of anticipating the other... during the fight they debate the philosophies of each other until Lord!Batman drops the one argument League!Batman coudln't counter: "We've created a world where no 8 year old child ever has to grow up alone because of some punk with a gun."

It's so effective, League!Batman, the man who has battle plans against the moon, just in the off chance the moon goes rogue, has no counter argument to this and yields the fight. The point of the scene was to highlight that these weren't different characters, they were the same, and Lord!Batman was as much Batman as League!Batman was. The scene was written by one of the more contensious writer's rooms sessions in the entire show, which divided the writing staff into two camps and had one camp argue League's POV and Lord's POV. The debate got quite heated, and people were getting really angry that the their opponent wouldn't admit the other was write... until the Lord Camp used the same line and the room went silent... everyone agreed that it was the winning argument... even though everyone wanted (or even needed, given that good guys win in cartoons) League Batman to win.

In order to properly debate, you need to know the other's side so well, that you could argue for the side you disagree with. Any debate teams and mock trial teams would often require you to prep both arguments and you would only know which side you were on the day of the the actual competition. The entire origin of the term "Devil's Advocate" originates in this concept and was a historical part of naming someone to Sainthood in the Catholic Church. It was the Devil's Advocate's Job to present an argument as to why the potential saint was not deserving of the title... essentially, presenting the argument of the devil himself. The role requires a separation of two seemingly similar convictions... that an advocate's job is to present his client's best arguments in his client's stead, and his own personal convictions.

I highly recommend that, specifically for your topic, you look into some of the major supreme court cases such as National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie and Snyder v. Phelps (though do not stop there... Other cases on Free Speech Cases are very important and generally very interesting reads) specifically from the arguments of Village of Skokie and Snyder... they're points are good arguments that were ultimately determined to be not consistent with Free Speech in the United States (which is arguably the most Liberal Nation in the world with respect to the matter). A quick warning, the cases were major wins for Freedom of Speech, but you won't like the people who won (The American Nazi Party and the Phelps Family... as in the Westboro Baptist Church people).

  • See also, the dilemmas (ethics versus morals) Captain Picard faces in any episode where "first contact" and "prime directive" are both mentioned.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 19:40

It's possible that you have 2 problems here.

The first is that you're trying to find convincing arguments in support of someone who rules through fear, power and intimidation. Generally, these types of classic villain don't need a more convincing argument for people to follow them than "I will kill you if you don't". Sauron never needed people to listen to his arguments for why he would be the best ruler, he simply killed anyone who stood in his way.

The second is that you're asking the Turkey to vote for Thanksgiving/ Christmas. It's not possible to reasonably convince a genetic mutant that the oppression and imprisonment of genetic mutants is a good thing. Even if the argument is that it might be better for the population at large, it still isn't the best thing for her personally.

There are many solutions to these problems, but I'll give a couple of suggestions.

To fix the first, you could give the antagonist's belief system some positive qualities. There are already many suggestions that others have offered, but fundamentally if you're taking away people's freedoms, you need to give something back. Maybe people aren't allowed to criticize the dictatorship, but the trains always run on time and no one ever goes hungry. Even if people can't move up in society, make sure that they either have no reason to, or that they believe they do not deserve to.

For the second problem, you only need to look at politics as it works now, and has worked for a long time for a solution. You might blame all of society's problems on a minority, but in order to convince people in an oppressed minority to support you, find a sub-minority within that group to blame their problems on. Have him tell her that sure, people look down on genetic mutants, but within the mutant society there are people who are so mutated that they can't help but be violent, and really they are the ones causing the problems. He can try to convince her that if there were no uber-mutants, then society wouldn't look down on mutants in general.

This then causes a potential problem that you don't want the readers to actually support the villain's version of the truth, so you need to hinge the whole argument around an inalienable truth. Maybe Day meets one of these uber-mutants and realizes they're not so bad, so comes to the conclusion that he's being lied to by his father about their threat to society. Maybe the costs of the fascist society are more than he ever realized, and because there is no freedom of speech these costs are never realized to the people. It could even be that the dictator is himself creating the mutants to give people something to hate, all so he can stay in power.

Overall, to think of a convincing argument for something you don't agree with, try to think of how someone might actually try to convince you to support the argument. I tend to follow this simple rule: If there aren't enough reasons to convince you that a character should follow a certain belief, the reader won't be convinced they should either. If you need to introduce more positive reasons that a character should believe the argument then that is fine, so long as there is one central idea that separates right from wrong, and allows the character and thus the readers to know which is which.


Put your research into real life propaganda spoken by real dictators and oppressors. These dictators could never have become so popular if what they said didn't make a certain amount of sense to someone who didn't have all the facts.

e.g. While Hitler was rising to power, what he was saying made a lot of sense to the depressed, defeated impoverished Germans living under an ineffective government. Likewise, communists were well able to point out that in the 19th century, huge amounts of workers were being oppressed and mistreated, working hard to earn huge money for their bosses but not seeing any of it themselves.

How did your dictator rise to power in the first place? There must have been some sort of (at least perceived) injustice going on that he could play to in order to get the people on his side.

The argument to imprison mutants can be made similar to real life arguments against immigration, for example, only taken to the extreme.


Every self-respecting dictatorship comes with a thick layer of propaganda, and it is often the case that many of the people in the establishment actually believe the propaganda.

Day is one of these. He's lived his life in a bubble created by his father. The Official Truth is the only version of events he's been allowed to hear.

So cook up some Official Truth (which can be unvarnished balderdash), and have Day parrot that version of things.


The best way to try and understand how someone might have arrived at different convictions/beliefs from yourself is to go back into their history and see the incremental steps and events that lead them there.

For example:

Day believes his father is a good person

While his day job might involve plenty of oppressing innocent mutants and ordering the deaths of those who have failed him for the last time (accompanied by suitably theatrical cackling) how has Day experienced his father?

It's unlikely that Day went around throwing his son into prison on a regular basis, instead he probably fed him, provided him with a a home, presents and so on. Nor did he probably come home from the office (Evil lair?) and reporting that he oppressed this person and beheaded that, instead if it was discussed it was more likely "I had to put down another rebellion of dangerous mutant criminals today, if they had their way they would kill me, your mother and you."

If Day never gets to see the other side of the coin (and really how would he?) then what reason would he have to doubt his father's intentions and actions.

Day believes that mutants are dangerous and subhuman

Well if his parents, teachers, friends etc have all been telling him the these things since he was a baby why would he believe otherwise? Probably all he ever sees of mutants is angry rebels who are saying bad things about his dad. Add in a few choice lies about dangerous mutant plots etc (his father doesn't sound like someone who would be over-burdened with honesty!) and it's going to be logical for him to believe that mutants are, well dangerous and subhuman.

What makes this even easier is that there will almost certainly have been rebellions, coup attempts and the like over the years.. say there was an attempt by mutants to bomb his father's car (or plane, or spaceship etc) a few years earlier. From Analise's perspective these mutants were freedom fighters, trying to remove an evil dictator and free their people from oppression. From Day's perspective does it really look that way? Or does it just appear that some people tried to kill his father.

As the old adage goes "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter", it's all a matter of perspective.

Dictatorships are good

Dictatorships are good - for the dictators and their friends/families. Even the most malevolent of dictatorships is going to look very different to people on the "inside", they have plenty of food, things are clean and safe. Add in that a dictator's son's experience of life outside the safety of the Evil Lair is going to be largely of orderly, clean and healthy looking civilians (who aren't likely to be saying bad things about his dad while he's there with his armed guards!) and it would be easy to conclude that his dad's leadership is what keeps order and keeps these people safe (at least in appearance) and fed. Tie that with the continually reinforced opinions about the "dangers" of mutants (see above) and you can justify an awful lot of oppressive-behavior as peacekeeping and protection. Especially if the more dubious elements of what the regime does is kept under wraps.


How can I write from the point of view of a character whose beliefs, at best, I disagree with, and at worst, view as immoral and inhumane? How can I give Day convictions in his beliefs when I myself have no such convictions?

Congratulations. You've just realized that being a writer is harder than it looks.

This is one of the key questions you need to face if you want to become a good writer, and there is no cookbook answer.

It's easy to write stories in which the protagonist and all of the good guy supporting cast are essentially you, with perhaps some of your fantasies about yourself added just to spice things up. The problem is, eventually you wind up with a story infested with mini-me's and not much in the way of a believable story. Tossing in some of your friends will help, but only if you can do them justice.

In order to create believable bad guys, you basically have two choices:

1) Hang out with bad guys and get to know them. Well, OK, maybe just reading extensively about various types (especially if you read some apologists or fans), but that's just a different form of "hang out with".

2) Use your imagination.

And no, the second one is not (entirely) being snarky. I'm afraid my memory is a bit too rusty for proper attribution, but I recall reading a quote from an author who was being accused of sympathy for his villain's philosophy, and it went something like,

There is a term for writers who only write stuff they agree with. That term is idiot.

The writer Joe Haldeman once wrote,

The conventional advice is, "Write what you know". This accounts for the large number of bad novels written about middle-aged university professors who are contemplating adultery.

On a slightly different tack, the science fiction writer Robert Heinlein had his greatest cultural impact with his 1961 novel, Stranger in a Strange Land which had a very considerable (semi-cult) following during the Countercultural Revolution of the '60s and '70s. Thing is, in an interview he stated that he basically wrote it as an exercise in embracing values he did not believe in, yet acting as a cultural agent provocateur.

So. Can you put aside your own prejudices and philosophy, and really and truly grant that others sincerely believe in something else? If so, can you (temporarily, one hopes) encompass those values? That, in effect, is what you need to do.

If you cannot do that, all is not lost, but it will mean that you'll need to avoid writing stories in which you (through your characters) must convincingly argue both sides of an issue.

EDIT - And, I would add, you should be aware that a book which attempts to discuss philosophy is one of the hardest types to do well, the other being comedy. Since a writer almost always favors one position over the other, it gets really difficult to do the other side justice, and the difference in the quality of the arguments shows up vividly. Plus, of course, the temptation to lecture usually becomes overwhelming, and knowing when to shut up tends to go by the wayside. ("But I have just one more point that NEEDS to be made!")

That's not to say that, even if you succumb to the temptations which occur, you will necessarily write an unsellable novel. Ayn Rand made a very respectable living that way.

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