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stuckupmyownera
09-30-2009, 06:12 PM
Perhaps you have slightly unconventional views on something, which come across in your writing (deliberately or not). Perhaps if someone took them too seriously, or too far, or twisted them just slightly it could be a bad thing? Or perhaps you worry your writing could cause unintended controversy and/or put people off?

Vague question, sorry.

mscelina
09-30-2009, 06:14 PM
Nope. I just write stories.

Ruv Draba
09-30-2009, 06:17 PM
I often write opinions that I don't share. Sometimes I give them consequences I don't like. It does make me wonder what readers think I think. but I see it as my job to explore something as best I can. It's up to the reader to decide what to make of it all.

C.M.C.
09-30-2009, 06:21 PM
I can't say this is something that has ever come up. You don't have to write something slightly abnormal to have someone twist it into something negative if they really want to. Critics will find something to hang you for regardless of if anything actually exists or not.

barbilarry
09-30-2009, 06:24 PM
I worried about that when I did a beating scene in my WIP. My character was put in a restraining chair and got the hell beat out of him be a sheriff. I was worried that it would offend all the good and honest police out there in reader land. I have had feedback from some of my beta's. It was very widely accepted. So I worried for nothing. Even though the picture I painted with my words and opinions, of that particular cop, were very condemning.
Jane

Alice Brazil
09-30-2009, 06:27 PM
Hey.
One of the reasons I am a writer, is to be able to show my point of view. I am not afraid of telling people that I have this and that opinion about something, even if it´s not conventional. This is why I write, to show that there can be other understandings about certain things. I usually explore religion, politics and philosophy in my books, and of course there are people that won´t like it, but then, they can just read another book! Write to yourself, not the others. At least it works for me :)

XX Alice

Adam
09-30-2009, 06:35 PM
Nope. I just write stories.

This. :)

I don't consciously put any of my own views across in my writing. Note I said "consciously". ;)

scarletpeaches
09-30-2009, 06:36 PM
Doesn't worry me at all. I don't write my own opinions - I write those of my characters.

stuckupmyownera
09-30-2009, 06:39 PM
I worried about that when I did a beating scene in my WIP. My character was put in a restraining chair and got the hell beat out of him be a sheriff. I was worried that it would offend all the good and honest police out there in reader land. I have had feedback from some of my beta's. It was very widely accepted. So I worried for nothing.

Okay, but what if you had portrayed this particular cop's methods as good and right and normal?

(Not what I'm doing in my situation. But some people could see it as pretty similar if they wanted to.)

stuckupmyownera
09-30-2009, 06:41 PM
Doesn't worry me at all. I don't write my own opinions - I write those of my characters.

A book or article or something I read somewhere about theme - the most enlightening teaching I've had on theme in fact - said that the theme of a story is the writer saying "this is what I believe life is like". What do you think about this?

scarletpeaches
09-30-2009, 06:44 PM
A book or article or something I read somewhere about theme - the most enlightening teaching I've had on theme in fact - said that the theme of a story is the writer saying "this is what I believe life is like". What do you think about this?In fiction? Complete nonsense. If I wanted to write about my beliefs, I'd write a memoir, not novels. My life isn't that interesting anyway. I write about people with different views from me; they're independent of me and not all carbon copies of the author. That way lies Mary-Sueism.

As an example: I once wrote a character who had a particular view about a controversial subject: abortion. I won't tell you her view on the subject or mine, but it was completely the opposite to the view I hold.

So you can't read a writer's work and assume what the characters believe is a case of "I open my mouth and my creator speaks."

Theme is what this particular world is like. I hand you a book and say, "In this universe, X, Y or Z is true." I am not saying that about my life, or the 'real' world at all.

DeleyanLee
09-30-2009, 06:44 PM
Or perhaps you worry your writing could cause unintended controversy and/or put people off?

I'd LOVE for my writing to create controversy. Seriously. Controversy = massive book sales.

I'll have a double-helping, please. ;)

backslashbaby
09-30-2009, 06:45 PM
I don't put my own opinions in, exactly, but I definitely try to juxtapose ways of thinking. It's the kind of work where the reader knows that upfront, btw.

So there are some very un-PC things in there, yes. And folks may think I mean them as a good thing, or what I think. Imho, they aren't reading it well then! Or I'm writing it wrong ;)

stuckupmyownera
09-30-2009, 06:48 PM
you can't read a writer's work and assume what the characters believe is a case of "I open my mouth and my creator speaks."

I'm talking about what the story says as a whole, not what the individual characters say - different characters will of course hold differing views anyway.

Not arguing, just interested in your opinion.

mscelina
09-30-2009, 06:49 PM
IMO, the job of a fiction writer is to entertain, not to preach or disseminate their personal opinions/agendae thinly disguised as fiction. My stories all have themes and they're universal: revenge, ambition, thwarted love, galactic domination, the monster under the bed--whatever follows the very specific formula I use: my protagonist has a goal. my antagonist stands in between the protagonist and the goal. This is what the conflict is. This is how it's resolved.

The way I believe life is like applies to my life. I don't write autobigoraphical work, mostly because I don't like jail. What I write is my characters' lives, their stories, their hopes and dreams and ambitions and tragedies. They don't give a damn about my opinions and I don't really blame them. :)

scarletpeaches
09-30-2009, 06:50 PM
I'm not sure what you mean by 'what the story says as a whole'. Are you referring to, for example, novels where bad behaviour is condoned, or it would appear the author is pushing an agenda?

In such instances I'd suggest they're manipulating the story for their own ends; readers aren't stupid (I hope). We know when we're being lectured to. Books like that stray towards the 'political diatribe' end of the spectrum and, while I might read them and enjoy them, they don't entertain me per se.

ishtar'sgate
09-30-2009, 07:11 PM
Perhaps you have slightly unconventional views on something, which come across in your writing (deliberately or not). Perhaps if someone took them too seriously, or too far, or twisted them just slightly it could be a bad thing? Or perhaps you worry your writing could cause unintended controversy and/or put people off?

Vague question, sorry.
No, I don't worry about it but I do try not to be heavyhanded. There's nothing worse than reading fiction and getting a pointed lecture.

john barnes on toast
09-30-2009, 07:15 PM
I think it's dangerous ground to have characters who are vocal in their political and ideological views if those views are the same as those held by the author.

(of course, this is no way near as bad as putting question marks on the end of sentences that aren't questions)

stuckupmyownera
09-30-2009, 07:18 PM
I'm not sure what you mean by 'what the story says as a whole'. Are you referring to, for example, novels where bad behaviour is condoned, or it would appear the author is pushing an agenda?

Readers/audiences will always take something away with them. That's what the story says as a whole.

Lots of stories say 'love conquers all' or 'good will triumph over evil' or 'crime doesn't pay'. A story about abortion might say 'the hardest decisions bring the greatest rewards' or 'be true to yourself' or 'abortion is murder' or all kinds of things, depending on what happens, why and how, and how it is portrayed.

I don't preach or push an agenda, but I do think all stories have an overall meaning or message - a well-formed story cannot avoid it. If not, what else is theme? (Rhetorical question - we're straying from the subject at hand here.)

stuckupmyownera
09-30-2009, 07:21 PM
I think it's dangerous ground to have characters who are vocal in their political and ideological views if those views are the same as those held by the author.

How will the readers know if those views are the author's or not?


(of course, this is no way near as bad as putting question marks on the end of sentences that aren't questions)

:tongue They are questions - it's the wording that's wrong!

john barnes on toast
09-30-2009, 07:25 PM
How will the readers know if those views are the author's or not?



because in the hands of all but the most skilled writers, those views are likely to come across as a polemic rant.




:tongue They are questions - it's the wording that's wrong!

I am totally out of order for bringing it up, but it's the one grammatical error that drives me more insane than any other (and don't get me started on people who talk that way too).

Parametric
09-30-2009, 07:32 PM
Perhaps you have slightly unconventional views on something, which come across in your writing (deliberately or not). Perhaps if someone took them too seriously, or too far, or twisted them just slightly it could be a bad thing? Or perhaps you worry your writing could cause unintended controversy and/or put people off?

Yes.

I've read fantasy novels which, deliberately or not, have given me the impression that the author is a misogynist, homophobic Nazi. Not in a hyperbolic way - I mean as in somebody who believes that blood purity equals worth as a person.

I don't want to give the impression that I'm a Nazi. So I try to think carefully about the themes and views I'm putting across in my work.

Red-Green
09-30-2009, 07:39 PM
A book or article or something I read somewhere about theme - the most enlightening teaching I've had on theme in fact - said that the theme of a story is the writer saying "this is what I believe life is like". What do you think about this?

I feel my stories often reveal what I believe the world to be like. How could they not? The way my characters behave is based on my assumptions about how people in those circumstances would behave. I don't think that's separate from the goal of writing entertaining fiction. We can entertain as much as we want, but our perceptions of the world affect the decisions we make as we tell our stories. Most of us make those decisions subconsciously.

I wrote a story about a guy on death row. I'm surprisingly ambivalent about the death penalty in terms of my political stance. I was just in it to write an entertaining story. I managed that, but I went into it not knowing how the story would end. (Yeah, I'm a hopeless pantser.) I didn't know until very far into the story that my MC would redeem himself, that he even could be redeemed. End result, turns out that on some subconscious level, I think even multiple murderers can be redeemed. Who knew?

Dicentra P
09-30-2009, 07:39 PM
I write "good" characters who do bad things and villains who do good things. Someone might take away the message that I approve of the bad things done by the heroes or villains because of that. I would think that I am not responsible for their interpretation of my story. If you look at how straightforward and innocent remarks in public discourse are distorted by people on both sides to give the meaning that suits the interpreters purpose, how can you expect a work of fiction not to be vulnerable to that?

KTC
09-30-2009, 07:45 PM
I don't always share the opinions of my characters. I don't consider any of this when I write a story. I just write the story. I'm neither a pulpit pounder, nor a soapboxer.

Wayne K
09-30-2009, 07:50 PM
Okay, sorry. Here's the quote that I meant to post.
"There is a technical, literary term for those who mistake the opinions and beliefs of characters in a novel for those of the author. The term is 'idiot.'" —Larry Niven, quoted by S. M. Stirling.

I osed to worry about pissing off readers until I read this. Thank you to our own Pthom.

Summonere
09-30-2009, 08:03 PM
Do I ever worry about it? Nope.

But others have, after reading what I've written. For some reason, a great many folks think that the attitudes I create to most realistically depict characters are somehow mine, and that if I create a villainous villain, then the nature of his villainy must somehow be my own. The mean and nutty bastards I've created for some of my horror stories are always held up as an example of why I'm twisted and evil, but this almost never occurs for similar characters in non-horror stories. And I'm certainly never credited for being delightful and angelic because of the good, gracious, and kind characters I've created.


A book or article or something I read somewhere about theme - the most enlightening teaching I've had on theme in fact - said that the theme of a story is the writer saying "this is what I believe life is like". What do you think about this?

What do I think? Hornswoggle. Sometimes theme is just as made-up as the story that produces it, just as theme is sometimes (sometimes) the author's world-view leaking in. Some folks just don't get the idea, don't understand the idea, that writers make things up. If a writer writes a story about an evil SOB who justifies his evil and calls it good, and the entire story exists to push this idea, it certainly wouldn't mean that the writer necessarily holds the same view. But a good writer can make that evil SOB damned persuasive in his justification of what he does. Here's why:

The job of the writer is to create psychologically convincing characters, no matter what beliefs those characters may hold. The ability of a writer to do this, and the range across which he can, may be used as a measure of the writer's skill and, sometimes, commercial or critical success. Gore Vidal, for instance, once claimed that really good writers can do a great job with about four character types, but most writers do well with only a couple. True or not, who knows, but the important matter remains this: readers must be convinced that the characters they're reading about are believable. Whether or not their fictional beliefs coincide with the real ones of the author is well beside the point, and not worth worrying about.



Perhaps if someone took them too seriously [the opinions you put forth in fiction], or too far, or twisted them just slightly it could be a bad thing?

Yes. Certainly. This is why Stephen King halted publication of Rage, a story he'd written about a high school kid going on a shooting spree. Some people have a pathological desire to seek external cues for what they do, and others have a pathological desire to rake authors over the hot coals of their own outrage at what they misapprehend (ask Salman Rushdie, for instance).

Summonere
09-30-2009, 08:08 PM
"There is a technical, literary term for those who mistake the opinions and beliefs of characters in a novel for those of the author. The term is 'idiot.'" —Larry Niven, quoted by S. M. Stirling.

Dang. Had I remembered that one, I would have posted that instead of my longer, rantier, version. All hail the Niven.

Wayne K
09-30-2009, 08:10 PM
Dang. Had I remembered that one, I would have posted that instead of my longer, rantier, version. All hail the Niven.
Actually, I enjoyed your long drawn out version very much.

Summonere
09-30-2009, 08:54 PM
Originally Posted by Summonere http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=4097741#post4097741)
Dang. Had I remembered that one, I would have posted that instead of my longer, rantier, version. All hail the Niven.


Actually, I enjoyed your long drawn out version very much.At least I've entertained one reader today. Rejoice!

KTC
09-30-2009, 08:55 PM
Okay, sorry. Here's the quote that I meant to post.


"There is a technical, literary term for those who mistake the opinions and beliefs of characters in a novel for those of the author. The term is 'idiot.'" —Larry Niven, quoted by S. M. Stirling.

I osed to worry about pissing off readers until I read this. Thank you to our own Pthom.


I heart you, ya shiny bastid!

maestrowork
09-30-2009, 09:07 PM
I try not to give an opinion. My characters may have opinions. They may do certain things that are not conventional or even agreeable. But it by no means reflects my world views. And even if I do, I don't project that. I try to let my readers decide for themselves.

What is tricky is if it's in First Person. That's why it gets muddled, because many readers would automatically assume, since it's FP narration, that I share the feelings of the narrator, or the narrator is my alter-ego. Not true -- not always. They have to realize that an FP narrator is still a character of the story.

Libbie
09-30-2009, 09:10 PM
Nope.

I do worry that I need to get some more conventional, less feather-ruffling stuff published before I can publish my opinionated works. I have a sci-fi novel planned that might have to wait ten years or more, it's that, erm, opinionated.

I never worry that my opinions might offend others (as some of us know from reading my forum posts, right?), although if I do unintentionally offend I nearly always apologize sincerely for making others uncomfortable. Usually. But that's forum posts, in a community -- writing my own work is my own world, and I don't worry about anybody but me while I write.

Some of my favorite books and short stories of all time were heavily opinionated and made some pretty bold statements about society -- some of which I do not agree with, but I still love the books anyway for their strong stance as well as their general quality of craft. (I'm thinking of Dune here, specifically. I don't agree that terrorism is ever acceptable, but Frank Herbert obviously had a clear opinion on the matter and conveyed it in a very interesting and artistic way.)

James81
09-30-2009, 09:12 PM
I worry about it in my blogging mainly because my family found an old blog of mine once (one in which I pretty much exposed all my dark secrets and feelings in) and it wasn't long after they found it that my opinions in said blog caused drama with them.

I haven't blogged the same since. I still try to put up my honest opinions, but there are certain subjects I don't broach anymore simply on the chance that they might find it.

Novels and such, I don't worry about as much, but I still wonder what certain people will think if they ever would see it.

scarletpeaches
09-30-2009, 09:57 PM
I heart you, ya shiny bastid!I think you're a bastige, but that's just my opinion.

Toothpaste
09-30-2009, 11:36 PM
I don't worry about being controversial. I worry about readers getting what I intended for them to get. So if I intend on getting across a theme or moral (which is a very dangerous way in my mind to write a book because such goals can result in some really dogmatic writing), my focus is on making it clear that was my intention. Not on the theme or moral itself. That choice is easy. Making it clear, that's the hard part.

You can choose whether or not you want to be controversial. No one is forcing you to do either. You just have to deal with the consequences.

stuckupmyownera
09-30-2009, 11:54 PM
So if I intend on getting across a theme or moral (which is a very dangerous way in my mind to write a book because such goals can result in some really dogmatic writing)

But every story leaves readers with some kind of message, intended or not. Am I the only one that believes that??

:Shrug:

Anyone here read Robert McKee's 'Story'?

Mara
09-30-2009, 11:59 PM
EDIT: (too long; didn't read version: It's okay to have a bias, but don't preach. Don't be an unrepetant bigot, but you don't have to be terrified of giving offense either.)

Nobody is without bias. What helps is to be aware of your bias, and try to minimize preaching about it. You're going to subconsciously put it in your work, so consciously countering it a bit can help.

Speaking as a historian, however, I think writers need to be aware that works of fiction can affect reality. It's one thing to have a character who is racist. It's quite another to portray racist beliefs about real people as objectively true.

There are works of fiction that have contributed to getting real people tortured to death. Believe it or not, the second Ku Klux Klan came into existance almost entirely because of a novel meant as entertainment ("The Klansman") and a movie based on the novel ("Birth of a Nation"). To a lesser extent, there were hundreds of post-Civil War novels (many/most written by northerners) glorifying the antebellum south, slavery, and the first Klan, and those contributed to the mythology that resulted in the Klan. The second Klan killed, tortured, or raped a LOT of people.

That's an extreme example. You're not likely to write anything that gets people killed. But there's no reason to intentionally perpetuate harmful stereotypes, either. To some extent, this is unavoidable; everyone has subconscious bias and areas of ignorance. Still, it's a good idea if you avoid promoting blatant bigotry.

Statistically, some people will fit stereotypes. The problem comes in when every person from a particular real-life group in your book fits a negative stereotype. (To use a group I'm in as an example, some transgender people really are prostitutes, but if you portray all transgender people as prostitutes, that's perpetuating a harmful stereotype. On the other hand, it's fine to have a character who thinks all transgender people are prostitutes, as long as your story doesn't revolve around that being true. You don't have to have him dress like Snidely Whiplash and make him a villain. You just don't need to make his prejudices be objectively true.)

This is real people, of course. If all of your dwarves a hard-drinking Vikings with Scottish accents, and your elves all live in trees and hate orcs, that's fine. (It's cliched, but not harmful.)

Summonere
10-01-2009, 12:21 AM
I do worry that I need to get some more conventional, less feather-ruffling stuff published before I can publish my opinionated works. I have a sci-fi novel planned that might have to wait ten years or more, it's that, erm, opinionated.

Nah, my owly friend. Get to work now on what interests you, and sell it to someone. Controversy generates interest. If it’s that opinionated, it sounds potentially controversial, and therefore potentially interesting. But, to point out the obvious, don’t subordinate the story’s entertainment value to axe-grinding. See, for instance, Lord of War, in which axes get ground, but an entertaining story sells itself. If not that, then consider Ursula K. Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness.

Summonere
10-01-2009, 12:25 AM
I think writers need to be aware that works of fiction can affect reality.

So I should write more stories in which I’m super duper wealthy?
:)

scarletpeaches
10-01-2009, 01:04 AM
But every story leaves readers with some kind of message, intended or not. Am I the only one that believes that??

:Shrug:

Anyone here read Robert McKee's 'Story'?The point is, a story leaves the reader with a message, yes - about the world of the book or movie.

Not the real world.

StandJustSo
10-01-2009, 01:44 AM
Scarletpeaches has pretty much nailed my thoughts on this. I write in the world of the characters, whether their views on things agree with mine or not. For example, in my current work, one of the characters has had an abortion, and I write about how she was affected, irregardless of my personal views on it. I'm not writing to preach my worldview or opinions, but to tell my characters stories.

Toothpaste
10-01-2009, 02:40 AM
But every story leaves readers with some kind of message, intended or not. Am I the only one that believes that??


I dunno. It depends on your definition of message. But even if this is true, then it doesn't matter if the author actively seeks to create a message or not. My issue is with people who say, "I am going to write a book about doing the right thing in the face of adversity," for example. More often than not such an author will spend most of his time focusing on that than the more crucial elements to the novel, which is character and story. Making your book about a theme alone isn't interesting.

But this is all a digression from your original question which is about whether one should fear one's one words. The question you have to ask yourself is are you willing to deal with the consequences of your actions?

Example. I write children's books. I also love to swear. Now I could put swear words in my children's books. But then not a lot of people would be happy that I was teaching kids how to swear. There are some books where it is important to be gritty, to show kids slice of life. There are some authors who want to put in such language to make a point. These authors are willing to deal with librarians who don't want to shelve their books at school because of the language. They are willing to put up with this because it is more important to the author that they are true to their work, and that the few kids who do read their work get the full effect. However my books are not slice of life gritty books. My books are escapist fun adventure, meant to be exciting and not controversial. I have no desire to put swear words therefore in my books, even though there are moments in the books where characters might swear, because I don't feel a need to make that point.

However a YA I wrote recently is rife with profanity and other more controversial subjects, and I know it won't be as easily accepted because of that. But that's okay for me because that's the story.

It's up to the author to decide what kind of book she/he is writing, what he/she wants their audience to read. That was my point. The hardest part is trying to get across what you want to get across. You can worry what others will think of what you've written, but . . .I mean . . . isn't the point of writing something? . . . to have others think about what you've written?

scarletpeaches
10-01-2009, 02:45 AM
*cough*

Just posting so Toothpaste will see my avatar.

That is all.

Darzian
10-01-2009, 03:23 AM
Every book does not necessarily leave a message. I don't think of any 'messages' for the readers when writing. If readers assume there are certain messages in my work, then that's their issue, not mine. Writing a good, interesting story with fabulous characters is tough enough without trying to squeeze in morals and messages.

Of course, some people write because they are driven by stuff they want to say to the public. Some writers may do that well. Others may not.

Darzian
10-01-2009, 03:25 AM
A lot of people falsely assume that a writer's views come out in their writing. I personally know people who think this.

The earth is a strange place to be.

Pepper
10-01-2009, 03:43 AM
You know, out of all the books I've read, I've never, ever, ever, ever, EVER sat there and thought, "wow, is that the author's opinion/view/belief??"

I always just figure that the author has created characters who have their own personal views. You know, to make them realistic characters? Like what authors are supposed to do?

I guess because of that, I don't give a second thought to what people think my views are when they read my work. When a reader reads that such'n'such character feels that he's doing the city a service by beating up all the hookers, I figure the reader will accept that that's just the way that character is. O_o Shouldn't that be the way it should be?

dahlfan
10-01-2009, 04:01 AM
I write about a lot of messed up people. In what I'm currently working on, there's a lot of familial betrayal, pedophilia, irresponsibility, mental illness, religiousity, neglect, cheating, etc. and I don't think people are going to think I'm a mentally ill, negligent, cheating, irresponsible person because of the life situations I've chosen to depict. I don't have an agenda, and none of my characters are particularily political. I have one character that is delusional, and extremely leftist, and naturally, someone might take that as a stab at liberal-minded people, but guess what? I'm a liberal person myself. I think if I were to write about a right-wing nutjob that would feel like I was attacking someone because they don't share my views.

There are more subliminal messages people might take away, but they're not of a political nature, nor will they be contreversial. It's just about pathos, and morale and humour for me. Unfortunately, people will make whatever they want of anything. 'Juno' was hailed as an anti-choice movie, but Diablo Cody herself is VERY LIBERAL, and chose not to pollute the story with her own politics. It's about the story, and ultimately, you have to go for entertainment. I think those who use their work to philosophize , politisize or proselityze (sp) are some of the more self-indulgent variety of writers.

charlotte49ers
10-01-2009, 04:05 AM
Not really my opinions (I'm pretty middle of the road on most topics), but I am very aware of anything I put on the internet/blogs/etc. I'm a third grade teacher, so the littlest thing could have serious repercussions.

blacbird
10-01-2009, 04:21 AM
Nah. Nobody ever reads anything I write, so why should I?

caw

bsolah
10-01-2009, 04:40 AM
I write pretty radical stories with strong political messages. And I'm not thinking for a second my ideas are popular or mainstream but at the same time, I'm not worried about that at all.

It's a really good question, but I don't think I'd ever tone down the ideas or messages in my book because they were unpopular. I'm very sure about this.

Though I guess the question can only be answered in the context of what ideas they are, in my opinion but then that veers the thread in quite a political direction.

MGraybosch
10-01-2009, 05:35 AM
Perhaps you have slightly unconventional views on something, which come across in your writing (deliberately or not). Perhaps if someone took them too seriously, or too far, or twisted them just slightly it could be a bad thing? Or perhaps you worry your writing could cause unintended controversy and/or put people off?

Are you kidding? I associate the number 666 with my MC. I depict a society where Jews, Christians, and Muslims are a despised minority and the only surviving nations are Switzerland and Japan. The antagonist is trying to manipulate the MC into killing an entity who likes to shock and awe humans by appearing before them as the God of Abraham.

I chose to do all of this knowing full well that enough people read my work, somebody is going to get butthurt about it. I'd be terribly disappointed if Starbreaker didn't piss somebody off; having American Christian fundies make a huge stink over my work and claim that it will seduce children into witchcraft, heavy metal, and promiscuous nonmarital sex would be awesome publicity.

bsolah
10-01-2009, 05:50 AM
having American Christian fundies make a huge stink over my work and claim that it will seduce children into witchcraft, heavy metal, and promiscuous nonmarital sex would be awesome publicity.

Totally with you there.

I dream of having right-wing news, wingnuts columns and fundi bloggers dedicate words upon words to denouncing my work as destroying the moral fabric of society. I want to be infamous to some.

I don't think you're going to impress anybody, if you don't piss off somebody.

MGraybosch
10-01-2009, 06:03 AM
I dream of having right-wing news, wingnuts columns and fundi bloggers dedicate words upon words to denouncing my work as destroying the moral fabric of society. I want to be infamous to some.

As far as I'm concerned, becoming infamous is just a means to an end. I enjoy writing, but I'm still enough of a sucker for the American Dream to want to make it big as a writer. Pissing people off and getting my name in the papers won't guarantee me a place on the bestseller list, but it might get a few people curious who might otherwise ignore me.

Besides, I think that ignorant fundamentalist Christians do more to destroy the fabric of society than a long-haired metalhead who writes science fantasy can do on his own.


I don't think you're going to impress anybody, if you don't piss off somebody.

The way I see it, I can't please everybody. So I'm going to please myself, and the rest of the human race is welcome to go fuck itself with a Saturn V rocket.

Chasing the Horizon
10-01-2009, 06:18 AM
The way I see it, I can't please everybody. So I'm going to please myself, and the rest of the human race is welcome to go fuck itself with a Saturn V rocket.
This. :D

I write some themes that are in line with my own beliefs, and also have characters whose beliefs are completely different from my own. It's a mixture. My only goal is entertainment.

dgiharris
10-01-2009, 07:07 AM
In terms of the OP's question...

For me, a powerful moment came one day in my writing group. We had an exercise, and in mine I wrote about two characters engaging in a 'debate' about politics. As I was reading, I watched the faces of my group members become less and less interested.

It occurred to me that no one really cares for my opinion. All they care for is a good story.

If the story 'naturally' has my opinions in it, as long as the world building is solid, reader couldn't care less.

But if the story is just artificial window dressing enabling me to use my characters as sock puppets to expound on my opinions, then yeah, reader isn't going to care much for my story.

That's been my experience.

Mel...

bsolah
10-01-2009, 07:10 AM
Mel, just because some people are apathetic about politics and don't care for political fiction, doesn't mean everybody does.

There is an audience, I believe, that has opinions in it and discusses political issues. Sure, it must be done right, but I don't agree with a trend in this discussion that criticises fiction because it has an opinion on something.

MGraybosch
10-01-2009, 07:21 AM
But if the story is just artificial window dressing enabling me to use my characters as sock puppets to expound on my opinions, then yeah, reader isn't going to care much for my story.

Don't sell yourself short. Ayn Rand got away with being didactic. :)

stuckupmyownera
10-02-2009, 06:47 PM
having American Christian fundies make a huge stink over my work and claim that it will seduce children into witchcraft, heavy metal, and promiscuous nonmarital sex would be awesome publicity.

Right, but what if your writing actually seduced people into... not witchcraft, heavy metal and promiscuous sex as it obviously wouldn't bother you... murder's too commonplace anyway... how about rape and torture? Or mass infanticide or something?

Would it bother you?

It's easy to say well, some people are just sick and only need the slightest trigger, but what if your writing was that trigger, and actually made that sicko go out and do something terrible?

Rarri
10-02-2009, 07:06 PM
Right, but what if your writing actually seduced people into... not witchcraft, heavy metal and promiscuous sex as it obviously wouldn't bother you... murder's too commonplace anyway... how about rape and torture? Or mass infanticide or something?

Would it bother you?

It's easy to say well, some people are just sick and only need the slightest trigger, but what if your writing was that trigger, and actually made that sicko go out and do something terrible?

As yet, i don't think Lolita has sparked mass paedophillia, so i think whatever we cover, we're relatively safe. The issue you're suggesting is about interpretation, that has little to do with the writer but everything to do with the reader. Look at American Psycho, it's a great book (well, i enjoyed it) but if that encourages someone to go on a murder spree then the slightly deranged reader is the one at fault - not the writer.

I write a lot about suicide (and self harm, for that matter). Am i worried about seducing people into pacts etc? Hell no. I take an element of responsibility in that i don't go in to the slightly more ... obscure methods and 'tip-share' but other than that i don't consider that i may trigger someone into commiting suicide or self harming; especially when a trigger (in these situations) may be ridiculously common and benign.

It's also worth pointing out that even if a book triggered thoughts, the perpetrator is the only one who is responsible.

Out of interest, is this because you were going to (or have?) written about incest? Just remembering an old thread!

RG570
10-02-2009, 07:29 PM
Writing with a political slant is fine, especially if you're going to tackle something the majority already believes.

I have to shake my head when people pretend that they don't want anything political in the books they read. It's crap. People love reading things they already believe. If an author echoes that with the passion that most people have lost for their own opinions, they'll love the book.

When it's something less popular, and I mean really gauche (in many senses of the word), I think it's a lot harder. Offending Christians is nothing new, there's nothing radical or really offensive about that anymore. Offending capitalists is a bit harder to do properly.

I recently finished an historical novel in which the main character was a communist, and the entire time I had to guard against it being a juvenile piece of thinly-veiled political ranting. Even harder was writing reactionary characters as people, not as cartoon villains who didn't believe what I do. I think this is much easier to do outside of the genre fiction realm, because in most genre novels you have that cartoony quality going on already, so any political opinion is going to be amplified, maybe like someone's outlined it with a neon marker.

So yes, I worry about it. I do it anyway, but it's hard to do properly if you're really saying something different. It's better if it's a discussion rather than a statement, but it's also hard to think enough like your opposition to be able to include the other side. Ayn Rand was utterly incapable of even acknowledging that the pathetic excuses for humans who didn't agree with her had brains, and this is half of why reading anything she wrote is the most painful torture ever devised (the other half being poor writing).

MGraybosch
10-02-2009, 07:38 PM
Right, but what if your writing actually seduced people into... not witchcraft, heavy metal and promiscuous sex as it obviously wouldn't bother you... murder's too commonplace anyway... how about rape and torture? Or mass infanticide or something?

Would it bother you?

No, it wouldn't. Even if some unbalanced individual used my work as an inspiration for criminal acts, it was still his choice to read my work and his choice to go out and commit those acts. I accept no responsibility for the actions of others who are not under my direct authority.

scarletpeaches
10-02-2009, 07:40 PM
Yet Catcher was banned in many schools and by other organisations after it made Chapman shoot Lennon. Made him, I tell you!

Uh, no. Nothing wrong with the book. Everything wrong with Chapman's sense of personal responsibility.

MGraybosch
10-02-2009, 07:42 PM
Yet Catcher was banned in many schools and by other organisations after it made Chapman shoot Lennon. Made him, I tell you!

Uh, no. Nothing wrong with the book. Everything wrong with Chapman's sense of personal responsibility.

Subliminal messages in a Judas Priest album made me go out and buy more of their albums. :)

stuckupmyownera
10-02-2009, 07:46 PM
Out of interest, is this because you were going to (or have?) written about incest? Just remembering an old thread!

It's actually a different aspect of the same story that got me thinking.

Whatever I wrote, I don't think I'd start brothers and sisters throwing themselves at each other! Unless they were on track to do it anyway, which I guess brings me right back to the same point. Perhaps I should worry about it!

Mostly I just got thinking and wanted to see what others thought.

Phaeal
10-02-2009, 09:46 PM
I'm worried that the overall message of my latest novel is that Nyarlathotep is pretty damn cool, and you should become his minion NOW.

Gee, I hope no impressionable kids take that to heart.

:evil

dlparker
10-03-2009, 12:09 AM
It's an interesting question, and I think it is a legitimate concern for any writer.

Let's take John Norman, who wrote the early fantasy series "Gor". The early books were great--"Tarnsman of Gor"--but later on, he really got into writing women as pleasure-slaves who just LOVED to subordinate themselves at their masters' feet. He also wrote a fairly harmless, but somewhat along the same lines, sex guide book (reads tame to modern eyes). Those attitudes were associated with the author, and it put his later books in the series in disrepute. It cost him sales and reputation.

I personally think his fantasy roleplaying, unpleasant as it was, was harmless enough; but take other writers. Let's say Philip Wylie, who wrote about eugenics in the era it was popular. His early pioneering work "Gladiator" was fiction. Therefore his work should not be taken as the author's gospel opinion (it's somewhat cautionary about eugenics, anyway).

But Chamberlin, the English proponent of eugenics and race superiority whose works became the rage of the Nazis: his non-fiction (?!) work represented his opinions. So he deserved the reputation he has now. (Taking this further, there was the occult magazine Osteria, which Hitler was so fond it, he scrounged up every back issue he could get...)

So the thought I have is: theoretically, if it's fiction, that's one thing. Non-fiction, another entirely.

But even in fiction, it's something a writer should think about seriously. Are you presenting very questionable ethics or morality in a favorable light? We all know fiction can have a powerful impact. Plenty of great writers have depicted minorities in deliberately poor lights (I could even say Shakespeare and Shylock, except Shakespeare was too good to write him as a stock villian). Plenty of others have used fiction works to promote questionable causes.

So it's worth thinking about.

MGraybosch
10-03-2009, 12:15 AM
I'm worried that the overall message of my latest novel is that Nyarlathotep is pretty damn cool, and you should become his minion NOW.

Gee, I hope no impressionable kids take that to heart.

Well, speaking as somebody who has served both Nyarlathotep and Jehovah, I must say that Nyarlathotep pays better, but his boss Azathoth is an idiot.

Starhorsepax
10-03-2009, 12:38 AM
I worry a little because I want to get published. But look at Harry Potter for heaven's sake. I read somewhere someone actually tried to brew up magic spells based on the book and nearly killed themself. Yes, I believe someone was nuts enough to do it. :crazy: Promoting witchcraft?:e2shrug: I'm quite certain J.K. Rowling didn't plan for people to try out the spells! However the controversy:rant: itself sells books. I know. I had no clue about HP until I heard it and finally thought I may as well check it out for myself. I ended up with all of them and very dismayed over the sheer ignorance of the arguments against it. :rolleyes: There were some good ones but they were buried in junk-many by people who'd never bothered to read it. They took stuff way out of context. Quoting Voldemort and saying that's what it preached. Well of course its evil, it's supposed to be. He's the villain! None of the good arguments claimed JK was intentionally promoting magic spells!
You can't please everyone. If you try you probably won't even please yourself. You and your characters are entitled to opinions. They probably wouldn't be much of a character if they didn't have them.

Phaeal
10-03-2009, 12:54 AM
Well, speaking as somebody who has served both Nyarlathotep and Jehovah, I must say that Nyarlathotep pays better, but his boss Azathoth is an idiot.

Yeah, but the good thing about Azathoth is it doesn't notice if you leave work early.

Now, you want to work for a pain in the ass, try Shub-Niggurath. I was all like, get a daycare center for the spawn, will ya?

dlparker
10-03-2009, 03:10 AM
You can't please everyone. If you try you probably won't even please yourself

True indeed. If you have an opinion or a moral stance of any kind, you'll offend some segment of the population.

I guess the only point I was making is that a writer should consider what views they promote in their writing... and that's all. That's all we can do in life anyway. Everyone has a different scale of right and wrong. We each steer our own ship.

Writing sheer shock for the sole purpose of making money? As the man said, we've already settled what you are, now we're just dickering price.

Xelebes
10-03-2009, 04:29 AM
I find that most books have the opinions of the author written in the setting, not the characters.

Brutal Mustang
10-03-2009, 05:41 AM
But every story leaves readers with some kind of message, intended or not. Am I the only one that believes that??

No. You are not. To me, stories are powerful. Magical. They teach. Inspire. Entertain. Show life from a different perspective. And they can even change a person's opinions. Especially a young person's.

Now, about controversy, I am not afraid of a little. If I'm not pissing someone off, I'm doing something wrong--strong writing evokes strong emotion.

And as for my views, they are my writer's voice. My beloved characters have a wide range of opinions from me. But the light I shine on them is my light.

dlparker
10-03-2009, 06:12 AM
That's a cool pic you got there, Brutal Mustang. What planet is it?

BenPanced
10-03-2009, 08:03 AM
I tried to put some social commentary in a manuscript once. Once. It came across as dull, stilted, and shoehorned into the story. Never again.

dgiharris
10-03-2009, 11:31 AM
Not sure if the point of my post was clear. (and it relates to FICTION)

IMO, if your opinions 'naturally' interweave themselves into a story, I think you are more or less o.k.

If you are 'using' your story as a soapbox upon which to preach your opinions, IMO the majority of the time your story is going to suffer and the reader is going to see through it and feel 'preached' to.

In the end, the Reader only wants a good story.

IMO, there is nothing more annoying than an author that creates an unrealistic 'fake' scene just to highlight or expound on some opinion. It is so transparent to me that it is an INSTANT turn off and I stop reading.

The scenes end up coming off like super long "As you know Bob" info dumps.

Its just my experience that we aren't as clever as we think we are and many times, hidden agendas are more transparent than we think.

just my two cents. Beware. If your focus is on telling the best story you can. You'll be fine. If your focus is figuring out how to craft a story so you can voice an opinion, IMO your story will suffer.

can your story still be successful? Sure, but IMO you handicap yourself.

Mel...

bsolah
10-06-2009, 04:39 AM
In the end, the Reader only wants a good story.

I disagree with this. For me, I'm very into the political messages a story implied either consciously or unconsciously and I know it's not just because I'm obsessively political, because others feel the same.

Bad political messages within a story can totally ruin it for me. And ones with strong messages that I agree with tend to raise my opinion of them.