1. AlcoholicWolf
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    AlcoholicWolf Contributing Member

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    Addressing Social Issues in Fiction

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by AlcoholicWolf, Nov 21, 2013.

    Some general background about the novel I am writing:

    It has an archetypal fantasy setting, dungeons, castles, dragons, wizards, kings, queens and emperors. That sort of thing.

    There are a lot of different races, including elves, humans, animal-like people I call saevals, and orcs. (I won't mention them all, since it would take a lot of explaining, which I would rather let you read once my book gets on the shelves - that's the dream, right?)

    Anyway. I want to slip some modern social issues into my story, something that will strike the reader, but still require some level of insight. I wondered if anyone has experience of this and is willing to impart some glorious advice.

    For instance, in my book, marriage can be between same-sex couples as well as opposite sex couples. There is no written rule that denies this. It remains taboo, however, and I want to throw my thoughts out there, that "love is love" without feeling like I'm forcing it down anybody's throat.

    Another one would be the issue of race and immigration. My world is war-torn, and so refugees are migrating in vast herds, impressing themselves upon different races and cultures. Also, a world war (not dissimilar to the Napoleonic wars and first world war - sometimes the best stories are the ones that have already happened) is raging, causing Empires to position themselves into new lands to protect vital choke points and resource spots. Naturally, they wish to impose their laws on the lands they overthrow, which has a profound effect on the natives.

    While I want some of the people in my book to be racist, I want to purvey it in a sympathetic light. I hate racists, and so it is quite a challenge for me, to put myself into the position of someone who feels their culture is threatened by outsiders, and begins to judge people based on the colour of their skin, or their race.


    Thanks for reading, and any thoughts would be most immeasurably appreciated!
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Snide comments by a character that doesn't approve or a priest who refuses to perform the ceremony, something like that would show disapproval without being too preachy.

    It so happens I have something akin to this in my story. In a city of a million people despite the immigrants being mistreated by many, there are always going to be some empathetic citizens that try to help the newcomers. Show kind and unkind treatment occurring.
     
  3. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    I don't like the "impressing" part. Not really the refugees fault.

    I wouldn't worry too much about it feeling forced. Like, get your audience attached to a character involved in this issue, so that they can sympathize with the character.[/quote]
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I'm assuming that you don't really mean that you want to paint the racism itself in a sympathetic light, but rather the character. I have a similar issue in my current project, in that one of my characters is a slaveholder in the early 1800s. I make him a sympathetic character by focusing on other aspects of his nature. I leave the fact that he is a slaveholder as something of a contradiction in his nature, and yet one that he is forced to defend. The more he is pressed, the more staunchly he defends it.

    The most important thing to remember about this kind of writing is to tell your story and let the reader draw his own conclusions. Otherwise, you risk alienating the reader by "preaching". Your comment that you "want to throw my thoughts out there" suggests that this is something you may have to guard against. Rather than give your thoughts directly on tolerance, tell a story if intolerance. Dickens argued for social reforms in his fiction simply by telling stories of those who suffered for the lack of them. Many others have done the same.

    In dealing with clashes of different races or ethnicities, it is usually helpful to show both sides (and I mean from the POV of each). In my view, no one ever did this better than E.M. Forster in A Passage to India. I strongly recommend it.

    Good luck.
     
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  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Firstly, @EdFromNY is correct in that the best way to make a point on the topic is to show it from both sides, and not to demonize either. As soon as you do that, you automatically delete one group of readers from considering your words.

    Close your eyes and allow yourself to descend from the nebulous point from which the writer views his/her story and let yourself get into the body of people on both sides of the issue in your story. Don't have anyone preach. Show how the issue affects each in the things that happen to them and around them. I'm gay in real life, but my real life isn't a gay rights march on Washington. My real life is pretty normal and mundane, with only occasional moments of the greater culture's thoughts on gayness intruding into my day to day actions. It's not my every moment. As for the issues of hostile invasion and racism, my only thought is that, put all together, that's a lot of issues to tackle in one story. Even if handled well, that many issues may come across as a polemic.
     
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  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, that had occurred to m as well. The bigger the wall you spray at, the less thoroughly you'll cover it.
     

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