1. Jed
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    Jed New Member

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    Angering Readers

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Jed, Aug 18, 2010.

    I'm working on a story that involves a conflict that is currently going on. Usually this issue is portrayed from one side of the conflict while the other side is vilified and I want my story to show that the people involved are not divided into simple black and white categories.

    I am having a really hard time getting over my writer's block because I can't seem to let myself get past the fact that some people will disagree with me and will bash the story. This has been bothering me for some time and I was wondering if anyone else has had any experience or have any tips on how I can get over my fear and just write. Thanks.
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    You can't please everyone, so don't worry about it. Each side of an argument has its fair share of critics. My only advice is to just write.
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    If most of the stories you read present the opposing party in a conflict as a villain, then you should probably start reading better books. Since I assume the conflict you're reffering to is war in the Middle East, a good place to start might be with the film The Hurt Locker, which, in case you need reminding, won the best picture Oscar this year. Otherwise, there is a good deal of excellent, objective journalism and non-fiction available.

    However, objective though you want to be, it's important to understand how and why both groups are villified. Again taking the conflict in the Middle East as an example, it's very easy for us in the West to villify them with regard to their treatment of women, their attitudes to violence, their religious beliefs, and these prejudices are easily preyed on not only in fiction but in journalism too. Consider the recent Times cover article showing a girl with a mutilated face and the caption "What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan". It could just have easily read "What Happens Even Though We've Been In Afghanistan For A Decade".

    So, without causing any more inflammation, just try to expose yourself to more objective journalism and nonfiction, as well as well balanced fiction, but don't be too naive. Everyone has an agenda. And sometimes, the bad guys really are just that.
     
  4. RotStern
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    RotStern New Member

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    At least it will force some emotion into their plastic lives.
     
  5. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    No matter what you write about, someone is always going to disagree with it and "bash" it. That's part of being a writer, it's a risk we all take when we put pen to paper, so to say.

    Instead of fearing it and letting it destroy your ability to write, you should try not to think of it and what people would think of your writings. Instead worry more about getting your point out to the world and sharing your voice with them through the words you write. That's about all you can do. If people hate it then that is theyre choice, but with the bad comes the good. For every one person that hates it, there is most likely one person who will read it and enjoy.
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Its better to have people violently feel something than feel nothing makes your work memorable.
     
  7. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some may be angry with you, others will respect you for not shunning the hard issues.
     
  8. Shinn
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    Shinn Banned

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    It's the same with me Jed; my story follows a pair of Scottish brothers who are fighting in Afghanistan and I'm focusing more on the British involvement in the war, instead of an equal share with the Afghanistan war protestors. They might not like it, but it's my choice.
     
  9. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    A book should move the readers. A "feel good book" can get away with only going along making the readers happy all the time, but that is no the desired modus operandi for most books. Making the readers feel anger is an good thing, as long as you direct that anger making them more invested in the story, rather then putting the book down.
     
  10. ojduffelworth
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    ojduffelworth Contributing Member

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    I can't seem to let myself get past the fact that some people will disagree with me and will bash the story.
    What are the specific bashing will they do?
    Think of all the arguments people will come up with to bash your story, and address them in the manuscript.
    Imagine your most ruthless opponent is sitting beside you, having just read your manuscript, and he is refuting the opinions expressed in it, and disagreeing with the contentious points.
    Write down all that he will say, then go back and counter his objections.
    Then let him attack your counteracting.
    Keep going with it until you have quashed all but his prejudice / narrow mindedness – or demonstrated you to have been trying push a poor argument.
     
  11. Jed
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    Jed New Member

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    Thank you all so much for your help. I will definitely keep writing and see where it goes from there.
     
  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Let the bashers bash. Just make sure you present both sides of the conflict intelligently and fairly - that's the way to be fair to your reader. If you only present one side well and shortchange the other side, then you're writing propaganda and not serious fiction.

    Be aware that some people are just really quick to anger. They're proud of being easily offended and they like bashing people who disagree with them. In America the media is full of these people, on both the right and the left.

    You will be bashed. Expect to be bashed. But if you're fair in your work, then the bashers will only be making themselves look foolish.
     
  13. Aconite
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    Aconite Senior Member

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    Everyone else has already said a lot, but I'd encourage you to look at books that portray 'the other side' of conflicts, no matter whom they're written by. Hopefully, that will reassure you somewhat, knowing that others have done the same thing.

    American Civil War:
    Cold Mountain, Charles Frasier [Confederate Army]
    The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara [Battle of Gettysburg told from multiple commanding officers' perspectives--some of the Union Army are jerks, and some of the Confederates are well-intentioned, if ultimately misguided.]

    World War One:
    All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque [German Army]

    World War Two:
    The Young Lions, Irwin Shaw [partially in the POV of a German soldier]

    Vietnam War:
    A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, Robert Olen Butler [Vietnamese immigrants in Louisiana narrate their stories--several were soldiers]
    The Phantom Blooper, Gustav Hasford [text available on Hasford's website--the sequel to The Short-Timers, the basis for Full Metal Jacket. Private Joker "goes native" for a good portion of the story.]

    There are dozens of others, but this should be a good start. For the current conflict in the Middle East, I'm sure there are recommendations for the same thing: I just can't come up with any off the top of my head.
     
  14. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    People can disagree with you all they want, but they're not the authors, are they? You're the author. You're writing what you want to write. If you're writing for them and not for yourself, then you shouldn't be writing at all. An artist of any kind must be selfish and work for his own ideas and his own benefit.

    Imagine if everyone wrote for everyone else, writing only what other people wanted to hear. There would be no originality, no art, no philosophy. People would have no reason to question their beliefs and ideals. If you write this story without the crucial ideas behind it simply because other people might disagree, you are violating your own work.

    America is a nation built on freedom of speech and ideas. Some people do not understand this right, and they will not like what you have to say. Screw them. What are they going to do about it? For further information, read my signature.
     
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  15. Lyssaur
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    Lyssaur Member

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    Write for yourself, and for whatever makes you happy.
     
  16. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    Jed, honestly, this is an issue that has plagued writers since forever. There will always be people who will dislike what you write, and then there will be others who will cherish it. It's not because of you; It's because of others and their opinions. And some people will hackle you just for the sake of being loud. That is how society is, and it can't be altered.
    Write your story truthfully. Write it while being honest to yourself and your theme. That is all you can do.
    I hope this helps. Good luck!
     
  17. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    The firmer you stand by the things you value, the greater will the opposition be. But those who agree with you will worship your work.

    Or you can just be middle of the road, ambivalent, arms dangling by your side, and write some half-decent airport literature.

    A note on getting the point across: Don't bash. Rather, give the opposing side all the screen time they need. Let them showcase their own wrong-doings in all their absurd glory. End the story in a vacuum where the reader fills in their own conclusion about how utterly wrong it all is. Notice how much space Orwell gave away for ENGSOC to demonstrate their might and glory.
     
  18. nhope
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    nhope Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Boy, are you lucky I was in B&N this afternoon. I picked up Eudora Welty's book on writing (didn't buy it) and there is a paragraph where she spoke of Nabokov and how some of his novels have the *gasp!* factor (my word, not hers) but the reason they are so good is that he states the facts - he doesn't judge, form opinion, or take sides, he just tells it like it is and lets the characters be human. I thought that was great advice.

    However, if it's *you* that's having trouble, try reading "The Courage to Write" by Ralph Keyes.

    My opinion - if you are at the point where you are feeling anxious about what you are about to write, that is what you should write because that is the pearl in the shell.

    On the lighter side if it really bothers you, be someone else when you write. Pick a pen name and be that person. Works for me. ;)
     
  19. Tamsin
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    Tamsin Senior Member

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    I think most people accept that war or any kind of conflict is not as simple as 'the goodies Vs the baddies'. In any conflict there are terrible crimes and people behaving in a completely amoral way on both sides. Individuals not directly involved 'pick a side' usually dependent on nothing more than their geographical position.

    We never really hear the truth about why wars are started, only propaganda from media with a clear agenda. The devastation it brings to individuals and communities is never really given much 'air time'.

    Whatever your political views, war is a conflict between humans. At some point, a human looks at another human and thinks 'I am going to kill you because you do not agree with me about X'.

    There are so many novels written about war because it holds so much interest on a political and emotional level. There is the side that 'wins' a war, but this does not mean that this side is morally correct.

    Only very narrow minded people think there is only right on one side, and only wrong on the other. I personally don't see how you could look at any war or conflict and take this view. Some people find it difficult to sympathise with the opposing side in a conflict, but that is (hopefully) not the majority of educated human beings.

    I think it is important as a writer to explore the voices that we are rarely shown in the media (provided you have researched well and are not simply projecting a voice for the sake of disagreeing with people). Like other people have said, people will disagree with you no matter what you write about, so best to stay true to yourself and tell the story you really want to tell.
     

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