1. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are morals learned by MC perceived as morals posited by author?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ben414, Aug 24, 2013.

    I recently read Crime and Punishment and I decided to read a few reviews. One review marked the book down because it claimed Dostoyoevsky was stating that the MC's murders were wrong only because he was failed to steal the money for the greater good, and not because he murdered two people. I'm in the process of writing a novel and I was wondering whether morals learned by the MCs are always perceived as the morals the author is trying to posit? Could a novel have a flawed character who learns lessons that the author isn't making a judgement on whether it is necessarily "right" or "wrong?"
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    There will be always be some who view the things learned and the changes made by the MC as concepts that you, the writer, are trying to push. Of those who see this in the work, there will be some who take it merely as an idea you have posited for their consideration, and others will consider it a polemic. It all depends on how sensitive the reader is to being told things, if you get my meaning.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2013
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  3. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with Wreybies. I think perceiving MC values as precisely reflective of the author's is indicative of blurring the line between the two. I find it mostly happens when readers get over-involved with the story and stop seeing it for what it is - a work of fiction.
     
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  4. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    It most likely depends on the reader. Some will see it as the author's viewpoint, on a 'all poets are talking about themselves' basis; others won't, and there's not much that you as the author can do about that.
     
  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    In any piece of fiction, some readers will see the story as 'based on fact.' Sometimes it is. Sometimes it's truly not. That's what makes it scary, sometimes, to put what you've written 'out there' for the world to digest.
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    My question to the OP becomes this:

    The question you ask orbits a concept I have been ruminating and hashing in various conversations and threads. The wording of your original post gives me to believe that you have a concern that your fictional work will be seen as a reflection of you, the actual person. If I am wrong, please correct me. If I am correct, why does it concern you? No irony meant in that question. I'm wondering as to the honest source of the concern, because again, it's at the core of larger question I've been pondering. :)
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    take a look at the lives of any dozen famous fiction writers... do most [or any] of them match all of their characters' characters or ideals?... of course not... so stop worrying about it...
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Well, the perception may be there, but I agree you shouldn't worry about it. You can always write another piece with a contradictory moral, and sit back and watch the smoke pouring from their ears as they try to reconcile their astute conclusions about you, Maybe you can even toast marshmallows.
     
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  9. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Exactly. Like I've said before, I use the same MC in 90% of my stories (it's almost a huge arc following her entire life) and I'll tell you some things that I am definitely NOT.
    1.) A chain smoker
    2.) An alcoholic
    3.) A casual drug user
    4.) A lesbian (unless I somehow became female and don't know it)
    5.) A pickpocket/thief/burglar

    That said, if the reader want's to perceive that I am any of these things just because AJ Connor is... that's on them. But that's the society we live in. I tend to think too many people these days read way more into things than they ought to.
     
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  10. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think we are straying into a separate, but validly related, territory of the reader confusing the MC with the Writer. A concept posited by the Writer can be a thing that has nothing to do with MC/Author confusion. In Octavia Butler's Oankali series and also in her books Clay's Ark and Wild Seed, she posits the concept that we, humans, are as much a product of our evolutionary heritage as our cultural heritage, and that failure to give credence to our animal selves is the source of many human ills. This is a concept, an idea, not a thing the author is or isn't. If I correctly read the OP's post, I believe it is to such a dynamic that reference is being made.
     
  11. Lucid420
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    Lucid420 New Member

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    Like all things in life, it all depends on the situation that is being written about and by who.

    With Crime and Punishment Dostoyevsky was studying the economic conditions of '20s Russia and their effects on the younger generation. Dostoyevsky, in my opinion anyway, was asking the questions and wanted society as a whole to answer them in their own way.

    Then go and read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. She is clearly promoting Objectivism and the ability of a government to wreck havoc on a free market society. She did not hide this fact and was a public figure of the Republican party in the '40s.

    We also have Stephen King. I do not think that he uses his writing to get that part out that he can not do in real life. Stephen King does not want to brutally murder people that I know of.

    Most people, when they pick up a book, would hope that an author is writing "what they know". That they have done the proper research on the subject in question to be able to write a compelling story. When going through this process, or when writing from personal experience, it is almost impossible to remove that aspect of individualism of how one feels on an issue. Authors that do attempt to remove all aspects of this and make their story more neutral end up having it read like a text book if you ask me, just the facts mama, just the facts. Dan Brown comes to mind.

    So you can write what you want to write, and people will think what they will think. If you want them to know what you were thinking, or where you were coming from you can give interviews, or just leave people to fend for themselves.

    It is your story, its up to you.
     
  12. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for all of the responses. It sounds like everyone agrees that a book doesn't necessarily have to reflect the ideologies of the author (although it can).

    I was wondering this because I am still trying to decide the plot structure of a piece I am working on. Honestly, I am a little bit concerned that a critic might read it and decide I am pushing for "x" ideology, when I am merely trying to show how a character comes about to choose an ideology to follow. I'm not making a statement on which is "right."
     
  13. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,
    Interesting question but lets turn it around. As authors do we have trouble writing MC's who are wildly different to who we are or who we want to be?

    I certainly do. For two reasons. First that I don't have any real personal knowledge of people wildly different to me and their thought processes etc. And second because when I write I want to write characters, or at least the MC, as someone I would respect / like. As a reader I also want to read such characters.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  14. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,
    Interesting question but lets turn it around. As authors do we have trouble writing MC's who are wildly different to who we are or who we want to be?

    I certainly do. For two reasons. First that I don't have any real personal knowledge of people wildly different to me and their thought processes etc. And second because when I write I want to write characters, or at least the MC, as someone I would respect / like. As a reader I also want to read such characters.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  15. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    When I started writing (and for some years later) I mostly wrote about MCs who were 90% me. Since then, I've stopped, simply because it's become rather boring. :) I now do, with great pleasure, write about MCs who are absolutely not me. Personally, I found that more life experience and getting to know many very different people very deeply helped.
     
  16. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    Most of my stories don't really have "morals" of the traditional sense. But if they did, yeah, it would be my ideology.
     
  17. DH Hanni
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    DH Hanni Member

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    Unfortunately this already happened to me via my sister-in-law being greatly offended by a short story I wrote, the very first thing that has been published. Without going into great details, she thought that since I'm not Catholic I was somehow bashing the church by writing a story where the main character is a priest who overhears an unfortunate event as a child. It takes him until he's an adult to piece things together and he's lived with the guilt ever since. The story is really about his own personal guilt but she took it as a slam and used it to pretty much tell me what she thought about me as a human being.

    I'm just wondering if this is more of a concern about how family members and friends will react or more about how the general public will react? If it's the general public, then I think it is to be expected anything you write is going to offend someone, somewhere for some reason that may or may not be logical. I went to a talk a few months ago at one of the libraries in my area about banned books. Some of the reason given, especially for The Grapes of Wrath, ranged from it glorifies poverty to it's too sad and people shouldn't read it. Mind boggling.
     

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