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  1. toeshy
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    toeshy Member

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    How to not soundy preachy?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by toeshy, Dec 19, 2011.

    I am writing a story about a young, naive protagonist who goes out into the world for the first time. I want his experiences and views to reflect mine as i left the comfort of my home and joined society as a young adult. Many of the views that will be shared cover religion and politics, morality and lawfulness. I don't want my views comming out preachy or in your face. How can I make my frankly blunt and contraversial view of the world apparent without making it sound like I'm trying to "convert" my readers? How subtle is too subtle?
     
  2. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    I would caution you that writing a book in order to spread a message or vent your views on the world is NEVER a good idea. Tell a story because the story wants to be told, and because the character wants to live. Otherwise there is no way to avoid coming across as preachy. It will be there on every page.

    Write the book, stick it in a drawer. Then write one that other people will want to read.
     
  3. Justin7
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    Justin7 Member

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    Try reading the Sword of Truth series. After Richard Rahl defeats his father and the war goes between the East and the West, it all becomes extremely allegorical to the Cold War and capitalism versus communism. That could give you an idea of how to get those sorts of things across.
     
  4. toeshy
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    toeshy Member

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    Maybe i should re-phrase wat i said. My story isnt being writen for the sake to spread my message. I want there to be a challenge that gets met along the protagonists journey that mimics the world we live in and his method of approach would be similar to my own. Its not an anti religion/politics story but i want there to be conflict with each of those and have it parody the real world but not make sound like my way is the right way.

    Besides a little contraversy keeps things interesting and hits home with a lot of readers even if they dont quite agree with the view of the writer. Thats wat open mindedness is about.
     
  5. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    Interesting. I feel that my current story has sexual exploitation and racial prejudice undertones, and though I'm not aiming to spread any particular message, it may provide a unique perspective on certain issues.

    Maybe this is something like what you're talking about. What I shoot for is rendering truth in writing. Instead of having a character realize or state what's wrong with society and what should be, I show what is. Rather than having a character go out into the real world, witness racism and form an opinion about it, I'd rather have them experience some form of prejudice that affects their plight. Or rather than having them see a violent pornographic film and think, Sex exploitation is bad!, show us a down on her luck prostitute who has been and continues to be abused. Just for example. Showing is better than telling in these cases.
     
  6. toeshy
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    toeshy Member

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    That helps out alot. Thanks.
     
  7. Metus
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    Metus Senior Member

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    Don't make the protagonist (who reflects your views) clearly correct. I've been struggling with this as well, but I think if you represent all sides of the issue fairly, and understand opposing arguments, you reduce the risk of alienating everyone who doesn't see as you do.

    It doesn't sound to me like your trying to convert anyone, so I think your motivations for writing are solid.

    I'm an atheist, I know arguments for eugenicism, and population control, I've read the bible, I've studied some communism, I am neither democrat nor republican (I understand, and dislike, both sides), and I regularly communicate via forums with "pagan" religions, so If you send me a private message, I could civily explain opposing points to a lot of what's in your book. Probably.
     
  8. Metus
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    Metus Senior Member

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    Don't make the protagonist (who reflects your views) clearly correct. I've been struggling with this as well, but I think if you represent all sides of the issue fairly, and understand opposing arguments, you reduce the risk of alienating everyone who doesn't see as you do.

    It doesn't sound to me like your trying to convert anyone, so I think your motivations for writing are solid.

    I'm an atheist, I know arguments for eugenicism, and population control, I've read the bible, I've studied some communism, I am neither democrat nor republican (I understand, and dislike, both sides), and I regularly communicate via forums with "pagan" religions, so If you send me a private message, I could civily explain opposing points to a lot of what's in your book. Probably.

    oops, double post.
     
  9. toeshy
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    toeshy Member

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    Interesting. Perhaps i could have the protagonist with my views and beliefs and a supporting character (or even series of supportting characters) with opposing beliefs.
     
  10. DeAnnaClaudette
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    DeAnnaClaudette Member

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    I consider myself a relatively politically and socially conscious individual. I don't go around preaching about my beliefs and thoughts, however. The thing is that it shapes my actions, and the reason why I believe the way that I do. It's just an underlying element of who I am. I am around a lot of people who don't share my views at all, but I am not the type to bash them over the head with what I believe and expect them to be just like me.

    There are decisions that some people make solely because they have a certain belief. You don't have to say, "I decided to do XYZ because I am a conservative." The decision itself will probably been automatically seen as a conservative decision. The more conservative decisions your character make, the more he or she will be seen as conservative - for example.

    Hope that helps.
     
  11. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    I disagree.

    Many people don't know how to write a story that sends a particular message, but that doesn't mean it should never be done. The important thing is to make sure that, as the author, you can see things from the opposing point of view as well as your own. For example, I wrote a story where the moral is 'don't help people against their will, because you're likely to hurt them instead'. But the character who helps someone against her will, I understand her viewpoint, and from the way she saw things her actions made perfect sense.

    Also, accept that you can't force a certain viewpoint to be right, by giving it to the hero and the opposing viewpoint to the villain. Instead, figure out exactly why you think that viewpoint is right, and set up a situation that shows that. In the case of my 'helping against their will' story, that was done by making the situation different from what the helper character thought it was, and showing the helpee's perspective to make that clear (the story alternated perspectives). In some cases, it could be done simply by telling the standard story from a different perspective, to show that something that seems good (or bad) is quite different for one person whose perspective hasn't been told before.

    Anyway, back to the OP: If you present a bunch of people with varying viewpoints, and their moral alignment isn't particularly strongly correlated with those viewpoints, then you won't come across as preachy.
     

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