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  1. MarionRivers
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    MarionRivers Member

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    In your plots, do you believe in the moral seperation between fiction and reality?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by MarionRivers, Aug 18, 2008.

    There are many people, who do not believe in the idea that one can support violence in fiction and then support it in real life, or other things along those lines. They adhere to a belief system which in this specific aspect does not distinguish between fantasy and reality, and thus assuming they're decent folk, they tend only to root for characters to do decent things.

    There are also many people, however, who believe that since things that happens in fiction aren't real, there is no imperative to support their own values within fiction necessarily.

    So, which of these beliefs systems describes you and how you go about plot creation? I personally believe in the latter and thus enjoy having many a rooting interest in psychopaths, but I sometimes write as if I were the former, when I am trying to make a certain statement and do not want the message muddled.
     
  2. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Stephen King said "Kill your darling" this means that when you write fiction make it a story not a soap box.

    But in the end, there is no real wrong way to write.
     
  3. MarionRivers
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    MarionRivers Member

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    Well, sometimes it has to be a soapbox. Fiction is one of the best ways to enact political change in many cases.
     
  4. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    If a writer's opposition to violence is absolute, they're probably going to leave it out of their work, but if not, it's a pretty good way of creating conflict and plot momentum. Extremes, such as blood and guts, don't necessarilly have to come into it, with impressions often sufficing in conveying what's required.

    My work in progress is about an amnesiac's struggle to come to terms with his past propensity to commit violence as a means to an end. As he goes about discovering who he was, he's faced with the prospect of having to subvert his present abhorence for violence; being forced to revert to his past in order to escape it.

    I've written plenty without violent content, but I do like to use it when needs be. I suppose, if it suits the purpose, it suits.
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Soap Box? I guess it depends on how one uses it.

    It is always better for an individual to come to a conclusion or belief on their own, rather than be told what or how to think.

    But since we're writers, think of Orwell's Animal Farm or Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. How much of an influence would those authors have had with their writing if they simply told the would be readers what to think or believe? They told a good story with a message or world view buried in it.

    I write stories/novels that I would hope to find in an anthology/on a book shelf. I prefer to see the good guy (gal) win. My writing reflects that...although not all of my protagonists have exactly been good guys. One of the things I feel important is that choices have consequences, and even the 'right' choice can sometimes bring on some less than favorable favorable results.

    But as far as separating fiction from reality, it's not a concern or issue for me.

    Terry
     
  6. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do you mean this in reference to authors, readers, or both?


    Persoanlly, I can root for someone who goes too far, because situations are unique. In other cases, I can root for characters who don't go far enough in my opinion. I don't think it is necessary for fiction to follow your real-world values, especially when the majority of fiction doesn't follow real world experience for the average reader.
     
  7. Lolani
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    Lolani Member

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    It is nice for some writers to distinctly separate fact from fiction, but you can go waaaay overboard. I think it's really important to mix the two together when writing fiction, considering you could bring in some heavy confusion in the middle of all of it.

    When you bring in a whole new world (species and all), and if you're an advanced (or literate, however you like to reference it) writer, you'd definitely have to have a focused reader.

    The book by A. A. Wolfner (Possible mispelling) is very hard to follow, especially if you have a lot going on around you (alright, even if you have almost nothing going on)

    Truthfully, you need quite a bit of faction mixed in with your fiction.
    It helps the transition between the real world and your created world (if any)

    But, that's just my opinion.
     
  8. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    You won't ever find me writing out a sex scene if that's what you're asking.
     
  9. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    The reason I write is because I want to discuss different beliefs, religious statements, cultures, stereotypes, etc and let the reader take the vibe of what is right or wrong. However, as an adviser, I never forget to incoporate my beliefs in the storyline as well as the structure of the story, because I'm not a robot, I'm a human being who uses her brain where needed. There, I hope it's clear. My opinion is that writing is a spiritual alternative to me, and to deceive my soul is simply ridiculous.
     
  10. chad.sims2
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    chad.sims2 Contributing Member

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    I'll admit that I create a world that most of the time revolves around my moral beliefs, but that doesn't mean my main charicter or others follow the moral high ground, I've done killers, rappists (Generaly skip those parts, just hint at it about to happen and then, next day) and some of the worse people you'd ever read about but in the end the world is still set on my beliefs.
     
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  11. Palimpsest
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    Palimpsest Senior Member

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    There are many issues I feel strongly enough about to want to express in my stories: authoritarianism, misogyny, our impact on the environment... but I know if they're off-putting it's not because those issues were deliberately written in, but because the expression was ill-crafted. Maybe I use straw people, or didn't consider the downsides of my position, or maybe the viewpoint pushed forward so aggressively that readers don't have room to think about it afterwards (kiss of death for my cause.)

    Maybe it was a matter of style, or plot, or character depth, but just because those aspects aren't causes in themselves, doesn't mean I can separate the morality in fiction and reality. I think fiction both reflects and influences reality, the ones only intended for entertainment to no lesser extent. That doesn't mean we must make it into a soapbox, but we should take responsibility for the ideas and attitude we put out there.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    "This above all: to thine own self be true."
    Polonius' words say it best. If your writing reflects your heart, it will shine through to your readers.
     
  13. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I believe in the good guys winning. I'm a goody-two-shoes type; I was about to explain how and why, but I hope the phrase "goody-two-shoes" sums it up well enough. I'm not SMUG about it, but aside from that I do believe in doing the right thing, and feel terribly bad when I do the wrong thing.

    That being said, fiction is fiction, and I can write the most horrific stuff without agreeing with it. THAT being said, bad things happen in real life whether we agree with them or not, and I reflect that in my fiction. Good fiction is about conflict, and if everything goes right and the good guys always win 100%, it's not very good fiction IMO. Bad things happen to good people and sometimes good people have to do bad things. That's life. Even with my most detestable characters who I'd never agree with in a million years, I try to look at their motives and understand why they do the things they do. I feel for them. They're not monsters (for the most part), they're just human. Even sociopaths have their reasons. To root for a bad guy in a fictional story doesn't make one a bad person (though I've met my share of people who disagree).

    And all of THAT being said, even though I try to write good and bad in equal measure, and even if the good guys win they still often lose some things, I can't go having my bad guys win all the time either because there has to be a balance. It's fiction, after all. And like I said I believe in the good guys winning. Just not without there being some sort of cost involved. Just like in real life. Since it's fiction I write, I can't help but put across some of my own ideals about how things should turn out; writing, unlike real life, does often have a theme, after all. I'd love things to turn out perfectly, but that doesn't tend to happen, and if it happens in fiction it's boring. So, things usually turn out, more than they would in real life, but not 100%.

    I don't think that made much sense. :redface: Basically I'm of the latter group, but I do inject some of my hope in goodness in my work, though not to the extent that everything is going to be all nicey-nice and good. Many things are idealized, but not everything can be. I try to make fiction a reflection of real life on some level, no matter how fantastic it is.

    ETA: To more directly answer the question posed in the thread title, I believe in doing the right thing in reality, but I don't think the separation between "fiction" and "reality" can ever be 100% clear in fiction. As my post made kind of obvious. Even in real life I try to understand the motives of people I otherwise detest.
     
  14. MarionRivers
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    MarionRivers Member

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    A very respectable position.

    If I may say so, I aspire to goodness in real life as well as puritanism. However, differing my fictional writing from yours, I do a lot of times like to portray the bad guys as total monsters but make them the heroes anyway! The complex stuff is also really good.

    Something that always annoyed me, though, was moral posturing in certain stories. Now even though I agree with the sentiment in real life, I hate it so much, when characters refuse to kill bad guys. They're so good-two-shoes, it's just ridiculous. If this is the mass-murderer responsible for all the problems, no one is going to blame the protagonist, if they kill him and plant a gun! The television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff are notorious in my mind for this horrible moralizing! I and most people try to act that way in real life, and it's smug to then shove it our faces.
     
  15. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd be embarrassed to quote examples of these, but some of my favorite stories involve a protagonist, who is usually struggling with moral issues, taking advantage of bad situations, and capitalizing on mistakes and unitended consequences. I think practicality to an extent is a virtue, and I wish more fiction protags would display it. Especially when the main reason they don't is so the writer can add a few hundred more pages to the story.
     
  16. Ore-Sama
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    Ore-Sama Senior Member

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    Art imitates life as they say. No matter how fantastical your world is, no matter how impossible and out there the characters are, stories are written by humans and there is always something inevitably chained to the real world.

    I don't think it's wise to write a story PURELY to push a real life value, otherwise your story will like a lifeless political tool. Your story should have something more to it. "To Kill a Mockingbird" was indeed anti discrimination, however there was a lot more to it, and that's why it was a great book.If Harper Lee was dead set in nothing but showing discrimination with no care for anything else like characterization and such, the book would've likely have bbeen so well liked.
     
  17. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I always thought that I would always write purely for the fun of it, without letting my own opinions on real world issues get in the way. For a while, that held true, as the things I wrote for my first few years were fantasy in every possible way.

    Not so these days. I've always hated pollution, how my throat burns whenever I get on the school bus, how I often find it difficult to breathe in heavily populated areas. I never paid it much more thought than that, seeing as how I could hardly do anything about it on my own. But one day I took a look at my current story and finally realized what's going on in this made-up world of mine: my characters are waging a real, physical war against pollution. Coincidence? Perhaps. Or perhaps it was subconsciously worked into the plot while most of my mind was concentrated on how to make the story work.

    I only realized this a few weeks ago, and I thought it was pretty interesting how that happened without me even noticing it.
     
  18. Smithy
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    Smithy Senior Member

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    My attitude to this question can be broadly summed up thus: the characters beleive that they are doing the right thing. You are quite at liberty to disagree.

    That said, there are elements of my own views in my writing. For one thing I'm a hopeless romantic and so I enjoy my successful love stories, I like to thing that good will win in the end and so in my writing it does- though always at cost- and one of my characters expresses pretty much my view on life after death: "I beleive in it because I can't bear the idea that this is it."

    For all that though the biggest area where you can see my personal views in my writing is in the fact that what I consider to be the two unforgivable acts: rape and taking children away from thier parents, are seen as the two unforgivable acts in my writing as well, and individual characters' attitude to that dividing line is often the litmus to see whether they are evil characters or decent people who happen to be on the wrong side. Its a reflection of my nature that the former die, while the latter tend to survive, just about.
     
  19. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think a healthy balance is necessarily. Many of the things my characters do, I'd never support in real life. But I am not telling the story of perfect people, I am telling the story of flawed characters. I sometimes try to make such actions a learning experience, showing the backlash of doing such actions. But mainly, I tell the story of flawed people, not perfect saints. If a story had only characters doing only moral things, I probably wouldn't get into it as easily.

    So while my own moral beliefs do reflect my story. It isn't all about them and while sometimes you may disagree with my message, it isn't all my morality/political rant. I tell the story of flawed people. And hopefully there will always be someone somebody somewhere can identify with.
     
  20. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Depends on what I want to accomplish with the piece. I've written articles intended to influence public opinion, others intended as education and many purely for entertainment. Injecting one's personal bias depends entirely on the objective of the piece. It's not good or bad, right or wrong - it just needs to be appropriate to the venue.
     

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