1. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Never too specific?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by HorusEye, Aug 5, 2009.

    Hi,

    I have been wondering if the greatest and most universal stories really are those that are vaguest in their actual meaning.

    The more specific you become about the intent and purpose of the story, the fewer people will agree with the story's premise. You may think you're providing the reader with great wisdoms, and they may simply disagree.

    Universal stories are those that provide a magnificent frame for the reader to insert their own values and meanings into.

    Right?
     
  2. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you don't make the political bias obvious it will sell based only on how well it is written. If you make it obvious then some people will not read the book, even those who agree with you, because it simply isn't what they'd want to read.

    Personally, I will never read any books by writers who claim to enlighten the free world, not only because I can tell from their attitude that they are going to do the exact opposite and that I will definately disagree with them. However, I'll read what others have to say even if I disagree with the opinions in their book simply because they don't claim to be telling the truth and that everyone must follow what they say because it will lead to the end of poverty, freedom for everyone, human rights, and other unachievable goals and similar bull****.

    It depends, mostly, on how the author presents their opinions. I don't mind whether it's subtle or not, but as soon as they claim it's the truth what they've written goes in Loch na Seilg.
     
  3. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Any writer that presumes to provide me with "great wisdom" had better be extremely freaking wise.
     
  4. lovely
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    lovely Member

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    I have to say that I both agree and disagree. I think that a lot of people get satisfaction by having their ideas confirmed by an author. At the same time, though, I think that the most meaningful reading experiences for me were the ones that challenged my beliefs, or at least stretched them. I am a firm believer that challenges are good because they can either make you find new evidence to support your point and make you a stronger believer, or it shows you the error of your ways and makes you rethink it. If the work agrees with you, it may give new insight that further aids you in your cause.

    Either way, I don't like it when authors are vague just to please a lot of people. George Orwell wasn't vague. He had a clear message, and his writings are some that resonate most clearly with me even years after I've read them. I'm not saying that a vague ending is bad. I just don't like it if it's used to please.
     
  5. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I get what you mean. I've just been having some doubts about my story recently. It's set in a universe I've been building on for years and I'm beginning to wonder if it's becoming too far out, too "original" or whatever - in any way, asking the reader to get into the technical aspect of things might be a bit demanding.

    I've been wondering if I should just give up on trying to make sense of it to the reader and risk letting it become a David Lynch movie, if you know what I mean. Stuff happening for a reason but I'm not telling how or why. Letting people use their intuition and imagination.
     
  6. lyteside
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    readers don't like being preached to, so if this isn't meant to be an Aesop's Fables sort of tale, then tone it down.

    However, no matter how vague you try to be, your beliefs and thoughts will come through, because your writing will undoubtedly be founded on your metaphysical presuppositions. This is fine, and also unavoidable. Let the themes present themselves naturally, and your reader will be able to engage with you, even if they disagree! But don't get caught up in trying to hammer a point home. Reader's are pretty smart; they don't need a door-to-door salesmen approach. ;)

    If you give no rhyme or reason to events that are unfolding in your story, while at the same time not offering any characters that have faith that things "happen for a reason", then your reader will NOT inject his/her ideas into it. They will assume that things are random or meaningless in this universe, and they will love or hate you for it (because it will either resonate with them, or they will be repulsed) A better approach is to follow your heart. If things happen for a reason in your story, then dammit, show that they happen for a reason. Also provide causes for doubt (not annihilation) to this theme, and provide some characters that don't believe things work that way. That's a great way to hold your reader's beliefs while also sharing your heart with them...

    Another example:
    It's impossible for your narrator to be %100 percent unbiased about everything he/she tells, because your own idea of fairness, unbiased, just-the-facts-maam, etc. is based on beliefs that other readers may disagree with.
     
  7. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    It is better to simply write a story. . and use your experiences (which are essentially lessons you've learned) to make it more realistic and interesting. The reader is more likely to appreciate those 'lessons' you never intentionally put there, while rolling their eyes at the stuff you forced in. . . If you write to express a point, you better make a damn good point, as Forkfoot said (kinda). Orwell was one of those.
     
  8. hawkedup
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    hawkedup Member

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    I don't think you should take into account whether or not a lot or a little people will agree with what you are saying in your novel. That shouldn't really matter, right? Plus, how can you possibly know what will get to the heart of people unless you write honestly (honest with yourself)?
     
  9. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    There's a big difference between being preached to and a book having a universal message. For instance, I just finished The Road, and that has one of the most powerful, obvious and universal messages I've ever read in a book. Its not masked behind good writing, but rather emphasised by it, and its not apologetic at all, not that it needs to be. The vaaaaaaaaast majority of books (at least good books) have a message, or some universal thematic concern that the writer is hypothetically considering in the writing. Take the Chronicles of Narnia - there is a very obvious Christian message running through those books, particularly Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, and yet it doesn't detract from the writing regardless of your religious beliefs because the story is enjoyable in other ways. The same is true of 1984 - the political philosophy is obvious, and yet, beyond the first part the story is almost totally carried by its character conflicts and development.

    So I guess: all stories have a message, or some idea that they want you to think about, usually something universal. If the author does have a specific religious/political/cultural message they want to deliver, it is best done in a story that offers something for all readers, rather than only those who would enjoy reading that particular message on its own. I don't think there is any need for vagueness to make a universal story, all that is needed is writing that people can relate to. Case in point, The Road. Its a very particular story with a very particular message, but one that I think all people should be able to relate to.
     
  10. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    It's impossible to write a story without messages or lessons or parellels being perceived by readers.

    What some might call a universal message, others would call relatability.
     

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