1. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Not taking a side or specific view

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Garball, Mar 4, 2015.

    I have a side project distracting me that I like to call a sci-phi story. It touches all sorts of arguments ranging from the origin of the universe, free will, the existence of God, a self aware universe, multiverse, etc. I've been told the story is a good one and I believe I can write it well. My problem is this:

    The story has to have a conclusion or lead to the point where the reader can decide the most likely outcome on their own. However, I do not want the book to convey a message of my beliefs or lack thereof; I simply want to bring the topics up and make people form there own quetions.

    Does this make the book weak? Does an author need to take a side if they are going to write a story with such arguments?
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's weak if the author forces a conclusion down the readers' throats.

    The strongest work I've ever seen in any art is work that demands the audience make up their own minds.
     
  3. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I don't plan on forcing a conclusion, but in order for there to be any sort of conflict, the protag has to be on one side of the action, and I want that being to be skeptical as well. What I want to avoid is somebody reading my book and saying, "Well Garball obviously believes in bananas."
    I also feel that because it is a work of fiction that it needs to follow the normal story arc. It has to have a resolution. You can't write a 50,000 word question, can you?
     
  4. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    You probably can get away with leaving the basic philosophical question undefined - or reaching the definite yet undefined conclusion of "I don't know and can't know". But what you probably DO have to do is resolve the actual storyline for the characters and events in a way that is satisfying to the reader.That, and if asking the question is your point, the question better be pretty well defined and the importance of the question (and of the act of questioning) should probably be emphasized. Granted I neither write nor read things that are overly abstract, so I might be way off base.
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    You can have the protagonist start with a POV that he/she begins to doubt or at least becomes less certain about.
     
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  6. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    Is it beta readable yet? If so, count me in please.
     
  7. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    If your theme or thesis is "These questions are too big for us to decide," or "We don't know enough yet; we have to keep looking," maybe. But there does need to be a unifying idea of some sort, or it's just verbal diarrhea.

    Of course, there is also the saying on such matters that "Not to decide is to decide" . . .
     
  8. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Garball, you're describing general themes. A theme doesn't need to be solved. Are these questions all your story is about? If so, you need to come to some sort of resolution, otherwise readers will be disappointed.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2015
  9. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure how a story could bring up a theme without ever exploring it. How else could it be included? I think the way to stay neutral as a writer is not to ignore the theme(s), but to show contrary facets of each theme(s). Maybe the characters could all have different opinions on these ideas and by the end each of those opinions could appear to be right in part and wrong in part.
     
  10. Gawler
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    Gawler Contributing Member

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    In particular regard to the existence of god. It is a topic of never the Twain shall meet. Those of a religious persuasion and atheists will never agree. An element of doubt in both sides minds can bring them closer without ever meeting. If the conclusion leaves the reader with a sense of hope regardless of what side of the fence they sit, then it may be indecisive but not weak.
     
  11. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    What's wrong with taking a side?

    I see not taking a side as potentially problematic, because the winners represent an argument and the losers represent the anti-argument.
     
  12. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe a book-end would serve well? The protagonist could hop from belief to belief, and land up back where he started at the end, more doubtful than ever. That way, his conflict and argument will keep changing—all the different lenses will get to go for a spin.

    Edit to add: You could also make him unaware of the fact that he's back where he started.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2015
  13. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think you necessarily need to reach a resolution, but you have to really interact with your subject matter. Ending on ambiguity, well, this is probably one of the most earnest ways to end a piece of art, I think. At the base, there's simply ambiguity. However, to simplify to a dumb "I don't know" without substance, this is something to avoid. If you want to approach doubt and these things, you might need to do it through the hard-pressed difficulties within your characters, and their struggle to "know" anything. I'm sure you'd do such. Simply, I guess, I don't think leaving the question open is bad, but there's a difference between leaving a question open and just asking a question. Bring up the overwhelming nuance, and a smart reader should understand why something doesn't really have an answer. Most things, when you push into them with the full keenness of a human mind and, more importantly, human experience, it's hard to suggest any solid footing, so there's that flux. Just don't essentialize it. Some of your questions, however, are more metaphysical, and I don't know how they'd be as caught up in this ambiguity of human judgement. I don't know if there's a struggle between a person and whether multiverse is true. Well, there is, but it's more related to identity and place than the metaphysics itself.

    ETA: I think a really good work disassembles the present perspectives and asks how the fuck do we put it back together.
     
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  14. Talisien
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    Talisien Member

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    Without knowing more about the storyline I find it difficult to answer this question. However, I don't think a story has to take one side or another as long as it is well written. There are many good books written that include many belief systems without ever having one be stronger than the other, or one be 'right'. I too look forward to reading some of it as this is very much my special interest.
     
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