1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

An attempt to have a meaningful discussion on dealing with sensitive topics

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by BWFoster78, Jul 20, 2015.

  1. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    4,369
    947
    113
    TAS and Reaver,

    Again, I'm just going to do my best to stay away from such topics.

    Really, it wasn't my intent to bring one up. I just thought I was bringing up a cool and relevant example for another issue.

    I'll avoid such in the future.

    If y'all are cool with your intent, I'm cool.

    Thanks for trying to clarify.

    Really, truly, I have absolutely no hard feelings. I'm not offended in any way.

    Brian
     
  2. Trick

    Trick Auror

    1,258
    360
    83
    Plot devices, by their very nature, are meant to make people feel something. Sometimes, just in a discussion, they make people feel something that was not intended. This is an opportunity for all of us to properly evaluate said devices for future use (or abandonment as needed).
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
  3. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

    3,102
    1,104
    163
    Well said, Trick. I'd give you a "thanks" here, but I'm all out until tomorrow. Rest assured one is forthcoming. :D
     
    Trick likes this.
  4. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

    1,592
    1,020
    163
    I get it, I do. There's something of the dispassionate observer, the connesieur of human behavior, in every writer. But when it comes to bringing up these ideas in a social setting, particularly one in which a post might be read by a hundred people, I think we need to tone down the "isn't it cool?" and consider these things with a little empathy for everybody out there. There are some discussions that can only be had with specific people who really get your tone and approach, who understand who you are as a person and why you might be saying something. Internet strangers/acquaintances aren't responsible for giving us the benefit of the doubt all the time.
     
  5. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

    3,102
    1,104
    163
    Another excellent post! Thank you Nimue!
     
  6. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    5,548
    2,645
    313
    Three hours, and six pages of posts ago I wrote that I don't deal with sensitive topics in the context of this thread. That doesn't mean I won't do it in the future. I'm pretty certain I will, considering the pasts of some of the characters I'm looking forward to writing about.

    How am I preparing for that?

    Even if I don't deal with sensitive topics in this context, I'm still dealing with topics that are sensitive to me (loneliness, self-image, relations). These are topics that I'm interested in, that are important to me as a person, and that I take rather seriously. I'm pulling a lot on my own experiences to write about that and it's not always easy. It sometimes becomes a little too personal and sometimes it hits a little too close to home.

    Does this prepare me for writing about sensitive topics? I don't know.

    Admittedly, I haven't thought much about this until just now, but I think that by putting a lot of myself into my writing, I'm learning to connect with my work in a significant way. I'm learning how far I can push myself before it gets bothersome, and hopefully I can apply this when writing about things I'm not personally intimately familiar with.

    Maybe I'm completely wrong, but I think that by learning to deal with things that matter to me, I'll have an easier time dealing with things that others can be sensitive to.
     
    Nimue likes this.
  7. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    4,369
    947
    113
    Getting back to the original purpose of this thread, though:

    Not too long ago, I saw Weeks' book in Barnes and Noble. I don't think that I misrepresented the content of the scene at all, but, here it was taken so negatively that a thread was closed. But as far as audiences are concerned, there's no issue with the actual scene.

    Therefore, I'm not sure that the attitudes expressed by MS posters on this particular subject should constitute a large amount of the weight when making that evaluation (assuming, of course, that one's main goal in writing is commercial success).
     
  8. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    4,369
    947
    113
    Yes, but not just a hundred people - a hundred writers.

    I truly don't get why discussions about these kind of topics draw intense debate and interest when it seems that topics about writing are met with, overall, crickets.

    But it is what it is. So, once again, in the future I'm simply going to avoid bringing these types of things up in any kind of specific manner.

    I'm really focused on what I can do to improve myself as a writer. I think that, for what I want to accomplish, looking at these types of issues in terms of writing helps me a lot more than looking at them in context of the issues themselves.

    I do admit that I could be in error; it's happened to me once or twice in my life :)

    I can't help but think, though, that maybe some of the other writers on this site might want to at least question whether their writing careers would be better served by trying to take a more dispassionate approach.
     
  9. Trick

    Trick Auror

    1,258
    360
    83
    Brian, I think you're mistaking the content of a book with the content of a post here on MS. They are not the same. A book is private, until you make it public. At such time, readers choose to buy or not to buy. This, however, is a public forum. We discuss writing but the content in the posts is not the writing we discuss*. You wouldn't take disturbing scenes from a book and post them all over a bulletin board; at least, I don't think you would. Nor am I comparing that to this situation exactly, just throwing out an analogy. People are here, reading posts. If a member puts something offensive enough in a post, the Mods stop/delete etc as needed. "Offensive enough" is defined by Admin and the Mods. Books don't have Mods, even if they have editors. Mods and editors have two very different functions and that's because they're patrolling two very different kinds of writing.

    EDIT

    *at least, that is not the intent of the site, in my impression. Obviously, we are discussing the content of the posts right now and, honestly, it's rather distracting from the intent of MS.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
  10. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

    3,102
    1,104
    163
    Maybe some writers can be that way. However, wouldn't you agree that by their very nature, most writers (and creative personalities as a whole) are extremely passionate people?
     
  11. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    4,369
    947
    113
    Trick,

    I think you misunderstood. The post was deemed unworthy. That's fine. I'm over it.

    I was trying to return to the original post since the discussion has been so far derailed.

    You said that this is an opportunity to evaluate our plot devices.

    I agree that we should always take every opportunity to evaluate our use of plot devices. My point was that, as a restatement of the OP, maybe the opinions you're seeing here on MS isn't a great sample to use if you're trying to figure out how fantasy audiences feel.
     
  12. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    4,369
    947
    113
    I agree completely.

    But, maybe, sometimes it might be beneficial to try to be less so.
     
  13. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

    3,102
    1,104
    163
    I couldn't agree more.
     
  14. Trick

    Trick Auror

    1,258
    360
    83
    Ah, I did misunderstand your direction-correction (I promise, I don't make a rhyme every time). But the gist of my post still stands. The, shall we say, 'in-depth' discussion of certain sensitive topics is more offensive, hurtful, emotionally difficult for some than it is for others; and most likely with more than significant reason. That does not dictate what you write in your books, just how it is discussed here - which brings me full circle back to the distinction between book and post.

    However, for the approximate opinion of the fantasy-buying masses with less sensitivity to those topics, perhaps you should request to start a private group to discuss such things with a bit more freedom. I'd be careful how you manage it (I don't think we have any real weirdos but you never know) but, with the right set up, I'd join it. It might get called grimdark but it doesn't have to be. I write very dark themes. I usually do it from a distance but not always. I tend to not discuss them too much here, as it feels unwelcome, and that's ok. It's a pretty reasonable thing to limit or eliminate in a public forum.

    What do you say to the group idea? Resting on Black Dragon's response of course...
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
  15. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

    653
    246
    43
    I think where this view comes from is that 1) the author is from the real world, no exceptions (at least none that I know of), so they're writing from a perspective influenced in part by being from the real world and 2) fiction of all genres often has some sort of message even if it isn't meant to be a straight allegory. A work may give off a message that an author never intended it to, but that doesn't erase the fact that the message is still given off. That can be particularly unfortunate if the unintended message being given off is obvious to most readers and actually offensive.

    It doesn't help that some sort of parallel to real world issues is quite common in speculative fiction, so some readers may be on the lookout for those parallels, and see them where they don't exist.
     
  16. ascanius

    ascanius Inkling

    504
    138
    43
    I just wanted to say this. I read the slavery thread I wanted to reply when I got home, but found it locked. I read the policy and don't understand why it was locked.

    First, I too don't understand the policy, it just seems like a policy of what people already try to do, we have all slipped up from time to time yes. But aside from the one or two problem people I think we all try our best to treat other people with respect during these discussions and having a mod come in is usually enough to calm things down.

    Second. From what I've read here and on the contentious thread, it seems some people simply didn't like the idea of a teenager thinking about a slave in that way. Aside from how it was explained being innacurate, this whole forum is about writing, if there is a book like that what is wrong about discussing it, it's flaws, what works, it's merits how it was recieved etc. Will it offend someone, most likely, does that mean it shouldn't be discussed, HELL NO!

    2A. I really don't get it if you don't like the topic don't read it.

    2B As someone who has such topics and themes I find these discussions valuble, yes I might have to wade through rantings to find the dimond in the rough.

    Third. I don't like how this new policy has been applyed to the Slavery Thread. I really don't like the idea that a few pople can become isulted or what not and result in a discussion being locked. I completly dissagree and think locking the thread was uneeded and an extreme overeaction. The way this new policy is being applyed it seems more like we cannot talk about such topics unless we make 100% sure no one will ever be offended which is not possible.

    Fourth. I don't like the idea of private threads to discuss these topics, if it is to be believed that we are incapable of rational discourse out in the open what makes you think this will change behind closed doors.

    4A. I don't like the idea of restricing information simply becuase somone might get offeneded, they have free will and can choose to read. Others shouldn't have to jump through hoops simply because doesn't like something. If individuals are incapable of understanding that this is a family friendly site then this is a problem with the individuals behavior, and unrelated to the topic being discussed.

    Ok, I'm done.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
  17. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

    9,825
    2,954
    413
    Here's the thing about the new guideline. Our question was, do we ban certain topics or come up with a guideline that basically says we shut down threads if we think the discussion will do more harm than good? We came to the eventual agreement that we needed a guideline to let us shut down threads we can see will be problematic.

    TAS was the first to enforce this guideline, and he enforced it exactly as I would have—without hesitation; without blame. If your post gets one of us to close a thread, it doesn't make you the Bad Guy. No disrespect intended. We've been good about predicting which threads would lead to trouble (like the last 5 or 6 in recent months), but all we did in those situations is discuss and give each other a heads up and say, "well, there's no wrongdoing here, so…" The result was people were getting hurt, and that's not the place we want MS to be.

    We want this place to be family-friendly first, and we value freedom of speech, but it's second to the family-friendly atmosphere. Things like the F-word and nudity are classic examples of what is NOT family-friendly, and we never allowed that. The sensitive topics as mentioned on the new guideline, if discussed a certain way, are far more damaging to a family-friendly atmosphere than a cuss word or a bare bottom.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
  18. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

    9,825
    2,954
    413
    The thing is, people who don't like the topic may have a life experience that gives a very good reason for not liking it, and they don't know what exactly the topic is until they've read the understandably-offensive/hurtful post.

    So it's really not "don't read it," it's "pretend you didn't read it and don't tell anyone you're offended or hurt." We didn't think that was how a family-friendly site should work.

    As I said above, the F-word and nudity were never allowed here. It doesn't make sense to allow "worse" and claim to be family-friendly. What we decided is "worse" is based not on our opinions, but on what topics have clearly proven to be offensive or hurtful.
     
    Nimue likes this.
  19. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    4,369
    947
    113
    Trick,

    To be honest, I really don't have all that much desire to have a ton of discussions about "sensitive issues." I think I've said my piece at this point, and I'll let it stand.
     
  20. ascanius

    ascanius Inkling

    504
    138
    43
    nm. need 10 characters to this is ten plus some more
     
Loading...

Share This Page