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How do you make it clear that the POV char, and not you, believe something?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Electric Bone Flute, Sep 21, 2020.

  1. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    All my stuff is pretty edgy and there are plenty of ratbags in my stories with alarming opinions that are very remote from my own.

    I love writing these characters - not least as really bad things tend to happen to them - but it's an excellent philosophical exercise to write passionately in favour of views from which in real life you'd run screaming.

    I do not shrink from this and expect the occasional one star from halfwits who should never have picked up my book in the first place. Read the blurb dickhead!
     
    Malik and Vaporo like this.
  2. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Got to admit, I love writing morally questionable people. Want a demon who likes eating rabbits alive? We've got one. Some guy who wants to take over the world? Check. Mother issues? Oh, good lord, do we have them. I see them not just as a chance to have bloody fun, but to explore the inner workings that brought us here in the first place. (And Loki is hot. Say it. HAWT.)

    Do I like eating rabbits? Yes, but only at Easter and not the type that shop at Macy's. (We have shape shifters. A lot of them.) I see writing as not only enjoyable, I see it as therapeutic, and anyone who assumes that the character equals the author might try a little writing on their own.
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  3. joshua mcdermott

    joshua mcdermott Troubadour

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    yeah thats all true. I think speaking for myself as always, have been off-put by one author doing it very badly. and that colors my experience: and it should not as the other 99.99% did not have this problem.

    but that one example does make me pause and examine my own writing and make sure I am not frecking it up like he did. So it's not a bad thing to think about even if you do not normally consider it a problem. It will still help you craft a better story if you are conscious of it and use it to further your vision.
     
  4. Kasper Hviid

    Kasper Hviid Sage

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    Funny, I'm the complete opposite! For instance, in my current read, the protagonist argues that it is kind of okay to gangrape an unconscious thirteen-year-old. And it is worded in a way that ties it to political debate in the US about toxic masculinity, rape on campus, liberals, etc. Me, I naturally wonder what the author believes, what exactly the purpose is here. When reading, I have an intimate one-way connection to the author. And if the person I have this connection with is a sexists pedophile, this is something I at least want to be aware of.
     
    joshua mcdermott likes this.
  5. Rushlight

    Rushlight New Member

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    I think in order to exhibit your awareness that the viewpoint isn't necessarily one you share without fourth-walling some kind of treatise on *why*, you can show (not tell) consequences of that belief, whether it sways the character's opinions or not. I'm going to sound like a dull English teacher bringing it up, but the novel "Things Fall Apart" does a marvelous job of showing two conflicting viewpoints and the negative consequences of each. But I suppose it depends in the end on whether you want the character to be *right* in the end.
     
  6. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Minstrel

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    If you can be misread, you will be. You also have to take death of the author into account. Farenheit 451 is not about censorship, as Bradbury said, but does that really matter? That's not what people got from it, and now that is the most common reading of the text. There are people who look at Lolita and think that it's pro-pedophilia, or that the show Hannibal is pro-cannibalism, even though if you read/watch it it's really obvious that isn't the point. So unless you have an Aesop's Fables-y "THIS IS THE MORAL OF THE STORY" at the end, someone, somewhere, is going to misread you, and you'll just have to accept that.

    If you want to minimize that, then you'll have to make use of beta-readers and see what they get from the story. Especially if those readers do not know you personally or already know your views. You might be using common tropes or themes without realizing that they're actually really harmful. Both Sky High and Star Wars is kinda pro-eugenics, with the whole "If you come from this bloodline, you have super awesome magic powers and you're better than everyone else, and everyone should treat you special for it" thing with superhero and Jedi, respectively. Even if you don't personally believe those things, your story can be further perpetuating those harmful stereotypes.

    Having characters question those things or point out why their wrong is important. An example of how not to do this: Harry Potter did not grow up in the wizarding world, so he never grew up with the weird things they do being presented as normal. So having an owl deliver mail is really weird to him, but not to Ron. Hermionie is also from the muggle world, and when she learns about house elves, she sees that this is a wrong thing and fights to end it. And what does Harry do? He makes fun of her. He makes fun of her friend for wanting to end slavery. And everyone says Hermionie is wrong. Look at Dobby, he's happy to be a slave! It's always been this way! What exactly does this say about the author? That slaves were happy to be slaves? That outsiders have no right to criticize the hegemon? That you shouldn't care about the rights of people who don't look like you? Because of her tweeting we already know the answers to some of those things, but that might not be the case for you (and that might not be the case for future readers, or readers who don't follow what she says online).
     
    Kasper Hviid likes this.
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