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Morals, fables and lectures in writing

BearBear

Inkling
*When I say lectures, think of it in a positive way.

So do you wtite thess sorts of things in your works intentionally? Do they happen naturally?

Share examples if you dare.
 

pmmg

Vala
I think I have only one character who might lecture another, but they are in a position too. Most of the characters have their belief's, and many question them. Some are more convicted than others. I have another character who is intentionally taking a higher than you tone, cause they would get no traction if they did not...I am thinking it will come back on them soon.

I like to think the story organically flows. I am not engaged in trying to beat the reader over the head with anything. A strongly convicted character may say things, but they are what they are. I just try to do them justice.

Thinking back on the story, I am not really thinking of a place where this directly happens. Some characters have things to teach others, but those scenes are more left off camera than on, and hinted at. The only character who might, would seem greatly out of context if I just cut and pasted their dialog.
 

BearBear

Inkling
I think I have only one character who might lecture another, but they are in a position too. Most of the characters have their belief's, and many question them. Some are more convicted than others. I have another character who is intentionally taking a higher than you tone, cause they would get no traction if they did not...I am thinking it will come back on them soon.

I like to think the story organically flows. I am not engaged in trying to beat the reader over the head with anything. A strongly convicted character may say things, but they are what they are. I just try to do them justice.

Thinking back on the story, I am not really thinking of a place where this directly happens. Some characters have things to teach others, but those scenes are more left off camera than on, and hinted at. The only character who might, would seem greatly out of context if I just cut and pasted their dialog.

You answered the lecturing component brilliantly but what about overall fables and morals?
 

Queshire

Auror
Hm. This is a difficult question for me. My characters don't go out expecting to lecture people, but the way the magic system is set up you're pretty much playing philosophical knife fights once you get past the lowest level.

Just shaping qi/mana according to how you're taught in a technique will limit yourself to the most basic form of that technique. Each cultivator needs to form a strong image of who they are as a person, gain insight into the world around them and gain insight in the nature of their own soul as they increase in power. Then they need to weave all three of those together without contradiction to form a philosophical Law in order to ascend to immortality. As an Immortal their Law forms the basis of their power and they need to develop it further in order to continue advancing. Eventually they can ascend again to become a god and at that point they need to 'prove' their Law if they want to continue to advance.

As a result it's hard to separate what they do from the morals they believe in.
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
These are only vaguely comparable terms. A lecture is literally a reading, but in story-telling terms I'd take it as something like a soliloquy, where one character (or the narrator) makes an extended and more or less uninterrupted statement on some topic. I don't do this, but a good reference would be Hermann Hesse.

A fable is a story of a particular type, and so would not be contained inside a novel, unless it were some character telling the whole fable or maybe just referencing it.

A moral is the point or conclusion of a story, very often of a fable, coming at the end of the telling of that fable. Since the fable uses extended metaphors, the moral is there to help the listener draw the intended conclusion.

I don't do any of these, nor are they usually found as a storytelling device in modern writing. Even rather fabulous writing (e.g., Peter Beagle's, In Calabria, or John Irving's memorable A Prayer for Owen Meany), leaves the conclusion--the moral, if you will--for the reader to work out.
 

pmmg

Vala
You answered the lecturing component brilliantly but what about overall fables and morals?

Skip pretty much gave an answer to this, but in spite of just English, I can also sometimes read internet. I think perhaps you are asking if there are any messages that are being delivered in the story. I think every story has this to some degree, but some more strongly than others. I do have messages in my story that are being spoken through the characters. But...no character lectures them (or is preachy about it), and the characters themselves are not sure what is true and not true.

I have one character who could be preachy and lecture others, but they don't engage in that way, and the character they interact with pushes back on them, which is fair.

My story speaks, I think, to more timeless values, and not directly to anything I would equate with 'todays values'. When the story is done, it will not seem like a fable, and there is no moral at the end. There may be some who say...'wow, that really resonates with me', and some who say...'this is complete and utter bullsh*t', but it will say it regardless.
 

ThinkerX

Myth Weaver
Stories within stories and lectures too. I have characters that engage in all of these.

In 'Empire: Country,' a petty noble lectures Tia on local history.

In 'Empire: Estate' the renegade magus Lysander gives Tia and her companions a private lecture on what he knows about the demons Li-Pang and Silam - entities whom he spent substantial amounts of time researching.

In 'Empire: Metropolis,' Silam tells Tia a 'fable of creation,' while at another point Li-Pang references a 'moral fable' from Kheff by way of explanation to a minor character.

Just a few of many examples throughout 'Empire.'

The danger, though, is that fine line between 'lecture' (acceptable to most readers) and 'info-dump' (big turnoff). Hence, I try to 'dress up' such episodes as well as keeping them as short as possible.
 
I'm sure I have brief "lectures" and morality tales, plus a fable or two... I think I've written a couple more than I actually used. The "Tale of Five Earls" is one. A phrase in the Eight Kingdoms is, "By the Five Earls" and other variants which can be used anytime they stumble upon something confusing or seemingly impossible.

“The Earls are a legend from the Age Between Ages, after Bodomyûl’s Wrath and the beginning of our counted time. In the Kingdom of Kâmar, the Mountain Lords were then titled Earls, and they were second only to the King in power. On a distant mountain, a young warrior called Devêr was rising, nobody knew from where he came, but this wasn’t so unusual in these times. What was unusual was how he defeated his enemies with genius plans, outwitting warlords and kings at every turn until Lobrôd the Fourth, King of Kâmar, proclaimed him the Earl of the Seventh Foundation.


“But Devêr was an ambitious Earl. He took the king’s daughter for his bride, and on their wedding night, while drunk, King Lobrôd asked how it was he defeated his enemies as if he knew their tactics beforehand. And Devêr, stumbling drunk, told the king, ‘It is because I can be in five places at once, spread across the battlefield, even behind my enemy or in the enemy’s camp. Watching, listening, their every step is mine.’


“The King laughed and declared him a drunken fool, but Devêr was not to be mocked. And he said, ‘I will prove here and now that you are the fool, not I.’ The king seethed at such an insult, but Devêr pushed further. ‘There are five of me and only one of you, if true your crown is mine, if a lie you may have my head.’ Mind you, the king was bury-your-head drunk and angry atop that. He lifted his axe from his throne and stomped to stand in front of the Earl. He hefted the axe and said, ‘Agreed! You’ve ten grains of sand before I split your skull.’ Devêr pointed behind the king, and when Lobrôd looked… The Earl sat on his throne, and this Earl pointed to a balcony, where stood a third Earl, and this one, to another. Four Earls, and the King said, ‘That is not Five.’ He bellowed and swung, but a grip from behind latched his wrist, and the axe hit the floor. Earl number five smiled and plucked the crown from the king’s brow, placing it on the First Earl’s head.


“Lobrôd the Fourth was no longer king, and King Devêr, first of his name, banished the old man from his kingdom.”
 
As my story evolves, the more I’m playing around with moral relativism. I feel this is true to life, where I’m exploring multi-faceted characters that may be flawed, just as most people are. Good people can do bad things and vice versa.
 

pmmg

Vala
As my story evolves, the more I’m playing around with moral relativism. I feel this is true to life, where I’m exploring multi-faceted characters that may be flawed, just as most people are. Good people can do bad things and vice versa.

That good people do bad things, or vice versa, is not an argument for moral relativism. Good people can do bad things (and even believe they are good things), and still be on the wrong side of the moral scale. What was moral did not change, just their assessment of it.

I could argue that moral relativism is simply no morality at all, and therefore is self eliminating.

I think that question, is morality relative or absolute, is another of those that cannot be answered. Only investigated.
 
You’re proposing that there’s no such thing as moral relativism because morality to you is black and white?

I suppose my understanding of moral relativism is about perception, and how people perceive the world around them. ‘Good people doing bad things’ is my crude way of trying to explain this perception of what is on the side of ‘good’ and what is on the side of ‘bad’.
To me, the idea of morality lies outside of judicial, cultural or traditional paradigms and is probably something that answers questions on a very individual level.

Is it bad to be a sex worker when someone feels they have no other choice? Is it bad to kill someone in true self defence? Is it bad to lie to someone if someone thought it that this act is protecting them?
 

pmmg

Vala
I have proposed nothing, and my only indication as to what morality is to me is a statement that it cannot be known. only investigated.

I merely challenged the statement that moral relativism seems to be true, with the attached reason being good people do bad things, and then indicated where such an argument would lead (FTR, I just skipped to the end). Far as I know, the argument has never been decided one way or the other. But, if we are saying it seems to be true that it is relative, good people doing bad things is not evidence of that. I suspect you will find, you will never reach a place of showing it to be true.

Writing a story to investigate it is fine.
 
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Queshire

Auror
As someone who trends towards moral relativism and often does cooperative stuff with someone that trends towards moral objectivism it can get a bit awkward when those themes leak in and clash.
 
I have proposed nothing, and my only indication as to what morality is to me is a statement that it cannot be known. only investigated.

I merely challenged the statement that moral relativism seems to be true, with the attached reason being good people do bad things, and then indicated where such an argument would lead (FTR, I just skipped to the end). Far as I know, the argument has never been decided one way or the other. But, if we are saying it seems to be true that it is relative, good people doing bad things is not evidence of that. I suspect you will find, you will never reach a place of showing it to be true.

Writing a story to investigate it is fine.
In my writing I’m definitely explorative of it
 

Mad Swede

Maester
No, never. My view is that it's all to easy for something like that to become an author tract and/or an author filibuster. I hate them, which is one reason I don't read Ayn Rand's books.

If you're asking do my books have a them or message, then yes apparently they do. I say apparently because I don't set out to put these into my work but my editor says that they're in there anyway.

As part of my world building I do have the characters refer to in-setting myths and folk tales but I haven't ever written any of these down, they're just there as a sort of background to give the setting more depth.
 
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