Thursday, January 21, 2010

Walking the Line

Because Cash and Phoenix both rock.

This week Natalie Whipple wrote about Choosing Lines, and Voidwalker wrote about Moral and Ethical Writing. I love these discussions, I really do. Go check 'em out. Are you a realist or an idealist, or both? Have you written or would you write about something that is fundamentally against your belief system or ethical code?

I commented on both blogs that I don't think I could write a book that glamourized something that is morally reprehensible. And yet, I recognize that someone with a different moral code than me could read my book and think I've done exactly that. Could someone with different beliefs and standards still like my book at all?

There is a line I walk. Maybe it's not your line, and I don't think any story is truly "universal", but I like to think that if I've written it well enough, it will still be a compelling read even for those who see things differently. I'm not out to convince anyone to change lines (although that would be stunningly awesome), but perhaps my characters can show something valuable about why they've chosen the lines they did.

What's your line? What's on the other side?


  1. I like to think of it in terms of world view. I see the world and the things of it in terms of my belief system, and of course that will define my writing. Because it's who I am, it will come out in my writing, even if I don't try.

    As I read books with my children, I don't steer them to books that only encompass my world view. I expose them to a wide variety of literature, but we always talk about what the author's world view was when we're done reading it. We compare and contrast it to our own. For example, we just finished Call of the Wild by Jack London. He was an socialistic athiest (I think!). We discussed the various ways his views came out in the book,and compared/contrasted it to what we believe.

    All that to say, I do the same thing for my own personal reading. I read wisely and thoughtfully and when something doesn't LINE up with my beliefs, it won't stop me from reading the book but it will get me thinking!

  2. i lean more towards realism. That said, when i write something that may be morally apprehensive for some readers, i'm not glamourizing it, i'm just saying it like it is. I may find it as aprehensible as the next person, but i feel that if we don't look the monster in the face, then we may have problems facing it, or changing it in the future.
    If that makes sense

  3. My line shifts based on what I'm writing. In my contemporary, real-world work, I go for straight realism, because otherwise it wouldn't make sense. Sure, I may choose the pretty version of reality (ie: one character drinks to excess, but she doesn't get alcohol poisoning during the book), but I don't spruce everything up to a fake extent. If I'm wiritng something in a wortld I create, I shift the line will shift a little to either side, depending on what the situation calls for. This might be really peachy, or they could be god awful.

  4. A quick example that "Pop's" into my mind is that with music. Both sides of Berlin (east and west) thought 99 Luft Ballons took their side in the cold war and was callingg the other side the war monger.

    So perspective is relative.

    I probably ought to do one of these serious discussions on my blog instead of my atypical meanderings and sarcasm.

  5. I read many books that don't follow my beliefs and I enjoy them. But I won't write a book that isn't true to mine.

  6. It's an interesting question. I'm not trying to make a point when I write. I'm strictly writing for entertainment purposes. Maybe someday that'll change, but I haven't gotten there yet.

    Mystery Writing is Murder
    Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

  7. Elizabeth, I don't think you need to be trying to make a point for your beliefs to impact your writing! Let's say that a writer doesn't drink because of her religion. If she writes a "purely entertaining" chick lit novel, will it have Sex-and-the-City-levels of inebriation? Does she choose "idealism" (after all, SHE has a rockin' good time without booze) or "realism" (lots of other young women DO imbibe on a regular basis)? Even if you're not trying to preach a point of view, our world view (as Jody says) must surely inform what we write.

  8. It's always interested me the degree to which Hollywood in particular glamourizes behaviour which in real life would be not only illegal but morally disastrous. They do it because that's what people want to buy. There's a lesson in there, somewhere.

  9. I could not write it. I cannot say it. I do believe those things come back to you. I also don't think we can go on saying our actions and words do not have consequences just because we are not the victim of them.
    Great post.

  10. Wow, can't believe I haven't been following your blog all this time...

    I find myself editing for my mother rather than me. It's aggravating.