So, there’s a very interesting discussion going on at my forums. If you’ve ever wanted to read a respectful conversation between a conservative Mormon and a homosexual, then you might be interested in this thread. I offer two warnings, however. First, this is MOSTLY a thread about me explaining my church’s position and my religious beliefs. My goal isn’t to preach to anyone–and I really don’t want to use my blog as a platform to advocate my religion. However, I can see this thread feeling like that, so if you’re the type who doesn’t really care to know about an author’s religious leanings (particularly in detail) you might want to skip this….
Second, this is a sensitive topic, as you might imagine. I’d request that if you say anything in the discussion, you make it non-argumentative. There are plenty of places on the net where you can scream and call people names. My forum is not one of them. The reason I linked the discussion is because it WAS so reasonable. It feels to me that most places where people debate these issues–or even discuss them–people seem to take little care for one another’s feelings, or to even try to understand how people think. In short, I’m really not looking for anyone else to jump into the debate, I just thought you might want to see the conversation.
Either way, my thanks to Armadius for inspiring one of the more thoughtful discussions I’ve been a part of lately. It leads me to this:
Think of a personality trait, activity, or ideology you disagree with, then write a story with a main protagonist who has that trait. Difficulty: Their character arc doesn’t include changing this trait.
One of the things I find the most challenging–and therefore most rewarding–in writing is trying to understand and write characters who don’t believe like I do, and do it in a way that those who agree with that character would find them believable. The above conversation, for instance, reminds me of several times when I’ve considered having a gay character as a protagonist. The real trick in doing this, however, is to make that protagonist feel REAL. If you include them just so that their way of life can be proven wrong, I think you’re undermining your fiction–and insulting people who believe differently from yourself.
So, it’s tough. Not only do you risk doing a poor job of presenting this character, but you risk letting your own impulses write a story where that character is shown to be wrong. However, if you can do it RIGHT, I think that you start to approach writing that hits another level–writing that isn’t just about you, but is about exploring what it is to be human.
There’s a fine line to walk here. I don’t think I could ever write a sympathetic story about a pedophile, for instance–that’s not just a position I disagree with, but one that makes me sick. However, a story about a gay man, or an atheist, or someone who has political leanings far different from mine–those are stories that it would a challenge, and an honor, to write in my opinion.
Anyway, those are just my thoughts. It’s a little like last week’s Idea, I know. Next week I’ll try to do another wacky magic system. Until then, here’s another Mistborn Annotation: Chapter Nineteen Part One