Keeping opinions to yourself?


  1. AdamBolander (Member)

    Posted 9 months ago

    I don't think it's assuming too much to say that when somebody picks up a fantasy novel, or any kind of novel for that matter, that they want to be told a story...

    Author of The Gray Ranger, The Slayer and The Sphinx, Juryokine, Amber Silverblood, and more! Read for free on
  2. revfitz (Member)

    Posted 9 months ago

    My heart broke finding out about Ursula le Guin's death :( Fantasy (and SciFi) has been my favorite place for societal discussion, and she was one of the best.

    On Dary's point, I am much more fulfilled as a reader when a fantasy does a political allegory well. Of course, story has to come first, but just because an author uses fantasy as a playground for political or philosophical points does not automatically mean that the story is lacking. Fantasy CAN be used for escapism just as it CAN be used as allegory.
    All the time I come across political allegory that is heavy handed or something I disagree with, just as all of the time I come across an escapist story that lacks drama or is too heavy in world building and little else. Both of those things are a sign of poor writing and is on the author, not an inherent flaw in the subtext or surface. If you don't like your stuff to be political, that's awesome, but allegory does not negate story.

    On keeping your opinions to yourself:
    I don't. I think that fiction should be more inclusive, but that is MY job as a writer, and I would not push that on another artist. If you want to write escapism and tell a story, power to you! We are all story tellers first, don't let anyone tell you what to write. I do not think there is anything wrong with what you want to write, and as an artist your only job is creating an experience for others.
    I like allegory, I like my fantasy (and especially my SciFi) to explore philosophical ideas and to be inclusive. I live for it, but if I want to see more of it then I have to write it or find like minded people. I am not about to tell you that you need to do it, just as I hope you wouldn't tell me to not do it.

    Existential Terror and Breakfast--A serial with cereal.
    Updates Wednesdays at:
  3. Rhythm (Member)

    Posted 9 months ago

    Weighing in at this point would largely involve just reiterating points already made, so I will simply say that I agree with RevFitz. I don't think literature has any hard and fasts, and attempting to impose them on the medium is to do it a disservice. You don't need to be making statements in your work, nor do you need to shy away from them.

    With regard to the initial question, on the other hand, I agree with Jim Zoetwey. Arguing the point with a person, unless you are able to unequivocally prove to them that their point is wrong, is likely to just reinforce their prior views. Effort justification states that the more someone has to fight for what they hold, the more they will value it. Ergo, the more someone argues a particular mindset, the more justified they will feel in doing so. This is where argument differs from debate. Debate is where two or more people compare and contrast their views and attempt to attain a greater understanding. Arguing has less of a learning objective.

  4. ubersoft (Member)

    Posted 9 months ago

    People use writing to talk about what they want to talk about. Sometimes, it's just telling a story. Sometimes, it's making a point.

    Anyone who says "it must be just making a point" or "it must be just telling a story" is wrong, because they are enforcing their preference on something that is a communication medium. Their preference isn't wrong -- it's their preference, after all. The insistence that an entire genre conform to that preference is, at the end of it all, ludicrously wrong.

    You'll need to figure out what your preferences are, and then do those things. And then accept that by having a preference, someone else will be really, really pissed off at you for not having that preference.

    To speak more specifically:

    In my view, using a genre to push a political or social agenda is a perfectly valid way to use the genre.
    Also in my view, using a genre to just tell a freaking story is a perfectly valid way to use the genre.

    These two are not incompatible. They are also not required to be used together. Storytelling is flexible. It's more flexible than a lot of people want it to be. The fact that there are writers who use storytelling in ways that we do not like, care for, or make us uncomfortable -- or, on the other end, do not use it to the extent that we would like, or push the boundaries that we would like, or stretch the envelopes that we would like -- will make people mad and resentful, because that's the way it goes.

    Tell your stories, take your hits, and move on to the next stories. And take your next hits. Eventually you'll get punch drunk and make a fool of yourself on Twitter. I think you get a participation trophy when that happens, so that's nice.

    Curveball (Updating)
    A Rake by Starlight (Updating)
  5. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 9 months ago

    Here’s a quote I like that seems relevant to the discussion, “A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.” It’s by Robert Frost.

    While we’re not writing poems, it still works. With stories, I think that as long as you can enjoy the story despite whatever the underlying message is, the writer succeeded. C. S. Lewis wrote the Chronicles of Narnia with a fairly strong Christian subtext. A friend of mine who is an atheist read them and enjoyed them as a kid and had no idea that the Christian subtext was there. For him, they were just stories. I can read them as stories even though more was intended even though I majored in religion and attended seminary for a couple years. That said, the moment I start thinking about the story, I do notice the many, many allusions and allegories and enjoy it all the more.

    I suspect though, that even if you’re not intending to write about bigger things than the story you’ll probably do so unintentionally whether you want to or not since your beliefs about how the real world works will affect how things work in whatever fantasy world you create.

    I’ve got a novel that on revision I recognized that two characters were espousing current political philosophies that I never intended to be themes in the book. Apparently they’re going to be. I’m not preaching either philosophy, but I don’t doubt that somebody will think I am.

    I can’t deny that I’m more partial to one view than the other.

    On the bright side, I’m not alone in this. According to Neil Gaiman, he often finds the theme of a book during the second draft.

  6. AdamBolander (Member)

    Posted 9 months ago

    Let me reiterate something I guess wasn't clear before: I don't mind there being politics in fiction, I just don't like when it's done badly. If the author can intertwine it with the narrative so that the two are one and the same, that's all well and good. But nine times out of ten, it's "I am the brave and tolerant hero, Liberalado, here to dethrone the gross and totally triggering Dark Lord Dlanod Pmurt! For welfare and safe spaces, awaaaaaay!"

    Author of The Gray Ranger, The Slayer and The Sphinx, Juryokine, Amber Silverblood, and more! Read for free on
  7. Walter (Member)

    Posted 9 months ago

    I'd say, in general, it is a poor idea, from a financial perspective, for an author to weigh in on any controversial issue. That's not to say "keep politics out of your stories", because politics is just thought and thought free stories suck. But keep that shit in your character's mouths, don't put it in your own.

    That said, these are web serials, right? It isn't like we are making bank here. If the 'views' column is lower... I mean, that sucks, but it isn't like you are losing rent or whatever. Say what you got to.

  8. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 9 months ago

    Walter hit the nail on the head. I made some pretty strong (and possibly controversial) statements about religion in Anathema, but was careful to leave those in a certain character's mouth and have another character disagree so no reader has to feel alienated.

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world.
  9. Dary (Member)

    Posted 9 months ago

    So, where do we draw the line on all this? If I'm denouncing fascism, do I need to have a sympathetic Nazi so I don't alienate potential far-right readers?

  10. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 9 months ago

    Um... sympathetic opinions on fascism aren't necessary, I don't think. :P

    Religion is a different matter altogether.

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world.
  11. Mariner (Member)

    Posted 9 months ago

    Very interesting topic for a thread. As people have pointed out, you can't keep ideology out of writing. It everything most people do, especially the their tastes in writing. If it's incorporated seamlessly into the work, it's probably good. If it stands out just to check boxes or make a point, it's probably bad. But it's really on a case by case basis and there's no hard rule for handling it either way. I don't think anyone actually disagrees there.

    That said, the online writing community in general is, I think it's fair to say, pretty self-evidently left leaning. Or at least the loudest voices generally are, as you've seemingly run into. That's not necessarily a good or a bad thing until it starts stifling other voices. As a matter of principle, I'd tell you to keep voicing your opinions and damn the consequences. But to get more to the point of your question, I think there probably are consequences that you need to take into consideration because of that.

    You may gather a few extra readers who want to follow your work because they see your opinions and assume that means the story is more to their interests, but you may also lose more. Someone left-leaning would likely see the opposite. That's partially why the people you mention are often seen and combatively competing to be the most progressive. It's an advertising draw for them. For you? Not so much. You're likely much better off trying to strike a more subtle balance, which, in my opinion, is better writing anyways.

    In essence: As a moral question, it's not good to let social pressure suppress your opinions; but as a question or practicality, it's also in your interests to remain on peaceful terms with larger social groups as much as possible. Strike the right balance according to your values and objectives.

  12. Walter (Member)

    Posted 9 months ago

    @Dary: The classic method is to have your 'characters' (Darkest Hour style) denounce fascism.

    Alternately, denounce 'these specific fascists' (Star Wars Style) without speaking on the ideology at large.

    That said, fiction is replete with sympathetic villains. You can probably make a 'sympathetic fascist' into like an Artemis Entreri kind of situation if you really want to.

  13. Psycho Gecko (Member)

    Posted 9 months ago

    I think everybody's onboard with a story being written well, and with the long history of people's personal views being part of stories. I doubt anyone wants you to write a bad story. As for you, it's your voice. Authors tend to have a distinct style. That's why tricking people with the April Fools thing can be difficult.

    I could say a bunch of things that I'd be a hypocrite about as far as arguing with people and remembering that they're still ultimately people, but fuck it, I'm tired of a lot of people. You'll probably get tired engaging with them. At least as far as readership goes, the most I've had to deal with is someone who thought being a feminist meant I needed to have more women brutally murdered. That, and a guy who tried to bring an argument from elsewhere onto my site. Sadly for him, his comments about something completely unrelated to the story ended up rejected.

    Maybe there's good advice here after all. Keep story discussion where there's story discussion, and keep unrelated stuff elsewhere. And, if you're going to make a habit of arguing, it's highly likely you're going to end up frustrated. Most people don't argue in a way to try and foster understanding between both sides, they argue to try and score points and call people names. The arguments they shot down a couple years back as being obviously stupid will come out of their own mouths today if it helps their particular pet prejudice along.

    If you'll excuse me, I have to go add a few thousand more detailed murders to a story.

  14. AdamBolander (Member)

    Posted 9 months ago

    I kinda think the fact that they spewing hatred at all-white casts, but will call all-black, all-Asian, all-Mexican, etc casts "diverse" speaks for itself. They don't much care for actual diversity, they just want fewer white people in the mix.

    Author of The Gray Ranger, The Slayer and The Sphinx, Juryokine, Amber Silverblood, and more! Read for free on
  15. Alexander.Hollins (Member)

    Posted 9 months ago

    Adam, when I hear that, that wanting less all white casts but being okay with all non white casts , isn't diversity, all i can think of is,

Reply »

You must log in to post.