ljlee: (jz_tears)
[personal profile] ljlee
Today I revisited this post that discussed why movies like Fight Club and A Clockwork Orange don't really work as stories advocating the author's intended morality while Mad Max: Fury Road does. (Fight Club spoilers and Fury Road plot points at the link.) To cut a long story short, though I think the whole thing is worth a read, the poster who discussed Fury Road had this to say:

The thing is that the narrator is always sympathetic. Intimacy and familiarity breed sympathy. The audience is primed to feel sympathy for the narrator simply because they are speaking more than any other individual character.

No matter how unreliable, or morally dubious you make the narrator, they are still the hero or the story. Every villain is the hero of their own story. And when the villain is the narrator, the audience is hearing the version of the story in which the villain is the hero, and the audience is moved by that perspective.

Do you agree with this? Have you experienced it? The thing is, I'm struggling with this to an extent with my own work in progress. Though the bulk of my story is told from the viewpoint of morally sympathetic characters, I do have major morally gray or evil characters whom the story follows for a while and who have reasons of their own for the atrocities they commit. I'm actually hoping the reasons will be sympathetic, not to justify their actions but to show that it's everyday human beings, not incomprehensible monsters, who commit terrible acts. I'm pretty sure it'll still read as justification to a fair portion of the audience, though. Heck, even Immortan Joe from Fury Road has his defenders, so obviously even effectively written morality won't get through to 100% of the audience.

One way I think (hope) the narrative sympathy effect might be overcome is by showing the full impact of the immoral in-story actions and to give victims more narrative time and weight than the villains, making them and not the villains the protagonists. One way I think that morality in stories fail is when the story agrees implicitly with the villains' logic that their victims are objects to be used and discarded rather than people in their own right, by reducing victims to objects to be ogled rather than agents in their own stories. Maybe the problem with story morality is not that villains get to tell their stories but that the victims don't.

I'm not entirely sure about any of this, these are just hypotheses I'm turning over in my mind and the proof will be in the writing--and more importantly, in the reception. I'd welcome any thoughts on this.
ljlee: (hug)
[personal profile] ljlee
I made a boo-boo last week--I made a public post but forgot to make it, you know, actually public. [personal profile] lookingforoctober pointed out the error but it took me a while to fix it, sorry.

The lecture after the one I discussed in the previous public post made a really interesting point about our relationship to fictional characters. Specifically, the lecturer pointed out that we get to know characters in novels in a way we can't know anyone but ourselves in real life: By accessing their inner thoughts directly, or at least with the potential to. The actual exploration of characters' inner lives can be as immediate as real-time stream-of-consciousness (Mrs. Dalloway), entirely external as though captured by an invisible camera (The Maltese Falcon), or somewhere in between in the form of a condensed narration of a charcter's thoughts (The Great Gatsby, and I think most novels). This, together with the simpler nature of characters compared to real-life people, and the fact that we get to see them in the most dramatic and interesting moments of their lives, makes them in some ways more knowable and iconic than real people.

Who are some fictional characters that have touched you deeply? What is it about them that makes them so interesting?

ljlee: Lee Yo-weon during a break in the filming (deokman)
[personal profile] ljlee
Edit: I think the original question was too difficult (it was hard enough for me, that should have been a sign) so let me broaden the question: What kind of music, and possibly poetry, do you feel suits the overall mood of your project or setting? Or what kind of music do you like for writing to in general? The original post is also below so feel free to answer that one if you can think of something.

This one's inspired by a conversation from the previous week's post where [personal profile] inkdust mentioned a couple of lines that expressed her main character really well. That got me thinking about a quote that fit my character or story. So I cast about a little and found this from the Dao De Jing:

For only he that pities is truly able to be brave;
Only he that is frugal is able to be profuse.
Only he that refuse to be foremost of all things
Is truly able to become chief of all Ministers.
 
To me this expresses her arc fairly well, although it can also sound like boring moralizing and could be problematic for a female character. Not that my heroine is a self-effacing saint, but she does find herself achieving things she never imagined by laying down some of her desires and ambitions for compassion and decency. Let's see if I can manage that process without being moralizing or misogynistic. The whole Dao De Jing is interesting in this way, extolling the seemingly passive and traditionally feminine virtues in a society that prizes the direct and masculine.

What about you? Is there a line, or verse, or song that would express some aspect of your character or story?