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Old 06-24-2014, 04:38 PM   #1
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B&N Week 183: Does Your Worldview Make Your Characters Preachy?


Itís another Tuesday! Guess that means itís time for another Bolts & Nuts question!

This weekís question is about your worldview: does your worldview make your characters preachy?

As creators, we have something special: something to say, and a medium to say it through. What we also have, though, is a way that we view the world. You canít have one without the other. You canít have something to say without having a worldview about which youíre saying it.

However, just because we have a worldview, it doesnít mean that that view is the correct one. It is right for the individual, but not for the masses. (Sticky territory, Steven. Right and wrong are subjective, yíknow.) I know. But groundwork has to be laid before getting deeper into it. (Okay.)

You canít have a discussion about worldview and comics without bringing up two different examples. The first is Dave Sim, creator of Cerebus. Cerebus is a self-contained work, first as a parody of Conan the Barbarian, and then delving into other things such as philosophy, gender issues, and metaphysics. The second is Frank Miller, creator of Sin City, as well as the writer of All Star Batman and Robin, and writer/artist of Daredevil.

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Old 06-24-2014, 07:56 PM   #2
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I quit reading Terry Goodkind because he decided to jam a totally irrelevant spiel about welfare into a fantasy novel. I'm just about fed up with Neal Stephenson for similar reasons. Preachiness is not fun to read.

I think there is a place for "message" in fiction, but it must be handled with subtlety (unless it's an over-the-top satire, of course). I remember one of the old Disney animators saying that a good fight scene required the animators to believe the villain was going to win; I think the same could apply to arguments over viewpoints.
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Old 06-24-2014, 08:21 PM   #3
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Yeah, the Wizard series by Goodkind was great...until he got preachy. It should have ended as the trilogy it was.

Stephenson? I'm reading the Baroque Cycle as I get time. (HA!) Cryptonomicon was a good read and got me interested in what else he's written. I haven't gotten to the preachiness yet. At least, not a whole book that takes a tangent on the subject.

Messages in fiction? There's space for everything, methinks. It just depends on audience reception.
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Old 06-24-2014, 08:34 PM   #4
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It was The Diamond Age that irritated me. I don't remember the details of what he was trying to sell- something about social stratification, I think- but basically every character who agreed with his view was a saint, and everyone who disagreed was scum, and two of the saints got to close the book with a pretty preachy discussion.

Anyway, Anathem is worth reading, even though the central premise is pretty silly, and Snow Crash is just good clean cyberpunk fun. He's too good a writer to toss aside lightly, but damn, I hate being preached at!
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Old 06-26-2014, 05:00 PM   #5
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I don't know...I think my favorite comics are the ones by Chick Publications. They seem to do pretty well. Trolololol.

Actually though, preachy stuff can be really good if it is done correctly, for example, the episode of The Twilight Zone, "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street." The entire episode was preaching against the dangers of prejudices and suspicion during the Red Scare. The story is done in such a way that the message/world view isn't just part of the story, but the driving plot point of the story. And it works perfectly!

I think, when it comes to world views, the driving question should be: Does this add to the story (or at least make your character more interesting), or am I just doing it for my own agenda?
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