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Judging an author by their work


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#1 Blue Leafeon

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Posted 04 September 2016 - 08:37 PM

Don't do it.

 

So, while I would rather not bring religion into the conversation, I feel like I must first bring some background to the topic. Today in Sunday School, our teacher was talking about how you can judge an artist's heart by their creation, in reference to God and His creation. While I do not particularly have anything against her point--you really can get insight into a person's heart through their artwork, she then proceeded to use Stephen King and his horror stories as an example. (You can tell he definitely has a dark mind because of all the horror stories he writes.)

 

I was not the first one to protest and disagree with this statement, but of course, none of us really wanted to derail the lesson to point out to her the fault of her logic.

 

This woman is an older woman who really doesn't seem to understand the purpose of entertainment. She feels like playing a game of solitaire is fun (don't ask me how) but once she gets done, she's wasted her day away and accomplished nothing. So of course, I wouldn't expect her to understand everything that goes into writing stories.

 

Most of the people on this forum already know way more than she does. Stories are just as subject to being bent for audience as anything else. I'm pretty sure that, as famous as Stephan King is for writing horror, if he were to deviate from it, nobody would take those other stories seriously. They like him for the horror. It's similar to how Sherlock Holmes' author got fed up with his other works being ignored for the sake of that one.

 

The other thing I would like to mention is that, if an author truly writes for the love of writing, they prefer to let their characters become their own beings. My characters do not always do things I would. In fact, some of them have done things that are completely against what I believe. (I do have characters who swear, which I detest and refuse to do.) I actually have a little disclaimer at the beginnings of my novels that states my characters' viewpoints are not precisely my own. (And it especially points out that I do not condone racism, which is rampant in one of my universes)

 

While I am responsible for what happens to said characters, their reactions and how they come out of it aren't specifically something I plan. (I've actually had characters who did the opposite of what I wanted them to do, and this actually gave me writer's block for several months as a result. I didn't want to force them into being out-of-character for the sake of the plot. I hate that in ANY kind of fiction.)

 

This isn't always the case. There are writers who don't write the way I do. There are writers whose main characters are self-inserts. There may even be writers who write the way your English class thinks they do. But every author is unique, and you shouldn't look at their story and go, "Oh, they must have a pretty twisted heart if they write horror." Or similar thoughts for the countless genres out there. An author writes what they like, yes, but there are several things to consider before you make any judgments.

 

But most of all...if you DO make judgments on authors based on their stories, it's probably not a good idea to go around talking about it to others. That person sitting at the table with you might just be a writer, and you might have just discouraged them from ever pursuing their dream. (Or, at the very least, cemented your fate in never being a contact for when their story IS published.)


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#2 Mercurius

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Posted 04 September 2016 - 11:22 PM

Wait did I write this thread? Check your login history for unfamiliar IP addresses.

 

History be like, been there, done that, wait what do you mean it's still happening?

 

John Milton: "Gosh darn it people I am not Satan's idolater for Pete's sake. And I was using "damned" in the proper context! I mean, darned. I mean, er...ugh."

 

The other thing I would like to mention is that, if an author truly writes for the love of writing, they prefer to let their characters become their own beings. My characters do not always do things I would. In fact, some of them have done things that are completely against what I believe. (I do have characters who swear, which I detest and refuse to do.) I actually have a little disclaimer at the beginnings of my novels that states my characters' viewpoints are not precisely my own. (And it especially points out that I do not condone racism, which is rampant in one of my universes)

 

While I am responsible for what happens to said characters, their reactions and how they come out of it aren't specifically something I plan. (I've actually had characters who did the opposite of what I wanted them to do, and this actually gave me writer's block for several months as a result. I didn't want to force them into being out-of-character for the sake of the plot. I hate that in ANY kind of fiction.)

 

There's a funny thing I noticed contrasting those who write works and those who seek only to analyze it, the ones who are actually making them typically pretty much admit they are just making stuff up on the fly and fixing it later while the latter always go on about how everything should be done and why.

 

Anyway, you probably need a better disclaimer, because everything is gleaned from the implications of the means, results, and situations rather than the characters themselves. As mentioned before,

 

Most people do not want to be Bell, covet Bell, respect Bell, or want Bell to be happy. Humans have great difficulty seeing themselves in Bell, and thus criticize him so much further, demanding answers for why any girl would favor him, why he gets to hold power, and ultimately in being unable to even really think about anything about the character himself, go on to use this as an excuse to lay on personal attacks toward the creator and the readers it was allegedly meant for. It is quite apparent that their frustration is directed particularly towards someone who has it too good, it is considered a significantly notable improvement for a character to have no particularly appealing quality, get glorified anyway, but end up without being able to savor the fruits of his effort.

 

Incidentally since that self-quote mentions the readers are also subject to this judgment, I should mention that I was reading a conversation earlier about this kind of thing, and surprisingly a proponent of thinking about what the author should be based on what they wrote had a rather charitable attitude towards consumers of the same.

 

Context

I usually basically pretend the author of a show doesn't exist and just take everything it's showing at face value personally, like for example someone in this comment chain mentioned that Shingeki no Kyojin's mangaka apparently has ultra-nationalist views, but from what I remember, that guy's manga is about the last of humanity fighting off giants and frequently dying in the heat of battle whether they seem to be relatively significant characters or not, and that kind of context having characters that reek of ultra-nationalism or something similar wouldn't be any surprise regardless.

Response

I'd say the difference is in consuming vs analyzing a work. The flipside to what I said is that different people take different things from each work due to their own lived experiences. I don't really prescribe to the 'Death of the Author' view a lot of people like to invoke anymore, but to take the SnK example, perhaps the author was predisposed to make a German-inspired military piece due to his ultranationalism. Not that that would effect the quality of the viewing experience by someone not in-tune with those points.

 

Or, rather, it's to say that, contrary to what is popular sentiment in a lot of spheres today, you're only responsible for interacting with a work as much as you want to. For one classic example, The Wheel of Time is almost comical in how blatantly sexist it is, but that didn't stop a generation of fantasy fans from loving it.

 

----

 

Today in Sunday School, our teacher was talking about how you can judge an artist's heart by their creation, in reference to God and His creation. While I do not particularly have anything against her point--you really can get insight into a person's heart through their artwork, she then proceeded to use Stephen King and his horror stories as an example.

I'd like to question the reason for why she had made this claim at all, personally. It should be (although it often isn't for some crazy reason) known to all Christians that humans are sinners and always vulnerable to their concupiscence, and the whole point of God coming down with the identity of Jesus to end up sacrificing himself in the form of man to show his forgiveness is because the hearts of humanity tainted to depravity is nearly omnipresent, warranting so extreme of a display. There is no surprise to be had when you find another to be wicked, nor is there much purpose is identification of an individual as so. Perhaps through criticism of the egoistic implications of their decision to freely speak of others in such a way would remind them that all are victims of corruption. It is not just what one writes for which you can recognize another, but also for what they would say, especially with no voice used but their very own.

 

But most of all...if you DO make judgments on authors based on their stories, it's probably not a good idea to go around talking about it to others. That person sitting at the table with you might just be a writer, and you might have just discouraged them from ever pursuing their dream.

On the contrary, it is a considered a good idea, as mentioned before. Not for your friendship with the writer, but for your friendship with critics and for convincing others of the legitimacy of your intellectual superiority over another. For as long as social circumstances would bring it support, it is a good way of looking at things.

 

A question to be had is as to whether the everyday layman would wish for your dream to be realized to begin with, or even to hope that you will suffer little from being obstructed in your path. Hard work is called the way it is not just for the effort put into it, but also for its harsh conditions, after all. Many people out there will feel only bitterness towards anyone who's had it easy from their point of view, and many people wouldn't even consider taking your career seriously at all. I'm sure you know too that if it were outside of what you were meant to be as dictated by social suggestions, it would invite ridicule all around. Men can hardly get away with even having long hair for all the supposed acceptance of the modern age.

 

Those who wanted to look to a person's work to recognize them for their twisted heart are unlikely to be the same who would sincerely advocate a supportive attitude towards another's future.

 

I believe in judgment of humans through their judgment of fiction, for nothing else tells better of their disposition freed from apprehension.


I believe in judgment of humans through their judgment of fiction, for nothing else tells better of their disposition freed from apprehension.


#3 Blue Leafeon

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Posted 05 September 2016 - 12:28 AM

Had I have known, I would have posted it there. But we all know I have a hard time reading your topics and discerning what their point was. lol

 

No. I wrote it. XD I specifically remember doing so, before realizing that Ace Attorney has a new demo out and getting engrossed in it.

 


There's a funny thing I noticed contrasting those who write works and those who seek only to analyze it, the ones who are actually making them typically pretty much admit they are just making stuff up on the fly and fixing it later while the latter always go on about how everything should be done and why.

Yeeeeeeeah. As a writer, taking English for my GED was absolutely hilarious. "Why do you think the curtains were blue?"

Answer: BECAUSE THEY WERE FLIPPING BLUE. They don't need a reason to be blue. They're just blue.

 

"Why do you think the writer made this character act out?"
"Correct" answer: To build suspense.

True answer: Because the character was getting annoyed at the guy taking so long to spit out the news, duh.

 

Anyway, you probably need a better disclaimer, because everything is gleaned from the implications of the means, results, and situations rather than the characters themselves.

I should think that in this instance, I am probably safe in all but one of my stories, and that's a medieval one. Most of my stories have some kind of moral learned at the end even if I didn't specifically plan it that way from the start.

 

I'd like to question the reason for why she had made this claim at all, personally.

She was merely trying to show the point between how we can see God's qualities through His creation, just like you could, say, see how twisted Stephan King must be through his stories.

 

On the contrary, it is a considered a good idea, as mentioned before. Not for your friendship with the writer, but for your friendship with critics and for convincing others of the legitimacy of your intellectual superiority over another. For as long as social circumstances would bring it support, it is a good way of looking at things.

Except when the person in front of you is a writer. 

 

I never judge anyone for the content of their stories because I know that stories can differ greatly from what the author themselves believes in. I might judge other things (like if they were being lazy/rushed, in the case of games) but to judge their heart is basically not something that should be done, and especially among Christians, but that's getting off topic. O


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#4 Mercurius

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Posted 05 September 2016 - 01:47 AM

She was merely trying to show the point between how we can see God's qualities through His creation, just like you could, say, see how twisted Stephan King must be through his stories.

 

We then get into the problem of the fact that Stephen King is God's creation.

 

Problem of evil etc. etc. turns out it's not so fantastic of an idea for her to have come to that conclusion after all.

 

I should think that in this instance, I am probably safe in all but one of my stories, and that's a medieval one. Most of my stories have some kind of moral learned at the end even if I didn't specifically plan it that way from the start

 

That's not safe at all. Everybody is going to take a different interpretation to what should have happened how else do you think shipping wars occur and if it doesn't align with their interests they've got all they need to bring out the hate on the author, especially in the case it's because they're the sort of people who like to put themselves into someone else's characters. Having the moral at the end could even be considered worse, because it gives an answer of what the author thinks counts for what's all for the better in the end, a big problem when that's dissonant with the reader's idea of what's right.

 

 

to judge their heart is basically not something that should be done, and especially among Christians, but that's getting off topic.

I thought that was the topic.


I believe in judgment of humans through their judgment of fiction, for nothing else tells better of their disposition freed from apprehension.


#5 Blue Leafeon

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Posted 05 September 2016 - 01:18 PM


We then get into the problem of the fact that Stephen King is God's creation.

 

Problem of evil etc. etc. turns out it's not so fantastic of an idea for her to have come to that conclusion after all.

Ahahahahaa. Okay, that's a good point. XD

 

 

 

That's not safe at all. Everybody is going to take a different interpretation to what should have happened how else do you think shipping wars occur and if it doesn't align with their interests they've got all they need to bring out the hate on the author, especially in the case it's because they're the sort of people who like to put themselves into someone else's characters. Having the moral at the end could even be considered worse, because it gives an answer of what the author thinks counts for what's all for the better in the end, a big problem when that's dissonant with the reader's idea of what's right.

Yeah, true. If somebody wants to look at two people say THEY'RE GAY there's absolutely nothing to stop them, even if both characters are specifically interested in the opposite sex. lol Heck, even I've been known to look at a game with "canon" couples and go "flip that, this other couple is better." (My instance is usually video games with paired ending mechanics, like Star Ocean or Fire Emblem, ChromxSumia? Heck no! but still.)

 

The end thing is that as a content creator, I'll just have to accept that people in general are weird and that what makes sense for me might not for them, and vice-versa.


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