?

Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile PenUltimate Productions Website Previous Previous Next Next
The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Shine On"
36 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 6th, 2011 09:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

Cool!

Ethical dilemmas can make for gripping plot tension, if they are well handled. I don't like it when the author basically just goes, "Life sucks, and there's nothing you can do about it, ha ha!" But when the story reveals how a character works through the challenge, and why they make a particular choice, the result can be quite memorable.

One example that sticks in my mind is from Torn World, shortly after the village of Itadesh burns to the ground. An old woman, Marda, decides to end her own life. Several contributors discussed this idea in the forums, and it appears in two places: Marda's perspective in "The Last Walk" and Fala's perspective in one scene of "Leaves in a Bitter Wind."

Ethical dilemmas also correlate to one of the auxiliary story types, the story of idea. Theme is one of the minor story components (the major ones being plot, setting, character) so there are fewer stories that focus primarily on that but it is often a strong supporting aspect of the major story types (action, milieu, personal). Story of idea can overlap plot and character especially well. It focuses on how a particular person chooses to deal with a moral quandary and why they make certain choices.

Also vitally important to the success of these stories is whether the character just accepts the (usually awful) choices presented to them by circumstance and other people, or struggles to change the context enough to create some other option that is at least tolerable. Looking at examples in "Shine On," Shahara chooses to keep serving her goddess despite the defeat and loss of power, rather than quit adventuring or switch to another deity. She takes Ari with her, because they find that a better option -- however uncomfortable -- than what would happen if she stayed behind. None of the choices are really appealing ones but some are more honorable or productive than others.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: July 6th, 2011 11:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Cool!

Yeah, ethical dilemmas really show a character's true colors. I especially like the one I have planned for Lyria, since she's a dark sorceress. Not evil, just true neutral. She does all kinds of illegal things to serve her own purposes and goals, and can kill without remorse when she has to (though often does feel remorse anyway), and her specialty is reviving the dead. What's going to be especially nifty about her ethical dilemma is that her ethical dilemma will make a decision to revive someone harder than a decision to kill.

Ari sounds like my character Nokwahl, a little. Nokwahl is the type of person who not only doesn't let defeat stop her, she uses her defeats to empower herself. Which is a greatly modified and enhanced trait of my own, because all that trait has been able to do for me is 1. Keep me from offing myself. and 2. Keep me from giving up writing. It's basically a "frak you, depression, you're not going to win!" trait, and Nokwahl's version (she has depression too, from a traumatic childhood experience) helps her do all kinds of things. Of course, she also had the benfit of the teachings of the Shao'Bahn Order.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 7th, 2011 02:24 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Cool!

>>What's going to be especially nifty about her ethical dilemma is that her ethical dilemma will make a decision to revive someone harder than a decision to kill.<<

Wow! Good one.

>>Which is a greatly modified and enhanced trait of my own, because all that trait has been able to do for me is 1. Keep me from offing myself. and 2. Keep me from giving up writing.<<

With your life, those ARE major accomplishments. And I know at least one other person for whom that's also true. *ponder* Oh, and I know someone who survived getting hit by lightning too.
36 comments or Leave a comment