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PC vs good storytelling

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
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PC vs good storytelling

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sat September 15th, 2012, 5:21 pm

I thought this would be a good place to get feedback on some things I am reading in my latest writing read, Wired for Story: the writer's guide to using brain science... etc.

As a trainer and mentor, I like the concept of story as a means to teach basic cultural concepts like decency and using strength and talents to do good. The basic fairy tale, all cultures, involves an underdog being kind to some magical creature or person others ignore, and then receiving help from that person/thing to gain an unimaginable objective against impossible odds.

Adult reading adds more complexity, but the reads I find most satisfying have some element of the classic fairy tale, even if they are the reverse (protagonist behaves badly and gets what is coming.)

But it seems that the PC attitudes, where everybody has to be equal, the author can show no prejudice, that there isn't REALLY any good or bad, that individuals aren't responsible for their choices but are the product of their poor upbringing, that we must be nice to mother nature (sometimes going all the way up to PETA ideals), and that all religions must be tolerant of each other, make for a very unsatisfying story.

I think that the pressure to conform to 21st-century PC is part of what is driving writers to fantasy/sci-fi for a gripping read: at least in a make-believe world you can have real heroes and villains.

Which makes HF doubly hard to write. Our protagonists and their worlds are not PC, and it is very weird when they are written that way.

What do you think?

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Divia
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Post by Divia » Sat September 15th, 2012, 9:16 pm

I never write PC. But then again I'm not a PC type of chick. One reason I love Hell on Wheels is that it is sooo NOT PC. In fact they drop the N word and have every ethnic stereotype you can think of, which is the way it SHOULD be since it takes place in the Western American during the late 1860s right after the war.
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Justin Swanton
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Post by Justin Swanton » Sat September 15th, 2012, 9:18 pm

You know, this I think is why I prefer writing historical fiction: for me it is easier to write a good story in a past world than in a present setting. The past world must be recreated with its own outlook and priorities, religious conceptions and prejudices, and everything else that sets it apart from modernity, if it is to come across as real.

The problem with the PC mentality is that it is unreal:

- everybody is not equal. Try telling your boss you are his equal. Oh yeah... If you mean by equal that you have a vote (in a functioning democracy) then fine. But that is just a small aspect of a person's life.

- many things that fall under the label of 'prejudice' are perfectly normal moral reactions.

- individuals are responsible for their actions unless they are amentis or unconscious.

- nature is not a mother; she is a test of survival and she can be downright quirky at times.

- a religion that is worth its salt cannot put itself on a par with other religions, since it thereby says its teachings are just as likely to be false as theirs, and hence its credibility just as suspect.

My two cents.
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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Mon September 17th, 2012, 11:41 pm

Very good points, Justin.

I agree that the PC trend can be detrimental to writing and storytelling. It takes away from the potential for depth. If everything and everyone in a story is PC then where is the conflict? What kind of resolution can there be? Ok so the internal conflicts can still be there, but life isn't lived entirely on the inside. So PC storytelling is not only potentially boring, it's potentially unrealistic.

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