Authors, Moral Responsibility, and Research…

So Nano is drawing to a close soon, and I’m sitting at 42k. This is a lot better than before, and I know that once you get to 40k, you sail through. It’s about 82 pages now. I didn’t realize how LONG that was. Man! My characters are fumbling around, and my plot is somewhat disjointed, with varying degrees of character development, but at least I’m plowing towards the end. I won’t get there, but my goal is to get there by the end of the year. Hopefully that will keep my mind off of not having a break for Christmas or Thanksgiving.

Anyway, I started this thread on the Nano boards because I was somewhat disillusioned by someone I saw posting on the spiritual and religions forums. This person was asking every religion “What questions do people ask when they come to your place of worship”? Not a bad set of questions, I guess, but then I thought about this person and their novel. They were writing a novel of a spiritual journey, and didn’t feel like researching it thoroughly. Do they know about these religions at all? If they have a character going through a religious transformation, shouldn’t they be morally responsible for presenting these religions as they *really* would be? Shouldn’t they maybe attempt to visit a mosque, mandir, or temple?

And shouldn’t they know that people that practice Islam are MUSLIMS, not ISLAMS?

Maybe I’m taking that a little bit too seriously. I mean, I guess it is my area of expertise. But I really do believe that when you write a story, you are creating something. Creating irresponsibly is dangerous. If you don’t seek deep to find the facts around what you are trying to say, you do a lot of things. You loose your credibility, even if your message is a good one. You risk offending your own reader base, and when you do this in a world where it is socially acceptable, you propagate the incorrect ideas. You turn your good will into something that just feeds a bad image.

How can you portray anyone if you don’t know the first thing about them? Am I wrong to think that this is morally irresponsible? (Maybe I’m taking it too seriously. I mean, this is Nano, not college–the point is to write words, not get everything right.)

Anyway… just some thoughts. I’m really not looking forward to work today, and I slept in accidentally. It’s almost 1 and I’m not dressed, nor have I cooked myself anything to eat. Sigh. But I did get a hug on Saturday. A hug and a few good conversations. It’s amazing how when you are starved of such things, how one hug can float you through a whole day.

3 thoughts on “Authors, Moral Responsibility, and Research…”

  1. So: 1) I'm annoyed that you are 5k ahead of me, but then again, you always beat me in Nano.

    2) The Nano forums are a cesspool. Sorry.

    3) I'm committing the same sin of writing without research, only because I didn't really know what research I was going to need beforehand and didn't really have time to just read a ton of books and websites front to back. I hope that the skeleton I end up with on Nov. 30 is close enough to accurate that when I go back to edit I can flesh out the historical and factual details.

    Of course, if the entire novel is about this person's spiritual transformation it would probably behoove the writer to know a little bit about the religion before beginning.

  2. You are right to take things seriously. Rachel's also right that when you have a month to write a novel, it's a perfectly acceptable strategy to take shortcuts, and then fill in later. However, anyone who doesn't know that people who practice Islam are Muslims is not someone you want to spend time working with. If you're going to use forums as support, make sure you're not triggered into responding to ignorance. You can spend a whole lot of time doing that instead of writing. Not that you need me to say this now. I just want you to know that eventually I do catch up. Mom

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