Discussion Bias and Perspective: as Authors and Readers - use it, lose it, or work with it?

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Valairy Scot, Sep 15, 2009.

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  1. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 16, 2005
    This topic occurred to me as a result of some comments/responses elsewhere that I don't specifically wish to draw attention to. It got me to thinking how we authors approach our stories and how our readers interpret our stories within the constraints of our biases and perspectives and how to perhaps grow beyond those limitations.

    Obviously, the story's POV is a huge influence created by that POV alone. A 1st Person POV almost always will have us rooting for that character. A 3rd Person POV will usually encourage us to see the unfolding events from that person's perspective. With the possible exception of Jar Jar :p, whatever negative event happens to that character will encourage us to dislike the character who created that negativity OR to dislike the words/actions of that character.

    It's no secret I write Obi-Wan-centic stories. What happens to Obi-Wan gets the readers invested in what is happening and they can get indignant, angry, or amused at what he puts up with.

    A fun exercise can be to stay strictly in that character's POV all the way through. You wonder how skewed that character's perspective is - and if you're familiar with the scene because it's "in the movie" you might be horrified or surprised at that character's interpretation. (Example: did Obi-Wan call Anakin a "pathetic life form" or not in TPM? Watch that scene and pay attention to the dialogue and you WILL KNOW THE TRUTH but the truth has been argued ever since the movie came out.)

    As a reader, you bring your own biases to the story as well. What an author writes as a less desirable side of a character may seem OOC or character-bashing. Is Qui-Gon the ever-compassionate, perfect Jedi? Is Obi-Wan cold and unfeeling or merely a reserved character? Is Anakin emotionally mistreated by Obi-Wan or merely a teenage brat who must contradict his elders at every opportunity?

    Should persons come ahead of ideals, or the reverse? Is the moment superior to looking ahead, or must one not also lose sight of the potential consequences of immediate action?

    If we don't want to perpetuate, accidentally or not, our biases towards/against certain characters - how do we find that neutral, middle ground that doesn't automatically set up that self-perpetuating viewpoint?

    I throw this open for discussion - I think this might be a fun thread.

    Er - guess not. Closing down....
  2. Thorn058

    Thorn058 Jedi Master star 3

    Jul 28, 2008
    I think with any good character study you need to not only write from the bias and perspective you know best but also you need to step outside the box and look at how you have framed the character as well. Many times you can create a character or write about a pre-established one and do it for a long time and then something changes and you want that character to grow. You want to expand his understanding as your own understanding of how you view that character grows as well. Han Solo is a great example of a character that grows from the moment we first meet him and yet for all the growth and understanding we see with him the core frame work of who he is stays the same. He is always the roguish pirate but he is also the crafty tactican, the brave leader, the love sick fool and yet he is still Solo. Does that make sense?

    As with you Oui-gon and Obi-wan example, I don't have set character traits or biased opinions about them when I look at them. Depending on what time frame you are writing in, determines alot of how the characters react. In TPM we see Obi-wan straining against the broad teachings of the Jedi temple and trying to learn all that Qui-gon is teaching him. It is tough since the two are not always in harmony. His master has lived long enough and experienced much of the world, his views are different and as such that colors his POV. For a padawan that has been taught to follow the Jedi Code it is hard for Obi-wan to reconcile the two paths. So for me I look beyond that and try to see the motivating factors in what makes the character interact with each other in the ways we see in the movies and how I might like to have them react in a story. This allows for it to be fluid and move with the needs of the writing.
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