The stairs are so tough… More funny gifs

Ah. That feel when you wake up from a dead ass sleep because you’ve had a particularly problematic idea and now you’re doomed to spend the night wondering about your fucking morals and if your line in the sand is shifting once again.

Hoe, I say to myself because that’s what I call myself it’s fine, I mean it as a term of endearment, are you really entertaining the idea of rolling back into the hellpit with offbrand Shance, with teenage Lance and Clone Shiro with a larger age gap than is terrorized to exist?

Self, I say back, yeah maybe. Idk. The spite is partiqularly strong today, I’ve seen some things on my dash that pissed me off and went to sleep on a down note and now I’m hyperfixated, it’s that adhd shit. Anyway, depends on how fucked up I can make it.

In other news I should maybe stop talking to myself in this manner?

thehungryvortigaunt  asked:

(1/2) Hi - Thanks a lot for your alternative scenario to my Widowmaker question. :) I'm going to be working on a story involving intelligence/black-ops agencies, and one recurring theme I'm emphasizing is that the tortures done by multiple characters are inefficient, pointless and counter-intuitive. The protagonists' cruelty backfires horribly by hardening the resolve of their victims (and the victims' loved ones); guilty members 'betray' their team by reporting the atrocities to the public...

(2/2) Any useful info gathered by agencies (American, Japanese, Russian & Turkish) is done nonviolently, so torture’s done for sadism or to INTENTIONALLY demoralize. Any other ways could you suggest to portray ‘enhanced interrogation’ as needless and unconstructive? Don’t wanna accidentally veer into apologia i.e. implying that torture fails and a time-bomb goes off because 'we didn’t torture suspect hard enough’; and I fear that in pop-culture, 'moral appeals’ alone won’t be convincing enough.

You’re right that pop culture tends to dismiss moral appeals (usually by buying into apologist arguments) but I think whether they work in a piece of fiction depends on how they’re written.

A purely moral argument is a lot less likely to have an emotional impact when the character it comes from is: privileged, unlikely to ever be in danger, has no experience with victims, has no family background connected to atrocities. Anyone who comes across as unconnected can be tarred by the narrative.

The usual ways that is done are either by showing the character as a desk jockey with no real practical experience of the world, showing them as flighty with their head in the clouds or showing them as using atrocities to score political points.

Moral arguments come across more powerfully when they come from people who have seen and experienced atrocities, whether it’s in the past or present.

My English education is probably gonna show a little here but I’m reminded of Sassoon’s war poetry and how angrily some of it was directed against the British public and politics-

You smug faced crowds with kindling eyes,

Who cheer when soldier lads march by,

Sneak home and pray you’ll never know

The hell where youth and laughter go.’

Moral arguments can be incredibly powerful things in fiction and art. I don’t think we should dismiss them.

The problem with writing effective moral arguments in fiction is well essentially it’s about how you write.

In order for something to have an emotional pay off it needs to be appropriately built up in the story and supported by the narrative. And there’s no one simple way to do that effectively.

A ‘Big Speech’ can make people lose interest but only if it’s poorly written.

I suppose the way I think about successful moral arguments is that you’re trying to write what TV tropes would call a ‘Crowning Moment of Awesome’ (I’d link to that but I’m afraid my readers may become stuck in an internet black hole from which they may never escape.)

Doing that effectively takes work. It means carefully balancing everything that happens in the story up until that moment. It means judging how you’re manipulating your readers’ emotions.

Any big speech is going to fall flat if it isn’t backed up by actions and by what happens more widely in the story.

The way I’ve tended to do that is by having characters take big personal risks to do what they think is right. Because I write a lot of pacifists and because pacifists seem to be particularly prone to this sort of dismissal in fiction (that their beliefs aren’t practical, that it’ll all get better if they just kill the baddies, etc-) I made a deliberate choice to avoid ‘Big Speeches’ and instead show these characters backing up their words to the hilt.

Getting the emotional tone right is key and it’s also one of the hardest parts of writing.

There seem to a few main approaches with torture in particularly. There’s a very stark, minimalistic statement of what happened, similar to an Amnesty international report. In a rich, descriptive narrative that can be incredibly shocking and horrifying. It’s a sudden shift in how the story comes across and that creates an impact.

Another strategy is to write almost the way Alleg does. Keeping the pov very firmly with the victim and putting the reader as firmly as possible in their shoes. That means a lot more description but not purely of things like pain. It means appreciating the details people notice when they’re stressed and scared.

Alleg picked up on things like the cleanliness of the board he was strapped to, the general sense of the crowd around him, the fact some of them were drinking beers while they watched. That his shirt was used as a gag. The incredibly young age of some of his torturers and the way they talked to him (as if it was all a sporting event). The way Algerian prisoners responded to him, a Frenchmen, who had taken their side and was suffering for it.

Pulling back from real world accounts there are a few other approaches I found particularly effective. They’re more to do with focus than description.

Babylon 5 and Farscape are two sci fis that have a lot of flaws (and I haven’t re-watched them recently so I can’t swear that totally accurate portrayals of torture isn’t occasionally one of them-) but they’re all very good at giving the audience an emotional impact from atrocities they show.

Babylon 5 is set on the titular space station, a sort of diplomatic way point designed to be neutral ground used to navigate political crisis’s. A central plot point is the on-going conflict between the Narn and the Centauri. At the beginning of the story this is pretty much purely political, Centauri used to occupy Narn but Narn broke free and has since become much more powerful. Over the course of the story this shifts drastically. The Centauri take over Narn again and begin a policy of widespread slavery and genocide.

We rarely see any of this. We do not generally meet the victims.

But the consequences hit the narrative like a hammer.

We see the Narn ambassador go from being one of the most powerful individuals on the station to a refugee there. We see the Centauri ambassador become a pariah. We see attempt after attempt to help the Narn people from all sorts of sides. It affects everything that happens in the story, warping it.

Farscape is much more focused on individuals.

In Farscape the lead character, Crichton, is tortured repeatedly (and unsuccessfully) by people trying to get information on wormhole technology from him. And the narrative takes the time to show the ways it’s affected him. It does this in private moments, when he’s alone or interacting with the people he trusts. Gradually over the course of several seasons he changes. To the point that going from an episode in the first season to one in the last makes him almost seem like a different character.

Like Babylon 5 it’s about consequences. But it’s consequences on a very personal level.

Unlike Alleg’s account it’s not, necessarily, from Crichton’s point of view. Some of it is. Some of it isn’t. The audience watches the character deteriorate. But we don’t see him give up and his responses to a large degree aren’t judged. Just presented.

You’re showing torture failing in multiple ways.

Not resulting in useful information. Negatively affecting torturers/bad guys and causing them to change sides. Making victims more strongly opposed to their enemies (and presumably acting as a recruitment too and propaganda victory for their own side).

I think the rest of it comes down to how you construct the narrative and the emotional tone you put in the story. I think I’ve covered emotional tone.

With a story on the kind of scale you’re telling there are going to be characters who support and argue for torture. But you can use the story itself to show that they’re wrong.

The easiest way to do that is to show them as…well as delusional as torturers tend to be. Show them claiming they were responsible for things the reader knows other people (and non-torture methods) achieved. Show them coming out of a session where all they ‘got’ was inarticulate noises and claim it was useful. Show their ‘information’ being wrong and show that costing their side, in time and lives.

You’re already doing an awful lot more in your story than most fiction bothers to. I don’t think you’re at risk of accidentally writing apologia.

This kind of writing advice is difficult for me because I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all approach to writing, narrative style or building emotional depth in a story.

I think there are very very few things that writers should ‘never’ do and I’m very aware that my approach to writing wouldn’t work for everyone. I spent years struggling because I’d read all these writing ‘tips’ and ‘tricks’ telling me things I ‘shouldn’t’ do that were key to someone else’s style and absolutely useless when it came to mine.

Figuring out what works best for the way you write is something only you can do. As is figuring out what would work best in the story you want to tell.

I hope this helps. :)


Old man baggins, at it again 🙄🙄🙄🙄 pretty sure this is like his 6th or 7th profile he’s made and tried to contact me with.. #old man baggins to see previous interactions. 🙄 I REALLY don’t understand the motive here??? What satisfaction does he get from this??

Originally posted by bricesander