Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stephen Tremp's Breakthrough Blog Tour

Today is my turn to take part in Stephen Tremp's Breakthrough Blog Tour. It's really cool to have an opportunity to be a part of this because not only is Stephen really nice and very thoughtful, but this is one of the most successful blog tours I've witnessed. Stephen has taken the time to write an excellent guest post for me, so I'm just going to let him take it away!

Do you use morals, ethics, and social matters in your stories that manifest in a lesson learned at the conclusion?

This is a topic I love to discuss. As a writer, I think it is vital to weave into the plot concepts of morals and ethics that challenge the characters to do things they normally would not do. They will need to somehow find a way to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. The result will be some kind of lesson learned. Many great authors and poets do this, some to a larger degree than others. Often (not always, example is the movie Se7en) we witness good triumphing over evil. However, a suspense thriller or a fantasy adventure should incorporate more than merely a battle of good vs. evil, where good ultimately triumphs in the end. Yawn.

There are a plethora of issues a writer can use, such as economic, ethical, human, legal, moral, religious, rights, and social matters that can question the core values of your character(s). These can be fantastic opportunities to introduce conflict, and conflict is necessary to drive the plot forward.

Question: as we address one or more of these matters, do we subtly incorporate some kind of lesson or question our present value system? And if so, what happens when we approach the end of our story? Do you tend to forget about your threaded morals and ethics, or are there consequences to your characters’ actions? Think back on what they did, conspired, and manipulated. What did they sow? Will they reap the whirlwind? If not, then you may be making your ending anti-climatic. It could be boring. Predictable (the worse scenario). Nothing special.

I note everything my bad guys think, say, and do. Ultimately, they will have to pay for their sins. They will need to be held accountable for their actions, either in this life or the next (think the ending of the movie Ghost where the bad guys are killed and their souls drug off to hell by dark evil spirits). So think about what you weave into your writings. Will they manifest at the end of your story in the form of judgment? If not, then what good is introducing morals and ethics in the first place?

I’m currently working on the ending of Escalation, the third installment of the Breakthrough trilogy. I’m having so much fun with this. There are the antagonist and his five followers as well as other bad guys and girls introduced throughout the series. They’ve done a lot of bad things. Killed many innocent people. Now I have to ask myself, how will judgment be meted out to each individual? Will a few escape justice (actually, I already know). It’s a good problem to have. This was a struggle I loved.

Question: Do you use morals and ethics to achieve a lesson learned? Do you think about the consequences for your characters actions at the conclusion? Do you mete out justice and judgment, such as a guilty verdict in a court of law, the bad guy being killed by a cop, or the antagonist ending up dead and ultimately in a place of eternal torment?

Or do you feel lessons learned are too preachy and the lines of ethics and morals are too blurred to come to definitive conclusions? Or perhaps life’s not fair, so why try to tie a nice pretty red ribbon around the ending.

Please join me tomorrow as I visit the over-caffeinated fiction writer making the journey towards publication... one espresso at a time. Join Talli Roland and I as we talk about Character Conflict and Team Dynamics. As always, thanks for stopping by.

Stephen Tremp is author of the action thriller Breakthrough . You can visit Stephen at Breakthrough Blogs .

If you feel this blog is worthy, go ahead and make my day. Retweet it.

Wow. Excellent work Stephen, thanks so much for sharing this with me and my readers. Readers? Questions or other thoughts? Please share them in the comments and don't forget to say hello and thank Stephen.


Jessica Bell said...

Wow. This sure has been an excellent blog tour. I've seen stephen's face all over the blogosphere for the last month! I think moral, ethics and social matters, i.e. 'life' plays a large part in everything. Artists are inspired by life, so there's no doubt, whether realistic, fantasy, paranormal, science fiction, or what-not, that such life issues will slip in anyway, even it if isn't purposeful. And in the end some lesson whether large or small is learned. Great discussion!

Ted Cross said...

I have a copy of his book already, but I need to find time to read it...

Laura Pauling said...

I think it's great to incorporate issues if it can be done seamlessly. I don't like when all of a sudden in the third book, I feel duped and it becomes about an issue and the writer making their point.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think most writers insert their values to a degree. I didn't write my book to teach any big lesson, but I kept it in line with my own morals.

Old Kitty said...

Thanks Matthew Rush for hosting the fab Stephen Tremp! Villains are such fun to write aren't they? They test your writer's morality, ethics and codes of conduct because they do exactly the opposite of them all!! But more interesting to have complex multilayered scenarios that create many interesting shades of grey too!!!

Great post!! Thank you! Good luck with Breakthrough!

Old Kitty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christina Lee said...

Awesome Stephen!!!! And this line: "If not, then what good is introducing morals and ethics in the first place?" Exactly--thank you!

angelarene said...

I, myself, love to force my antagonist into a place of eternal torment and watch them squirm! A little teeth gnashing is always good too ;p I've always noticed that the great writers are able to weave in morals & ethics that are subtle and make the reader think.
Great post Matt! And congrats to Stephen on his blog tour!

Slamdunk said...

Nicely done Stephen--good to see you over here.

As a reader, I enjoy authors that link moral lessons into a story--at its best, it can be undetected until I am hit with the lesson when I am reflecting on a book.

Anonymous said...

Great guest post, Stephen. I think that no matter the type of story, in most cases, there will be some kind of lesson learned whether it was intentional or unintentional on the authors part. Isn't that a way for us, as writers, to be able to share our opinions, morals, views, ethics, etc. with anyone who reads our work? I look forward to reading your book soon!

Talli Roland said...

What a great post - I'm so impressed with the time and effort Stephen has put into the tour, too. I can't wait to share his wonderful post about conflict tomorrow!

Kelly Polark said...

I agree, this has been an amazing blog tour!
I am one that wants good to triumph over evil eventually. Though Se7en was an amazing movie.
I think stories shouldn't be tied up in a neat bow but haphazardly with duct tape and frayed string. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Matthew for hosting me today and thanks for everyone stopping by. The great thing about being a few hours behind the host is waking up to a bunch of awesome comments!

N. R. Williams said...

Nice to meet you Matthew. Stephen, the one thing that I love about your book tour is each post handles a different aspect of your thought process or world. I've learned a lot.
One of the things I did with my high fantasy was ask the 'what if' question. The medieval world that my modern American heroine enters is French. It is totally different then what we have been told about the French and very different from our historical medieval worlds. They have strong morals that create questions for my heroine. I don't mean to imply that current French people don't have morals, just that it is different.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

LTM said...

excellent post--thanks, Stephen & Matt! I only thought about trying to share an idea/moral of mine once in a book... typically, I'm simply entertaining myself. But I think there's always a "moral" whether we actually try to include one or not. Yes? :o)

Carol Riggs said...

Thanks, Stephen, and to Matt for hosting! I definitely have much to ponder from this. I don't think a writer should be too blatant about the lesson at the end ("and the moral of the story is") but the morals can be implied by how you end the novel. I love to give the bad guys their just desserts, and reward my MCs. I have to be careful, however, not to bestow EVERYthing to my characters or it won't seem real. Maybe I just feel guilty for having put them through the wringer during the course of the novel. LOL
Carol Riggs

Anonymous said...

I've blogged on this matter in the past, and thought I would paste this comment from Eric Trant. Personally, I lean heavily in this direction:

"I hate to bring him up, because he always comes up, but I have to say that when it comes to making someone pay, I trust in King.

With a couple of exceptions -- e.g. Needful Things -- his bad guys get ripped apart in the end.

They do some horrid things, but then something even more horrid happens to them.

I like that lesson. I see bad guys doing bad things in a King book and I think, Oh, you're gonna pay for that later.

Earn that same trust in your reader. Don't just give them what they deserve. Dole out some cruel and unusual punishment

Arlee Bird said...

You bring up excellent points here, Stephen. I think whether overtly or subconciously any writer injects their value system and other world view systems into their writing. I think that is the primary purpose in writing--to convey to others what interests you and what you believe. A writer wants to spread the word to make others see as they do.

I think of writers like Ayn Rand, who inject philosophical systems of thought into works that almost become like parables for the belief they want to spread.

Others writer may not have so strong of an agenda of proselyzation, but the value systems need to be there for them to believe in their work and write convincingly.

And just to be realistic, all actions must have consequences, whether or not they are experienced immediately or even with the doer's lifetime. Likewise, for a story to be realistic, there must be appropriate consequences at some jucture of the story.

This is a good topic to consider.

Tossing It Out

Golden Eagle said...

I don't try to put lessons into anything I write; usually my own morals, but nothing that's directly supposed to tell the reader something. I like letting the individual decide if there's a lesson or not.

Southpaw said...

I think it something always ends up in a book whether it’s meant to be there or not. It’s that internal struggle. But I want it to be woven in and not heavy handed.

Laura Eno said...

Thanks for another thought-provoking post, Stephen. It's important to have lessons learned (or not) as subtle undercurrents in a story. Thanks, Mathew.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I don't think the readers need to learn anything but the characters do.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Wow, this post was a deep one. You've really put lots of thought and effort into your blog post, Stephen.
I think as writers we can't help but slip in our opinions or those lessons we think to pass on even if it's unintentional.

Anonymous said...

Lynda, you bring up a great point. Who should learn the lesson: the reader or the characters. Of course, the characters should learn a lesson. We discussed this last week at Helen Ginger's blog about CHARACTER ARC.

I do try to add a lesson that the reader can accept or reject. Mine is not a preachy message, just one of technology gone too far and man's greed interfering with using this technology to advance civilization.

This can easily be argued. Most discoveries and breakthroughs have benefited and hurt mankind. Examples: splitting the atom (nuclear fission), gunpowder, biological and chemical advances and such. This is a great topic and one that will help keep writers employed for a very long time.

Mason Canyon said...

Another great post Stephen. I like your take on morals, ethics and social matters in writing. I enjoy reading books that give you a lesson without you realizing it until you finish the book and reflect on it. You're having a wonderful tour.

Nice to meet you Matthew.

Thoughts in Progress

Jemi Fraser said...

Terrific post. I think my core values work their way into everything I write. It's part of who I am, and my writing is part of who I am as well. It would be hard NOT to include my morals as I write.

That doesn't mean I'm preachy or that my books deal with issues - definitely not. But my main characters usually end up make choices I'm happy with by the end of the story. Good wins and bad loses is the obvious basic premise, but I think there's probably more to it than that! :)

Shannon said...

Great blog tour, Stephen. I know more about the book, and the man behind it.

I really like the this post's topic. For me, I feel that morals and ethics affect everything we do, so naturally it should come through in our writing. Even in fantasy/fiction, our characters must be believable, therefore every day moral and ethical questions and quandaries must be grappled with. To teach a lesson is, for me, a natural conclusion.

Love this topic. Thanks!


This is the second time I've come across Stephen's work, which I guess shows how successful his blog tour has been. But I learned more and new things this time, which also attests to a good blog tour. Thanks for posting this!

Anonymous said...

Mason, this is a fun subject to discuss. People are very passionate on both sides of the issue. Respectfully, there is never a dull moment. I have my opinions, and listen to those of others without being negative or insulting people to get my point across. Often, I do not feel I need to get the last word in.

Jemi, I think that's the key. We all have our core values. We just don't want to come across as being preachy. That can be a real turn off to other people.

Shannon, I'm reading a fantasy book now called the Sword of Shanarra by Terry Brooks. He's a master at writing fantasy, and interesting to read the morals and ethics of various characters as the book unfolds.

Samuel, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I love this subject matter and am always willing to discuss with other writers the pros and cons of integrating morals and ethics into a story.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Matthew for hosting me today! You have a great group of followers and they left insightful comments. Thanks again to everyone who stopped by.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Matthew and Steve .. I love the way the tour has unfolded and we learn more about the process, the characters and their development - the intricacies of writing .. are others so thorough?

I find it fascinating .. thanks so much Matthew - I'll be back to read this interview again ... Cheers Hilary

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Anonymous said...

Hey great post. Thought I'm not sure I agree with you 100%. Keep em coming. Are you interested in having anyone guest post opposing views?

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