Depicting Immorality vs. Amorality

Happy Labor Day everyone. Many of us might have a day off, but there’s nothing that says you can’t still make it a good writing day.

I came across this great article in the Deseret News not to long ago, and I’d like to share a snippet from it with all of you.  It concerns the difference between depicting Immorality in the media vs. depicting Amorality. It was written by Linda and Richard Eyre and though it is specifically talking about movies, I think what they says applies to literature as well.

Here is the problem: We are failing to distinguish betweensomething that depicts immorality and something that depicts amorality.Immorality means the breaking or violation of moral codes, of religiouscommandments and often of basic decency. Immorality, where it is accuratelyportrayed, complete with consequences, is a good literary device and anessential part of most stories. Scripture is filled with accurate,consequence-included depictions of immorality.

Amorality is something very different. It is theignoring of moral questions altogether. It is the complete disregard and thefailure to even acknowledge the question of right and wrong. It portrays thingsas “normal” even when they are not, and it ignores consequences orpretends they do not exist.

Whether dealing with issues of honesty, sexualmorality or character in general, attempts to portray real mistakes orcharacter flaws or any kind of indiscretion or bad judgment or moral violationaccurately and honestly can be great elements of movies or of any form ofstorytelling, particularly when those portrayals are done with discretion andtaste.

You can view the entire article here: 

This gave me serious food for thought. I think to have a good book, you need to depict someone or something showing immoral behavior.  Without a villain, most stories fall flat. You probably even need to even show most of your characters doing things that are wrong.  The clincher is that as a good writer, you need to depict truth.  If your characters mess up, it is your duty to depict realistic consequences. Even if you are writing fantasy or science fiction, readers still expect realistic consequences. 

I believe that depicting amorality is not only bad writing, but a dangerous precedent to set. Especially when writing fiction targeted at teens and young people, I feel the responsibly not to depict amorality. If you are what you eat, to some degree you are also what you read, watch, or otherwise consume.  I will not be the purveyor of moral junk food. 

What are your thoughts on the matter?  How do you see the difference between depicting immorality and amorality?  

Writing Update: 

I had a wonderful writing week.  I submitted my latest work “The Lost Barge” to an interested publisher and I’m crossing my fingers.  I wrote over 15,000 words, spread out between my two works in progress, one of which is the sequel to The Last Archangel and the other I would still like to keep under wraps for a bit.  I’m hoping for another great writing week. 

For a chance to win the Last Archangel, there is a giveaway on the Fire and Ice blog:

Special Post: Blog Tour: Huber Hill and the Dead Man’s Treasure by B.K. Bostick

Today on my blog, I have author B.K. Bostick, on tour with his upcoming release Huber Hill and the Dead Man’s Treasure.  

1.       What inspired you to write fiction? I taught 4th and 5th grades for several years. I’d read what I saw my kids reading- Harry Potter, Fablehaven, Leven Thumps, Goosebumps, Roald Dahl, etc. I think reading and re-reading those books reignited my imaginative spark that’d gone during college 🙂 I imagined how cool it would be if I could influence reluctant readers, especially boys, to pick up a book in place of the game controller. I decided to write a fiction book that I would’ve enjoyed as a fifth grader and something I hoped kids would enjoy today as well.
2.       Which other artists have influenced you? I love Jerry Spinelli’s books- his characters are so vulnerable and real. I was also influenced by Brian Jacques, Gary Paulsen, Louis Sachar, and Neil Gaiman. Of course, J.K. Rowling is a master of children’s literature.
3.       Did you have to do any sort of research for you book?  If so, describe what you did. I used a lot of local folklore to paint the back story. My grandpa would always tell me stories about Spaniards coming to the Western U.S. to mine gold from the Rockies. He’d show me books, maps, and relate tales of epic battles between local Indians and the foreign invaders. I read Footprints in the Wilderness (a very rare book that my grandpa passed on to me after he died) and Lost Gold of the Uintah. I didn’t use the same locations or stories, but they helped me create my own.

 4.       Where did the idea for this book come from? When my grandpa passed away, I inherited a box of his belongings. Inside were some of his personal effects and these letters about his search for lost Spanish gold. I read them and got excited. My friends and I ventured into the mountains to follow in his footsteps. Needless to say, we didn’t find gold, but those memories of camping out and hiking through the wilderness with friends are some of the best I have- real treasures! A few years later in college, I started thinking up the story of Huber Hill and the Dead Man’s Treasure. A few more years after that, I actually started to write it.

5.       What sorts of things do you wish you saw more in books? I really like historical fiction. As a teacher, I found a dearth of that particular genre and would like to see more books like Johnny Tremain and Across Five Aprils.

 6.       What are you working on now?  What are your plans for your future writing? I am working on Huber Hill and the Brotherhood of Coronado which will be released October, 2012. I’m not sure what my future plans are for writing. I definitely have a passion for it, but it’s difficult to do while balancing life and work. I suppose as long as people want to read what I write, I’ll keep doing it.

7.      What advice would you give aspiring writers? The biggest trap I fell into at the beginning (and still do at times) is using the verb, “feel” or “felt.” A reader should know what the character feels without the writer having to tell them.
8.       Where can readers find more about you and your books?

 9.       Anything else you’d like to add? Please check out the fundraiser I’m doing for my amazing, twelve year old neighbor Alyssa. All profits from pre orders and book sales during the first two weeks of launch will be donated to her family- 

Thanks B.K. and good luck launching your book!  You can watch a book trailer by clicking on the following link: