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The issue of taking human life.


Jeff Potts
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A minor update here.

 

I started in chapter 21, where the MC gets to reflect on the events of what transpired through chapters 2 through 20.

 

It's a bit of a mess right now as I'm just spewing semi-random thoughts out on the page (5 manuscript pages at the present).  He reflects on those that died, and those for whom they had a hand in their demise.  I'm trying to be nuanced here because there is a matter of betrayal involved.  And it comes down to the conscience of someone who is given power to do good, but eventually has to use such power to a) defend himself, and b) to destroy.  But there is also guilt that perhaps he should have done something more to prevent it all, as well as his inability to save those who died defending him.

 

I think both are intertwined - direct action, and indirect fault.  Should the MC had the foresight to sacrifice themselves to prevent what eventually happened, and perhaps done something a different way?  This concept sort of slipped out while I was writing, like one of those things you just sort of throw in the pot because you think it melds well with everthing you've added.

 

As I pondered writing it after-the-fact, I wonder just how many would have sacrificed themselves after considering the long-term consequences of a single act.  How many of us have the foresight to realize that what they are doing, initially, out of fear, will end up in a place that is far worse?  Or is the end that is preordained regardless?

 

I think this is something I should include in the final chapters of this book, as is it poignent and something worth consideration and debate.  Was the mission worth the cost knowing how it all ended?  And did the MC fail, morally, in doing what was initially asked of him?

 

Hopefully, when I reach the end, I'll have something thoughtful to say about it all. 

 

Edit: I actually started a story about a different character with a different theme, but along these same lines.  The conclusion of that book had to do with the need for salvation, and why the cost for our salvation - Grace and that our sins are already paid for - is simple as believing in Jesus (although I couch it differently as this is a fantasy world that is pre-Messiah).

 

Maybe I'll pick that story up one day, and finish it.

Edited by Jeff Potts
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Like @carolinamtne said, you are dealing with a tough issue that isn't easily resolvable.

 

A huge part in this is going to be how you as the author handle (a) the build up to the killing, (b) the killing itself, and (c) the aftermath of the killing. One of the things that is very important for me is the sanctity of life and I find that I can generally pick up when a writer disregards life or doesn't hold it in the same regard as I do. It is impossible to keep your worldview from seeping into your stories, hence why Tolkien has strong Christian themes woven through his stories despite his resolve to not write allegory.

 

In a nutshell, I feel that your handling of the scenario is going to be vital. Carolina raised a good point about the desensitization process. Obviously, if you focus on the killing and the spread of blood and gore, that will contribute to your readers being desensitized. Less is more, in these situations. (Francine Rivers does a brilliant job of not glorifying death and not glamorizing blood in her novel The Masterpiece.) Your handling of the character's reactions will also be vital. If they feel nothing, then be sure to fully show us why. Were they being controlled and so not themselves? If yes, then how will they respond when they "come to" and find out what they did? If they are against bloodshed, then they need to have a very good reason for taking a life. They genuinely need to feel that there was no other choice, and if it is later revealed to them that there was another choice, their reactions/emotions need to be realistic.

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6 hours ago, Claire Tucker said:

A huge part in this is going to be how you as the author handle (a) the build up to the killing, (b) the killing itself, and (c) the aftermath of the killing. One of the things that is very important for me is the sanctity of life and I find that I can generally pick up when a writer disregards life or doesn't hold it in the same regard as I do. It is impossible to keep your worldview from seeping into your stories, hence why Tolkien has strong Christian themes woven through his stories despite his resolve to not write allegory.

 

Well, with this book I've gone less Tolkien, and more Shakespeare.

 

(For those that don't know the reference, Shakespeare had this habit of killing off boatloads of characters.)

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Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this discussion. I am proud to belong to this community, again! Thank you, Jeff for asking. I don't have anything to add. Life is precious. Death is inevitable, immanent, and permanent. 

You could use Deo Ex Machina like Tolkien did for Gollum. Frodo did all he could to keep his enemy alive. Circumstances intervened. Though this does happen, when faced with a swinging blade we have to swing back. With all the thought you are putting into this, your readers will honour and respect your character for their actions.

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