Monday, April 29, 2019

Do Writers Lie?

“Writers lie.”  — Chuck/God, SUPERNATURAL

Warning:  Spoilers for SUPERNATURAL’S “Moriah.”

In the Season 14 season finale of SUPERNATURAL, God aka Chuck the writer of SUPERNATURAL novels, comments that writers lie which proves not only to be one of many meta moments that this show is prone to but also foreshadows a total shift in God/Chuck’s personality from likable silliness and kindness to total dick.

Do writers lie?  I’ve been thinking about that over the last few days.  

I’ve pulled up some of my old articles which consider the point.

Fiction isn’t a lie; it’s the truth in parable form.  In the Bible, Jesus and the Old Testament prophets explained eternal verities by the use of stories.  The parable of the Good Samaritan is a perfect example.  Is its message any less valuable because the Samaritan was a fictional character created by Jesus?
Fiction writers are telling the truth through their fiction.  They create the world as they see it and offer their own beliefs.  That belief may be as simple as "everyone has a true love and with courage and compromise can win that love."  Or it can be much more complex.

Is a novel any less valuable than the true-life story found in Reader's Digest which illustrates the same point?  I don't think so.  The only difference is the medium used to express that belief.

So, no, fiction isn’t a lie if the story is true to both the writer’s beliefs and the world within the story’s events.  

How about lying in the creation and depiction of a character?

Sometimes, in a series, a character will change from evil to good, or good to evil, but that change must be foreshadowed in earlier choices and decisions.  Bart the Bad may be up to no good through the early novels, but the reader should see that he chooses not to ambush the hero because a child is nearby.  This not only adds moral complexity to Bart, but also makes his move toward the light more believable.  

In the same way, a good guy's pragmatic or selfish choices will foreshadow the coming darkness.  

SUPERNATURAL’S writers use “writers lie” to justify Chuck’s complete shift in personality in one scene. There has been no foreshadowing of this up until this episode.  

This show has been perfectly capable of showing a character’s growth.  Take Rowena, as a recent example. She went from selfish evil to someone trying to do good to make up for what she's done. The change started with her son’s death and built to the point we believe she's changed in the last two seasons. 

“Surprise, I'm a manipulative dick” in one scene just doesn't work. 

So, do writers lie?  No, good writers don’t lie.  They build a world and characters from their own beliefs and worldbuilding so everything is true.

Bad writers who use sloppy or lazy writing to justify false behavior or world changes lie all the time.  

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