Sunday, October 25, 2015

Narrative Warfare: Why It's Bad For You

So, why "The Narrative"?

If you wish to become a skilled writer, especially a writer of fiction, you're going to develop your skills in the craft of writing. As it is a craft, there are best practices and experience-confirmed techniques that are proven to work reliably. With fiction, and also with non-fiction that uses some fiction-writing practices, your primary concern is with the quality of your narrative. Fiction writing, both Literary and Genre, has a lot of practitioners and those people talk among themselves. They have for generations, and publishing houses encourage this discourse because they want to make profits, which they off-load by having the writers do this work on their own (or in academia). The Internet accelerated this trend, resulting in sites and pages on what the Seven Point Story Structure is, how it works, and why.

When you create a story, you create a narrative, and creating a narrative starts with your conclusion. Then you work backwards, starting with the hook to catch the attention of the audience and draw them into your narrative and following with the narrative beats required to keep audiences engaged until they arrive at your conclusion. Character and Plot are tools used to drive the audience through the emotional manipulation you use to bypass their reason and push (or pull, or both) them into accepting the conclusion as valid. The bulk of developing your craft as a writer of fiction (etc.) is developing the acumen required to create and sustain the illusion of plausibility--"verisimilitude"--that is necessary to achieve the goal of satisfying the audience.

That's fine for fiction. That's absolutely terrible for anything with real-world consequences, such as policy decisions, or purporting to be a true and faithful presentation of fact (which is my bailiwick as a historian). Competent government--especially self-government--requires that people be provided with all relevant information. (It also requires that they be competent thinkers, but that's another topic entirely.) Filtering what those people receive because it does not conform to the conclusion you want those people to arrive at is an act of fraud; you are committing theft by way of deception, with the intent to steal real wealth and influence from them, and you're brain-washing them--gaslighting them--into doing it to themselves. That is unforgivable.

Narrative Warfare is the perversion of Art for the sake of Power.

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