What is a moral criticism? – Literary Terms 101

moral criticism:

“A type of literary criticism that evaluates a work on the basis of the moral elements it contains and their correspondence to the accepted moral standards of the time or to those ethical principles that the critic feels should govern human life. Ideally, the moral critic, in judging a literary work, applies only those moral standards presented in the work itself or, failing that, makes his or her own beliefs clear to the reader.” – The NTC’s Dictionary of Literary Terms

I’m currently writing an psychoanalysis on the horror/thriller film The Platform directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia currently on Netflix. It’s almost impossible to avoid doing a kind of moral criticism not only trying to interpret the morals addressed in the work itself, but also express your own feelings about the events throughout the story (especially that ending!). Doing my best to stay within the realm of psychoanalysis, I inevitably ran into psychological terms that framed my view of the many facets of morality portrayed in this film. I have no desire to push my views on the audience, but the subjectivity that comes with psychoanalysis and the unreachable idealism of a moral critique makes it difficult to not address my views, which hasn’t been as optimistic as most analyses and reviews.

I’ll definitely share my analysis of The Platform on my Vocal profile when it’s finished.

Do you think being the ideal moral critic, where you’re focusing on the moral standards or ethics of the work itself, is possible?

Writing Advice

Are You A Planner or a Pantser? I’m a Plantser

Genre Study: On Horror and Magical Realism

To The Writer Ashamed of Resting

Kill Your Darlings (Or Torture Them)

Three Essential Writing Techniques from Stoker’s Dracula and The Epistolary Narrative


Hello 2021 – [Just Me]

I enjoyed my Yule then jumped right back into work. The couple of weeks off was really needed and one week to just focus on work helped as well. Blog posts and updates are coming back. And more is coming… I hope you all are well. – Kris Leliel

Website Changes – [News]

Just a heads up, some visual changes are being made to the website to prepare for a new project. Apologies if some aspects of the site are difficult to see/read. I hope you all are doing well and enjoying Yule/Xmas/Whatever. Please celebrate safely. – K.L.

Just Writing, then Rewriting with Structure – The Violet Project Diaries – Entry 18

In this entry, I apply advice from screenwriter John Truby to the first draft struggles I’ve been dealing with. Additionally, I run into a helpful plot structure from Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat and create my own character profile template!

A Remarkable Read – Feminize Your Canon: Alice Dunbar-Nelson – [Artist Recognition / History Study]

“Oft have I thrilled at deeds of high emprise, / And yearned to venture into realms unknown,” Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson – “To Madame Curie” A powerful force from history greeted me today through The Paris Review: Alice Dunbar-Nelson. I came across this article by Joanna Scutts while looking for magazines that accepted poetry. I was … Continue reading A Remarkable Read – Feminize Your Canon: Alice Dunbar-Nelson – [Artist Recognition / History Study]

Genre Study: Horror and Magical Realism – The Violet Project Diaries – Entry 17

Photo by Elina Krima on Pexels.com

Genre Study: Horror and Magical Realism

Horror and magical realism are my favorite genres to blend. My first published attempt at doing this is my horror short “Autonomy Bleeds Black” where pain and power manifested into elemental forces. One of my favorite magical realism works is Pan’s Labyrinth directed by Guillermo Del Toro. I’m a huge fan of Del Toro’s and am grateful that Pan’s Labyrinth was my introduction to him. In interviews, he’s described this film to be very personal as someone who lived under strict and religious conditions, but used fantasy works and other genres to escape. Often our escapes become reflections of our inner world and help us interpret what’s going on within us subconsciously and consciously.

…These genres are mirrors, but for their effectiveness to withstand any resistance to our personal revelations, we writers have to hook the audience in with familiarity and give them the illusion of control.

The Fun of Writing Environments – The Violet Project Diaries – Entry 15

Photo by Eric Tompkins on Unsplash

The Fun of Writing Environments

One author I was thinking about after my writing session today was F. Scott Fitzgerald. I think I may have blogged or written about his vivid writing style before. One night I decided to listen to The Beautiful and Damned on audiobook hoping it would help me go to sleep. It was impossible. The diction and rhythm of his writing kept me awake and invested in Anthony’s life, family, grandfather, and the girl in the tub. The narration is omnipotent third-person. There isn’t a lot of dialogue, but every scene has ambience, the internal conflicts and emotions of the protagonist are interdependent on the atmosphere of every scene. Of course why wouldn’t it? The American 1920s was a very lively time where your status and progress in life determined whether you were all the rage or not. Although there’s a looseness or almost carefree façade to the high class life of that time, there’s also a stress and competitiveness digging inside their guts. Fitzgerald wasn’t just narrating (and parodying, I think) about a time and characters he meticulously understood, but…

Second Draft Drama – The Violet Project Diaries – Entry 14

Second Draft Drama (With Questionnaire)

For my “fantasy” side of my dark fantasy novel series, I created a World Immersion checklist for myself to make sure I have continuity from chapter to chapter. Here’s how it goes:

  • Setting descriptions
  • Lore Continuity
  • Magic System Rule Review
  • Character Placement
  • Character Dialogue/Dialect Accuracy
  • Story Flow

Not bad right? I think that’ll be solid enough. I also created a review questionnaire for myself to reflect on how I’m doing as a writer. Here are my answers for the prologue:

I Want To Tease My Readers The Right Way – The Violet Project Diaries – Entry 12

I Want To Tease My Readers The Right Way

For a good page turner, you have to do more than a cliffhanger. Cliffhangers are our scapegoat for suspense. Avid readers catch on to that real quick. To paraphrase one of my favorite authors on suspense, Donna Tartt, “Suspense is when two people are having a conversation and there’s a bomb counting down to explode under their table.” Oh the many factors to consider… Do the characters talk about the bomb? Are they oblivious? Is one character beating around the bush about the bomb? Does the other character understand the other’s subtext? Is the bomb noticeable? Is the bomb ticking loudly or silently? Is the timer for the bomb a good amount of time or minutes away from going off? Who planted the bomb? Considering the factors needed for a suspenseful page turner is all about context. If it isn’t rich enough, the audience will assume the predictable: the bomb will go off, the characters will die and that means the characters weren’t important in the first place. In other words, lack of context makes the audience apathetic and cliches make them cynical. All interest dies. So, while I was thinking about the resolution for the first part of my novel hoping to make sure I don’t emotionally shutdown my audience, I did my best to keep it like a chess game and maintain the captivation through a series of power plays.

My Side Characters Kinda Suck, But I Can Fix Them – The Violet Project Diaries – Entry 9

My Side Characters Kinda Suck, But I Can Fix Them

Oh god, they’re horrible.

My first draft rendition of introducing this new group of characters reminded me how sinful it is to write cringy dialogue and that my characters should have purpose or just not exist at all. I don’t mean to be too hard on myself considering it’s the first draft, but I was disappointed to read this scene of diverse characters introducing themselves with a silly/comedic camaraderie and then turning out to be kind of overpowered later. I already know my anime-brain took the lead on this. Now current me has to deal with characters whose purpose is poorly translated. While keeping my focus on making sure the voices of these characters were definitive and believable with their personality, I thought more critically about the development of side characters.

To The Writer Ashamed of Resting – The Violet Project Diaries – Entry 7

To The Writer Ashamed of Resting

It doesn’t matter how old you are, fellow writer. You are in charge of your life and one of the ways you take charge is through writing, self-expression, analysis, arguments, or storytelling. You are the one who decided that writing is an essential part of your lifestyle, so why aren’t you living in a way to ensure that writing remains a priority? Beating yourself up over a rest day during an entire week of work is preventing you from living like a writer. Like I said, you’re in charge, so when you decide to overwork yourself, you’re also deciding to sabotage yourself. You do this because you’re ashamed, afraid, and guilty, but I want you to remember that when you’re in those flow moments, where you’re just inspired to write and the words just come, that is when you’re dignified, fearless, creating without regret.

Character Design and Conspiracy – The Violet Project Diaries – Entry 6

Character Design and Conspiracy

I was talking with a friend the other day about needing to watch more or read more crime and mystery pieces and study how the “clues” lead the audience and the characters from one thing to another. I know my novel has a lot of conspiracy innuendo, but conspiracy can be really obvious real quick. We’re used to seeing a government organization, a religious organization, a secret organization, or an academic organization have players scheming in the shadows or plotting in broad daylight. Though obvious, I think the intrigue maintains itself if the end goal of the conspiracy isn’t so obvious and who immediately comes to mind is Lovecraft.

Studying Karma as a Writer – The Violet Project Diaries – Entry 5

Studying Karma as a Writer

As a writer, thinking about karma keeps me mindful of how audiences processes information. One thing leads to another. A ripple effect, right? But it’s not just about action and result or action and reaction, it’s the tension between those two things that makes karma such a universal concept because we’re all sentient enough to think about the “what if”, or the unknown/hypothetical situation caused by an action. For many of us, that’s our self-imposed prison taking form.