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Boarders Writing a Novel Part 15

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@Derfel Cadarn

Are you still looking for people to read your Thorns novel? It sounds really interesting, can't say I've come across many fantasies with a north African setting. 

Congrats on getting RM published. Great achievement. 

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How do you all write characters of different ethnicities, religious beliefs, genders, sexuality, etc, to that of yourself without making it seem like tokenism? 

Is it a case of a) making that character believable with depth, or b) instead of having one black character, have a black society, ie show it at a larger scale to 'complement' (sorry, can't think of a better word) the main black character. (Character could be gay, or trans, or white, or Asian, Hispanic - just used black as an example). 

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Also - notetaking. Yay, or nay, or yay up to a point?

What I envisage notetaking to be is just jotting down characters, where they live, relations, attributes; locations of the world, nature, and some history, and a general outline of the plot. Stephen King said that notetaking is the best way to immortalise bad ideas, but I'm not sure what could be wrong with 'my' notetaking..?

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I'm 1245 words into my first ever draft of my first ever attempt at writing - anything. Been going at it for about 5 hours. No idea what this pace it like, or even if it matters. Also not sure where I'm going with this attempt; I have an idea for a novel/series in mind, but not sure how I can get there with what I've written so far. I might just keep going to 5000 and use it as a writing experience exercise. 

It feels good though. 

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On 10/19/2018 at 4:17 PM, Kafka's Coat said:

How do you all write characters of different ethnicities, religious beliefs, genders, sexuality, etc, to that of yourself without making it seem like tokenism? 

Is it a case of a) making that character believable with depth, or b) instead of having one black character, have a black society, ie show it at a larger scale to 'complement' (sorry, can't think of a better word) the main black character. (Character could be gay, or trans, or white, or Asian, Hispanic - just used black as an example). 

personally, i think you should just write each character without thinking, "oohhh now i'm writing a black character. now i'm writing a woman; this is a person with boobs, surely she thinks differently. now i'm writing a gay asian immigrant with a disability." unless these traits are incredibly important to the plot, i think people's motivations tend to be the same, and fairly basic. and i think one mistake that writers make is to try to box their characters. for example, one thing that really annoyed me in one game of thrones episode was how a (wildling) female character was overtaken by children versions of others, because she was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion and found that being a woman, she couldn't possibly hurt kids, even if they were zombies who were going to kill her in a few seconds. the male characters never had this moral dilemma. that annoyed me so much because ugh, wtf.

the same can be said about race/sexuality etc. but if you write, say, a book like "the hate u give" by angie thomas, where race is so integral to the plot, then you have to write your characters as, "ooohhhhh now i'm writing a black character." in "me before you" the writer (i can't be bothered to look up her name because the book ended up being so problematic) absolutely had to go, "ooohhhh now i'm writing a man with a disability."

just write humans. to paraphrase/quote chimamanda ngozi adichie, i get that people's experiences of the world is informed by our "markers", but in storytelling, and especially recently, writers seem to think that stating that a character is x-thing or y-thing is character development. like that recent charmed reboot where the showrunners announced the homosexuality of a key character as "an exciting twist." just...ugh. no. why? just no. EDIT: people aren't gay to "spice up the plot." that's so insulting. THE LAST EDIT I SWEAR: just write humans who also happens to be xyz.

i hope i'm not just rambling. sorry for the poor grammar, i'm just not feeling the world today. hope this helps though.

Edited by Kyoshi
for clarity

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On 10/19/2018 at 4:28 PM, Kafka's Coat said:

Also - notetaking. Yay, or nay, or yay up to a point?

What I envisage notetaking to be is just jotting down characters, where they live, relations, attributes; locations of the world, nature, and some history, and a general outline of the plot. Stephen King said that notetaking is the best way to immortalise bad ideas, but I'm not sure what could be wrong with 'my' notetaking..?

stephen king is awesome. but i feel like you should do what works for you. like...when i was still in school, i didn't take notes because i understand/remember things better when i hear them. but some people remember/understand better when they write. something like that. just do what works for you. else you'll end up caught up in the admin of writing (because you're working with an inconvenient system) as opposed to actually writing.

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i feel i should expand in giving this example: if you write characters living in present day vague south africa, race and the legacy of apartheid are bound to be huge things between your characters. mainly because if you make the south africanness of it all so vague, you should probably note the tense atmosphere, simply to root the story in something tangible and uniquely south african. but i suppose the same could be said of america or any other place with a similar ugly past. but let's say you write specifically about a coloured girl living in the northern suburbs dealing with her grandfather's death, it's likely that race isn't something that pops up a whole lot. i guess what i'm saying is: i realise we don't experience the world independently of our "markers", but in fiction, you shouldn't use these as tools to seem progressive. it might just make your story clunky.

Edited by Kyoshi

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How to know whether or not your story  can be combined or separated, mingling ideas or separating them?

How do published authors know that what they are writing works in their already published world and not in a new one, or that one idea is better suited to another world than this one in their hands? Do they whose each work comes out in the same world, but further down the line, not worry that they'll never have another idea and that they could take one of their ideas and start a  new story.

 

Say for example. Joe Abercrombie (all hail all summon!) I wonder if he's ever sat down and thought one idea might be better suited to another series entirely. Imagine, if you will, removing Cosca from the series and placing him in a different story, different world altogether. His YA novels perhaps? x

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Finally resumed work on my next short story (which is #4 in my list of "stuff I could try to get published" and #7 chronologically), which features people with super powers and advanced technology.

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So currently about a quarter through the sequel to Resurrection Men. It's the first time I've worked on a sequel, and it's a bit daunting trying to ensure it lives up to Resurrection Men, which has so far been well received. I'm also busy trying to promote Resurrection Men.

At some point I plan to finish Play Dead, the first book in my contemporary supernatural police procedural. I've worked on it on and off for six years. The first two-thirds are pretty polished, but the last third needs expanded and revised. It's set in the same universe as Resurrection Men, with a couple of recurring characters, albeit can be read independently.

I'm also trying to get my fantasy novel, Thorns of a Black Rose, published. I'm a third through the following book, The Blood Hour, which was started before Thorns. Albeit it's on hold until the sequel to Resurrection Men is done.

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On 10/20/2018 at 1:17 AM, Kafka's Coat said:

How do you all write characters of different ethnicities, religious beliefs, genders, sexuality, etc, to that of yourself without making it seem like tokenism? 

Well why are you writing about them - if it's to fit them in because of PC standards, that's at it's core motivation a tokenism. Are they actually part of your story/where the story has gone in your world?

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On 10/19/2018 at 10:17 AM, Kafka's Coat said:

How do you all write characters of different ethnicities, religious beliefs, genders, sexuality, etc, to that of yourself without making it seem like tokenism? 

Is it a case of a) making that character believable with depth, or b) instead of having one black character, have a black society, ie show it at a larger scale to 'complement' (sorry, can't think of a better word) the main black character. (Character could be gay, or trans, or white, or Asian, Hispanic - just used black as an example). 

You create characters in service to the story, with psychological complexity.  How do you create a straight, cis-gendered, white character?  Their setting informs us about their social identity, but plenty of people do not fit their social identity.  A timid CEO won't be CEO for very long, but maybe he is good at family relationships -- outsiders might think he's CEO because of nepotism, but maybe it's because his family, who are majority shareholders, trusts him that they installed him as CEO?  You find reasons that are interesting, not expected.  Don't do whatever you think is a default for that gender, that orientation, that ethnicity.  Do what is interesting, that implies a story that either will or will not be a part of what story you are telling.  Subtext, leaving things unsaid by implied and shared understanding between characters, is a tool for not telling those interesting things but still using them.  Your character is in the story for a reason, but probably its down to one or two personality traits -- everything else just adds colour or can be left as subtext.

 

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