Ruminations Part 5 – Joseph Carrabis (was/could be/might have been) (Personal Pronouns in Fun and Earnest)

My first rumination can be found at Ruminations Part I – “Your eyes are completely healed”
My second at Ruminations Part 2 – Numbers lead to informed decisions
Rumination Part 3-1 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 1
Rumination Part 3-2 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 2
Rumination Part 3-3 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 3 – I Take a “Writing the Other” class
Rumination Part 3-4 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 4 – Is your character POC or POM?
Ruminations Part 4 is Ruminations Part 4 – I can’t talk to women anymore


A friend is writing a story with a host of LGBTQPOC (what am i missing? these things are so fluid i must be missing someone. i learned today about hobosexuals. those are people who enter relationships just to have a place to stay) characters. Several of these ruminations stem from my wanting to understand her work.

But I can’t tell one character from the other. Sometimes the name gives it away, sometimes not. One of the major problems for me is that the reader is told a character’s LGBTQPOCism, not shown, and I don’t mean shown via a love or sex scene. Identity markers can be revealed through dialogue, setting, by other characters’ responses and reactions, et cetera (as noted in Ruminations Part 4 – I can’t talk to women anymore).

But such character and story issues deal with craft. I’m not invested enough as a reader to care about the characters’ LGBTQPOCness. It hasn’t been demonstrated as a relevant story element so why is it in the story? Nothing I’ve read of my friend’s work so far directly requires LGBTQPOCishness, and as I wrote in Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 1, if something can be edited out of a story without affecting the story, get rid of it!

You need better readers
No, you need to write better.

A reader’s inability to care about some story element is a weakness in the writing. People who’d never pick up my The Augmented Man give it high marks and start their reviews with “Military thrillers are not my go-to genre, but…,” hence such weaknesses are in the writing, not the reader. An interesting story told well will capture a reader regardless of that reader’s genre tastes.

I’m X. I’m a gay male.
A fellow I knew introduced himself with “I’m (name). I’m a gay male.”

Stating he was gay was the second piece of information he offered about himself. To him (it seems), his sexual identity was a public identifier.

Somehow I can’t imagine myself saying something like “Go down the hall and look for X, he’s the gay guy.” I can imagine myself saying something like “Look for a guy, mid-thirties, blond beard, glasses, really close cropped hair.” More likely I’d say something ilke “Go down the hall and keep saying ‘Is X here?’ until you find him.” I’d choose the latter method because it’s more efficient.

I’ve heard others making similar statements about themselves; elevating some aspect of themselves to the single most important piece of their identity.

Such behavior fascinates me.

Imagine someone announcing to someone they’ve just met some aspect of themselves as being paramount, the core of their existence, to the exclusion of all other aspects of their being. It’s like some bizarre Twelve-Step meeting; “Hi, I’m Joseph. I love Bach.” “Hi, I’m Joseph. I love mathematics.” “Hi, I’m Joseph. I’m boring and dull.”

Which is why I never succeeded at Twelve-Step meetings except to research them; they make one single aspect of one’s self the thing you most want to be identified by or as. I appreciate the need to do it in specific situations (working Twelve-Step being one, with “working” being operative).
Continue reading “Ruminations Part 5 – Joseph Carrabis (was/could be/might have been) (Personal Pronouns in Fun and Earnest)”

The 3x Rule

Note: This material originally appeared on a marketing site and dealt with branding. People who know what they’re doing recognize all branding is an application of neuroscience, hence neuromarketing (which may have been a part of neuroscience at one point and now is a buzzword and poorly degraded from its original).
I’m resurrecting it for a friend who’s curious about
The 3x Rule.
The 3x Rule has broad applications – everything from education to marketing to branding to military training and for the purposes of writing, creating memorable characters. You can use The 3x Rule to have your children, partners, peers, et cetera, remember to do something when they need to do it.
I use the
The 3x Rule rule in my writing to lock characters and scenes into reader memory.
Enjoy!


The 3x Rule has six elements:

  1. Memory
  2. Touch
  3. Mirrors
  4. Words
  5. Sentences
  6. Voice

Let’s explore each element separately then put them together.


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Ruminations Part 4 – I can’t talk to women anymore

(This post originated as “Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 5 – I can’t talk to women anymore”, but I’m tired of the sensitivity reader thread, aren’t you?)

My first rumination can be found at Ruminations Part I – “Your eyes are completely healed”
My second at Ruminations Part 2 – Numbers lead to informed decisions
Rumination Part 3-1 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 1
Rumination Part 3-2 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 2
Rumination Part 3-3 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 3 – I Take a “Writing the Other” class
Rumination Part 3-4 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 4 – Is your character POC or POM?


It started long ago, I’m sure. A slow dawning, a creeping awareness.

I’ve thought about it for a while. It started innocuously; a character in one of my works-in-progress knows what other characters think, how they’ll respond, what they’ll do.

Study consciousness and this ability shows up as Theory of Mind. The literature is full of it. While not calling it telepathy or mind-reading or whatever, most people do it automatically because it’s part of how we function in society; we hear something in someone’s voice and know they’re having a bad day. The truth is we’re assuming they’re having a bad day because having a bad day would cause our voices to sound the way theirs does (if you’re ravenously interested in exploring this, read my Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History. It’s rife with this stuff).

This works pretty well as long as you’re in the same cultural group as the other person.

Fails miserably when you’re from different cultural groups, which is why well done First Contact stories are wonderful reads.

The Foreigner, the Other, the Stranger
I mention off and on about the technology Susan and I created (it’s documented in that Reading Virtual Minds book I mention above). Give it a some digital communication – an email, a company organ, a business brief, whatever – and it can determine how psycho-emotively close the author feels to their reader (just one of its many abilities). One thing we discovered quick was lots of business communications authors viewed their audiences adversarially at best and as completely alien at worst (the technology provided suggestions for both tightening and loosening that bond).

The technology broke social distance – the bond between author and audience – into five degrees of separation: Otherness, Strangerness, Difference, Sameness, and Selfness. Phrasically these would be:

  • Selfness – I/me
  • Sameness – We/us
  • Difference – I/we, you/them
  • Strangerness – Us, Not-Us
  • Otherness – I/we/us, WTF?

Most fictional aliens are variants of recognizable earth lifeforms. That’s why most StarTrekTM aliens had two arms, two legs, a head, eyes, ears, nose, mouth… Didn’t matter where the aliens originated, they pretty much had the same bilateral symmetry humans have. Want to indicate the alien was nasty? Make him bilaterally non-symmetric. No Borg (except the Queen Mum and 7of9) had bilateral symmetry. They all had some kind of projection coming out of them somewhere or a huge prosthetic attached somewhere (simply put, they were out-of-balance). The Queen Mum and 7of9 were exceptions because their purpose (scriptwise) was to interact with and/or seduce humans (a different kind of assimilation, if you will).
Continue reading “Ruminations Part 4 – I can’t talk to women anymore”

Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 4 – Is your character POC or POM?

My first rumination can be found at Ruminations Part I – “Your eyes are completely healed”
My second at Ruminations Part 2 – Numbers lead to informed decisions
Rumination Part 3-1 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 1
Rumination Part 3-2 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 2
Rumination Part 3-3 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 3 – I Take a “Writing the Other” class


One member of a writing group told me they read a story in which a Magical Voodoo person saves the day.

The class I mentioned in Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 3 – I Take a “Writing the Other” class spent time talking about Magical Negroes and specifically Stephen King’s use of a Magical Negro in The Green Mile.

Both statements were examples of ignorance at play to me.
Continue reading “Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 4 – Is your character POC or POM?”

Mystery Writers of America “Mystery Writer’s Handbook”

Another book purchased years ago and finally read because a work-in-progress, Search, had mystery elements and I wanted to know ahead of time what I should be doing and what to look out for.

 
Mystery Writer’s Handbook, like most of the writing books I’ve reviewed on my website, is a worthy read for all authors, writers, and writer-wannabes. It’s focus is mystery and its view is broad. Romantic suspense novels fall into the mystery fold. I didn’t know there was such a genre, but I do now and surprise! my work-in-progress with mystery elements is more a romantic suspense novel than not.

Like all writing books, it discusses character, scene, POV, dialogue, description, and the like. Its real power is in both plot – because good plot tends to drive most mystery and the plot techniques are gems – and editing – the chapter on revising and editing is truly a standout. An extra bonus is a short section on contracts. Many of the books I’ve read mention contracts, Mystery Writer’s Handbook provides a roadmap of potholes and things to avoid.

Strongly recommended.