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.

Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 3 – I Take a “Writing the Other” class

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


Now, once you have decided these things, don’t stop and explain them to the reader. Simply develop a feel for the character’s outlook, and try to write from that outlook. To learn how to do this, read books produced by other cultures and eras, not just fiction, but also biographies, travelogues, history, letters: everything from the Venerable Bede to Pliny the Younger to Ben Franklin’s Autobiography to the sayings of Chuang Tzu to Xenophon’s Anabasis. Observe the details. What does the author take for granted? What is familiar to him and what is strange? How does he perceived himself? From this you may learn something about creating characters who are not yourself. Every professional writer must do this. – from On Writing Science Fiction: The Editors Strike Back

I took a four-week “writing the other” class led by two sensitivity readers a while back. It was about how to properly craft a character with a background with whom the author is unfamiliar.

What became obvious is the instructors were, in my opinion, unqualified. They had no anthro, linguistic, socio, or related training. It seemed their training came from being of a certain racial/ethnic group.

And because I’m a full-blooded Italian who’s never set foot in Italy, I am, of course, unquestionably qualified to speak for the experiences of all Italians everywhere throughout all time.

It’s a wonderful world, ain’t it?

At this point in history…
A writer including a character with an unfamiliar background and getting published is something which could only happen at this point in history (barring vanity publishing) because only at this point in history are people writing stuff and putting it out there with no to little knowledge of what they’re writing about. That attitude among writers and my experience (so far) of sensitivity readers reminds me of my business days when all you needed to claim expertise was to state you were an expert louder than the person sitting next to you.
Continue reading “Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 3 – I Take a “Writing the Other” class”

Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 2

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


I learn. Usually about myself, and every day. Case in point, What I learned about myself by looking at a picture. Being ignorant is a gift. It means I can learn. (want to see some circular reasoning? Click here).

Sensitivity reading seems to come in two forms; Author incorrectly depicts X and/or Author uses a word or phrase which is offensive in some way, shape, or form.

The first is easily addressed. First ask “Is this a work of fiction?” If no, the author has an obligation to be accurate to the subject matter, nothing else. If yes, ask “Is the work internally consistent?” If no, the author has an obligation to the work to fix it, nothing else. If yes, stop because the author has no obligation to make their fiction toe-step to anything outside of their work.

But what do we do with offensive language?

 
Deciding a writer is prejudiced or bigoted because they use specific words in their work is the same as deciding Da Vinci is his brushstrokes or Michealangelo his marble. See what they bring forth using their skill and tools and judge that.

Do they use their hammer and chisel to bring forth beauty and illuminate some truths? I bow to them!

Do they use their brush and palette to create something for the ages? How can I be like them?
Continue reading “Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 2”

Flashback as Story Frame

I wrote about using one-line story summaries to craft craft better stories in Using One-Line Summaries to Write Better Stories.

The next question is “How does the story come together on the page?” Note: we’re continuing with the work we did in Using One-Line Summaries to Write Better Stories.

Give the reader a reason to read your story.

 
You have to give the reader a reason to read the story. Reasons to read a story are varied and pretty much all come down to the reader asking themselves these questions:


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