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”

Using One-Line Summaries to Write Better Stories

Sometimes a story, scene, or chapter isn’t working as you wish. Sometimes a completed story doesn’t have the oomph! you want it to have.

Here’s a suggestion for getting your story, scene, or chapter working as it should.

Write a one-line summary that tells your story
Let’s say (for example purposes) we’re working with a completed short story. We recognize the story is flawed but are unsure what the flaw is. We write the one line summary Man with a painful past hopes for a better future.

That’s a start and, if that’s the entirety of the story, the flaw (from a StoryTelling perspective) becomes obvious: it’s cliched.

“Hoping” for a better future but doing nothing to get that future makes a character pitiable (maybe) at best. They are the person who complains about their life but does nothing to change it.

Not interesting (especially if it’s the main character in the story).

Rewrite the one-line summary to include some action on the main character’s part which indicates that character is working towards a better future; Man with a painful past sees opportunity for a better future.

Okay, better but still not much and still cliched. If the character sees an opportunity then the reader must share that experience. But if the character doesn’t act on what is seen, they’re even more pitiable than before, possibly a coward, and probably someone the reader would avoid in real life.

Not good.

Make sure your summary includes the threat/challenge/possible loss to the main character if they don’t change!

 


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Classic Science Fiction Podcast – April 2021 – James Blish’s “Mission to the Heart Stars”

As I wrote in last month’s Classic Science Fiction Podcast – March 2021 – Murray Leinster’s “Exploration Team”, I’m honored and thrilled to be part of an ongoing tribute to classic, Golden Age science fiction.

Mission to the Heart Stars is a favorite of mine for reasons detailed in My Sister Got Me Started.

James Blish
From Wikipedia: James Benjamin Blish (May 23, 1921 – July 30, 1975) was an American science fiction and fantasy writer. He is best known for his Cities in Flight novels, and his series of Star Trek novelizations written with his wife, J. A. Lawrence. He is credited with creating the term “gas giant” to refer to large planetary bodies.

You can download a zipped file containing both PDF and TXT versions from my site (not sure where I found them. Please let me know if I’m violating any laws and I’ll remove it).

Enjoy the podcast and let us know what you think.

 

Classic Science Fiction Podcast – March 2021 – Murray Leinster’s “Exploration Team”

I’m honored and thrilled to be part of an ongoing tribute to classic, Golden Age science fiction. Yifeng You advertised for interested folks and I regularly read Golden Age stories to learn storycrafting, so it seemed like a good match. Next we asked Robin Baskerville, a fellow scifi enthusiast and well-known editor, if she’d like to take part.

The rest is future history (this is scifi, after all).

Murray Leinster
From Wikipedia: Murray Leinster (June 16, 1896 – June 8, 1975) was a nom de plume of William Fitzgerald Jenkins, an American writer of science fiction. He wrote and published more than 1,500 short stories and articles, 14 movie scripts, and hundreds of radio scripts and television plays.

You can read Wikipedia’s overview of Exploration Team here. My suggestion is you read the actual story. It’s amazing. You can download a PDF copy from my site (not sure where I found it. Please let me know if I’m violating any laws and I’ll remove it).

Enjoy the podcast and let us know what you think.

 

Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Feb 2021’s Great Opening Lines)

I wrote in Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Part 3 – Some Great Opening Lines) that I’d share more great opening lines as I found them.

It’s been almost a year since I posted some great opening lines. I’ve read some fine books during Covid, none of them with remarkable opening lines, though.

This month, I read three. One’s a reread of a book originally read as a child and recently reread, one’s a book that’s been on my shelf for too many years unread, the third is from a SouthernLit author new to me.
Continue reading “Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Feb 2021’s Great Opening Lines)”