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?”

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”

Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 1

The ambiguously unidentifiable individual of non-specific ethnic persuasion drove up in a vehicle demonstrative of no specific class or financial status. Exiting their vehicle, they partook in an activity anyone of any belief system would partake in.
In a vertically challenged metaphoric way, they were boring as hell.
However, their PCness exuded from their ambiguously tinted and textured dermatic stoma like a semi-viscous fluid from an unclosed trauma site.
(it didn’t matter that nobody understood what the story)
But the book about this uninteresting individual sold like relatively warmed flour-baking soda-moisture mixtures to the politically correct sensitivity crowd who read it several times with glass objects which increased the text’s relative size for better ocular interpretation and still managed to find it offensive on so many levels it was considered a building of exceptional vertical dimension.

The same day I learned my eyes are completely healed, I asked a writing group to help me understand “Sensitivity Readers.”

The “Sensitivity Reader” concept challenges me for many reasons. First, unless some “sensitive” aspect of a character is necessary to the plot, it doesn’t belong in the story. Second, I’ve yet to be given a definition of sensitive that’s not so full of holes it couldn’t be used to drain wet spaghetti. When I ask for a definition I get a response along the lines of “You know, sensitive.”

Unless some “sensitive” aspect of a character is necessary to the plot, it’s a distraction. Get rid of it. Edit it out.

 
Somebody told me they wrote a story with a gay couple in the lead. They grew concerned their depiction of the gay couple would offend some gay readers and removed the gay aspects from the story.
Continue reading “Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 1”

Ruminations Part 2 – Numbers lead to informed decisions

This is my second rumination on writing, the writing business, and how they intersect with my life. I started with Ruminations Part I – “Your eyes are completely healed”.

I almost entitled this part “Can you just tell me the g**d*** f***ing truth?”

A fellow author sent me a link to a zoom meeting a while back. The invitation she received was

If you’re able to make it, just a quick reminder about our first ever Open House for Authors on XXX, being held *today* on Zoom at 3 pm Eastern time at this url: xxx
No need to RSVP, just show up and say hi! We’ll field questions and suggestions from authors — and we have a few questions of our own about how to make our site better so you can sell more books.
Hope to see you there!

More and more fellow authors are sending me solicitations like this (probably due to my background in marketing).

Regarding the above, I listened to their spiel for a while. They kept on asking us to ask them questions. Specifically, “…don’t put your questions in the chat, just unmute yourself and ask away.”

I’d already asked a few questions in the chat which went unanswered.

My questions in such things tend to be business oriented, not author oriented. Especially when someone tells me their service or offering is free.

If you’re good at something, never do it for free. – The Joker
and
If it’s free, you’re probably the product – David Kelleher

 
Continue reading “Ruminations Part 2 – Numbers lead to informed decisions”