Not that those who read my blog don’t get a sample of my writing every week.
And not just a small sample either. I’m hardly one to skimp on either my words or the ideas conveyed with them.
No one has ever accused my writing style of being “spare”. In university, I played the usual word-processor tricks with font size and margins, but in my case it was because my reports were always too long, not too short.
Image of a Native American man from J.K. Rowling’s History of Magic in North America.
How do I know if I’m appropriating the traditions of another culture in my writing versus creating a respectful adaptation?
Admittedly, this isn’t an issue I’ve devoted much thought to in the past. Of late, however, following the J.K. Rowling #MagicInNorthAmerica controversy, it’s been on my mind a fair bit.
For those not familiar, #MagicInNorthAmerica has to do with a series of fictional monographs discussing the history of magic in the Harry Potter universe. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling recently released these on her Pottermore website to promote the release of the upcoming movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
**No movie spoilers**
A long time ago on a blog that’s now far away from a regular posting schedule, myself and a buddy had a debate about predictability versus surprise in fiction.
Quite unwittingly, this discussion arose on the heels of an entirely different examination of pantsing versus plotting.
(For the record on that account, I like to know where my story is going before I start and to rough out as much of the journey as I’m aware of up front, but I’m in no way wedded to it, nor do I subscribe to the notion that plotting will rob a story of the joy and magic of actually writing it. But you can read more about all that yourself.)
Believe it or not, I don’t spend all my spare time writing.
I don’t even want to spend all my spare time writing.
The reason for this is because writing is far too solitary a pursuit – the loneliest of all the arts in my opinion, due to it possessing the least impressive and share-worthy interim stages.
Glenn from TV’s The Walking Dead
Although I’ve never watched the show The Walking Dead, it recently became the subject of lengthy conversation in my writers’ group.
The discussion had to do with two specific characters: Michonne (whom I’m told I should consider cosplaying for Halloween) and Glenn, who is Korean-American.
That is to say, the discussion had to do with diverse characters.
What responsibility, if any, does a writer have to society?
This was the question I posted to the message board of the writer’s group I run to be the discussion topic for our next meeting.
I knew at the time of writing it that it was a provocative question – one that different people might interpret in different ways. Regardless, I was sure it would result in a lively, interesting discussion as my writer’s group meetings always are.
What I didn’t expect, however, was the overwrought response on the message board from an out-of-nowhere, aggrieved and impassioned troll.
The Daintree Rainforest, a tropical rainforest and UNESCO World Heritage Site along the coast of Queensland, Australia.
I didn’t expect to do any writing while here in Australia.
That is, not after I overcame my last-minute fervor to do lots of writing while in Australia – to write during as much of the flight as I remained awake for; to even finish my novel while abroad, if possible, and return home like a conquering hero.
In preparation for this, I scanned and PDF’ed an entire chapter of a reference book (since my WIP is historical fiction and thus research-dependant).
I also downloaded Evernote on both my iPad and phone so that I’d have two methods of inputting my deathless prose that would automatically sync as well as keep a backup in the cloud.
For the record, I don’t like short stories.
I’ve written about 10 of them over the course of my writing “career” thus far, and almost all of them are flops.
Not because the writing is bad per se (although some of them were written while I was still in high school, so neither is the writing deathless prose). Rather, they don’t work because they aren’t really short stories at all.
They’re novel back stories masquerading as short stories.
That just seems to be the way my brain works: my stories come to me novel length.
(If my WIP is any indication, my stories come to me trilogy length.)
Jane Eyre (2011)
“She isn’t ugly enough.”
This was my friend’s comment on the actress playing Tris Prior in the movie Divergent as we stood in line to buy tickets.
“She wouldn’t be my type if I were into girls,” I replied, thinking I’d missed the punch line of a joke and trying to compensate with humour of my own.
“No,” my friend insisted. “People are complaining about the actress being too pretty because in the book Tris is supposed to be ugly. Remember?”
We’d both read the book. My friend enjoyed it more than I did, and as a result seemed to remember certain details better than me as well.
But now that she mentioned it, I did recall something about Tris considering herself unattractive, or in the very least, plain, and that she was sure her male crush would dislike her because of it.
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu, the first black Jedi.
There’s been a lot of talk lately within the corners of the blogosphere I frequent about diversity of characters in genre fiction.
First fantasy author Chuck Wendig blogged in favour of book and movie characters being more representative of the world around us.
Then, indie fantasy author Ksenia Anske wrote about writers – diverse writers included –writing their true art – whatever shape or colour that may be – rather than being obliged to meet quotas of diversity – a compelling piece I neither fully agree nor disagree with.
This topic is hardly new within the writing world, with numerous other arguments out there both for and against the inclusion of more people of colour, of different sexual and gender orientations, and different physical and mental ability levels in genre fiction.
The “against” argument I despise the most is the concept of something I repeatedly saw in the comments trail of Chuck Wendig’s post.
The notion of “diversity for diversity’s sake”.