cat_rood: (insane asylum)
Okay, so in a continuation of this post. There are a few manifestations that I forgot/was uncomfortable with pointing out just yet.

Now, I'm in a better place and can expound upon them. So, back under a cut we go:

Other Manifestations )



I hope these help someone out in their writing or even in meat-space while trying to understand someone with an issue like I've described. Again, always open for questions.
cat_rood: (Rules)
This post might be offensive to some people. There aren't, hopefully, going to be triggers, but there will be offensive language.

There is something that's been on my mind lately. I'm sure by now, everyone has heard about removing the word 'nigger' from Huck Finn. That, and a post in the LJ community Roleplay Secrets. Specifically this secret.

Why? Because a lot of people made the point that the Victorian Age was not PC and in fact they had a lot of offensive things that happened, and were said and considered polite in their age.

Why is this on my mind?

Because I've been struggling this month to write a steampunk novel. Something that I actually enjoy and couldn't figure out why I was so back and forth about writing it. And then I wrote a line and realized what my problem was. You see, one of the main characters is of Chinese descent. In Victorian times, they were not particularly cared for, and there were a great many slurs against them. You see, today, if you call someone a 'Chinaman' or an 'Oriental', people are going to jump down your throat and be offended. But, the words fit perfectly in the time period and are even accepted modes of address.

The main character even had a thought:

They were supposed to be itinerant workers, driven out of their last jobs because he was a good Christian lad that had married a heathen Chinaman – never mind that she could quote more scripture than him.

She's a noblewoman, in a different society, but traveling in other countries, she's coming to realize that her heritage - of which she knows barely anything - makes her a target in other places. At home, she's insulated because of her rank. Out in the wild world? Not so much.

I've been struggling with it, trying to think of how to mitigate the rampant racism and worrying that the story will be less if I take it out.

That was when I realized that if I do take it out, the story is missing something. It's apologetic and something that isn't true to itself. I don't have to be a racism apologist in what I write, because the characters are products of their times, and if that means that they're raging racists, that's okay. They are what they are and why should I make excuses for them?

This realization is making the story a lot easier to write. I'm currently in a scene now where three characters are on a train (one man - white - and two women - one Chinese, one Japanese) and the conductor thinks they are a pimp with two of his 'girls'. They're being chastised by the conductor and asked to go somewhere else, because the other passengers are uncomfortable. No, the scene isn't PC and it isn't polite. But it points out very bluntly that this is not a nice time and this is the sort of thing that had to be dealt with.

If that means people don't want to read it? Then that's their problem. Yes, it's racist and so very unPC, but it's true to itself and that's the most important thing about it.

To add to this, I'm coming to understand some things about my writing. Writing a book, especially one that's outside of my comfort zone like steampunk is, is truly a self-discovery time. I started thinking about the racist aspects of the story because they made me uncomfortable.

In real life, I try to be as unracist as possible. I know I don't always succeed, but if it's pointed out to me, I will not do it again. I've pointed out racist/homophobic comments to other people because it's really not going to stop unless people speak up. So I try.

Writing it, I've tried not to put in that I don't approve. Why? Because I think people are smart enough to realize that what I write isn't always what I approve of. There are things that I will write that are very much triggering and are not polite and are written to point out some really screwed up things in our lives. But I don't approve of them.

Writing like that is also a catharsis for me. I'm going to admit something here that normally is kept for my personal journal. I'm a rape survivor. I was raped by a man I was married to. I'm also a domestic abuse survivor. Both from that man and then the second man that I married. So I'm very aware of how things could be triggering and how they can't be put into fiction without some really true self awareness.

However, more and more I'm coming to realize that I can't shy away from those topics if they are needed in the story - and I mean that. They have to be needed. I have a romance story on my hard drive somewhere. The MC is a domestic abuse/stalking/rape survivor. I am not treating that story lightly. I know how hard it is to recover from things like that.

There are a few subjects I'm not comfortable touching: non-cis-gendered issues, same sex rape, and child abuse are the three big ones that I can think of. Why? Because I don't think I could write them realistically (yet) and do not want to downplay the truth behind those issues. I do write same sex couples. Why? Because I do have some first hand knowledge of what those couples face. I do understand some of that, and have a couple of people that I feel comfortable asking questions of.

Back to this being a journey of self-discovery (wow does that sound corny or what?). I'm finding things out about myself that I wouldn't even think about if I wasn't writing them out.

I'm kinda glad to be finding them out. Because as I figure them out, I know I have issues, and I know that I'm not dealing with them. But I'm trying to find them out and that's what matters. Writing is helping me get to the point where I can get help for them.

If I offended anyone with this post, I'm not going to apologize for what I wrote. I am going to apologize that you took this personal enough to be offended. It is meant to be a personal reflection post and not something directed at any one person/group. Discussion is welcome as always.
cat_rood: (Rules)
This post, actually, started out in my head as a 'Why I do NaNoWriMo' post. However, I was talking with a friend over IMs, and realized I don't, really, need to get into why I do NaNoWriMo. Mostly, because it boiled down to just a few words:

Because I want to.

Perhaps not the most adult answer, but the most honest one.

However, I thought that I'd answer a question that my friend asked me:

"Why do challenges all year long? Isn't NaNo enough?"

Well, I'm going to answer the latter question first: No, NaNo isn't enough. See; although the franticness of November includes NaNo and Thanksgiving, it isn't enough to keep me going all year long.

So, this past year, I experimented with giving myself guidelines and a schedule to keep. Some of that schedule got skewed along the way (this past summer I didn't have nearly as much writing time as I thought) but all in all, I worked a lot better with the schedule, than I did without.

It's also why my personal journal ends up being more of a 'what needs to be done today' list than an actual journal. Although today I tl;dr-ed all over the place.

Yes, I make lists. If I don't, nothing gets done. No, seriously, nothing gets done. I look down and it's 10am. I look up and it's 3.30 and all I've managed to get done is lose horribly at spider solitaire a lot.

Frankly, that's not a skill that I should flaunt.

The lists keep me on track. But, here's the thing: Even lists aren't enough to keep me motivated. So, I look around for things to keep my brain moving and keep me from getting bored with what I have to do to improve my writing.

That is where my competitive streak comes in. See, I cannot let other people 'beat' me. I cannot roll over and let them 'win' at anything, even if it's something so silly as creating something that I neither have the skill nor the patience to create.

I join challenges to keep me going. I join challenges so that I can point to something and say "I beat that!" I'm sure this points to something psychological or something, but I just use it as a motivational tool.

There are some other pretty hefty reasons, but those are personal and this is a writing blog. Back to the writing:

Challenges keep me from stagnating and playing so much spider solitaire that I explode my computer out of sheer frustration. That means that at the end of the week/month/day/whatever, I have something to point to and say... "I did that."

Now, to give updates on my various challenges: Challenges )

So, this entry has become very long and pretty much a big ego stroke for me. However, I believe creators - be it in writing, cooking, fabric crafts or anything else - have the need to stroke their own egos every once in a while.

I know several writers who do it. They do it unashamedly. I'm trying to follow their good examples. Now, if I could just get something published? Then, you'd really see some ego stroking!
cat_rood: (Rules)
So, I've got plots bouncing around in my brain. Considering NaNo was "fandom with the serial numbers filed off" I'm not real worried about that aspect of it.

However, I know that the plots are really contrived and cliché. Meaning that I'd have to work with them through some reworkings to get them to something that might be of interest for people to read.

Considering that I've spent the last two days writing Bleach/X-Men fic, I really have no room to talk.

Well, let's talk about contrived plots:

- Long lost noble - FOUND! Seriously, this has been done so many times that it's really a trope. It's how noblemen/heroes in fandom get surprise!kids, and how unsavory nobles are deposed, by the triumphant return of their neglected offspring. (Chris Paolini anyone?)
- Ostracized noble family regains honor Do I have to explain this one? It'll be something about the last heir going undercover/on an epic journey and reclaiming that which was taken from them by an evil rival or something.
- Baby adopted in, but ousted by natural born child Again, do I have to explain? This is such a joke that I'm not sure I could even finish a story with this even as a subplot.

I had a few others, but mostly it's the first one that's caught my attention recently. I'm thinking of maybe doing that one for next year's NaNo. Since I'm pretty sure my schedule won't allow for it. Next year's pretty well mapped out. I really do wanna work on the Moon stuff. That'll get that out of the way.

I need to work out my plot for it, like I did for NaNo. It'll help me keep the story moving along. At the end, it'll be ugly as hell, but... hey, stories almost always are the first time through.

I can maybe work in another thing for April, since that's mostly looking at my NaNo ago - even though I'm doing that in March for NaNoEdMo (National Novel Editing Month) - so that month might have something that I can nudge in, if I can get a decent outline/characters.

Who knows, maybe I'll work on the Jenith/Bear stuff, or the Kenny/Max stuff. Both of those kinda fascinate me, so we'll have to see.

I know the Jenith stuff could be turned into the first trope, especially.

AND MOVING ON!

I really need to do an outline/something of the Moon!Fic. Even though that's scheduled for next month, I'm thinking I need to get to it. I have characters to outline, and a plot to think of. That's probably going to wait until after the kids are back in school, though. Kids around = writing time cut short, unfortunately.

For now, I'm going to go see if I can find my book.
cat_rood: (Rules)
I've noticed a very disturbing trend among a certain genre.

I'm a reader of romance. I love trashy romance novels. I love curling up with them and just letting them take me out of my shitty life for a while.

However, there's one thing I find disturbing about a newer trend that I've noticed: The heroine keeps getting younger.

Now, if it's historical romance, I'm alright with a sixteen-eighteen year old female protagonist. That's the way it was. Women married young, often to older men, for a variety of reasons.

However, if you're writing contemporary romance, and your heroine is sixteen to eighteen, you're really going to have to sell me on the fact that she's mature enough to even be thinking like this.

I've been a sixteen year old bride. I was divorced for the first time at age 20. I know what those marriages are like, because I've been in one!

I find it disturbing that more people aren't sitting up and taking notice of this. Yes, I know, Twilight. But here's the thing: Meyer was also writing about how her church preaches that it "should" be. It was, in my opinion, a religious agenda that she used Bella to portray.

Which, really, is fine. If that's what people want to write/read, then go ahead and do that.

But dear sweet baby Jeebus bouncing on a pogo stick, please recognize it for what it is!

The majority of sixteen to eighteen year olds are not mature enough to have a lifetime commitment to anyone. Hell, a lot of thirty year olds aren't mature enough for marriage. (I know. Again, I was married to one!)

I don't know if it's merely becoming far more mainstream now than it was, or if it is an actual trend in the selling of romance novels, but I cannot fathom who thought that a good idea.

I'll admit, it not only disturbs me because I was a sixteen year old bride, but also because my eldest daughter is sixteen and if anyone tried to marry her off, I'd take her and hide her and shake some sense into her.

Random rant of the day. Now, I go back to bed.

New races

Sep. 30th, 2010 04:49 pm
cat_rood: (Rules)
I love making up new races. I love it. I love doing it for no other reason than I have an idea and then I make a file and leave it on my hard drive.

Sometimes, these races spawn stories. Sometimes, they don't.

Okay, honest truth: Most of the time they don't.

But, they're still fun to figure out. What are their traditions? What color is their skin? Does that make them stand out or blend in? Do they have magic/technology other races don't have? Do they have rituals that make them anathema to other peoples or are the rituals outlawed because of fear?

These are the type of things I always ask myself when creating new races. Especially since I'm always fascinated by cross-breeds.

Now, this is something each writer has to decide for themselves.

I love doing it.

I might, eventually put up some examples under f-lock, if I can find them. (The depths of the hard drive are deep and unfathomable...)

Do you make up new races or take old ones and put a new spin on them?

Research

Jun. 25th, 2009 10:31 am
cat_rood: (Rules)
I have to say, for the majority of my stories, I fly by the seat of my pants. Most of them, are on fantasy worlds, and while they require world building, I always just sorta roll with the 'pseudo-European' model.

However, the next story I'm writing requires enough research that I've got a stack of library books about China, Mongols, Egypt, Rome, the Tsars of Russia and so on and so forth.

I've got notes, on my personal diary (linked in the side bar) about the thoughts I've had about where my research needs to go next.

It's best for me to put it online, so that I can find it all with the use of my tags. Of course, the poor f-list gets inundated with those thoughts, especially when I get them multiple times per day.

A lot of the time the research is always a bit extraneous to the writing.

No matter how much you research, there are going to be things in it that you can't fit into the writing. And you're going to want to. There are going to be bits and pieces that you know you can just fit in, if you just tweak here and there...

Except then, your writing reads like a text book, and that is almost never fun.

Research and writing have to be carefully balanced. If I want a society based off of Ivan IV's (the Terrible) reign in Tsarist Russia, I can't just start dumping in every detail about his attempted social reforms.

Unless they start becoming relevant to the plot, there are things that you need to know, that the reader probably doesn't.

I'm involved in my research and love the way it's going. I hope I can bring it across in my writing, and hope that my research makes my writing better.

Characters

Jun. 6th, 2009 10:01 pm
cat_rood: (Default)
Everyone comes up with characters in different ways. Everyone plucks those little bits of psyche out of the ether in ways that probably only make sense to them.

Sometimes, they get a physical description first. Blonde hair, green eyes, a bit pudgy, with long thin fingers/limp brown hair, dark tan, brown eyes... And on and on and on.

Other times, it's the way they dress. Jimmy Choos, and Vera Wang, or maybe flannel and jeans.

Maybe it's something they say or do. Maybe it's their job, or their accent. Maybe it's something they see. Or something they smell.

Anyway, the point is, there's many ways that authors come up with characters. It doesn't really matter how it comes up. There are a few things, however, that are, really, universal. It doesn't matter how the characters first appear, they all have the same things. Height, weight, appearances, etc etc.

Now, I'm not a chart or sheet kind of person, but they do have their uses. I even collect character sheets. I like looking at them at times to just give me an idea of what to do with the characters when they're being cranky about growing.

I have several, but this latest one is... interesting. I haven't seen one quite as comprehensive. So, I'm posting it here, just for shits and giggles.

Character Sheet )

I haven't filled it out for anyone, yet. But it does look interesting. I might attempt it later, however.
cat_rood: (Default)
Now, here's a hot topic for you:

Sex in fiction.

I'm not talking bodice-rippers. Those, pretty much everyone expects there to be sex in those books. And if they don't what rock have they been living under?

I'm talking about sex in other types of fiction: mainstream, fantasy, horror, whatever.

Despite the fact that various sexualities, and sexual practices are far more vocal and far more public than they were in the past -- I won't say they are 'mainstream' because that assumes a certain amount of acceptance that just doesn't exist, though I hope it will some day -- sex in the media is still... not quite a taboo, but definitely a titillating subject.

There are still portions of the world, and even my own country, where sex just isn't talked about. It's still a forbidden subject, meant to only be spoken in hushed tones and for the act of procreation.

My own views are that sex is fun, and as long as it happens between two consenting adults, it's no one's business what else goes on.

However. Even though sex is a natural part of life, it still seems to be something that a lot of people don't want to think about in their fiction. Even if the fiction touches on child birth (a completely other post) or on marriage, or just a hook up, sex seems to be the one thing they just gloss over.

Now, I'm not saying that all sex in fiction should be fade to black. I like reading, and writing, a decent sex scene myself. What I'm saying is that people don't want to seem to deal with it.

In my view, I believe that sex is a personal choice when it comes to the writing. It can be done well, and has been done well, or it can be done oh so badly and make you cringe.

If you put sex in fiction, someone's going to get offended. "Why heterosexual sex? Why homosexual sex? Why x? Why y?" It doesn't matter what you do, someone's going to find fault with it.

Not only is someone going to find fault with it, but someone, somewhere, is going to "denounce" your book -- if you're lucky, because, hey, free publicity -- for even having sex in it. Now, granted, this happens more often in mainstream fiction than it does something like horror, or fantasy.

The thing you have to ask yourself, or at least I ask myself, before putting sex into a story, is "why is this here". It's not an easy question to answer, and definitely not an easy one to ask. There are several ways to answer this:

"Because it shows the relationship of x and y." This is a tricky one. I don't think, unless you need to show a truly unbalanced relationship, that sex is needed to show a relationship between two characters. There are many more subtle, and more powerful ways to show that relationship.

"Because it moves the characters forward." This one, I don't believe. A fade to black can show the characters moving forward just as well as a sex scene can, sometimes even better.

"Because it moves the plot forward." Another tricky one. I can see, in some instances, how it might. A seduction needed to get information, a rape to cow a recalcitrant prisoner. Those would move the plot forward. And I say this as a woman who once wrote a scene about a woman giving her husband oral sex while informing him of the happenings with treaty negotiations. (Telepathy can be a wonderful thing. *grins*)

The thing is, be honest with why the sex scene is there. Is it something you wrote because you wanted to? Fine. But be honest with it. Edits can be made, and it can all go on the cutting room floor so to speak. Is it something you felt had to be there at the time? Again; fine. On a reread/rewrite/second draft, does it still need to be there?

I like sex scenes in my fiction. I really do. But they have to serve a purpose. A sex scene just to have a sex scene and "be edgy" or whatever is not the best way to go, though.

So, sex in fiction: It has its place, and can even be done superbly well. But, in my opinion, needs to serve a purpose to the greater, overall, plot.*

*Please note, this excludes erotica, whose sole purpose is to titillate and arouse.
cat_rood: (Rules)
With the internet, writers do not have to sit in lonely corners alone, hunched over their manuscripts. No longer do they have to trudge from place to place, looking for that elusive group that might just be the right fit.

Unfortunately, the internet does not mean that you will immediately find that perfect place where you will get that delicate balance of encouragement, decent feedback, and that occasional kick in the pants that all writers need.

Today, I was looking back over my bookmarks, and had begun deleting the ones I no longer needed. The one thing I noticed was that quite a few were writing sites where I just never felt either welcome, or comfortable.

Well, and to be honest there were a couple I was "kicked out" of, because disagreements with those that ran the comms.

However, those make no difference.

The best thing a writer can have, though, is support. Support from family, friends, and others going through the same trials and tribulations as you are.

Finding that support, however, is a very hard thing to do. The key point, as was pointed out to me not long ago by a friend, is to keep trying. Eventually, you might find that group that doesn't mind the fact that you're writing about dragon lesbian sex.

I finally found that group, that also runs the word wars in which I participate. Some of them find some of my subjects uncomfortable. However, they realise that what I write about is not what I personally feel, or practice.

They truly understand the disconnect, do not judge me by my writing, and don't mind the random "Oh, hey, I figured out how to get this pair where they need to be, with tails."

The other thing I think that helps is that before, I tried to connect my personal life, and my writing. As I have learned in several different locations, apparently, I am not one that can do that. I need to keep the two separate.

It is possible for things to go from writing, to friendship. It just depends on the writing. I have several people I met through my writing (mostly fandom) who have stepped up as friends and understand that though my mind might generate random crack at any interval, that is not constant, that there is a disconnect between me and my writing.

I am not, for example, a polygamous bisexual dragon, who has two male lovers, and a single female lover. But, if that is what I write about, most just say "Okay, what are you smoking now?"

Unfortunately, in my travels throughout the web, I have met some who see me as one thing and one thing only.

I have to admit that their rejections of some pieces of me do hurt. No matter how long ago it was, I, sometimes, in moments of silence and worry, look back on those instances and go... "Why? What was wrong?"

I've learned, though, that perhaps, we were just not a good fit, because I see nothing with feral dragon bisexual sex, and they seem to be unable to disconnect that with the woman who happily watches Star Wars (The original trilogy thankyouverymuch) for the fiftieth time, even though she's able to say the lines by heart.

So, still, I keep looking. I keep looking for that one, elusive, group where I can begin settling in, and perhaps begin getting some real feedback on this monstrosity that has been eating at me for so long.

I hope to find it soon.
cat_rood: (Orion)
I read a lot of author's blogs. GRRM, Gaiman, KVTaylor, and Jim Hines to name a few.

The one thing I've noticed is that always seemed to have a lot to say about their writing. Me? I don't. If you're looking for some in depth talking about process, or something that acts like a "Guide to Writing" it isn't going to be found here.

I was conditioned at a very early age to not talk about my writing and although I am over thirty, I still retain that. Word counts are safer as are websites, and the little tricks I find out to get me writing/submitting.

So that's a lot of what you will find here, and why my posts will, on average be rather short. I don't want to bore you, or tell you that X is happening in my life unless it pertains to my writing, and that, only if I feel comfortable enough to relate it.

My posts may be short, but never deny that I struggle every day with pouring out what is going on with my writing.

(Though, lately, with the vertigo, I have to admit that the writing is getting curtailed in favour of lying around like a lump. Heh.)

Today, however, my writing did pick up again. Sometimes, lying around and reading random books can be a good thing.

Yesterday, I attempted to rejoin the word wars, and regain my momentum with getting KoO done.

It just wasn't happening. So, instead of forcing it, I backed off. Last night and this morning I pulled out an old book of mine, and began reading. It's a collection of short, erotic, stories.

This morning, while lying down, I was suddenly struck by inspiration. I suddenly knew what had to be done and how to do it.

And in 90 minutes I wrote 3k+ words, finally. They just flowed, and finally appeared on the screen where they were supposed to be. I never would have thought of erotica to be an inspiration for dragon sci-fi/fantasy.

However, I will not argue. The words getting down is the most important part.

Right now, the vertigo's gotten bad again, but I know I did those words and for the most part, they are good.

I'm very happy with them. So, I will give you a small sample:

Grey wetness cloaked him in cold. He stood still, golden scales dulled by the lack of light. Looking off to the southeast, he didn't move. A part of his mind and heart moved down there, exploring a supply depot that they'd found.

Two days ago, men and women stood in his spot, soldiers doing their duty, and prepared to fight if necessary. They'd probably never thought it would be necessary.

The wind swirled through the greyness, and rustled his wings. Sapphire blue eyes remained trained on the southeast. He didn't want to divert his attention, for fear that he'd miss something. Behind him a rock shifted and he turned his head, snake-fast and silent. Nothing stirred the winter chill above the cavern he'd collapsed, after killing the soldiers.

Cold rain and sleet drifted down from the sky, creating an ice-layer over his scales. Still, he didn't move.


This is what inspiration does. I am not going to argue with it.

I need to get lunch and maybe poke it again, see what happens.

cat_rood: (Default)
Honestly, that should be "not writing while sick".

Lately, I've been rather ill. With massive headaches, and terrible vertigo, writing has been all but nil and put me even further behind. The trouble is, I can't be angry about that. What am I supposed to do? Write until I pass out/fall over? Yeah, that's not going to happen.

So, the thing I've come to realise is that while I keep putting pressure on myself, life is going to interfere and that may mean I won't make my self-imposed deadline. I can't do anything about it. I can continue working toward it, of course, but there's nothing I can do if I don't make it. Especially with Memorial Day coming.

Also, I've noticed an upswing in certain corners of the writing world that have a lot to do with writers owing their readers something.

Pretty basically, that's a lot of bullshit. I don't care if it's a fanfiction, free e-zine, something on a blog or a published series. The only one(s) that the writer 'owes' is the publisher, and possibly an editor. Why? Because they have a contract in writing.

I had a lot more to say, but the vertigo is kicking in again, and I'm exhausted this evening. Hopefully, soon, I'll get back to working on the manuscript.

Magic

May. 3rd, 2009 07:39 pm
cat_rood: (Rules)
This is an old post, but I really want it accessible for me. So, here it is:

Magic. What's the first thing that that word brings to mind? In recent years, it's probably Harry Potter and, maybe, Gandalf. Possibly, given recent events you might even think of Mr. Robert Jordan.

However, magic has been in stories since people began telling them. Whether it was divine (god-given), or a special "gift" that the person had, magic has often been the explanation for the unexplainable.

The trouble with magic in writing is that it can become a crutch (or dues ex machina) for the writer to lean on, and not have an actual story. If you put magic in your writing, you have to be very careful not to "demonise" it -- meaning making it the reason that all bad things happen -- or make it, again, the crutch upon which everything depends.

So what do you do? How do you stop yourself from doing things like that. Well, actually, I have been thinking about this (namely because I do use magic a lot, and need to know for myself) and have come up with a few fast and loose rules that might help someone else when using magic:

Da Rulez )

Now, this is not to put you off from using magic. Absolutely not! Use magic! Magic can be a fun, and funny, plot device. Just be aware, when you do, that there are those of us, who see magic as a tool, and a weapon -- or a science -- rather than as "magic."

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