[Reblog] Reasonably Unscrewed-Up Character ≠ Mary Sue

Jaye:

Once again, Scalzi says something beautifully that’s been bugging me.

No one’s said this about any of my characters, no, but that’s because of a lack of SF. Fantasy/SciFi is outrageous with this stuff. It’s almost perverse … correction, it IS perverse.

Seriously, I’m waiting for the day Bilbo Baggins is routinely accused of being a Mary Sue.

Originally posted on Whatever:

When Mary and I were doing the Q & A portion of our Borderlands Books appearance, I went off the ranch a bit and kvetched about one of my pet peeves concerning science fiction reviewers, which is the assumption that any main character who is not screwed-up is somehow automatically a Mary Sue wish fulfillment character for the writer… or perhaps more accurately that my main characters are Mary Sues for me. Rather than recreate the kvetch, let me transcribe it here, edited slightly so you don’t get every stutter and “uh”:

Forgive me father, for I have sinned, I have been reading my reviews. And there’s one thing that just always pisses me off, and that it is that when they mention characters, they say, well his main character is fine and blah blah blah but it’s really just a Mary Sue character. And it just drives…

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[REBLOG]: Jake’s Last Mission, conflict, a defense of Kristark’s Coronation as a story, probably other stuff too because I’m writing this right before bed so my inner editor is already asleep

This was linked to via pingback on this other reblog I made and it was, I thought, a good if rambly and typo riddled take on the subject; in her defense, the author does indicate she was writing the the small hours of the morning – ah, the logics of 2AM.

My own work “lacks conflict” and according to one or two reviews “lacks plot” because 1) these two things, by many’s definition, are one and the same and 2) because some people really have a poor understanding of what those words mean

1) Plot is A happens, then B happens, then C happens.  That’s all plot is.  It’s “wha-happ’n’d”.  Nothing more, nothing less.  It’s very difficult to tell any story of any sort, even a vignette, without having, by strict definition, a plot.  Conflict is … well, it’s conflict.  It’s the characters’ internal struggles, it’s their struggles against their environment, it’s their struggles against others.

2) The very fact that time passes within Now & Forever is an indicator that there’s a plot.  A single thread of plot?  Yes, actually, though it’s only liable to be clearly visible once all four books are written — though I’ll say it now:  the plot is the girls’ growing love and them growing up, and how that impacts their love and relationship; put more succinctly the plot is two high school sweethearts getting through high school together.

Conflict abounds, though it is in no way the driving force of the story.  There’s minor conflict between Lauren and Sally – as any couple will, they have their disagreements, and we see them.  Maybe it’s not generally a flaming row, but not all couples have those.  There’s “[wo]man versus [her] environment”.  I’m sorry, but even in Washington, the US is not and in 2010 – 2014 was not a terribly wonderful place to be homosexual, this is not a major factor of the story, but it is a primary source of what conflict exists.  It also has “[wo]man versus [her]self” given that the girls are growing up and have their doubts and insecurities that come with such things and that come with being in love.

Honestly, though, I’m merely echoing … more or less, anyway … what this other post says with my own stories inserted in place of hers.

Jake’s Last Mission, conflict, a defense of Kristark’s Coronation as a story, probably other stuff too because I’m writing this right before bed so my inner editor is already asleep

Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, I apologize in advance for, even for me, an unusual amount of rambly-ness in this post.  And typos.  And homonym errors.  If I had any sense, I’d probably wait until tomorrow . . . err, later today, I guess . . . to write this.  If I had any sense, however, I’d have gone into a much more lucrative career than writing space opera, so . . .

Second, this isn’t complaining about my reviews.  My reviewers are entitled to their opinions.  They just gave me something concrete to point at while I make a point about something that’s been bothering me for quite a long time.

Now, on to my actual post:

Ursula K. LeGuin said:

Modernist manuals of writing often conflate story with conflict. This reductionism reflects a culture that inflates aggression and competition while cultivating ignorance of other behavioral options. No narrative of any complexity can be built on or reduced to a single element. Conflict is one kind of behavior. There are others, equally important in any human life, such as relating, finding, losing, bearing, discovering, parting, changing.

Change is the universal aspect of all these sources of story. Story is something moving, something happening, something or somebody changing.

I just discovered this quote a few days ago, but it’s something I’ve thought of before.  Years ago, in fact, I argued this very point on a rpg forum when I was told, pretty much, by some people that my games couldn’t possibly be fun because conflict wasn’t the driving force.  And it wasn’t even a “rpgs are about killin’ things and gettin’ mad loot” or whatever thing.  Apparently if there’s a love story in your game or story, the drama and change that comes just from being in a relationship isn’t enough, you have to bring in soap opera elements like love triangles and kidnappings and such, for example.  Change wasn’t enough; there had to be conflict, according to these people. (continued)

Brilliance

A Discussion of Story

From Steering the Craft:

Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Mariner and the Mutinous Crew

Ursula K. Le Guin

I define story as a narrative of events (external or psychological) which moves through time or implies the passage of time, and which involves change.

I define plot as a form of story which uses action as its mode usually in the form of conflict, and which closely and intricately connects one act to another, usually through a causal chain, ending in a climax.

Climax is one kind of pleasure; plot is one kind of story. A strong, shapely plot is a pleasure in itself. It can be reused generation after generation. It provides an armature for narrative that beginning writers may find invaluable.

But most serious modern fictions can’t be reduced to a plot, or retold without fatal loss except in their own words. The story is not in the plot but in the telling. It is the telling that moves.

Modernist manuals of writing often conflate story with conflict. This reductionism reflects a culture that inflates aggression and competition while cultivating ignorance of other behavioral options. No narrative of any complexity can be built on or reduced to a single element. Conflict is one kind of behavior. There are others, equally important in any human life, such as relating, finding, losing, bearing, discovering, parting, changing. (continued here)

Patrick Rothfuss Quotes on World Building

Jaye:

A fascinating glimpse into the mind of a storyteller who, I think, is far superior to myself.

Originally posted on The Rabid Rainbow Ferret Society:

If you’re a fantasy fan, or simply appreciate a well-crafted story, you should know the name Patrick Rothfuss.

Nice man. Great beard.

Ferrets in an elevator with Patrick Rothfuss

The Ferrets and I had the good fortune to meet him in person at the OWFI conference this year.

I followed my personal writing credo: Ask interesting people crazy questions. You never know what will happen.

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[Weeping with joy] FINALLY!

Ready or Not (concept only)Ready or Not is available in print!

At this very specific moment only this store but it should be on Amazon by the end of the day at earliest, sometime tomorrow or Thursday at the latest.

Available to other places (BAM!, B&N, your local mom & pop’s ordering system, etc.) … well, really, they could be as early as for Amazon, but more likely they’ll start showing up around Friday and trickle in over the next week or so.

9781482631173 is the ISBN you’re asking for (yes, you can just say “Ready or Not by Jaye Em Edgecliff” or “What do you have by Jaye Em Edgecliff” or whatever, but this theoretically saves time and is really handy for putting in some search functions at some bookstores).

In any event, please enjoy.

I’m not sure if I should scream, cry, or both

English: A kitten crying.

English: A kitten crying. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, I figured out the trouble with Ready or Not, sort of.

My initial problem was that the PDF had decided to be 8.5in x 11in.  The book is 6in x 9in.

The program I’d made the PDF with was refusing to make a 6×9 PDF.  Even though it has done so in the past.

So I use a different program to make the PDF.  YAY!  Fits … but now Createspace is convinced that something is off the edge of the page … which isn’t … and wouldn’t let me approve the proof.

So I use another another PDF creator … proof is approvable!  Yay!  Excess blank pages are randomly inserted into the middle of sections of the book, one of them near the beginning so that page … n/m, just awkwardness happens.  Oh, and to top it off?  Suddenly one of my fleurons is 72dpi, despite the fact that I copy/paste the same image every single time and there are over 100 in there, just the one near the top of page 16.  I’d ignore it, but since I need to fix the blank pages, I may as well figure it out too.

Oh, and why must I use a PDF?  Because Word refuses to embed all the fonts I used, CreateSpace doesn’t have all the fonts I used, and LibreOffice, OpenOffice, Pages, and KOffice all don’t embed those fonts either.

Celebrating July

English: Fireworks on the Fourth of July

English: Fireworks on the Fourth of July (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s July.  Ready or Not will be out this month (depending how horrible some of my mistakes are between here and the end of the book — a few days to another week or two!) and my birthday all in the same month!

To celebrate this Love or Lust is free, everywhere I can set it to free, all month.  Amazon should set itself to free automatically sooner or later (I don’t have control of the price below 99¢); Nook doesn’t like the word free unless it’s a public domain or I personally strike a deal with their marketing division or something that would involve buying a really nice dress I can’t afford and speaking businessese.  Everyone else ought to be reflecting a 100% discount as of yesterday.

Hope everyone is enjoying the summer.

Rad Fem and the things we learn …

My but what a fascinating education I’ve got recently.

My recent reblog about a trans lesbian being treated rather poorly by a cis lesbian, blah blah blah, let’s all be nice to each other (Cliff Notes version) … Well, the auto-twit about it got replied to by a group/blog – I’m still working out just who/what this is – @GIDwatch (sensitive and kind hearted souls may wish not to follow that link) calling me a “rapey prick pushing #cottonceiling”.  I had to look up cotton ceiling which lead me to discover a phenomena known as radical feminists, which after discussing it with friends I learnt was actually something else called “rad fem”.  It’s apparently rather rude of those women to spell the words out since, it would seem, they’re typically not very nice at all and the people who’d been known as radical feminists first want nothing to do with them.

Wow, these women are … something.  Ever seen PCU?  You know the Womynists (or is it Wymenists?  Whatever)?  Yeah, I get the impression some of these women saw it, and didn’t realise that it was a joke.

It seems to be a sort of misogynist AND misandrist group of phallophobics.

No, really, I’m trying to be nice, but follow the logic they seem to use:  All men are rapists, because [somehow] having a penis makes you a rapist.  Also they are adamant that possession of a penis, or the former possession of one, or having a Y chromosome regardless of anything else makes you a man and … I don’t know, maybe now you’ve got some kind of ghost penis – I couldn’t really follow some of that argument if my life depended upon it.  Essentially trans women aren’t women to the extent that they fight very hard against trans rights (they seem to be quite unaware of the existence of trans men).

The misandry is pretty covered by that.

Now the misogyny.  All women are victims and should hide from men.  Not the exact words, but essentially the root of their arguments.  See, they don’t seem to realise that women are the equals of men and can stand up to them, can prevent rape, etc.  Which is more misandry, they’re the sort that hurt ending this ‘rape culture’ they like to go on about by perpetuating it in all the worst ways, as they believe that only men can rape (or seem to at any rate, which is just as bad really); and by absolving everyone of responsibility – their arguments are dangerous for both sides because they give the women the idea that their being raped is inevitable, and the men are given an excuse to believe that they just can’t help it and it’s part of their nature so they may as well …

As an author I love to learn things about people.  This is the first time since reading about what the Nazis, Spanish Inquisition, and Salem witch hunts got up to that I rather regretted the discovery.

I really wish I could understand what makes these women so afraid, and so hateful.  Were they, perhaps, raped or molested?  Are they just bitter and petty by nature?  I wish I could think more charitable things about them, but their words are just that:  bitter hateful, cruel.  They are so harsh to men, and to trans women, to women who should dare to speak in favour of those two groups, etc.

And this just in:  YES they DO believe that only men can rape.  They replied to a twit I made.  Fascinating.  And their rationale for this does seem to indicate a phallophobic attitude.  Again, fascinating.

Frankly, I feel that things like this really hurt feminism on a couple of grounds.  First off, by being your stereotypical man hating feminazi by the definitions of those who hate feminists you legitimise the criticisms of feminism.  Secondly there’s the aforementioned dangers in belittling women as unable to protect themselves, and in belittling men into mindless rape machines but barely contained by aught but the diligence of women.  You hurt the men who are raped and trying to seek justice, or the women raped by women who might be trying to do the same.

Hatred and the denial of the rights of others is no way to have power; it’s how to shed power.  If you fear a thing, that thing controls you.  If you fear not a thing, it has no power over you.  Love is a tool that lets you share in power – any control that someone or some group you love has over you is given freely by yourself because it means you respect and trust.

To love your trans sister is simply to respect her.  You don’t have to like that she has a penis; you certainly don’t have to have sex with her!  That’s the voluntary control.  You allow her to tell you who she is and you give her the control of that by accepting who she is and show her the love and support she needs (remember, oppressed groups really ought to stand together).

Let’s look at history.  At slave societies, especially the one of the American South just before the civil war.

Who was actually in control there?

On the surface it would seem to be the slave owners.  They certainly were on paper, and they had the guns and educations, etc.  So obviously they’re the answer, aren’t they?  Yes, sort of, to a point.

See, they feared the slaves – some of them.  Those who respected the slaves had less fear; not no fear, just less.  See by respecting them, and some did so just keep with me on this as explaining that would be a very long post by itself, that group of slave owners had the respect of their slaves.  With that respect was a lessening of the fear of rebellion and uprising, BUT they still had to fear the slaves of those disrespectful slave owners.

The disrespectful slave owners were in terrible fear.  They were outnumbered something fierce by a bunch of people who were, by necessity, in pretty damned good shape and who might have known the terrain pretty damned well within a certain range, and who by necessity probably were better suited to survive in it than the owners.

Fear is why the slave owners tried so hard to oppress the slaves.  That fear ruled them.

Slave revolts in the ancient world were less common.  This is due to “slavery” being a rather different thing there, something far closer to an indentured servitude, for one thing.  Still they were slaves, and property.  But they did often have respect.  They could earn wages; they were sometimes the doctors or lawyers; their status as slave brought protections that some enjoyed and others chafed at the lack of freedom, but could buy their freedom since they were allowed to have money … Rome didn’t tend to fear its slaves until it adopted a model not so different from the American south.

Slavery is stupid.  Seriously.  No human should ever own another for any reason and in any capacity. The point of the history lesson is to show that we have to respect one another.  Right now LGBTQ and women are like the slaves.  Society has laws in place to hold us down to deny and reject who and what we are and to oppress that.  We’re chiselling away at that, but it’s there, little by little the members of the community and their family, friends, and supporters.  The fight is fought by those who are first class citizens – our underground railroad, so to speak, if we wish to carry the slavery comparison – as well as by the second class and downtrodden.  That’s important, too.  LGBTQ need the straights and the cis, because together the numbers may or may not be equal, but it’s not like the slave owners with the clear advantage of numbers going to the slaves – in a democratic world we have to respect each other and that class of the people around us who might see as ‘the enemy’.

It’s fine in a political campaign to say as you will about Communism, or Democrats, Republicans, Populists, etc.  That’s the point of political campaigns (though, even there, more might get accomplished if there was more and better mutual respect between parties and voters – mud slinging clouds issues and wastes time that could be spent on real solutions).  But when fighting for rights, when fighting for acceptance, we need to look around to see who are friends are.  Women are 51% of the population, as I recall, but I believe that’s world-wide.  There’re parts of Amereica, for examples, where we are in fact a minority.  And 51% is not a big advantage; we, therefore, should embrace and cherish those men who would stand with us and say “these women deserve respect, equality, etc” rather than pushing them away with cries of “rapists”.  After all, love is not sex; a lesbian can love a man as her brother, as her equal, as her friend … that love need not be romantic and sexual, that’s clearly for some lucky woman somewhere.

Trans, bi, it doesn’t matter.

“Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

I don’t care if you’re Christian or not … I’m not.  Doesn’t change that it’s a good concept.  Love that which you feel is divinity, and love your neighbour.

Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.

Udanavarga 5:18

Is another good one.

I think I’ve wandered down a tangent.

Back to the point I’d wanted to make:  I didn’t know what a rad fem was, now I do and wish I didn’t.  I’d like to think they were doing something positive, but they rather strike me as a sort of anti-male KKK analogue as I simply cannot find anything in their comments and essays that speak otherwise; they don’t even empower or support women in any meaningful and positive way!  I’m saddened by that, just as neo-nazis, Klansmen, and other groups whose foundations are built in hatred and fear … until they find love and joy they can’t know peace, and fear and hatred are anathema to love, joy and peace … thing is, if you can find them, love, joy, and peace are often far more powerful and can rather banish the hatred and fear.  It’s one thing to dislike; several of them seem to be lesbians, so fine they’re not crazy about men and penises – to each her own – but dislike and hatred are different things, dislike is a preference whereas hatred is a desire for harm.

My … I can get rather preachy when I’m riled about something, can’t I?  I suppose there’s more of myself in Lauren’s character than I tend to realise.

Representation really does matter

Jaye:

Role models are important.

I think any character can be identified with by any reader/viewer/listener, but every now and then it’s nice to encounter one you can truly relate to on a personal level.

Originally posted on A Transgender's Journey:

Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres (Photo credit: ronpaulrevolt2008)

So I didn’t really have much to say last week.  Partly I was just a little down, partly I just couldn’t get any kind of thoughts in order, and finally I just don’t think I had a whole lot to say.

This time, however, yes I do.

Representation.

In media, it’s safe to assume that no demographic ever looks good unless they’re children.  Look at even the old white man on Wall Street in the news — if it can be helped he’s as stereotypically rich white man as they could find.  What picture does this paint about Wall Street professionals?  Where’s the women, the non-whites, the youngins?  Go to the New York Stock Exchange, they’re there … how many?  Who cares, the point is they’re never on the news if it’s a casual story about the economy.

Nah, forget the news.  Let’s look…

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[Reblog] Cis Lesbian Dismissal of Trans Lesbians, and Why it’s Wrong

Rather beautifully put, I thought.  Though I do tend to find that referring to things as hetero-privilege, or cis-privilege, white-privilege is often a bit short sighted.  I’m not sure it’s a privilege to not always think things through properly or to simply be unaware of an issue or to not be able to quite wrap your head around it.

An example — my own editor is, psychologically, quite androgynous despite identifying as female and as such can at times be rather confused about things that matter to cis-men or cis-women alike around her and some aspects of transgenderism don’t quite … click … for her without a little hand-holding and analogy to help her fathom whatever concept is in question.  She’s not suffering from this disease of cis-privilege, there’s room to even debate if she is or is not cis for one thing, she just doesn’t understand because it’s not her issue.  She’s bisexual and her issues are not those of the homosexual nor the heterosexual people around her and just as those trans and cis friends of hers must explain things to her, she in turn must explain her androgyny or bisexuality to them.  Do they, then, suffer trans-privilege or homo-privilege in addition to the others purportedly possessed of cis and hetero privileges?

This isn’t to say that there isn’t some privilege extended to men, to cisgendered of either side of the binary, to heterosexuals.  This is rarely anything that can be helped by the individual, only by society and its expectations.  This is the man being, perhaps, more likely to get a job.  The white person who isn’t watched by security as closely in the department store.  The person dressed in a fashion that suggests wealth being treated with greater deference than the one who, by their clothes, may well be poor.  The cisgender who is taken more seriously at work and who is never asked to go to a special restroom at their job or asked for ID by some zealous clerk when taking a pee in some public facility.  Cis and straight, regardless of race, are not denied their basic civil rights by any country in the western world that I can think of.  That is privilege.

Still, regardless my pet-peeve on the overuse of ‘privilege’ in our language these days, this post makes a fantastic point:  If you cannot accept a trans-woman as a lesbian or a trans-man as gay then you are being a) quite sexist and/or b) you are saying that this person whose sex and gender simply do not match is not who and what they say they are.  Are we so insecure in our own gender-identities, are we so ashamed or proud of our sex and our sexuality, that we should deny others their right to be who and what God made them?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cis Lesbian Dismissal of Trans Lesbians, and Why it’s Wrong

Ying posed the following scenario/question: “Recently, I heard a lesbian woman comment about a trans woman (who happens to be a lesbian). She said the transwoman was not “really” a lesbian like she was. It was upsetting to me. No one can define another person’s identity, right? It seemed so petty, too. What skin is it off her nose anyway? What are your thoughts on people not accepting a trans person’s sexual orientation as being valid?”

Something to consider is going into this is that even though many of the LGB portion of our acronym are supportive and allies, that makes them no less cisgender. Just like any non-LGB person, they’re acting from a position of cis privilege, and don’t understand the implications of their actions, because, frankly, they don’t have to think about it much. We pop up once in a while, in a single circumstance here or there, and that’s generally the extent of it. And while they’re our allies for political purposes, I’ve come to find in my experience that LGB people are often woefully ignorant of the issues of the transgender community they support. Which is no surprise, really: We’re a vastly smaller group, a minority within our lgbt minority, so appropriately less time is spent on issues relating to us. (Just a shout-out to the LGBTU student group at The University of Akron, as they break this trend and give trans issues a much larger chunk of the spotlight than we deserve by population, because they’ve recognized the importance of these topics. Well done on them)

So what does this mean for the lesbian in question? Well, she’s invalidating our trans lesbian’s identity, plain and simple. By saying she’s not ‘really’ a lesbian, she’s implying an awful lot, and none of it is good. First and foremost, let’s go ahead and define “Lesbian”: a lesbian is a woman* who is attracted exclusively to other women*. Pretty simple definition, right? Well the two key elements are “Woman” and “Attracted exclusively to other women”. By saying she’s ‘not really a lesbian’ she has to be excluding our trans lesbian from one of the two criteria: and since, presumably, the trans lesbian has been with, or is currently with another woman, and has shown no interest in men, we can assume that ‘Attracted to other women’ is true. This means the only remaining conflict is in fact, our trans lesbian’s womanhood. There’s no other way around it. (Continues here)