The first time Clarke finds Bellamy and Wells curled up
together on the couch together she just can’t resist taking a picture to save
the memory. Didn’t someone say that a picture is worth a thousand words? Well,
this picture is worth all the words in the world and then some.
“Honey I’m home!” Clarke whisper yells when she finally gets
her key in the door. (No, it absolutely did not take Clarke five times to
actually get the lock to turn. It was more like four. Okay?) She pushes the
heavy door open and lets out a small squeak like sound when one of the books in
her arms fall to the ground and hit her toes. This is one of those moments she
really regrets wearing flips flops. Groaning loudly, she reaches down, holding
on to the remainder of her books for dear life, and grabs the hard book off the
“Bellamy?” Clarke whispers, just a little louder than when
she pushed the door open. “Where are you?”
Clarke squints her eyes in the dimly lit room and pushes the
front door closed with her butt. (When your arms are full you gotta do what you
gotta do right?) She throws her keys into a vase by the front door. (A vase O
has made her opinion about its “disgustingly designed looks” a countless number
of times, but she was the one that actually picked it. A small little fact
Clarke reminds her about over and over again. “It looked way better in the
store,” she always says to defend herself.)
This is super opinionated it isn’t even funny. This opinion does not belong to all of the admins on writeworld, just me.
We get a lot of questions about POCs. Just like most questions we get, we don’t answer a large number of questions about POCs, but unlike most questions we get, I’m starting to get tired of seeing so many. This frustration is never an annoyance with the questioning party, but rather the culture that has caused the question to exist in the first place.
This is because most questions we get about POCs are some iteration of “I want to include POCs but don’t know how” or “Would it make sense to include POCs” or “How can I write a POC without being offensive.” Same thing goes for disabled, LGBTQ, religious minority, and any other kind of “minority” character, or a character that you simply aren’t.
Here’s the deal. Political corectness and art do not belong together. If your story doesn’t have any black people in it, don’t write black people into it. If it doesn’t have any white people in it, don’t write white people into it. Tell your story as well as you can in the way that it will work the best. Whether or not someone gets offended because a certain group is excluded is in no way a barometer for judging the quality of your work.
What’s happened in our society is that we’re almost strangled by political corectess. It’s supposed to be a way for us to be sensitive and understand each other better, and I get that, but that’s also the point of literature in a lot of ways. And people send us these asks because they’re afraid of being insensitive, and they’ve been boxed into this corner of not wanting to offend, which is okay and natural, but it’s stifling. Art needs room and no limits in order to become anything approaching art.
Tell your story as faithfully as you can tell it. Betraying your story is one of the biggest sins you can commit as a writer. If you’re so worried about coming off as racist, you probably won’t come across as racist. If you’re interested in the cultural norms of a certain culture, do what you would do in any other case: research.
POCs should not be treated as their own facet of writing. They should not have to be treated tenderly because that mentality is by nature a separation, which is the exact opposite of what you’re trying to do by including POCs.
So instead, I recommend treating all of your characters as people (or lizards or whatever race they are) and going from there. Understanding your characters, regardless of race, as people will be the thing that makes you an effective writer and the characters believable.
That’s pretty much all I’ve got to say about that. The ask box is open if you want to use it. I’m probably not going to reply to anyone. If interesting opinions, on any side of this discussion, are brought up, I’ll gladly post them, but any attempts to get a rise out of me or any of the other admins will get you nowhere.
What it is we do (and don't) here, what it is to write fiction, and the point of giving and receiving help with writing fiction
Hi. Many opinions lie below.
There is a certain brand of question that irks me the most when I see it in our ask box. It’s not when people tell us that we don’t cite our image blocks (although those are frustrating, as we do cite our Image Blocks), it isn’t questions that can easily be solved by a search engine or our toolbox, and it isn’t questions that just require common sense to answer.
It’s questions that ask us to someone’s creative work for them. And not in a “can you guys do my homework for me” way, but in a “can you guys make large decisions regarding my story for me” way.
We have a couple of questions sitting in the ask box that go something like this: “I have this idea for a story. But I’m not sure if I should do the story one way or another way. Help!”
The problem with these questions is that this is your job. An idea for a story is not a story. A story is a story. The thing that we call “writing” is deciding how to execute (and then executing) the idea for the story.
To use an example (not from our inbox), if you want to write a story protesting war but don’t know how to do it, you don’t have a story. Are you looking to protest war by satirizing it like in Catch-22? Or are you trying to play it straight and show it as horrifying like in All Quiet on the Western Front? Those are two totally different things and require two different sets of skills. The two novels are nothing alike, even though they’re about the same thing.
Nobody says “Wow, you should read this book because it’s about class.” They say “this book is great because of what it does with class.” Or how it handles it, presents it, humanizes it. That’s what writing fiction (at least from one perspective) is: taking abstract ideas and making them into stories.
So when I see one of these questions, I’m at a total loss. I don’t want to do this person’s creative work. If I wanted to do that, I’d be the one writing the story.
A work of fiction is a series of choices. You choose which characters to introduce into which world under which circumstances. You choose what they say, think, and do. Everything is under your control. Do not surrender control of your story to anyone else.
If you are willing to surrender this control, figure out why that is. Maybe you haven’t thought about your story hard enough, maybe you don’t fully understand the elements of your story or you haven’t done enough research on the topic, etc. There is a reason why you are not owning the story you yourself are inventing. Figure out why.
This whole thing of course begs the question of why writing blogs exist, or more specifically, why I help operate a writing blog if I think this way.
The answer is pretty simple: I believe that writing fiction is hard. I am not very good at it. I need a lot of help. There are techniques to fiction, and I believe that a blog can help people understand them.
If you’re brand new to writing and have no idea what’s going on, you’re going to lose a lot of time trying and failing to figure things out that have already been established as good ideas. Writing blogs like this one (and the ones we follow) can help expose new writers to these ideas. They are ways for us to share ideas for how to approach the craft.
Basically, we can help you learn to make decisions, but we will never make decisions for you. We can demonstrate effective use of detail, but won’t tell you which detail to use.
Maimonides was a twelfth-century Spanish/Jewish philosopher. He had this idea that not all service is created equal. There are many kinds of assistance: giving help begrudgingly, giving help willingly but not giving enough, giving anonymously, etc., but the top of the ladder is helping someone become self-reliant so that they no longer need assistance.
That’s what we’re trying to do here. Everyone will always need some help (again, writing is hard), but that’s the sort of idea we’re looking for. We’re trying to spread ideas about plot and setting, characters and themes. This is so that you can digest these ideas and (if you like them, which you may not) and apply them to whatever piece you’re working on or will one day work on. We aren’t interested in helping you create one great piece of fiction that’s a weird amalgamation of our ideas and yours. We want to help you become great fiction writers.
I sent you a question a few weeks ago, after searching for it on Google (and finding nothing related to it). Why is taking so long for you to answer?
This message has so much good stuff in it that it’s really hard to pass up. Your question will be answered eventually, probably, but we’re going to do some writing advice in here, too.
Words matter. To me, this message comes off as rude. It also comes across as though you believe that it is our, like, moral duty to answer all of your questions (more on this below, so sit tight). This whole question lies in the word choice. Now, we have no way of knowing whether this person really intended rudeness, but their diction is frankly off-putting. We get some questions like these which are framed in other ways, e.g.
Hi, I sent you a question about such-and-such thing, and I was wondering if and when you would answer it. Thanks!
The difference between the initial question and this example isn’t trivial. Words do more than express their meanings, they also have feelings associated with them, and certain words in certain combinations have associations that come with them, and “why is it taking you so long” is one of them. Therefore, know that the words you choose matter in getting your point across. This is an important thing to remind writers, who traffic in nothing but words.
Research. We have already explained why your question has not already been answered. On this page, we have links to several posts explaining why we might not answer something. We may want you to do your own creative work, we may have answered it already, or we may want you to do your own research. On that research note, it is obvious that not enough research was done here. We mentioned some reasons why some questions don’t get answered in those posts on the FAQ page, but also in posts like this one. And so the point here is that, since the answer is available in the world, not enough research was done. As a writer, you need to do lots of research.
This is not a job. Running this blog is hard. (This is coming from someone who definitely isn’t in first place on the effort-involved chain.) But we have lives, and jobs, and due dates, and cars that break down, and sick pets, and all of this other stuff, and sometimes, running a blog can’t be the most important thing. Also, along the lines of this not being a job, we aren’t under some kind of contractual obligation to answer your question. We have to make tough decisions about how to spend our time on this blog, and sometimes that means that a question gets put on the back burner or even deleted. Now, having a blog this popular where we get to interact with so many writers in so many places is a huge blessing, of course, but know that we do it because we like to. AKA, you are not entitled to an answer. If we think it’ll make our writing blog better, then we will answer it.
Moral of the story: being a writer is hard. There’s a lot of stuff that you have to do to get good at it, like word choice, and research. Some of that stuff has been figured out or commented upon and put on a writing blog or in books, and we try to make that information available to you.
But we found this information, too, at one point, and not in our secret treasure trove of knowledge. In fact, we probably did a Google search, formed some opinions, and wrote something about them. We encourage you to do the same!
To conclude, we know we can’t be your only source of writing advice. I don’t even know what a writer who only read WriteWorld posts would be like. Explore. Experiment and fail. Be a writer.
And maybe if your question was cool and we’re just still working on it or something. I don’t know. I suppose we’ll find out!
anonymous asked: Do you have any tips on how I can make two characters who originally hate each other to become friends? I want it to seem very natural, thanks :)
Something of an opinionated response. It’s not super opinionated, but I’m erring on the side of caution with this little italicized banner doohickey.
There’s this stereotype that I dislike. It’s the idea that writers (and most other artists) spend their days locked up in little rooms, slaving over drafts, becoming fiercely protective of their work, and avoiding most human contact in order to focus on their writing. This is something of an extension of the reclusive author trope with an implication that all authors are at least a little bit reclusive.
I’m getting to your point, by the way, it’s just gonna take a second. Sit tight.
The problem with this stereotype is that if a writer spends all of her time locked up in a little room and writing, her writing is (probably) going to be awful. (Unless you’re Emily Dickinson or something). This is because of the big general point that’s relevant to nonnie’s question, which is that life experience is writing experience.
Very few stories are about people sitting alone in little rooms working on writing. Most stories involve multiple people and conflict and emotions and all of that stuff that you only get by being part of the world.
Now this isn’t to imply that you, anon, spend all of your time in a little room, because I obviously have no idea. It’s instead to say that the best material you get for writing will come from your own life. What’s the best way to repair a friendship or become friends with an enemy? I don’t know, have you tried it? Do you know anyone who has? Even if you haven’t, let’s say you wanted to become friends with someone you dislike. How would you do it?
Writing fiction is converting the human experience into the written word. The question you’re asking isn’t about that conversion process, because that’s a weird intricate thing full of all of these little quirks like verbs, dialogue, and details, the question you’re asking is about the human experience. How do you go about life, how do you fix gaps, how do you connect to an enemy? And this is the question that your story is trying to answer for its readers.
So in at least one way, the question you’re asking boils down to “I want to demonstrate the fact that this thing that I believe is possible in my heart but I’m not sure how to show it to people.” So go out there and figure it out. Live your life, and take the parts that you think are confusing or hard or beautiful and make stories out of them.