The New Gender Stereotyping

How do you go about choosing the gender identity/ethnicity/sexuality of your characters?

Question from Writing Forums.

I choose a character. The identity evolves as I write. Ethnicity and sexuality are left up to the reader for the most part. Especially in the case of a short story where character development is as important as the story itself. Let the reader decide who the character is, based on the reader’s own biases.

I’m old school, grew up in the 1970’s when we talked about gender stereotypes rather than conforming to them as people seem to do these days. I knew tomboys. We talked about how incorrect that was. How it limited women, ranking them as real girls or tomboys. As if a girl should not be climbing trees, etc.

Now it seems things have gone off track completely, in the wrong direction. Now we try to put children (and people) into tiny little boxes. Each time they fit into one box we look for an even smaller box to fit them into. Eventually everyone becomes a long string of descriptive words, but they seem to fit in, somehow. A lot of younger people seem to be backing their way into tiny boxes all on their own.

I wonder who decided we all needed to fit into tiny boxes?

I’d rather not. I don’t want to be stifled and suffocated in order to suit an outdated stereotype. Because it is outdated, all that new stuff about gender identity.

Gender is a man or a woman. Either one can climb trees. Why does gender limit people so much more these days?

When I write a character it is male or female. Identity and ethnicity don’t come from the gender of the character. If you carry all that in your crotch, you need to expand your limits. Sexuality is about gender, an aspect of each involves the other. Sexuality should not be limited by gender, any more than identity and ethnicity are.

Why is gender so much more important now than it ever was before?

Do you ever wonder, with so much focus on gender, what you’re missing?

Les Miserables: Even After all These Years

My sister-in-law gave me Les Miserables (by Victor Hugo) for Christmas one year. It was a big book, a tome. But, I was curious. I hadn’t read the book, seen the movies or performances. Also, the story is over 100 years old (closing in on 200 years even) and I really like history. What better way to see history than from the words written by someone who was there.
Reading the book took awhile. I was glad my version of the book was translated by someone who took out some of the less relevant parts. Victor Hugo did go on about a lot of things, like the war which happened before the story in the book, the slang used in France 200 years ago and other things. The editor (Norman Denny) did not remove these sections from the book, but left it up to the reader to decide to read them or not. Which was good because Les Miserables is a very long book with a story which pauses frequently to discuss life and philosophy in what seems a roundabout way by current/ modern standards of book writing.

Victor Hugo wrote Les Miserables almost 200 years ago.

Yet the story isn’t so outside of our own experience with broken families and trying to manage on a tight budget. I had expected the story to be more about poverty and drudgery. It wasn’t. It also was not just about a police chase. I had seen some of the Les Miserables movie made in the 1970s. The part I watched (before turning the channel) was all about Jean Valjean being tracked down by Javert. If this is your impression of the story you should read the book. There is more to it.

Which movie version of Les Miserables have you seen and which was your favourite?

A Happy Ending Isn’t Necessarily the Best Ending

I’ve always thought that for a book to be a word-of-mouth success, the reader has to turn the last page and be motivated in that moment to tell someone, “You have to read this!” But to me, that could be just as much because it inspired cathartic, body-shaking sobs as if it left me with a feeling of joyful elation. No matter what, it has to move me in some big, exciting, unusual way—and that, in itself, makes me happy.
A happy ending can also be very moving, making you cry at the end of a book. I especially like endings which leave me feeling stunned, in a good way. Endings which make me think on about the story, where it might go from there. Or, what alternative endings it could have had if this or that little thing had just gone differently.
Overall, I like an ending that haunts me. There are very few. I can’t even put it into words, though I’ve tried to do so just for myself even. A haunting ending is sort of a hopelessness, things which can’t be changed. Tragic and yet not an entirely bad ending, or sad. An ending where something is lost. That seems the best way I can describe it.

Have you ever written the ending to a story, before even planning the beginning? How would that work? Try it.

Tension

When I think of tension I think, surface tension. I remember a film about spiders which showed one sitting on top of the water in a glass. The hair on it’s legs created surface tension which kept it from getting wet in the water. It could just sit on the surface, due to surface tension.
I think it’s a great illustration for tension. Any change to the elements involved and the spider would begin to sink, need to swim or grab the edge of the glass to prevent itself from drowning. Tension is like that. The moment before, or the balance between, something else happening. Tension can change your story. As a writer I think you can use tension to develop your plot in ways you hadn’t planned on at the beginning. It brings so many new possibilities and reactions.
Tension is something about to change and that’s exciting.

Quick Fiction Fix

I don’t remember what or why I wrote this. It’s been in a text file (unsaved) to my desktop since the weekend. The flash fiction that time forgot. How many times have you written something, finished it and then realized you had no idea why you started it?  Maybe it’s just me.

I feel asleep in front of the computer, looking up postal codes for Christmas cards. I woke up to a dark house and a darker computer screen. The power had gone out, again.

The fireplace was keeping the room warm and dimly lit. I might not have power but I had the essentials: heat, water and a roof to keep the snow from burying me. Likely there would be power again by morning.

So until then… watch a little TV… No. I laughed at myself. So dependent on electricity. Can’t even boil the water to make fresh coffee.

I got up to shut down the lights (to save power, right?). I checked the door locks. All was well. My foot was just on the first step to go upstairs to bed when the computer monitor flickered.

Without power there was nothing electrical working. I froze, puzzled. Was this some new paranormal phenomena? Some new scientific breakthrough?… Of course I had to go back to investigate.

An email was now on my screen. The rest of the computer was dark, no flickering lights showing the Internet was connected or the computer had power. In every science known to modern man it was impossible for an email to show up on my computer and yet, it was there.

No sender name or return email address. Just a note “See you tomorrow”.

I wasn’t going anywhere tomorrow. We were expecting a heavy snowstorm, it was a Sunday and my Christmas shopping could be put off for a better day. No one was coming here. I liked my weekends quiet and alone when I could get them that way.

I decided there was some yet unknown scientific principle at work, or the message was for the invisible aliens living in my house and not meant for me at all.

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction Group

This is a group for anyone who has ever dreamt of waking up one day and finding the world we know now has been stripped away. All of society gone, wiped out. Only the ghostly remnants of society remain as deserted cities and abandoned eerie highways.

A world where only the strong and determined survive.

To all of those of us who fantasize about living in a city like the overgrown, abandoned ruins of Chernobyl.

Whatever form your chosen apocalypse takes, be it viral outbreak, terrorism, nuclear holacaust, zombies, alien invasion or biological contagion then this is the group for you! Meet like minded people and discuss plans, strategies, share artwork etc.

Welcome to the world after…

Source: Post-Apocalyptic fiction group

Write Dieselpunk

Dieselpunk is an alternate history/reality science fiction sub genre that takes much of it’s flavor and attitude from cyberpunk. It is usually set between 1915-1950 and like it’s cousin steampunk it is retro-futurism. Even though it is compared to and pigeon-holed with steampunk it actually has more in common with cyberpunk. Think of it as cyberpunk as seen through a pulp, art deco, filter. If you like all things early 20th century vintage and retro-future you’ll love Dieselpunk.

Source: Dieselpunk from Facebook

Writers as Games Developers

Is this a dream job for you? I like playing computer games (video games on the PC). I know someone is writing the characters,  dialogue, plot and so on.

Writers would also be involved in promoting the game (including social media). The best people for the job would be the writers familiar with the game.

Interactive writers are the men and women who come up with the stories and write the dialog and even the text messages seen in a range of interactive media from games to apps. Often working in a team, they may find brainstorming and mind-mapping skills just as important as old-fashioned writing skills. Rather than a novel, what they produce is closer to a film or TV script.

via How Writers Can Work with Games Developers | Publishing Perspectives.

For Space Opera Writers

A group for writers working in the space opera genre to network, post works-in-progress, and to offer critiques for others.

via Space Opera: Writers.

Found on a forum. Original source unknown.
Found on a forum. Original source unknown.

How many types of science fiction genre can you think of? Seems there is always at least one more…

  • Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic
  • Cyberpunk
  • Dieselpunk
  • Steampunk
  • First contact
  • Hard science fiction
  • Alternative history
  • Near-future
  • Future fantasy
  • Super human
  • Slipstream
  • Soft/sociological
  • Space western
  • Time travel