Adherents to the cult of political correctness continues to plague writers and filmmakers. Often, before a film or book even is released, trolls come out of the dark recesses of the internet to create fake outrage over films they often haven’t seen, or books they haven’t read.
When trailers were shown for The Great Wall, self-appointed diversity police immediately complained that the “white” star in a Chinese film, must have been indicative of a “white savior” story. In other words, the white man was going to save the poor Asian masses.
These claims were fishy from the start: This was a Chinese film, filmed in China, by a Chinese director, with a cast made up of nearly all Chinese actors. Additionally, the open-minded Chinese government is very picky on what is shown in its theaters. Perhaps, most importantly, is that it was clearly a fantasy film and didn’t pretend to be otherwise. Continue reading
What if a reader gets tripped up by some small part of your book? Perhaps a sentence or a few words don’t make sense to them. Maybe one of your creative flourishes isn’t sitting well. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with what you wrote, and there may only be one reader or two that have commented. What do you do?
Do you just brush it off and say, “I’m an artist and people should accept all my amazing choices” or do you see it as an opportunity to possibly improve? If you are serious about your craft, I suggest the second choice. You may not end up changing the issue in question, and it could have been brought to your attention by only one soul, but you should seriously evaluate it.
You can’t hope to make everyone happy with your writing decisions, voice and style — nor should you attempt to. Telling your own story is paramount, but fine-tuning your ability to tell that story is not far behind.
I changed three or four sentences in Among the Shadows based on reader feedback. Ultimately, these things had little impact on the overall story, but I could see why some might not like how I worded them. The revisions do read better. Part of being a writer is deciding which creative choices to keep and which to modify.
This extended excerpt from Among the Shadows is from a chapter that serves as an interlude in the story. In the midst of the dire situation Milena found herself in, this was an opportunity to see more into her mind and her husband’s, and explore deeper themes relevant to all of us. Enjoy…
Some great articles around the web for writers this week:
Author Nadine Brandes writes on how marketing is no longer just about running ads, but connecting with your readers and building a tribe. If it’s hard for you to find time to write, Honorée Corder explains how to make writing second nature. Trying to figure out the ever-changing publishing landscape? Turns out that the mass market paperback market just won’t die — not completely anyway.
Why do people read? Why do writers tell stories? in Epic, John Eldredge writes:
It goes far deeper than entertainment…Stories nourish us…we hope to find in someone else’s story something that will help us understand our own…Stories shed light on our lives. As Daniel Taylor has written, “Our stories tell us who we are, why we are here, and what we are to do…” That is why, if you want to know someone, you need to know their story. “But in order to make you understand,” explained novelist Virginia Woolf, “to give you my life, I must tell you a story.”
Tell yours, read that of others. Find your place in the Story.
Why are so many stories about people banding together in small, close-knit groups (or ones that become that way)? Even the brooding loners eventually join a team — Logan joins the X-Men, Ironman goes with the Avengers. This theme permeates writing, film and history, as John Eldredge writes in Waking the Dead:
When Neo is set free from the Matrix, he joins the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar…[and] the small fellowship [is] called to set the captives free…a family bound together in a single fate. Together, they train for battle. Together, they plan their path…each has a role, a gifting, a glory…You see this sort of thing at the center of every great story. Dorothy takes her journey with the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Lion, and of course, Toto. When he left Rivendell, Frodo didn’t head out with a thousand Elves. He had eight companions. When Captain John Miller is sent deep behind enemy lines to save Private Ryan, he goes in with a squad of eight rangers…[even] Jesus had the Twelve.
It is in our nature, our very design, to not go at it alone. This is why our art, our writings, and our history, so often remind us of this. Eldredge concludes:
Though we are part of a great company, we are meant to live in little platoons. The little companies we form must be small enough for each of the members to know one another as friends and allies. Is it possible for five thousand people who gather…to really and truly know one another? …how about five hundred? One hundred and eight? It can’t be done…It can be inspiring and encouraging to celebrate with a big ol’ crowd of people, but who will fight for your heart?
Our stories are reflections of who we are and remind us not to forsake our nature.
The answer is no.
The mantra to pump out stories as fast as you can is doomed to fail. Readers will tire of repetition and lack of originality (and quality). Anne R. Allen goes into more detail in Are Slow Writers Doomed to Fail in the Digital Age?.
Write your story, your best story, and not someone else’s.