Easiest fix: make everyone amoebas

Don’t have to worry about diversity when everybody’s genderless, asexual, shapeless, and transparent.

But anyway.

This is going to be one of those awkward things, where I say a dozen things wrong. I apologize.

There’s a discussion over on Shakesville of how everyone is sick of white straight able-bodied male protagonists. And I’m in agreement, but…

Neill, the protagonist of the novel I’m revising, hits three of those (He’s asexual). So, I could make him black or Hispanic or something. He comments on the antagonist being mixed-race (for example: ‘The tip of his tongue moistened his bottom lip, very pink against his dark skin.’) and I don’t know if that would be weird coming from a POC. If not, yeah, he’s now Hispanic. (He probably will be) (And once he is, none of the main characters will be white. Which is groovy.)

But I kind of want to make him disabled as well. But he’s a doctor in a criminal mental institution and a major physical disability would put him more danger, so they wouldn’t allow that? I think? I do think I’m going to make him dyslexic. So, um, suggestions. He had meningitis as a kid, so I don’t know if that could cause something (besides cognitive disabilities. But he’s very smart. Maybe a problem with balance?)

There’s one other character, not for this story, that I want to give a disability to. He’s a guy in his twenties, very smart, and extroverted. He does tech support and that sort of thing. I’m open to suggestions.

(Content notice: discussion of gender essentialism, sexual harassment)

What I’m finding with this is, I’ll think, oh, do this. But then that means that event will be read as something completely different. Okay, so do this other thing, but now that other event reads as… And you’re all looking at me, going use your words, give us examples.

Okay, so I make Neill a woman. Cool, we’ve got this highly educated, very smart woman. Groovy. Exceeeept… at one point Ostanes kisses Neill, without consent. Now, it’s just a kiss, on the lips, no tongue, no groping. That still comes off as much scarier than a dude kissing a dude. Okay, make Ostanes a woman as well. Now people will interpret it as straight women kissing to get attention of guys (even though it happens in a gay bar). (I think – I might be overthinking that one).

But that raises another problem. Ostanes is a dandy. He likes really nice clothes, in bright colors, and he pulls it off. A woman doing the same is going to be read as, well, ‘women like clothes’. So I don’t want Ostanes to be a woman. And there are other problems with changing Neill to a woman, that come down to people thinking girls like girly things. It’s frustrating.

I do want to make things diverse, and I think even if I screw up it’s better than not trying. But sheesh. In story I can say, oh well the society doesn’t think like that, but that doesn’t actually fix anything.

Update July 16: So Thomas Neill is now Tomas Maurell. And he’s overweight and has a bunch of minor problems caused by the meningitis, including a balance disorder and chronic fatigue. I’m still working on editing those in. And the other character I mentioned, has something like Parkinsons (he’s young and in college, so I have to do some research.)

Overthinking how to fix Ostanes

So instead of finishing writing, like, for example, the short story that’s about half done and would only take a few more hours, my brain insists on going back to Ostanes. Aside from the obvious (making it so it’s not so much talking heads), I noticed it’s basically a sausage fest, at least for the first half. And most of the characters are barely described right now (yes, that’ll be fixed), which means everyone will assume they’re white, able-bodied, straight, and cis. The last two aren’t things that will really come up without me having to force it in.

This is not acceptable.

But let’s talk total diversity (because I want people’s opinions on how to improve it). Diversity bolded and my questions in blue (so you can skip the teal deer if you want).

(Spoilers likely – also, this doesn’t take place in our world, but for simplicity’s sake I’m going to use Terran nationalities.)

Dr. Thomas Neill. White, somewhat overweight (although not mentioned very early), asexual.

Ostanes and Iosis. Multiple (not considered a bad thing in this setting). I need to do something about them denying they are, because it comes off as silly (first, research). But that’s a different issue. Ambiguously brown, probably mixed because he has curly hair. Their mom shows up and is Southeast Asian. We know basically nothing about their dad. Tall and very thin. Ostanes is pansexual. Iosis says he’s asexual, but likes to have one-night stands and make out with people at bars. Ostanes says it’s because it’s a power trip. I think it’s just complicated. Opinions? Iosis at least possibly has a mental disorder or personality disorder (that or he’s just a giant self-centered vain asshole). Ostanes has selective mutism, which I need to clarify.

Various undescribed guards. Easy place to add diversity.

Security chief. Pretty much undescribed. Woman, which I need to mention earlier.

Dr. Caro. Jerk. Male. No description.

Dr. Callis. One of Ostanes’ ex-doctors. Woman. Tried to seduce him, which is problematic. (Or at least Iosis insists she did, but he may not be an entirely reliable witness…)

Dr. Ginson. One of Ostanes’ ex-doctors. Male, no description. Could easily be a woman, which would make up for Dr. Callis.

Dr. Tross. One of Ostanes’ ex-doctors. Male, no description. Iosis thinks he’s a jerk.

Iosis’ victims. The few that are described are men, presumably white. I’m pretty sure that’s fine with me.

Uco. Overweight. Male. He has a heavy accent, but I don’t say from where. He could easily be a woman, but I’m afraid that that’s saying that making clothes is woman’s work? Or am I overthinking?

Uco’s assistant. Male, has Café au lait spots on his face. Could also easily be a woman. Maybe make Uco a woman and the assistant a man?

Delivery people. At least one is a woman. They’re otherwise undescribed.

Anita Trevino, Ostanes’ and Iosis’ mom. Southeast Asian. Woman (duh). Gorgeous. Probably has the same mental/personality disorder Iosis does because their personalities are very similar. One of the few people who can get the better of Iosis, and it’s wonderful.

Dusty. Who still needs a name change. Currently male. Going to be changed to a woman, possibly a woman of color. (Also, probably pansexual, but that won’t come up. I am NOT going to write young Ostanes walking into the kitchen and seeing his mother making out with his mentor. Not happening, but it’d be hysterical. Because I’m a jerk.) The other person who can chew out Iosis and it’s even better. Shows up as a fox (trickster archetype – actual talking animal fox) later. If I change him to a woman, is it problematic for her to be a fox? If so, suggestions for a different trickster type?

Mr. Hiddles. Rabbit of various anthro states. Male. Not changing, because oh god I lurve him. I lurve him to bits.

Elliana. Woman. Probably going to be changed to overweight, possibly a woman of color. Neill had a crush on her. She’s a fairy princess. Opinions wanted. The real Elliana was Neill’s kindergarten teacher, when he had a crush on her. Any problems there that I’m not seeing?

Three old women / witches (presented without judgement). I’m tempted to do the crone/maiden/mother thing, but I don’t think it fits. The king of fish and an ogre. Yes, this story gets odd. I need to foreshadow the change and read a lot more fairy tales to get the tropes right. It’s beautiful and I need to expand it more. It’s just so so lovely.

 

Working Title: Ostanes – Session Ten & Eleven

I’m doing both, because I skipped over a big section while writing each of these so they’re rather short. I’m afraid, they need a lot of work, although they have a couple of good character moments.

I’d be willing to post Chapter 12, which is better, if I get, let’s say, three or more requests. Otherwise, y’all have to wait until I get the whole thing shaped up.

Continue reading “Working Title: Ostanes – Session Ten & Eleven”

Working Title: Ostanes – Session Nine

Alright, I’ve decided I’m only going to post up to chapter 11. I knew it was a bad idea to post unedited stories, but I let my excitement carry me away. Creative types will know what I’m talking about (‘I’m doing this thing! It’s so cool! I must tell EVERYONE.’) But Chapter 11 is a good breaking point, and once I’ve edited it I’ll repost chapters 1-11 and then post the rest.

As always, comments are welcome, whether good or bad.

ETA June 2013: Trigger warning for discussion of Ostanes’ killing people (not much) and child abuse.

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Working Title: Ostanes – Session Eight

Nice long chapter, that needs some work (internalization, descriptions – which would clear up the whole ‘talking heads’ thing – better worldbuilding, changing ‘Dochia’ to something not chuckle-worthy – thanks to the person who pointed that out – and some more I can’t think of now. Ostanes’ first name is going to get changed at some point – probably to Michael – and that bit will need smoothing out.

In general, the only editing I’ve done is changing the place names just now, and removing about 2/3rds of the times Ostanes says ‘doc.’ And probably half the times Neill says ‘Ostanes,’ although those didn’t stick out quite so badly (when I’m voice recording I don’t have as clear of a memory of what I’ve said, and I tend to have people address each other by name far more than is necessary. Additionally, I know there’s some stuff I covered in two different chapters, but I think I’ve edited most of that out.)

I’m trying to resist the urge to edit right now – I really need to let it sit for a bit, and work on other things. It’s very tempting though.

Anyway, that’s more than enough rambling from me, now for banter and stuff.

Continue reading “Working Title: Ostanes – Session Eight”

Working Title: Ostanes – Session Six & Seven

I decided I really didn’t like the old working title, so we’re back to basics. I realized I forgot to update Wednesday, so you get two chapters. The first one is short and will get expanded on rewrite. The second one is nice and long and I’m pretty happy with it, although I need to add descriptions and more of Neill’s thoughts. (I also still need to decide what to do about Ostanes’ accent, which shows up a lot more in these chapters)

I’ve been reading through The Other Side of the Story, which seems to be a pretty good writing blog. I’m bookmarking posts on things I need to work on. Mostly I need to stop thinking about this story right now and work on other things…

ETA June 2013: Trigger warnings for discussions of violence/death, corrupt doctors.

Continue reading “Working Title: Ostanes – Session Six & Seven”

Working Title: All Face – Session Five

This chapter is a little short, as are the next two. They’ll get expanded on rewrite. I have to decide what to do with Ostanes’ accent – I haven’t added it to all of his dialogue. I may do italics instead of the doubled letters or I may just drop it (I have a sneaking suspicion an editor would say ‘drop it, add a narrative note if you must’).

ETA June 2013: Content notice for mention of parental death.

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Working Title: All Face – Session Three

I got feedback, so that means another chapter! BTW, if you want to say I suck, give some specific reasons, otherwise I’ll just think you’re a troll.

Again, this is a rough draft with next to no editing. This session I was getting into the swing of it, so it’s nice and long (also… well, you’ll see.)

A note on locations: Dochia is approximately equivalent to California. Eillios is Washington DC and Washington, the state, mixed (climate of the state, politics of DC near the capital, more laidback elsewhere). Odede is Oregon. None of them are in the same relative positions as the states. This is set in the AMF, the Anitian Mirevian Federation, which is basically the US, and uses abetaries (a word I’m pretty sure I made up) instead of states.

I still need to make it more therapy and less chatting, but that’s just editing (and getting input from people who know things).

ETA June 2013: Trigger warning for assault. Highlight for specifics >>> (specifically forced undressing and bathing. No actual abuse.) <<<

Edited slightly August 2013.

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Working Title: All Face – Session Two

Very rough title. Again, this is a rough draft, with next to no editing. If people like it, I’ll post more (that means you have to comment). At some point I have to get a beta-reader with experience in mental health stuff so these can be more like therapy and less like chatting, but that’ll wait (I have a bunch more research and prepwork to do too, but that’ll also wait).

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Working title … is a spoiler. Never mind.

I’ve got this novel that’s consuming me and insisting on coming out. So, in lieu of the Ben-Day Spot commentary I promised, you get an excerpt of the rough draft.

This thing is seriously flowing better out of me than anything has in a long time. Usually I can only write long hand. This one? I can write it on the computer. I can write it long hand. It comes best when I voice record it.

Again, this is a rough draft, with next to no editing. If people like it, I’ll post more (that means you have to comment.)

ETA June 2013: Content notice for this and all other parts: discussions of crime, mental illness, personality disorders. Anything beyond that will have an additional content notice.

Continue reading “Working title … is a spoiler. Never mind.”