Titles are overrated.

So I feel kind of bad because it’s been about two weeks since I said I’d close the poll and I never updated, those of you who were waiting with bated breath, about the results.

The results are, I still have no idea.

I think by now, I'm not fooling anyone about what I do and do not know.

 

Naming the city sounds like it wouldn’t be a big deal, but really the city is a central character. That sounds stupid but whatever, it’s true.

So the results are inconclusive. Daresbury technically won, however an equal number of people are for and against my naming it that. Ordinarily I’d say, fuck that shit and do what I want, yet in this case, I don’t know what I want. Well, no, I know what I want. I want the original town name. Whomp whomp.

I’m not going to lie, I’m not learning a whole hell of a lot in this class because it is a class for beginners. I’d like to think that with one semester left, I’m not really a beginner. But that makes blog posts difficult because I’ve gone over a lot of what’s been said in class already.

I will say this, though. Copy edit your fucking shit.

I understand that you believe that copy editing will be done by your publisher and whatever once you got a book deal, but you have to understand how much simple mistakes reflect poorly on you. It looks like you don’t care, both about your story and about wasting other people’s time. Get someone to do it for you before you hand it in. Read it 50 times yourself–I don’t fucking care how it gets done, just do it.

I feel like I’m a copy editor trapped in a writer’s body sometimes (except with my own stuff, I’m terrible at finding mistakes in my own writing. Hypocritical? Maybe.) and that’s how I read excerpts. So if you’re lacking an Oxford comma, if you use “was” instead of “were”, if you’re dangling clauses, then I’m going to point it out to you. Because it distracts me.

I brought this up in class yesterday and apparently we’re beginner enough that we have to put “said” after everyone’s dialogue, but advanced enough that we don’t have to pay attention to simple grammatical errors. Go figure.

Another thing that really grinds my gears is characterization. What I mean to say is, how realistic do we make our characters? And how do we convince people this is realistic?

I’ve been running across this problem with the story I’ve been using for this class. Originally it was just a story that I was using to get through this since I couldn’t use my thesis and I didn’t have enough brain cells to spare to create another story. But now I’m sort of using this story in defiance. The character is real, she’s very real, I’d go as far as to say she’s kind of me.

Usually, I’d be all “Noooo, don’t base characters off of yourself! That’s asking for trouble.” But in this instance, as I said, I didn’t have the time or energy to put a whole bunch of thought into creating a totally original character. So I made her, put her in a situation, and made her react as I thought I would.

And now I’m being told she’s not believable.

It’s confusing. Because on the one hand, not everyone reacts to situations in the same way. Even one person could react to a situation in many different ways. So telling me that my character isn’t grieving in the proper way is like, well, who the fuck are you? The grief police? Also, my professor is all about characters having sex or something, and she seems really confused that a boy and a girl would live together, even sleep in the same bed together, without having sex. I can’t count the number of times I’ve slept in the same bed as someone and have somehow resisted the urge to jump his/her bones. I’m sure it was difficult, but I managed it. Everyone I know is just so fucking sexy.

One of my classmates said, and rightly so, that my character’s lack of emotion is okay, there just needs to be a reason for it. So that’s another problem to deal with. How am I going to inject backstory like that into a story that really has not use for it. Maybe not no use, but no room. The story isn’t really about her and her lack of emotion, the story is about her dealing with grief enough to find out who the fuck killed her friend so she doesn’t go to jail. Taking time out to talk about her troubled childhood seems out of place. Also, I don’t have time to add these scenes.

So I’ve been told to give this character more emotion. It took a lot for me not to just be so fucking sarcastic and make her incredibly emo and crying all the time. We’ll see next week how the additional emotion plays out. Whatever. This is why you don’t base characters on yourself, everything that’s said about the character suddenly becomes personal and your immediate reaction, instead of listening and considering the critique, is to defend the character’s behaviors. Live and learn. 

I guess I did have something to say. Hot damn.

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2 responses to “Titles are overrated.

  1. So I don’t want to insult your entire class, and, obviously, I haven’t read the story you’re using for it so… you know.

    But I feel like your classmates are confusing believability of character with consistency of character. Or not necessarily confusing them, I mean, but mixing up the order they’re supposed to come in.

    You said your character’s backstory isn’t important to the plot. Which is totally fine. If it’s not important, leave it out. But it’s like, how can your classmates have a problem with the believability of your character if they don’t know her backstory? It reeks of inability to understand that people WHO ARE NOT YOU are going to act in ways YOU ARE NOT GOING TO ACT.

    What should be important to your classmates is consistency of character. At least, at first. If your character isn’t acting consistently, THEN your character’s believability should falter. But their suspension of disbelief shouldn’t falter immediately. How can it? It’d be like if they flipped through the first couple chapters of a Harry Potter book and said, “This isn’t believable to me because magic doesn’t exist. How can magic exist? Explain it to me.” That’s not the point. In the HP universe, magic exists. In your universe, your character had a troubled childhood. And if she is acting consistently throughout your entire story, from a concrete POV, they shouldn’t need her backstory, and their suspension of disbelief shouldn’t falter at all.

    Fiction is about creating a self-consistent universe, and self-consistent characters, and I feel like your classmates are forgetting that.

    • THANK YOU.

      Can you please be in every class with me? I need you in my life constantly, you keep me sane. I was sitting there like, what does it MATTER if you believe that people act this way or not, fiction is not always supposed to be realistic. The point is, SHE acts that way. Is it well written? If it’s not, then THAT is what you need to tell me. If the believability is off because it’s not written well, then say that. Don’t say you don’t believe the character.

      I think this program needs more of a structure. I realize it’s hard to tell people how to write, but I’m getting really tired of vague advice and just weird comments that don’t make much sense. Bah.

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