kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
I've always figured eventually I'd explain the reasons why I'd post about city/street, and a bit of how I ended up there if that might help others comprehend, but first, this segue is overdue. It's for all those authors who write for a teenage audience, or have teenage protagonists, because your genre has a lot to answer for. Not that this is your fault, personally, but it is a responsibility you bear, I think. And it's one you need to at least be aware of, if you aren't already, so if you choose to disregard you do so intentionally.

It's a little like deciding that in your book, all Hispanics are maids or plumbers: if you're going to play to the stereotypes, at least be able to look me in the face when we meet and say, yes, I'm aware of the issues surrounding using ethnic characters as lower-class background only; my use of that was intentional. Whether this can alleviate the larger issue would be contextual, based on the book you wrote, but it's still better than you giving me a pop-eyed look and proclaiming you had no idea! that anyone would be offended to see all Hispanics in your book are lazy, drunken, ill-educated part-timers.

This is more related to the issues mentioned in part III than in part I or part II. The first two parts mostly did a lot of implying. So here goes.

Seventeen ways that books and television taught me that the life I had was the life I deserved. )

The writers of this world are dreamers, and if there is anyone who needs a dream — deserves a dream, even — it's those children living in warzones that pass for family. Please, at least once, spare a bit of your dreams for them, too.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (tea and cake)
( continued from part II )

This has been a long time coming, mostly because I wrote the intended post but locked it while I reflected on whether I wanted to make it public, after all -- and then, eventually, forgot about it, as I got distracted by other projects. I was reminded again by several synchronicities: one, coming across the RPG-forum complaint about the post, while searching for something unrelated, two, having it linked (again, I thought?) in LJ's little_details comm (hi, folks!); three, a recent novel that had sounded promising but ended up being an DNF thanks to the author's ignorance of human nature.

The bulk of this post can be summed up in this simple statement: if you're totally convinced the best route to pile on a character's angst is by giving them an abusive-family background, I've got a few bones to pick with you.

A few notes about the reality. )

1. Do not force the backstory to come out for the sake of story. )

2. Remember this above all else: no one is *proud* of being a victim. )

3. Stop taking the goddamned easy way out. )

4. Go read rachelmanjia's posts on PTSD. Process, ponder, read, repeat. )

5. Abuse your character, then be prepared to write the hyper-vigilance. )

...more coming in a day or two.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (whedon wisdom)
Was working on the db just now, and the idea of quirks in characters, and the fact that plenty of sites list "gluttony" but few list, or ask, why. I mean, there are certainly addictive personalities, and those who just don't have the off-button on their stomachs.

That reminded me of eating out with several friends, and being a bit taken-aback by one friend's almost single-minded intensity of getting as much food, as fast as possible, from the main shared dish to her plate, and then eating it just as fast. Her hand honestly moved so fast it was almost as though it barely touched her own plate before she'd swallowed it.

I watched this for several minutes, trying in vain to get my own chopsticks in to get some of the dish, before I finally said (in that half-joking, hope-I-don't-offend way), "hey, it's okay, we can always get more if you're really hungry."

She stopped, blinked, and then grinned (obviously someone mature/self-aware enough not to take it personally), and told me, "I have five brothers and sisters, and we grew up on the Rez. There was never enough food, and you learned to grab what you could before anyone else did. Meals weren't for conversation, but for competition. Guess I still do it, even when I don't have to, hunh."

I did notice that for the dish she'd ordered for herself, she also started into it with the same pattern, until something seemed to 'click' in her head that no one else was reaching for it, and then she slowed down. I should also note that she was not at all overweight, but just-right. I suppose her body had adjusted over the years to "food comes in fast"; she evidenced no reluctance in pushing away a half-eaten dish and saying she was full.

Just something to think about.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
Just a series of collected notes-to-myself that I’d made while replying to the replies on my original post(s). I knew they were around here somewhere -- archived onto a disk when I converted to the new computer -- and la, found them. Rather than go through and completely rewrite and rearrange, just throwing them together and posting. May edit later. In meantime, here ya go, more various details and observerations, with a good dose of ancedote littering the post.

Verite suggestions... I guess I should wander off to the bookshelf now. )

A few socio-economic sub-groups. )

Meet-and-greet classics for runaways. )

Crash course on throwaways. )

The old-fashioned way to get around lack of ID. )

Scene-geared businesses. )
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
About live shows among the subcultures, a facet that apparently exists on both coasts, per [livejournal.com profile] cosplayeriori’s comments in a previous thread:
Yes, for clubs it’s usually the dumb white kids getting into fights. In my years being around music scene of SF and having bouncers for clubs like the Fillmore and Warfield be my ‘baby sitters’ on going to the office with mom days, when I was young, rarely did I ever hear about fights and they didn’t hold back talking around me, because they where always talking about what shows they worked, how late it went, if they had to do anything. Really all you got were guys getting kicked out for moshing/stage jumping (which isn’t allowed at the Fillmore, they will kick you out) or some guy getting drunk and being an ass. I will say one of the most WELL-behaved and friendly audiences I’ve ever seen was at a Garry Newman concert who had Switchblade Symphony as their opener. Granted the Filmore was filled to the brim with a strange mix of ex-80’s now semi-prep office types and hardcore-goth scene. Everyone got along, and was really nice.

When I was in college and home for the weekend (a somewhat rare event, given that I was frequently in the city but not necessarily making any effort to swing by actual home), I managed to get two tickets for the Fishbone show at a city university. I already knew I’d be doing head door for them when they played my own school the following Monday, but it’s one thing to stand at the door the entire night, and another thing to actually, y’know, see the show. It was one of the few times I made a real effort to do something for my sister, seeing how she liked Guadacanal Diary (the actual headliners).

When we arrived at the university’s gymnasium... )

It’s times like that, that I recognize the incredible power of music to bring us all together, if only for an evening.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
I suppose you could consider this a continuation from the dear-author posts; it's a series of thoughts (shorter this time, I hope) triggered by several comments. I suspect I'm going to be doing this kind of "you made me think of this" post, for a while to come.

Several responses noted that they've read allegedly "edgy" stories, only to read and find it very non-edgy. One or two responses went farther, and observed that in some cases, other reviewers find the story absolutely shocking/appalling for its cuss-words, or its drug use, or the blatant sexuality among the characters, etc, etc. The first thing I've got to say is that I frankly hate the term "edgy" -- because that's such a personal opinion it's pretty much useless as a criterion for a story's value. I've met people who think edgy is going more than two miles over the speed limit; they're never going to be able to handle it when I'm driving, that's for sure. I've met people who think jumping out of a perfectly good airplane into a no-man's land and then hiking out with only a pen-knife, a tube of toothpaste, and a spare shoelace is just another day at the office, and if you think I'm ever going to jump out of an airplane in this life or any other, boy have you got another think coming. That's pretty freakin' edgy, to me.

Ten unnumbered things I hate about Edginess. )

Reasons Why Dogs Are Not Allowed in Dojos: street versus dojo training. )

continue to part II
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
[all posts stemming from the original ‘dear author’ post are tagged with bright lights big city.]

I was listening to the radio yesterday and trying to ignore the semi-obnoxious deejay -- who has to be just out of college, given the comments -- blathering on about the days of “punk rockers”.

I really, really, really hate that label.

Now, there are ‘punk rock’ bands -- I’d say the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Replacements, that ilk, would be at the top of the recognizable-names list. That’s punk, certainly -- often Brit, songs with a punk delivery but under that rough-edged veneer it was really just more three-four time basic rock. I wasn’t a punk rocker, and I was just as offended as my friends if we were called ‘punk rockers’... that was a derogatory term and only tolerable when used as an affectionate insult among friends. Anything else was close to fighting words, an implication that you were ‘just’ a punk rocker, that you were all flash and no substance.

Being called a ‘new waver’ was even worse, though, no matter how good Bowie’s music might’ve been. New Wave meant hair like Flock of Seagulls or Thompson Twins (both semi-pop bands but hello, that hair) -- bleached and permed and dyed manic-panic color (if not several colors at once) -- not to mention the spandex, sometimes ripped and torn, the oversized jackets with sleeves pushed up, and all in bright colors... and it seemed a bigger thing in NYC and LA than anywhere I hung. We didn’t have a lot of new-wavers in the city by the time I came around. The few we had, either had shaded into punk rockers at the edges of the hardcore scene, or were stepping sideways into the proto-goth world (and I don’t mean Evanescence-style neo-goth, but early Cure what-is-this-goth-you-speak-of whiteface and smeared lipstick).

I was hardcore, not punk rock... and if you're wondering where I'm going with explaining this: ) as someone who actually adores bluegrass, I’d still like a moratorium on all fiddles in urban fantasy, at least until any authors arrive who are willing to contemplate, and incorporate, a solid reason for a fringe environment to embrace a greater distance between itself and the mainstream, rather than the more likely wish of usurpation or at least recognition. And to qualify, I wouldn’t lift that moratorium for any author who seeks to justify the musically-expressed greater distance as a metaphor of “old versus new,” because, hello, DONE.

all the parts ▪ dear [not just urban fantasy] author part Idear [not just urban fantasy] author part IIdear [not just urban fantasy] author part IIIpermanent record, pt I: edginess, and street fightingpermanent record, pt II: guns, knives, and making it hurt
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
( continued from part I )

I should clarify, pursuant to an observation (about this post) that I saw elsewhere: yes, these are the comments of someone with practical application, trying to explain where authors so frequently go wrong in their romance with street life. This is, granted, my personal opinion and based on my personal experience, and in the finer details your mileage, as always, may vary. This is not a post on how to characterize, any more than it's a lengthy diatribe about the kinds of people who become street kids, junkies, criminals, deadheads or skinheads or even Vespa-riding mods. I'd be lying if I said I could tell you "these are the people who'll head to the fringe, and these people will not", because society throws away all kinds.

This, also, is not a post about how to characterize someone from the street. I can only point out the realities, as I saw/learned them*, and hope that from these details you can draw a clearer, more accurate picture as you build your own story.

*YMMV, of course, but that doesn't make me a dilettante.

10. No one gets out of here alive. On the street, some leave sooner than others. )

11. Even a con can get conned. Savvy in one way doesn't mean savvy in another. )

12. A replacement family: get it clear what that means. )

13. Fighting skills may look cool, but sometimes running is a much smarter option. )

14. The character has a caste, and the twain don't meet too often. )

15. Why you arrive, why you leave, why you return: the reasons often boil down to where you're welcomed. )

It may be an alien notion to your readers that anyone would embrace such a dangerous, uneasy, difficult life over that of family and home and stability. But if you're going to play the street-life card, if you're going to tout your character as going through the doctoral degree of hard knocks, the least you could do is not trivialize the experience.

all the parts ▪ dear [not just urban fantasy] author part Idear [not just urban fantasy] author part IIdear [not just urban fantasy] author part IIIpermanent record, pt I: edginess, and street fightingpermanent record, pt II: guns, knives, and making it hurt

continue to part III
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
Originally this was intended for urban fantasy (UF) authors, but many people have pointed out it has implications for more than just one sub-genre. Hence, title revised accordingly.

[ETA: some folks have told me the tone is arrogant, so it might help to remember that this was written with a great deal of annoyance running beneath the surface -- aimed at writers who get it wrong even in really simple things. ALSO: this post isn't applicable to all cities, or even all countries; ie, if your country doesn't allow private citizens to own guns, then there are parts that won't apply. That doesn't make my words automatically wrong; it just makes them inapplicable. Take what works and leave the rest, because everyone's experiences and mileage will vary -- and for alternate perspectives, I recommend scanning the comments for what others had to say about their own experiences.]

This is due to a long -- and I mean long -- conversation with [livejournal.com profile] difrancis last night, because when the semi-annual phone mood hits me, it takes a good four hours before it's out of my system and I'm ready for another three to six months of email only. I even killed my phone, no really, how's that for dedication to a conversation? Anyway, in the various tangents of the conversation, we hit on a few points that I think some urban fantasy authors might benefit from...

Let me rephrase. We hit on a few points that I know some [not just urban/cont fantasy] authors would find useful. I've read their books and there's major lack of vérité. But either no one is willing (or knowledgeable? can't be that, I hope) to knock the authors with a reality check, or the authors just haven't realized how much they need it and to take it when offered.

Dear author: this will hurt you more than it hurts me, but if any point o' mine might apply to something you've written... then it probably does. Pay attention; it's for your own good. Love, me.

1a. It's not enough to just shoot the gun: understand why a person prefers one gun over another. )

1b. A weapon is a personal thing, not a random choice, and the choice has significance. )

2. There are rules at the fringes of society. They're just the opposite of your rules. )

3. Never, ever forget the economics: things cost money. )

4. Know the law: because the character sure as hell would. )

5. When the economics fail, the solution tells me a lot. )

6. Things don't just take up space; it's how we perceive them in our space, too. )

7. Everything has a price: there's no such thing as a gift. )

8. ...I forget what eight was for.

9. Understanding politics may save your ass, but ignorance will eat it alive. )

continue to part II


kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
锴 angry fishtrap 狗

to remember

"When you make the finding yourself— even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light— you'll never forget it." —Carl Sagan

October 2016

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