Tag Archives: editing

Censorship and the PC Movement. Writers, Put Up Your Shields!

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 2.53.58 AMOne of my professors in grad school preached a lot about the danger writers might fall prey to the political correctness bug. While there is nothing wrong with being kinder and gentler as a society in our discourse with each other, being PC has not really had that effect. In fact, it appears to have had the opposite. People get into bitter discussions and vitriol flows freely in comment threads and on social media sites. If it sends the average Joe down that path, what is it doing to writers?

Brock Pope informs student writers this is a daily battle. We have to guard against it every time we sit down at the keyboard. The PC mentality is so engrained in our society that all rational thought leaves the building. Everything has become an attempt to ‘marginalize’ people. Recently, I had a scene with my detective, a Native Samoan. My critique partners both suggested it be cut as it was stereotyping. I trust my girls, and I always take their suggestions seriously. However, as writers we have to know when to fall back on our own counsel and what we know and have learned.

When I was going over the piece later, I kept hearing Pope ranting in my head against writers who cave to the pressure “not to offend” or to maintain a “PC” approach. Ultimately, I cut the bulk of the paragraph in question, not because it was stereotyping but because it was info dumping. I researched Native Samoans thoroughly and what I said was not stereotype but fact. There is a difference. When we make every male black character a basketball player, it’s stereotyping. They are not all brilliant basketball players, and they don’t even all like the sport. However, if I write an Italian character who talks with his/her hands, I am not stereotyping. Talking with our hands is a genetic factor in who we are. Attend my family reunions, you can pull major muscle groups dodging the arms.

What bothers me most about this PC culture is we’re slowly wiping out and demeaning our own histories. By demanding others not acknowledge who we are, we are also denying it. I grew up on Italian jokes, loved them, still do. Do we probably look silly talking with our hands? No doubt. But it’s part of who we are, and I wouldn’t change it anymore than I would my name. There are hazards to writing characters that have diversity. We’re encouraged to do it, yet told not to write characters outside our own culture. These things are in opposition. Trust writers to write. Allow them to create characters from any number of cultures, full of a richness that is part their culture and part their own unique personalities.

Writers today can spend too much time worrying about offending people and not enough time writing real characters. As writers, we must ignore the culture wars when we sit down to write. Otherwise, we are censoring our writing more than we’re editing.

How do you silence the inner editor who seeks to censor you?

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NaNo, Grading, and Chai Tea Lattes

crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbMy week started strong, wracking out word count, massive edits and rewrites. Then, my job happened. 🙂 I love teaching, but this time of year I get buried. So, writing took a major backseat, and I’m officially behind again. I have not despaired. I have a plan. Tomorrow, I’m back on it, devoting the entire day to my writing and chai tea lattes.

I hope NaNo is cooperating with everyone else. Keep up the good work! I’m off to get in some edits before I crash. The end is in sight so best of luck to everyone as we head to the finish line. The Avengers

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What’s Up Wednesday

ButtonSmallNoBorder What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme, started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, which helps readers and writers touch base with blog friends to let them know what’s up. Join in by visiting their blogs and signing in on the widget.

Crazy time again in the heartland. School is in session. My free time has whittled its way to nothing. And I met none of my long-term summer goals. The fact that I was sick the entire summer frustrates me, and I don’t let myself off the hook. Now, I enter my busiest time further behind than ever. Sigh.

Reading: I’m not going to address reading. First, I’ve left my Kindle at the university so I can’t tell you what I started reading. Second, who has time to read now?

Writing: The YA is still sitting in my tray. I am sooo close to completing these edits, but close simply doesn’t cut it. Argh! On top of school starting, we are also moving. We’ve been working on the house. We’ve been packing. Anyone get the sense that I’m overwhelmed? And as I speak lesson plans are screaming my name.

GOAL for August 22-27ready set write button

SURVIVE.

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What’s Up Wednesday

ButtonSmallNoBorderWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme, started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, which helps readers and writers touch base with blog friends to let them know what’s up. Join in by visiting their blogs and signing in on the widget.

What I’m Writing: While battling weather and fences taken down by weather and prepping to begin the school year, I managed to revise five more chapters. I also spent time on the series bible which was fun and productive.

What I’m Reading: I’m reading Unseen by Karen Slaughter. Never disappointing but moving slow for me as my medication puts me to sleep before I get much read. Hopefully, healthier days are ahead. 🙂

Goals for Next Week:

ready set write buttonFor this week, August 15 – 21, I begin classes so I hope to manage to rework my writing schedule so that I am able to maintain revision as I also enter professor mode. Goal: ten chapters.

Good luck to all the writers setting goals for Ready. Set. WRITE! this week. Twitter hashtag #readysetwrite.

What are your writing goals this week? What do you do to motivate yourself?

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Critiques, Hummus, and Lattes

Youreawesome  I’ve talked to writers scarred by the critique process. I’ve heard horror stories. We all have. I’ve also heard from writers frustrated by feedback that is kind but not helpful. “This is wonderful. I like it.” The big issue is no one takes a class in how to critique. Honestly, I went through an MFA program and while I learned a lot about what NOT to do in terms of critiquing it was through watching not through classes teaching us. It’s a shame because while you cannot teach someone talent, you can teach them to critique. It’s not a difficult skill, but it is fraught with delicate lines. We need to know when and under what circumstances we can cross those lines.

1. Trust – never  work with writers you don’t trust. If you wouldn’t be caught on a sinking boat or in a burning building with these people, do not trust them with your life’s work. Period.

2. Honesty – brace yourself because this is one of those double-edged swords. Criticism does the writer NO good if it is not honest. Never tell the writer something that is NOT true. If the pacing in a scene is off, the writer has to know that. If you have an idea of why, share that. If you don’t, brainstorm it as a group. If you know of possible solutions, offer them with the understanding that the author does not have to use them and your idea may spark a better fix in their head.

3. Compassion – we are writers and as such sensitive. Never offer that honesty without an equal dose of compassion. Regardless of how many rules that writer broke, no matter how many issues of syntax got on your last nerve, you must remember this is their baby. Be kind.

4. Positivity – always start with what works in the manuscript. I don’t care if you have to resort to complimenting their formatting or the paper they used. Just never leap in with what isn’t working without first saying what is.

5. Consistency – as a group (or critique partners) pick a style guide to follow so that your edits are consistent across the group. It will save you all a lot of headaches and unnecessary markups. For people writing series, keep those bibles updated so the group is aware of odd spellings and unusual verbiage.

Of course, deliver all critiques with a dose of hummus and lattes, and did I mention chocolate?

What’s important to you in a critique partner?

Check out Natasha and Leatrice for their take on critique groups.

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What’s Up Wednesday…okay, Saturday.

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme, started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, which helps readers and writers ButtonSmallNoBordertouch base with blog friends to let them know what’s up. Join in by visiting their blogs and signing in on the widget.

What I’ve been up to: For once procrastination didn’t keep me from the update. It wasn’t writer’s block either. This time it was a good old-fashioned medical crisis. I am – hopefully – on the mend now and trying to get back on schedule with everything I got behind on.

What I’m writing: Still making progress on the edits of the YA. However, I missed my self-imposed deadline due to my unscheduled/unpaid sick leave. Four more chapters is all that got in the bin this time around.

ready set write button My goals for July 31 – August 6: Edits of THE GAP PROJECT simply must be completed. NO more talking. Time to do.

That won’t happen without getting healthy so that’s on my agenda as well. 🙂

How was your week in writing?

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What’s Up Wednesday

ButtonSmallNoBorderWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme, started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, which helps readers and writers touch base with blog friends to let them know what’s up. Join in by visiting their blogs and signing in on the widget.

What I’m Writing: The YA had my full attention this week and I made good but not great progress. This means six chapters revised successfully. I also spent time on the series bible which was fun and productive. I am on target to finish this thing by the goal date.

What I’m Reading: I finished The King by Steven James. As with all his books, I loved it. As for my desire to see the death of Richard Basque, it didn’t happen, exactly. He supposedly drowned but the body wasn’t found which we all know means he’ll return. Oh, well. I’m now reading The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle.

ready set write buttonStatus Update: My goal was 5 more chapters and I actually got six so it was a good week. It’s progress and I’ll take it. 🙂

For this week, July 24-31, I accept that life is beyond my control. I am hoping for 8-10 chapters but my goal is another 6.

Good luck to all the writers setting goals for Ready. Set. WRITE! this week. Twitter hashtag #readysetwrite.

What are your writing goals this week?

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