I’ve shared a conversation which Julian had with Cara regarding Sean’s disappearance – https://kimberlysueiverson.com/2014/07/22/overheard-conversation-between-cara-and-julian/ – before and I have a strong hunch that it’s going to be difficult for them to find him. As the writer, I know that they will have to find Sean to help Kat, and what his demands might be.
Well, I mean I wrote down my idea about what I want them to be, but whether or not Sean cooperates and goes with that plan or not is entirely his own thing. He may decide that he likes that and goes with it. He may decide to balk at it, change the plan, and then I’m left up a creek like the rest of you and won’t know what he’s up to.
Drawback of writing characters who are themselves. They’re gonna do what they want to do. Whether I want that or not? Not up to me. I write them as is. I don’t correct based on behavior or otherwise, or my characters are going to fall flat on my face.
That reminds me of an author who I saw post a video on Instagram. Won’t mention names or others, but I’d watched this individual apologize for writing characters who seemed as if they judged a race of beings (fantasy, not human) from skin color. I think that they probably received an email from some fans about that. That it was their interpretation of the behavior of the character that the characters were judging a group of other characters based purely from the color of their skin. That isn’t how the writer intended it, nor the writer’s intention of the groups. The judgment was based off something else.
However, having experienced that and having that as perhaps something in their mind as a main focus (not meaning that in a bad way), the reader(s) happened to see it that way. Their life experiences brought them to that assessment. Another reader I’m sure, even a large portion, probably read it as was intended and didn’t even see it that way. Maybe the furthest from their mind.
But I can easily understand this writer’s stance. They more than likely were called racist because of it, which from what I saw on the video, may have happened. But I don’t know the entirety of the situation so I can’t speculate on how it came about. I do want to address the overall theme.
This was a fantasy so they weren’t even human. This was a book for teens so I can understand how the writer of the story wouldn’t want to be too offensive. But how a reader interprets a character is up to them. As my editor once pointed out to me. As long as I know the story, it’s up to the reader to decipher. I can be as clear as I possibly can. Write exact details and a reader will still interpret a behavior, thoughts, or actions based on that individual’s life experiences, their thoughts, their behaviors and on.
So to ever alter a book based on how it may be perceived to people is doing writing a disservice I personally believe. I can understand altering curse words for a teen reader. I can understand somewhat altering a story so one doesn’t offend a certain group. However, the job as a writer is to write real characters. As a teen? I read some pretty graphic things. Think Stephen King. Think watching Tales From The Crypt. Or reading erotica.
We cannot as a writer, ever write the most perfect story to not offend groups of people. If we alter a character, or writing, based on what will be offensive? Or perceived as such? We are doing the story a disservice. We are being fake. We are not being true to a character. We are telling a different story, one of lies. Yes, as a writer, it is my job to attempt to be as real as possible and as clear as possible, but at the end of the day: we’re going to offend a lot of people. Period.
The only way to avoid it? Only write. “And.” Maybe that word is offensive to a group of people too. The problem I find with ever concerning how a story is perceived is that it handicaps me as a writer. Someone will love my work. Someone will hate it beyond measure. Someone will be middle ground. Someone else will love the story, but hate me as a person. I could go on.
As a writer, we don’t write reality. But at the same time, we’re human beings and as such, we pick up on things and write based on things we read, behavior patterns we experience, see, know has happened. But the characters are their own people.
People do judge based on skin color, clothing, name brands, cars, even down to the shoes someone chooses to wear or even if a woman decides to not wear a skirt. I still experience behavior from some males that I have no brain simply because I’m female so attempting to explain a car issue has received the question, “Does it have gas in it?” These things exist in life. They will never go away. We can diminish, understand, heal, but they exist. And even if someone never learns about it, inevitably when they grow up, they will see it.
When I say that, I think about the movie Roots. In school as a child, I was shown that movie and we were taught about slavery. I’ve heard people want to remove it because of that very fact. Because it separates us. To them they believe it divides us. It’s just a movie based around what happened in history. But do you know that having seen that movie, I never placed any idea in my mind about separation based on skin color? I never considered that as something I needed to worry over. They were people like us, but as children we saw how they were treated and gained sympathy for others. It didn’t divide. It taught. We learned. We wouldn’t go down that road.
So it taught empathy to us as children. Yet adults look in on that and find it offensive as if it was teaching racism and separation. Yet I know that not one of us in our class ever saw it that way. And yes, our classes had different backgrounds, all sorts of different people. We were not all one class, one race, one sex. In some classes, we’d even have exchange students. We saw what our ancestors or the past had gone through and it taught us to be more empathetic.
What I’m trying to say is that what one deems offensive and horrible and wants to attack a writer for? Another loves them for and uses it as a learning experience. Not against the writer either because here’s the thing: Stephen King has been offending people as long as he’s written, but people don’t get something. He isn’t his characters.
Experiences that the writer sees, learns, knows about. Those are the characters. I’ve had men contact me and get a little toward the animalistic side of creepy flirty behavior because they assumed writing about vampires? I liked some very . . . erm, animalistic style things? Like, beyond normal? Get my drift?
Now where in my world does someone look at my sharing of dog pictures, crochet, and the like, assume that I want to maybe be tied up and have someone suck my blood? That wasn’t the flirt behavior, but I’m pointing out the ridiculousness of such thinking. Since I write some characters like that, I used that as example. It isn’t to say that certain behaviors don’t go into my characters. Of course they do.
But the characters are not the writer’s beliefs.
When I wrote Cessation, I hated.
Repeat that in a huge heading
writing some of the words and behaviors of Dakota. Shall I say it again? HHHHHAAATTTTEEEEDDDDDD her behavior. She was vulgar, crude, disgusting, and the worst human that one could deal with. Bleeeeccchhhh.
Especially her stance toward children. Nope. Nada. I wanted to hurt her. It hurt me to write her behaving in such a way during editing. While writing, I zone out completely so I’m barely aware of what’s really happening.
So again, a writer cannot be held responsible for certain behaviors and characteristics of a character. To apologize to readers who are offended by certain things? To have sensitivity readers? I think it does a disservice. Reading erotica as a child didn’t make me go out and have sex early. Actually, I was the complete opposite and still am.
Watching Tales from the Crypt didn’t make me go out and want to harm people or do disgusting things. Again, the opposite.
So I think it’s very important for readers to understand something that I think I knew growing up. The characters are not the writers. The characters are entirely their own people. Even if they aren’t human. They will behave as they wish. As a writer, I control to a point, but they will not draw a reader into the story if I alter their behavior to my choosing as I used to.
Only when I finally let go of the control and wrote the character as is? Did my story come alive. Did things finally become real. And that is what a story is. Life in a book. But altered just so. Or, as I mentioned once on Facebook, you’d be reading a lot more “erms, ums,” and picking of noses. And as someone commented, “a lot more bathroom trips.” There is only so much I can know as a writer, and alter a character’s life path.
The characters have their own minds and behaviors based on their pasts. Each reader will interpret a character through the lens of that reader’s life. As a writer, I tell you their story as clear as I possibly can. You live it through your own unique life experiences. You judge based on your own interpretation.
Somewhere in the middle we’ll meet as writer and reader. 🙂
Today’s word count for Fury of a Queen.
Started out at – 24,112
Ended at – 25,902
Total word count for the day – 1,790