Guys! Check out this Kickstarter! My friend Zabet makes amazing stickers, and now she’s running a KS for Latinx pride stickers! I’m super excited about these, can’t wait to get my set and slap ’em all over my car, laptop, and phone case. Please help get the word out and share some pride!
So, remember how last week, I raved about Daughter of Smoke and Bone? Remember how said I hadn’t finished the series yet, so if it sucked, I was sorry.
Yup, I’m sorry.
Spoilers for the rest of the trilogy, and Trigger Warnings for discussion of rape and assault.
And on that cheery note, I want to talk a little bit about author responsibility. When we write, we hope to convey certain ideas and themes to our audience. We are taking part in the social narrative of our day, regardless of genre. Historical, non-fic, fantasy, it doesn’t matter. The themes transcend, and most especially when writing YA, authors must be mindful of what messages they send to their audience.
I am getting damned sick of rape as icing on the evil cake.
In the context of this trilogy, it makes perfect sense for the bad guy to make an assault play. It’s totally in line with his character, I would have honestly been surprised if he hadn’t, etc. What bothers me is the message the MC’s thoughts and reactions send to young girls. She acts like she didn’t see this coming, literally thinks the thought “he can’t hurt me”, and lets herself be put in harm’s way. This man has actually assaulted her before, tried to rip her dress off in public, and she spends the entire second book afraid of him, unable to sleep, barring her door, etc. But she lets herself be alone with him, she lets herself be overpowered by him– she completely departs from her previously established character, just so we can have a rape scene.
And then we just carry on, like it’s not a big deal. Her closest friends don’t react, don’t treat her any differently, the two men in love with her have raging hate boners for the bad guy, but that’s about it. The MC herself barely spends any time on it, mostly just wanting to shower. What the actual fuck?
So yeah, I’m not 100% what I’m trying to say here. As an author, I’m annoyed to see the strings behind the puppets as it were, having the scene so obviously orchestrated just so we can be absolutely sure we all know the bad guy is bad and the friend who rescues her is selfless and good. The MC herself becomes a cardboard cut out, shuffled along in the current of the plot, absolutely passive, in no way participating in her own narrative or acting like herself in any way.
As a young woman, with younger sisters I want to see grow up safer than the world I was raised in, I am disgusted and appalled at the treatment of rape as –ya know, not even as a narrative tool, but as a means of characterization. On a character already well established as evil. It served no point, had no impact, and made a victim out of a previously very capable character. When her family is taken from her, MC goes to incredible lengths to get them back. She is fierce, indomitable, resourceful, and frighteningly determined. And then she just… gives up. Rolls over. Let’s herself be bullied by a man who assaulted and murdered her in a past life and lets herself be alone with him– Again, what the actual fuck?
She then spends the rest of the story basically being too in love to function, or something like that, I honestly can’t say because I lost all pathos and interest in the character. I can’t imagine what this would do to young girls who’d been looking up to MC, who are trying to forge their own identities and come up with this as a guidepost.
Again, still not 100% what I wanted to say with this, and writing it out hasn’t made it any clearer. Just… be mindful as you write, ok? Remember that someone is going to read this, and someone is going to take lessons away, with no chance for you to say “But that’s not what I meant!” This is your voice. Use it thoughtfully.
As I mentioned in my video the other day, I do a lot of my brainstorming with my fingers. Sometimes, it turns into free writes, which sometimes turn into scenes, but sometimes, it’s just bulletted nonsense like this (NOTE: not really spoilers, but they are notes from chapters not yet released):
[Wonderful, beautiful, actual story text, which abruptly ends]
(…and from here, I think you need to take it, actually. Did someone let him in? Did they decide to walk the neighborhood instead of the gardens?)
- Naj/Nica/Seth working their shit out
- Dealing with Maddie
- Possibly dealing with the whole “omg I have scales and fire” from the night before, but I think the dream did that ok
What did the original chapter do?
- Flirting, tea, and hangovers
- talk of Naj dancing, and drum circles (Note: in this edit, Naj hasn’t taken the stage yet. In earlier drafts, he had)
- Small chat w/ elena about relocation
- chat about dance improv and/or drumming (thur and fri mentioned)
- call rook when they get upstairs
And so on. I used to think I was a pantser. And while I find that’s still true of the first, just getting things out there draft, editing without an outline is practically impossible. Whenever I don’t stop to make an outline, I wind up getting bogged down in the minutae, struggling for the words, the what comes next, everything honestly. So when I ram up against that wall, I just keep typing, letting my brain stay in that groove, and think outloud with my hands. When I’m really lucky, after about five lines of this, the next scene pops up, with full sentences flowing from my hands again without me even noticing. But even if that’s not the case, I find that my brain keeps working at the pieces I’ve organized. So I’ll go about my day, maybe even all the way into the next day, but then ta-da! Answers! Scenes! Directions I’d never thought of going before! It’s like magic.
I highly recommend thinking with your hands.
Hey look, a video!
Also, if you want to listen to the interview I referenced, click here
Ugh. I just spent four hours editing. I love/hate editing, because it’s always very satisfying but also thankless work. I feel very productive, as if I’ve gotten so very, very much done–but then I look up and go “I have nothing to show for this. What gives?”
I’ve been trying for a while to think of writing/editing (and various background web stuff for Asylum) as a part time job, as a way of motivating myself. Seems like a good idea in practice, because after all, I would like to make this my job someday, but I’ve never really done more than just tell myself to shift my thinking.
I don’t know how well this will stick, but I want to start tracking my actual hours put in. Mostly just for funsies, but also hopefully to validate myself on days I’m feeling wasted like this. I know I put in anywhere from three to five hours on my weekends, so long as I don’t have any go out of the house plans. During the week is always trickier, cause there’s no accounting for when I get to bed, and therefor when I’ll get up. While my “day job” is low stress, it seriously eats into my sleeping time.
So, I know I can hit five hours easily, 10 would be pushing to write an additional hour every day, with one day left over to be totally, totally off and relax. Seems reasonable, I think. My work week starts on Wednesdays (for whatever reason), so since my days off are never the same, I guess I’ll just go from Wednesday to Wednesday and see what it looks like at the end of the “week”.
So for this week, I’m at 4 out of 10, 5 if I want to count the hour I spent talking theories out with my gf before work (Maybe. Depends on how short I am at the end of the week). So that’s my new goal. Wish me luck!
WARNING: ASYLUM SPOILERS
It’s a long way off, but this is a pretty pivotal scene, so I would steer clear for now if you’re keeping current with Asylum. I’ll link to this again when the scene drops, though honestly, it probably won’t be until next year. I like to work ahead.
It was reeeeally hard to pick a segment for this week’s #TeaserTuesday. When Saturday’s update drops, you’ll know why. 🙂 But I couldn’t leave you guys hanging, and I always love a chance to talk about Naj.
Naj simply nodded and took his seat, facing the stage without a word. He would not interrupt this for the world. Intellectually, he knew this was merely a practice, nothing serious, but he still brought to it every ounce of gravity and respect he would for any performance. These were his nestmates, and how their footfalls sounded, his heart would follow.
Naj is a love, nothing else to it. He is the sweetest boy at heart, and I love moments when that gets to show through. Sometimes, we have to make hard decisions, who to cast in what light, but I hope you’ll all come to know and love my sweet boy, in time. Moments like these surely help (and will hopefully help you forgive me for Saturday’s update. :P)