Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Word

As I work through critiques of my novel and revise, I’ve found a recent comment very peculiar. I find it odd only because I’ve heard similar things sporadically before. As we know, writing is about many things, but a big portion of it is about the words. Word selection is important. It can shape the impression a scene or bit of dialoged can make. Let me illustrate with a very basic example.

Example #1

She held the gun and pointed it at the target.

This tells us what is happening. It’s pretty cut and dry. “She” could be referring to just about anyone.

Example #2

She gripped the gun and marked her target.

By just changing a few words, this sentence takes on new meaning. I feel more tension and “marked her target” makes it seem as if this woman is experienced in what she’s doing. Is she an assassin? A spy? A cop? I don’t know, but I want to!

Obviously there are brilliant writers out there more versed in this craft than I, but I hope this example helped clarify what I’m speaking of.

What I’ve noticed is how some people believe certain words are strictly religious, and if used in a different context seems off or wrong to them.

The offenders, so far:
Crucible
Rapture
Soul
Relic

Can these words have a religious connotation to them? Yes. But they are not one-trick-ponies. The latest crit of a chapter of mine had a reader question my use of the word crucible. A crucible is: A) A porcelain cup I placed in a desiccator in my Oil Chem Testing Lab class. B) An extreme test. C) A situation (place or time) that resulted due to a bunch of factors coming together. Like the Depression, or WWII, or Pearl Harbor. The word is not bound to religious context. I my novel, and in real-life, this word is used in reference to the last test a Marine takes in their basic training/boot camp. It is called the Crucible.

I could go on to the other words but I hope I’ve explained my point well enough and I don’t think anyone wants to hear me babble, least of all me.

Anyhow, getting back to word selection, I realize that people have relationships with words I don’t. I can’t simply say, “That’s not the reason I chose that word. It really means this.” I’ve often cringed at certain words other writers have used based on my own relationships with them. So, I too am guilty as charged. I suppose the distinction is I’ve never thought of a word being strictly religious or so religious I could grasp the meaning the writer intended.

*shrug*

I personally have this strange fixation with the word flange. I discovered this in the first semester of my Power Engineering class. I just love saying this word.

“Flange.”

“F-L-A-N-G-E.”

“FlAnGe!”

It makes no sense and I can’t explain it. :S I also have a love of the word candelabra. It’s  just an awesome word for some reason!

Now for words I dislike. I can’t stand the word rugged when used to describe a man’s appearance. It makes me want to stuff a novel under a couch cushion, hide in the closet, and pretend I haven’t read all the cheesy romance novels I have. *shivers*

WARNING: The following is a rant Stella is directing at the word then. Please, hide your children.

Another word I hate is then. No matter how this word is used I can’t help hearing Cher from Clueless saying something along the lines of, “….and then he said he’d call me, and then he gave me his jacket. Then, the most amazing thing happened!”

AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! We get it! We get it! When you explain an event we understand it is being told in a consecutive sequence of events. If you open a door you don’t have to say you THEN walked through the opening.  Gah!!!!

Ahem….I am better now. J

What are some bad relationships you have with certain words? Any good relationships?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Another Flogging

Ray Rhamey, of Flogging the Quill, was nice enough to take a look at my rewritten chapter one. Ray’s blog specializes in helping writers craft a compelling first page to capture the reader and compel them to turn the page. It is thought that this will also help capture an agent’s/publisher’s attention as well.
I had submitted my first chapter to him two years ago and Ray was unconvinced that it was a page turner. Due to other reasons as well, I decided to do a major rewrite of my novel.

Today Ray has the first page of my novel up on his blog. Check it out and vote if you like. Would you turn the page? Would you set the story down and move on to another?

Let me know.

Stella out!

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Gender Manifesto

I’ve wanted to write this blog post for quite some time. I’m kinda pumped about it, actually.-->

It all arose from a few critiques I received (mostly from a couple readers) of a chapter in my novel THE MALE AMENDMENT.

In my novel the main character, Mia, discovers a parallel world (no aliens here) where a matriarchal dystopia reigns. The women of this world are like amazons, tall and athletic; trained to fight at a young age and to value all things feminine. But feminine has a different meaning to them than it does to us. It has this sort of law of the jungle twist to it. It’s about beauty and power and that a woman is Mother Nature; the giver and taker of life. The men are somewhat anemic, as small framed men are desirable (and there are some brutal lengths that both men and women are willing to go to achieve this) and more controllable. Unmarried men are sold as slaves to do hard manual labour for the rest of their lives.

If hundreds or thousands of years of evolution had instead valued strong, and yes, bigger childbearing women, how different would modern day woman look and be? If smaller framed men were desired, how different would the modern day man be? What would this do to a society?

I was curious.

In the offending chapter in my novel, Mia goes to a bordello where boys and men tend to the, ahem, “needs” of women. There are young children in the bordello and that had a couple of readers up in arms. Their comments were that they just didn’t feel, in their hearts, that women would be capable of doing such things. Women were nurturers and that things like pedophilia were bound, almost exclusively, to male genetics.

My first reaction was….to laugh.

“Bah hahahahahahahahahahhaaaaaaaaaa! That’s a good one!"

When I realized they were serious….I was pissed off.

“You’re blaming genetics? What the f&$%!”

My story has been labeled as feminist (by women), even though I don’t think it is, and here are the complaints when the story bashes a hole in the female ego:

The women in the story are vain. Some think vanity stems from women trying to please men. I don't think it is. I think most men would say they prefer women to have a more natural look. (disagree with me if you like, but I know quite a few guys who've told me this) And besides, I've attended basically an all-girl school, and women still get all dressed and painted up when no men are around.

I think women are capable of every terrible and wonderful thing a man is capable of. Many would say that women are more peaceful than men and a world run by women would be that, a peaceful utopia. And maybe it would be. But have you ever worked or lived in a female environment for long?

I have.

Women can end up ready to kill each other before they’ve even met. Seriously!  I’m not saying all women are like this, but lots are. Women also get this “more peaceful rap” because most of us have never been expected to get physical. You go to a women’s prison, or to a bad part or town where women are "in touch" with their rougher more physical side, and peaceful is the last thing they are.

Some have told me the gender reversal in my novel should not be as simple as just a flipping of roles. I say, it isn’t. I did not just flip roles! I thought about it, believe me. I’m not saying my opinions are definitive but they are not skewed to one gender or the other.

I’m not a feminist, I consider myself an equalist. I’ll argue male rights any day of the week. I think men and women are a lot more alike than we are different and the reason we may be so different is that we’ve been conditioned and trained to be that way.

For those of you who’ve said to me, “Equalist? Things will never be equal. Men can’t have babies.”

My answer is= *Eye roll*, and *slow clap*

But seriously now, I would love to hear some feedback about this.  What are your thoughts? I hope my psychologist and psychiatrist friends chime in. Tell me if you think I’m wrong. I do so love a good debate!!

Wait, you think I’m an idiot and I can’t argue my point?
<---Challenge accepted!
Would women, in a historical place of power, create utopia or anarchy? How would it differ from our own society? Are the faults of man genetic? That would mean the faults of women are genetic as well, right?

Send me a comment!
Please?

Stella out!
All stories and poems posted are
Copyright © 2009 by Stella Telleria
All rights reserved.