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The New "Literary Maneuvers" Coffee Shop (4 Viewers)

Ralph Rotten

Staff member
Mentor
Probably not on this board if I'm being honest. Most people here are pretty sensitive.


I agree with Born.
I hate it when people automatically respond with some PC caution alerts.
If we can't speak honestly about racial differences, we will never evolve as a society.
 

velo

Staff member
Supervisor
650 is just too short for any useful writing.

I disagree. The 650 limit has really helped me tighten up my word use over the course of many LMs. You can tell a good story in 650w, I know because I've read them...not necessarily written them.

The gender/race issue would have to be handled with care if that is the choice, but we are writers and we should be able to write about what we choose. I am not advocating for or against and I do not currently have my staff uniform on....
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
I agree with Born.
I hate it when people automatically respond with some PC caution alerts.
If we can't speak honestly about racial differences, we will never evolve as a society.

I’m not saying outrage culture is right, but the problem is that in 650 words it’s not like an entry would be able to necessarily have the room to explore racial identity in any meaningful sense. So, what you’ll probably get, with at least a few entries anyway, is a bunch of stereotypes in order to “qualify”. I’m not saying it is inevitable, but it’s highly likely.

Same deal with writing a story based around gender. Especially given a few members here have exhibited some rather...different views. For me, it falls into the category of the potential problems outweighing potential rewards. But if anybody wants to second it, by all means.

I did like your species idea and would SECOND that.
 
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BornForBurning

Senior Member
So, what you’ll probably get, with at least a few entries anyway, is a bunch of stereotypes in order to “qualify”. I’m not saying it is inevitable, but it’s highly likely
In that case even more important to have people exploring this concept, in my opinion. Writing forums is the appropriate place to hash this kind of stuff out. This is where people should be taking risks and making mistakes. If people write a bunch of cliches just because they had to write a protagonist that wasn't their race, that's an opportunity for all of us to learn. This is the correct place to make that kind of error.
Same deal with writing a story based around gender. Especially given a few members here have exhibited some rather...different views.
Again I don't see the problem. People have differing political views regarding gender. That's fine. Here, we are concerned with good writing. We agree that such a thing as 'good writing' exists regardless of politics. I am all for sensitivity (I'm assuming this is your concern?) but at a certain point we have to allow people to fail and yes, sometimes fail offensively if we ever want to teach them anything.
I am personally in favor of the 650 word limit.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
In that case even more important to have people exploring this concept, in my opinion. Writing forums is the appropriate place to hash this kind of stuff out. This is where people should be taking risks and making mistakes. If people write a bunch of cliches just because they had to write a protagonist that wasn't their race, that's an opportunity for all of us to learn. This is the correct place to make that kind of error.

I agree in principle, but there's a fine line between 'exploring a concept' and exploiting ill-informed stereotypes, and I'm not sure all members possess the ability to portray other races with respect, accuracy or both.

Writing Forums may be generally fairly lenient to those who make errors, but the guidelines of the forum explicitly state that racial discrimination is not welcome and that members have to be considerate. I am simply pointing out that having a writing challenge centered around writing from the POV of 'another race' with a 650 word limit will open the door to some really bad takes and, personally, I would not want to be a part of platforming that. YMMV.

Just so we're clear, I'm not opposed to the concept. I actually have a story just published in Flashes written from the P-O-V of a black slave being lynched, which coincidentally was my entry in November's LM, so in many respects this kind of prompt is attractive. I like 'edgy writing'. But, when I wrote that story, I was careful. I made sure I framed it in a clearly historical context and was unambiguous about who the bad guys were. I still am in two minds as to whether I captured the voice authentically, and I don't think I would tackle the whole "Write from the POV of another race" in any context beyond that narrow historical frame.

Maybe other writers on here could pull it off, but I don't think many can. What I forsee is a bunch of stories rife with hackneyed Ebonics and Spanglish. If you disagree, go ahead and second it and prove me wrong. I'd like that.

Again I don't see the problem. People have differing political views regarding gender. That's fine. Here, we are concerned with good writing. We agree that such a thing as 'good writing' exists regardless of politics. I am all for sensitivity (I'm assuming this is your concern?) but at a certain point we have to allow people to fail and yes, sometimes fail offensively if we ever want to teach them anything.
I am personally in favor of the 650 word limit.

I was being diplomatic. It's not just a matter of differing views, but downright toxic ones.
 

SueC

Staff member
Senior Mentor
Just because you write from those POVs doesn't mean you nail it.
Most men do a lousy job of writing from a woman's POV.
Essentially they just slap tits on a male character.
Ladies, am I right?

Well, I think it goes beyond that, but yeah. This is one of my issues - :) - Even in this "enlightened" time, I find it hard to swallow that not many male authors seem to understand that women have a whole bunch of strengths on their own, that have nothing to do with men. I tire of reading about women who are not only so stunning they stop traffic wherever they go and never, ever miss a cue, but they also can drop a man twice their size by just being their wily selves. They frequently have sinewy arms, from all the pull ups and such. Garbage. A woman can destroy another woman with just one look. It starts at the feet and slowly works it's way up; a sneer on the face is necessary, of course, as is saying nothing at all. We can be smart-alecs, though, subtle in our disdain and this is something few men understand. We do not need to resort to physical confrontations to fell an enemy. I'm not saying there are no physically strong women, but a woman does NOT have to act like a man to achieve a goal. A woman who remains silent and calm in the face of a physically challenging moment is much more believable than one who goes face to face physically with her enemy. Anyway, that's just how I feel. Unfortunately, I think the public is in love with a woman who fights, who jumps and runs and leaps tall buildings in a single bound. LOL.
 

BornForBurning

Senior Member
Maybe other writers on here could pull it off, but I don't think many can. What I forsee is a bunch of stories rife with hackneyed Ebonics and Spanglish. If you disagree, go ahead and second it and prove me wrong. I'd like that.
I don't know what would happen. My point was if that does happen, all it is is an opportunity for people to improve. You seem to be terrified that people will fail at writing diverse characters. Well, they may fail, but failure is part of learning. You can't expect people to be good at something on their first or third try. You are worried about 'platforming' something that will maximum be seen by twenty people and is being viewed explicitly through the lens of criticism. And if you are worried about genuine racial malice, I honestly don't see any of that here.
I was being diplomatic. It's not just a matter of differing views, but downright toxic ones.
Your definition of differing views is pretty trite if it doesn't include the ones that you find actually destructive lmao
 
Hey, so I'm going to second the "write from the perspective of another race" prompt, and here's why:

Originally I wasn't going to second the prompt because it basically gives ultimate creative freedom to the author. The idea of a prompt is to limit the scope, and writing outside your race is essentially a limitless scope. However, based on some of the responses to this thread, apparently this would be a stretch for some people, which I understand.

On the question of stereotypes, I do not believe that the answer to bad representation is no representation. If an author goes into writing a story with an attitude of love and sensitivity, yeah, they might still make ignorant mistakes, but putting it out there and being corrected is how they're going to learn. Fear should not keep us from trying to write outside of our experience. (For people who are only writing diversely out of a sense of obligation, there's not a lot of hope there ...)
 

Ralph Rotten

Staff member
Mentor
"Maybe other writers on here could pull it off, but I don't think many can. What I forsee is a bunch of stories rife with hackneyed Ebonics and Spanglish. If you disagree, go ahead and second it and prove me wrong. I'd like that."

I'm gonna make a guess here that you have no friends that are POC.

 

Ralph Rotten

Staff member
Mentor
Well, I think it goes beyond that, but yeah. This is one of my issues - :) - Even in this "enlightened" time, I find it hard to swallow that not many male authors seem to understand that women have a whole bunch of strengths on their own, that have nothing to do with men. I tire of reading about women who are not only so stunning they stop traffic wherever they go and never, ever miss a cue, but they also can drop a man twice their size by just being their wily selves. They frequently have sinewy arms, from all the pull ups and such. Garbage. A woman can destroy another woman with just one look. It starts at the feet and slowly works it's way up; a sneer on the face is necessary, of course, as is saying nothing at all. We can be smart-alecs, though, subtle in our disdain and this is something few men understand. We do not need to resort to physical confrontations to fell an enemy. I'm not saying there are no physically strong women, but a woman does NOT have to act like a man to achieve a goal. A woman who remains silent and calm in the face of a physically challenging moment is much more believable than one who goes face to face physically with her enemy. Anyway, that's just how I feel. Unfortunately, I think the public is in love with a woman who fights, who jumps and runs and leaps tall buildings in a single bound. LOL.


Yep. Lots of men write female characters, or female POVs, but most get it wrong.*
I think we should do the gender theme.
But it should be anonymous submissions so our names don't cause any involuntary bias.
Men can write from the POV of a woman or a Trans
Women can write from the POV of a man or Trans.
Yes, in this new world of ours, there is now a 3rd gender to be considered.



*myself included. I have the reviews to prove it.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
On the question of stereotypes, I do not believe that the answer to bad representation is no representation. If an author goes into writing a story with an attitude of love and sensitivity, yeah, they might still make ignorant mistakes, but putting it out there and being corrected is how they're going to learn. Fear should not keep us from trying to write outside of our experience. (For people who are only writing diversely out of a sense of obligation, there's not a lot of hope there ...)


Sure, I can dig that. If you want to look at the challenge as being a bit of a test for the maturity/sophistication of the members here, it's a fine position to take.

For me, this is supposed to be about how well a story can be written according to a challenging prompt in 650 words. If writing non-white POV's is simply a matter of 'representation', it's hardly much of a challenge. If it's about capturing a racial or cultural identity, there is IMO no way it can reliably be done in that word count sans literary black or brown-face.

But again, as I have repeatedly said, I don't claim to know this for a fact. So prove me wrong.


I'm gonna make a guess here that you have no friends that are POC.

Super relevant.

Ralph, you might want to heed your own advice. Reprinted below, in case you forgot:


Ad hominem is the best guideline I can think of for conduct within a forum.
Attacking the message is okay.
Attacking the messenger is NOT.
 
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For me, this is supposed to be about how well a story can be written according to a challenging prompt in 650 words. If writing non-white POV's is simply a matter of 'representation', it's hardly much of a challenge.

Well, yes, but an open prompt is fun, too. Or, you know, we could care enough about representation to write non-white characters even if it's not the prompt. I'm gonna be honest, but you saying
I don't think I would tackle the whole "Write from the POV of another race" in any context beyond that narrow historical frame.
is kinda weird. Because you're basically saying you'd only write from the POV of someone of another race in a story that's About Racism. And I just have to wonder, why? When POC (in this specific case black people) ask for representation, it's usually not, We want more stories about when we were slaves (??). It's usually more like, Where're the black warrior princesses riding dragons? Where're the black protagonists who actually get a romantic happily ever after? You know?

Ok gonna stop derailing the coffee shop now.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
Well, yes, but an open prompt is fun, too. Or, you know, we could care enough about representation to write non-white characters even if it's not the prompt. I'm gonna be honest, but you saying is kinda weird. Because you're basically saying you'd only write from the POV of someone of another race in a story that's About Racism. And I just have to wonder, why? When POC (in this specific case black people) ask for representation, it's usually not, We want more stories about when we were slaves (??). It's usually more like, Where're the black warrior princesses riding dragons? Where're the black protagonists who actually get a romantic happily ever after? You know?

Ok gonna stop derailing the coffee shop now.

You ask a good & important question. Let me try to explain.

So, in my experience, when black people ask for representation, it tends not to be that they are asking for white writers to write about them more.

I'm not sure how old you are, but some years back there was a whole running joke (which became a debate) about the use of non-white characters, particularly in Hollywood. Stereotypes were rampant, and while things loosened up the trope was always that the black character was usually some form of comic relief and/or bullet fodder. Even today, this is usually the way white writers approach black characters.

This is why there tends to be a greater clamoring in literary circles not for more non-white characters, but more non-white writers.

It is for that reason that I don't write as a black character very often, and when I do I make sure it is for a reason that I can, as a white person, justify and justify beyond 'Look at me, representing the blacks!" A historically-set story would be one such justification for appropriating a non-white POV. There may be others, but I can't think of them.

Whatever the reason, I don't for a single minute pretend ever that my depiction of a person-of-color's life experience (whether that be a slave or not) is authentic or something black people would find a lot of value in or learn from. I can only hope it's not offensive. The rest, what little there is, is for my fellow white people. Because black people don't need me to tell them how bad slavery was.

I guess my main main concern with this prompt is not that it's innately bad, it is more the flippancy of the way it is being touted. Note it was suggested alongside 'Write as a different species' and 'Write from an alien perspective' -- and a few posts down from 'alien invasion'. That in itself already raises red flags. A place where a difficult and sensitive issue like race gets placed alongside, and on a par with, aliens and 'other species'...is not necessarily a place where I think everybody fully grasps the nuance of the issue.

I'm not saying any of this means people here are racist, only that I don't think the subject of race is being presented in a particularly serious or thoughtful manner. I suspect we're going to have mostly white people judging these 'another race POV's' and that seems in itself...pointless? A bunch of white people deciding if a white writer accurately captured a black or Asian POV, really?

Okay, so then on what criteria will this use of POV be judged? Imagination, like if it was an animal or inanimate object? So what do we, as white people, 'imagine' a non-white POV to be like, then? How much of that will be based on racial stereotypes and cliche that may be offensive and nobody will be in a position to make that call, so we can 'learn', as you mentioned? What if one of the judges is black and the story is about a black POV, should not the black judge's score not be weighted heavier when judging a black POV? Worse still, what if one of the writers is black and gets told their story doesn't 'sound black' by a white judge?

Do you see the worms inside this can?

If not, I may be wasting my time. But who knows. Carry on.
 
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Ok, yeah, Hollywood reverts to racist stereotypes, what else is new? But in all seriousness, I personally don't need a justification to write a non-white character. There's not some big justification for why the protagonist in 32nd Street Apartments, Room 814 is white (don't think I even mention it lol), so there also doesn't need to be some big justification for why Iona (in the thing I wrote for Final Girl) is black, or why Captain Halloway is Asian.

It is weird to talk about writing different races in the same breath as writing different species, but it's even weirder to act like writing from the POV of a different species is somehow easier than writing from the POV of a different race. Michael O'Brien writes from various racial and cultural perspectives very well, and he's white, conservative, and literally lives in the middle of nowhere in Canada. It's more about having an attitude of humility and love than it is about having the 'right' education or set of opinions or experiences. So, yes, support POC authors, absolutely, but I don't want to avoid writing outside my experience out of fear. That's all.
 

BornForBurning

Senior Member
Whatever the reason, I don't for a single minute pretend ever that my depiction of a person-of-color's life experience (whether that be a slave or not) is authentic or something black people would find a lot of value in or learn from
I suspect we're going to have mostly white people judging these 'black POV's and that seems in itself seems pretty pointless.
This ideology is called ethnofascism. The idea that a people's collective feelings are immutable, unique and unreachable by another collective is the heart and soul of fascist philosophy. I cannot believe I am having this argument with someone who I know considers themselves liberal, anti-racist and anti-fascist. But it actually makes sense, I'll get to that. This is why people should read Addresses to the German Nation and Mein Kampf. Lol. Quantifying this with 'ethno' because a fascist ideology can be attached to a nation-state as opposed to an ethnicity/race.

Fascism has far more to do with collective identity and moral primacy than it does 'authoritarianism' (which is really not even an ideology.) Everything is 'authoritarian' pre-WWII in comparison to what the US/Europe has now, that includes the democratic governments. The collective will and good of the people (who are the people? whoever they want to be. First serious post-modern ideology) justifies the actions of the collective. So fascism is essentially democratic. Note that early fascists hail themselves as the successors to the Jacobins, who were the initial incarnation of Liberalism and arguably were proto-marxists. All these ideologies come from the same place. There is no really interesting distinction, you've got liberalism splitting off into Marxism/Fascism/maybe capitalism? does it exist independent of liberalism, no one really knows/anarchism, vs feudalism. Oh yeah and anarchism is really just liberalism taken to it's logical extreme, aka a completely nonfunctional society. End of story.

So your political/moral categories are stupid and arbitrary. The idea that whites somehow can't understand the black perspective is fascist philosophy. But I understand why you'd say this because vanilla Liberalism offers literally no solution to the problem that races/cultures/ANY GROUP are obviously distinct. So what can they do? Nothing. True communication is impossible due to inherent differences. They may never speak the same language without ceasing to be what they are. An uncrossable rift. That's why we need the intervention of a divine power if we wish to interact with anyone. Here's a question: if we can't depict someone of another race honestly (because that race is so utterly and immutably alien), how can we be expected to write from the perspective of anyone that isn't ourselves? Don't reply that a character is somehow a 'facet' of yourself. That isn't true. Even if I were to take me and then merely remove one characteristic, that void would completely transform me. I would be writing from a completely alien perspective. Again, we see Liberalism and Fascism joining hands: both, in the end, imply total isolation.
This thread broke me. You broke me.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
Ok, yeah, Hollywood reverts to racist stereotypes, what else is new? But in all seriousness, I personally don't need a justification to write a non-white character. There's not some big justification for why the protagonist in 32nd Street Apartments, Room 814 is white (don't think I even mention it lol), so there also doesn't need to be some big justification for why Iona (in the thing I wrote for Final Girl) is black, or why Captain Halloway is Asian.

But there's a huge difference between writing a non-write character and writing from the point of view of a non-white character. If I am simply writing a book that includes black character, as a white person, I don't necessarily need to take a deep dive into their perspective as it pertains to their color. Nor do I need to shape the narrative around their 'non-whiteness'. Both of those things would be, to some extent, required as part of a 'Write A Story From The Point Of View Of Another Race' prompt. At least, if the challenge is supposed to be challenging, if the racial aspect is the anchoring theme.

On the other hand, I can write all day a horror or science fiction story that has a non-white character, simply by mentioning it in passing description and otherwise continuing as though they were just a...person. Like you say, it doesn't even hardly need mentioned. I do that often. The difference is, the story isn't about their race.

Does that make sense?

It is weird to talk about writing different races in the same breath as writing different species, but it's even weirder to act like writing from the POV of a different species is somehow easier than writing from the POV of a different race. Michael O'Brien writes from various racial and cultural perspectives very well, and he's white, conservative, and literally lives in the middle of nowhere in Canada. It's more about having an attitude of humility and love than it is about having the 'right' education or set of opinions or experiences. So, yes, support POC authors, absolutely, but I don't want to avoid writing outside my experience out of fear. That's all.

The obvious difference comes down to the fact that actual non-white people might be reading your story whereas, presumably, an actual non-human creature probably won't. Therefore you have an expectation of authenticity, a duty to the truth. If I'm pretending to be a goldfish and my depiction is not accurate, I don't think any goldfish are going to notice or care.
 
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luckyscars

WF Veterans
And if you are worried about genuine racial malice, I honestly don't see any of that here.

Just so you know, there's a member on a thread over on the Writing Discussion board right now ranting about how Hitler has been unfairly demonized by history, the Nazis looked cool, etc.

Just so you know.


This ideology is called ethnofascism. The idea that a people's collective feelings are immutable, unique and unreachable by another collective is the heart and soul of fascist philosophy. I cannot believe I am having this argument with someone who I know considers themselves liberal, anti-racist and anti-fascist. But it actually makes sense, I'll get to that. This is why people should read Addresses to the German Nation and Mein Kampf. Lol. Quantifying this with 'ethno' because a fascist ideology can be attached to a nation-state as opposed to an ethnicity/race.

Fascism has far more to do with collective identity and moral primacy than it does 'authoritarianism' (which is really not even an ideology.) Everything is 'authoritarian' pre-WWII in comparison to what the US/Europe has now, that includes the democratic governments. The collective will and good of the people (who are the people? whoever they want to be. First serious post-modern ideology) justifies the actions of the collective. So fascism is essentially democratic. Note that early fascists hail themselves as the successors to the Jacobins, who were the initial incarnation of Liberalism and arguably were proto-marxists. All these ideologies come from the same place. There is no really interesting distinction, you've got liberalism splitting off into Marxism/Fascism/maybe capitalism? does it exist independent of liberalism, no one really knows/anarchism, vs feudalism. Oh yeah and anarchism is really just liberalism taken to it's logical extreme, aka a completely nonfunctional society. End of story.

So your political/moral categories are stupid and arbitrary. The idea that whites somehow can't understand the black perspective is fascist philosophy. But I understand why you'd say this because vanilla Liberalism offers literally no solution to the problem that races/cultures/ANY GROUP are obviously distinct. So what can they do? Nothing. True communication is impossible due to inherent differences. They may never speak the same language without ceasing to be what they are. An uncrossable rift. That's why we need the intervention of a divine power if we wish to interact with anyone. Here's a question: if we can't depict someone of another race honestly (because that race is so utterly and immutably alien), how can we be expected to write from the perspective of anyone that isn't ourselves? Don't reply that a character is somehow a 'facet' of yourself. That isn't true. Even if I were to take me and then merely remove one characteristic, that void would completely transform me. I would be writing from a completely alien perspective. Again, we see Liberalism and Fascism joining hands: both, in the end, imply total isolation.
This thread broke me. You broke me.

I'm not going to engage with this very much because I get a strong sense you probably aren't willing or able to talk about it without infantile name calling, but let me just say this: I never once said white people can't understand a black perspective. I didn't even say I didn't like the concept of the prompt. I said nothing, fucking nothing, about what White People, or any People, should or should not write about.

What I said was that I don't believe, given the apparent flippancy of how it was raised and the extremely limited and time-sensitive format of LM, this is a good place to engage with it. What I said was I have no idea how it would be judged fairly, because it's a prompt based on real-life experience and would depend on some measure of understanding of that experience in order to assess properly.

My other opinions stated were personal, in response to a question. I am white and middle class (just like, I suspect, the majority of people on this board are) and while I do know and interact with a good number of people of color, I am sensitive to the fact they, mostly, have a different life experience than I do, and that they are best placed to talk about those experiences -- and that I am not best placed to imagine them. That is demonstrably true of many non-white people, at least here in America.

Just for clarity's sake, I would have the exact same reaction if the prompt was 'Write From The POV Of A Single Mother On Food Stamps' or "Write From The Point Of View Of An Autistic Person". Same problem: These are real experiences that can easily be mishandled. Same question: Who is going to judge whether they are captured authentically, and isn't that important?

So no, with all due respect, you can... [bleeeep]
 
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velo

Staff member
Supervisor
SUPERVISOR NOTE

This discussion has gone way past the implications of the prompt for the LM and what should be occurring on the coffee shop thread. Please feel free to start a thread in writing discussion regarding the larger topics of race in writing but please discontinue it here, this is not the board for it. Off-topic posts made after this post will be removed.

 

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