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Source - L-Scene Ch2 revision | Ch3 - TKWade - 12/19/16 - 3452 words


TKWade

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Last scene chapter 2

Looking to see if it holds tension better, flows better, did I fix my wander narrative issue?

Chapter 3

Looking for tension holding, pacing, character buy-in.

I'm concerned about Nessian buy-in. I'm aiming for the reader to really despise this character, but I don't spend much time on her in this chapter. I may need to build her out more in the scene.

 

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So, I noticed in the first few pages of the second seen in chapter 3 that I didn't correct some of Landin's dialogue - specifically you'll probably notice that his speech patterns change about halfway through. That can be overlooked because I'm already correcting it. But, if the dialogue seems stilted, or that it doesn't make sense even so, let me know.

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Overal

By the end I was invested in the Dreg situation, but not in any of the POV characters presented. The twins just sound like entitled teenagers, which does not endear me to them, and the reasoning for heading into the humans reads more like a YA adventure story than what you've presented before. Also, there is a huge clash between the memory of the Matrix and the little boy, and Stephain's motivations for going to the human camps. 

I'm curious, and I'd read more, but there is such discord right now between setting and characters that it is hard to stay invested in the world.

Ch2 tension: better with the imagery of torture, but disbelief in some areas, detailed below. 

Ch2 flow: stilted near the end, but better!

Ch2 wander: less wandery for sure

Ch3 tension holding: no. There wasn't any, and then there was a bit with the little boy and the Matrix, and then it all crashed and burned when Stephain started talking about being his own man. Too much discord between motivations

Ch3 pacing: doing alright in this chapter

Ch3 character buy-in: none, as of yet. I feel no stakes for anyone presented in this chapter, and as both sisters are presented, I am marginally wary of future chapters involving them.

Good work with cleanup! Keep at it!

 

As I go

- that first sentence is a but of a run-on. The third sentence is not a sentence at all

- first sentence of second paragraph should be two sentences

- page one: he had to see his nails to get the pain? Disbelief

- page three has some spectacular run-on sentences

- This thing -- is not a joiner of two sentences. What in the world needs to end with a ?, and then start a new sentence.

- chapter two is indeed much better now. It has some slow points, and I'm still not really invested in the stakes for the character, but its going better than before

- page six: intellectually I understand you presented all the information I need to make sense of the backstory you are trying to drop, but as a reader, I have no idea what is going on and without buy-in to the greater world, I'm left trying to place events like 'kidnapping gifted children' into a context I don't yet have.

- end of page six: so... the Matrix?

- page seven: unless there is some reason the brother is calling attention to his sister's breasts, she should be crossing her arms across her chest, or hugging her waist.

- page eight: what was the point of having Nessian enter the room?

- page eight has a lot of random tense changes

- page nine: Did we change to first person at the top of the page, or did the italics just stop too soon?

- page ten: so you've set up this powerful imagery of little boy in Matrix, but it clashes with Stephain's Walkabout. If Stephain was so impacted from the tour of the Matrix thingy, he should have stronger feelings about going to live with Dregs than 'being his own man' or 'doing his own thing'. Those just smack of teenager.

- page 12: does the sister also get an eye pendant thingie?

- 'something odd', and then the sister asks for a name? That doesn't quite work. SomeONE odd would work.

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Similar response to @kaisa. The end of Chapter 2 was better, though I had some notes on it. Chapter 3 doesn't have much to pull me in except that I'm more sympathetic to the humans. The twins don't have a whole lot of personality or motivation for going out to see the humans. Seems like something to pass the time for the rich elite. Right now, a lot of your writing is doing one thing at a time. One tip that helped me a lot with tension is always make sure a scene is doing (at least) two things. For example, develop the plight of humans (which you're doing) but also give one or both of twins something to right against. Maybe have Nessian try to stop them or something and Stephain has to stand up to her.

pg 1: a lot of time spent looking around his cell.  Maykn only notices the pain much later, which would probably be the first thing to hit him upon waking. If some of my nails had been pulled off, I would be aware of that well before noticing the lighting and the toilet.

pg 1: "What in the world--He didn't see any creases in the wall, how could that be?"
--unneccessary

pg 4: "They were the first twin-born in all of Phearisiawithin the last several centuries"
--eh, I'll accept it I guess, but I'd want to know more about why this doesn't happen and why it's so important.

pg 6: "Lillian set the glass of wine back down on the automaton's tray and sat on a nearby floating chair. It adjusted its height for her comfort. She pulled out a mirror and began checking her make-up"
--yeah, so nothing's happening and they're aking idle conversation about humans.  Not much tension. It's also a bit of a maid-and-butler, discussing whether humans would
do the evil thing if they knew the evil thing was happening. This goes on into the flashback on the farm which, while illuminating, doesn't really move the story forward.

pg 9: "I've never seen hair on myself, or any other phearisan for that matter. They were born instead with patterns that covered their head. Each unique, like a fingerprint"
--Infodump...

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- I do like the tension between Makyn and Lillian in the beginning. It makes me very curious how they will interact in the future. 

- A "flying autowagon" sounds a little too much like a flying car. I'd find a better term.

- The dialogue between Stephain and Lillian isn't working for me for some reason. I know they are supposed to be from another race, but all their conversations about ideology and the nature of the humanity feel a little too lofty and on-the-nose.

- I am liking this story more and more with every chapter, especially with the introduction and interaction between Stephain and Lillian. I'm curious where this goes. 

 

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3 hours ago, kaisa said:

By the end I was invested in the Dreg situation, but not in any of the POV characters presented. The twins just sound like entitled teenagers, which does not endear me to them, and the reasoning for heading into the humans reads more like a YA adventure story than what you've presented before. Also, there is a huge clash between the memory of the Matrix and the little boy, and Stephain's motivations for going to the human camps. 

 

This seems to be a common theme for me - struggling to create strong investment in characters.

I'll work on their motivation a more to try to create a more engaging dynamic and conflict.

So, I was not at all going for Matrix lol - but what do you mean by clash? I thought they fell in line pretty well. He's sympathetic because of their treatment and that's part of the reason. I can cut the line about being his own man, maybe i need to be more subtle OR i need to include an additional scene before either of those that is with him an his father. Stephin is in his late teens and his father is extremely prominent. He has a lot of pressure on him to follow suit basically, so i need to maybe put more in there regarding that earlier in the chapter.

4 hours ago, kaisa said:

Too much discord between motivations

I'll try to iron this issue out.

4 hours ago, kaisa said:

none, as of yet. I feel no stakes for anyone presented in this chapter, and as both sisters are presented, I am marginally wary of future chapters involving them.

I'll work on this more - i think really nailing their motivation and desires might fix this whole issue.

4 hours ago, kaisa said:

- end of page six: so... the Matrix?

NO! :P this is not like the Matrix at all. The matrix is a program, there is no program. I understand the connection, but they really aren't the same in plot or motivation.
 

 

4 hours ago, kaisa said:

- page seven: unless there is some reason the brother is calling attention to his sister's breasts, she should be crossing her arms across her chest, or hugging her waist.

I was unsure even as i was writing this. It has how I have seen it done several times in Robert Jordan's books which is why I worded it the way I did - will edit.
 

4 hours ago, kaisa said:

- page eight: what was the point of having Nessian enter the room?

There will be conflict between her and her siblings - eventually Maykn as well. Obviously i need to work on the conflict further in this chapter and maybe solidify that tension.

4 hours ago, kaisa said:

- page eight has a lot of random tense changes

- page nine: Did we change to first person at the top of the page, or did the italics just stop too soon?

 

Yeah, i was playing with past perfect tense because he's remembering something further in the past, i just failed.

Total slip on my part - i think i was just in the moment and then missed it on my read throughs.

4 hours ago, kaisa said:

- page 12: does the sister also get an eye pendant thingie?

Totes

Thanks for the crit Kaisa!

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1 minute ago, TKWade said:

but what do you mean by clash?

You have him vomiting at the treatment of the humans, and then having him talk about going to live amongst them as teenaged rebellion. These motivations clash, and clash horribly. One is empathy, perhaps even the start of motivation to seek social change. One is the rebellion and self-absorbtion that comes with teenager to adult transition. Empathic and self-absorbed, in a character we barely know, strike  against one another. These two scenes read like two different characters, and two different books. 

4 minutes ago, TKWade said:

several times in Robert Jordan's books which is why I worded it the way I did - will edit.

I'm going to pray no one throws anything at me for saying this but... you know who the biggest fans of Robert Jordan books are? White males. Male gaze. White male author. Yes, many authors sell books with this stuff in it, because it sells. Sex sells. Male gaze sells. And sometimes it is appropriate. If you're writing a lecherous character and he notices boobs everywhere, that works. If your male twin had the hots for the female twin, it would work (and that would be a great, subtle way of letting us know that). But otherwise, it's sexualization of the female body and seeing women only for their attributes that men (or those attracted to women, to be inclusive) find valuable aesthetically. We all copy wording from our favorite authors. I just wish editors of these big-name books would take some responsibility for this, because it really does impress the writing style into newbie authors, and the cycle continues.

As something to contrast (and perhaps I've mentioned this before), my editor had to ask me if Ne had breasts. In the entirety of book one, not a single reference is made to her chest. She isn't viewed as a sexual object in book one (this of course changes with M POV in book two), and in her own POV her breasts would never come up (I never think about mine. Like, ever, unless I slam one into a wall or something). 

 

All things considered though, I remember the male gaze issues from your very first sub and you have just exploded in terms of skill with female characters since then. Keep at it!

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2 hours ago, Mandamon said:

pg 1: a lot of time spent looking around his cell.  Maykn only notices the pain much later, which would probably be the first thing to hit him upon waking. If some of my nails had been pulled off, I would be aware of that well before noticing the lighting and the toilet.

 

Will Edit

2 hours ago, Mandamon said:

pg 1: "What in the world--He didn't see any creases in the wall, how could that be?"
--unneccessary

 

I may need to rework this part the intent is to put forth that he created the door - not that it already existed.

 

2 hours ago, Mandamon said:

pg 4: "They were the first twin-born in all of Phearisiawithin the last several centuries"
--eh, I'll accept it I guess, but I'd want to know more about why this doesn't happen and why it's so important.

 

Will edit.

 

2 hours ago, Mandamon said:

pg 6: "Lillian set the glass of wine back down on the automaton's tray and sat on a nearby floating chair. It adjusted its height for her comfort. She pulled out a mirror and began checking her make-up"
--yeah, so nothing's happening and they're aking idle conversation about humans.  Not much tension. It's also a bit of a maid-and-butler, discussing whether humans would
do the evil thing if they knew the evil thing was happening. This goes on into the flashback on the farm which, while illuminating, doesn't really move the story forward.

 

Will edit.

Thanks Mandamon, much appreciated :)

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24 minutes ago, kaisa said:

I'm going to pray no one throws anything at me for saying this but... you know who the biggest fans of Robert Jordan books are? White males. Male gaze. White male author. Yes, many authors sell books with this stuff in it, because it sells. Sex sells. Male gaze sells. And sometimes it is appropriate. If you're writing a lecherous character and he notices boobs everywhere, that works. If your male twin had the hots for the female twin, it would work (and that would be a great, subtle way of letting us know that). But otherwise, it's sexualization of the female body and seeing women only for their attributes that men (or those attracted to women, to be inclusive) find valuable aesthetically. We all copy wording from our favorite authors. I just wish editors of these big-name books would take some responsibility for this, because it really does impress the writing style into newbie authors, and the cycle continues.

As something to contrast (and perhaps I've mentioned this before), my editor had to ask me if Ne had breasts. In the entirety of book one, not a single reference is made to her chest. She isn't viewed as a sexual object in book one (this of course changes with M POV in book two), and in her own POV her breasts would never come up (I never think about mine. Like, ever, unless I slam one into a wall or something). 

 

All things considered though, I remember the male gaze issues from your very first sub and you have just exploded in terms of skill with female characters since then. Keep at it!

 

Yeah, I mean, I never honestly thought of it as a sexual way of saying it. It's more about anatomical positioning, and it's Nession, not Lillian. That matter's, if only because it should be clear to the reader that there is no love lost between the two and so a sexual connotation should not be taken from the description. She's a woman with breasts, her arms crossed with hands touching either elbow which would put them just below her sternum/breasts/chest.

I considered this because I wasn't really sure. If I say chest what does the reader infer? That like Ne she has no breasts? Does it really matter that I use the word breast? Does it make them exist any less? Are they this mystical thing that should not ever be mentioned unless it is explicitly stated the character noticing that they exist is lecherous or that the individual noticing has an attraction to said female? Will it be thought of in a sexual way? I'm using it as a descriptor for a defensive posture of the arms, not as a sexual innuendo. I don't describe Stephain as leering and he makes no remark, or other thought, other than her leaning casually against his door frame with her arms crossed under her breasts. Which is where they are.

I took that reference from Jordan and thought, this isn't sexual in nature, it accentuated that she was a woman and described her anatomical position both. It wasn't meant to sexualize or sensationalize or anything of the sort. I spared a word for it, not even a sentence.

Part of my thought process was also, if I mention it non-chalantly like it's any other body part - because really it is - then it shouldn't be a big deal. It shouldn't be a thing. Breasts are breasts. They're just like your elbow, your hand, your foot, your head, your butt, any other part of your body.

I will try my best to keep the male gaze down, because I think I understand where you're coming from. But that's something that really has to be taken into context and it wasn't here I don't feel. I will try to read more female authors to help define descriptions of positioning better, what's appropriate and what's not. I'll do more research.

Thank you for learning me :) and being patient - I'm sure it's annoying lol

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2 hours ago, rdpulfer said:

A "flying autowagon" sounds a little too much like a flying car. I'd find a better term

I know I hate it! lol I can't think of anything - they're closer to flying carriages than your traditional car. I just hate to use an unfamiliar term to describe them. I'll fine something.

2 hours ago, rdpulfer said:

- The dialogue between Stephain and Lillian isn't working for me for some reason. I know they are supposed to be from another race, but all their conversations about ideology and the nature of the humanity feel a little too lofty and on-the-nose.

 

I'll see if I can find a way to fix this. They're supposed to be having kind of this ideological discussion that is taboo within their culture. 

2 hours ago, rdpulfer said:

- I am liking this story more and more with every chapter, especially with the introduction and interaction between Stephain and Lillian. I'm curious where this goes. 

Thanks rdpulfer!

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1 minute ago, TKWade said:

But that's something that really has to be taken into context and it wasn't here I don't feel.

So the thing is, men have breasts too. It's fine if you want to use the word, but use it evenly. So if the sister crosses her arms under her breasts, then the men should do that, too. 'Chest' is the generic word of choice, usually, as it is generally the upper half of anyone's torso. Breasts are the sections of tissue around the nipples, that stretches into the armpit. 

A woman would cross her arms under her chest, versus a man across his chest, in theory, if her breasts were large enough. Where that size delineation is I don't know. I just did a test, and I definitely go across my chest, not under it. 

I realize it can seem like silly semantics, but words have a lot of power to direct how the reader views a character. Your choice to use breasts instead of chest, when breasts is solely directed at female characters, does set a tone for how we are readers should view the female characters. 

8 minutes ago, TKWade said:

Are they this mystical thing that should not ever be mentioned unless it is explicitly stated the character noticing that they exist is lecherous or that the individual noticing has an attraction to said female?

Well, no. There are many reasons to use the word. Writing, say a YA tale with teens where body changes are always on the mind is a good example. Using it to build characters in how your POV character sees women works (POV character doesn't have to sexualize them, but s/he may notice them because, say, the shirt is too tight, or the woman is lactating and leaking, etc). 

Maybe think of it like this. If you were in a room of people, and you wanted to point out a woman in the corner to a male friend, would you say the woman has her arms crossed under her breasts? Would you use that same descriptor if you were speaking to a female friend? What if you were speaking to your boss? That word carries something with it, and when you point it out, you drag baggage along, too.
 

Now, for funsies, I think it would be delightful if you used the word across the board with males and females. That would be awesome.

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2 minutes ago, kaisa said:

Now, for funsies, I think it would be delightful if you used the word across the board with males and females. That would be awesome.

Challenge accepted. Maykn, Stephain, and Alaxtrim will be crossing arms under their breasts all day every day lol

On a serious note - thank you for taking the time to identify the holes in my logic. I'll take what you've said into consideration in future revisions and new chapters.

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2 minutes ago, TKWade said:

Challenge accepted. Maykn, Stephain, and Alaxtrim will be crossing arms under their breasts all day every day lol

OMG this would be amazing

....and then people would be all 'why do the men have breasts?' And then you'd have to sit them down and be all, 'look, that's the PROPER WORD FOR THAT AREA, CHECK YOUR MALE GAZE!' and it would start this spiral of breast awareness and the world would just be a better place. 

It's a beautiful dream.

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P.1

I think you probably need a more thorough line edit than I'm really able to give right now; your sentences are kind of disjointed. They're all over the place and don't necessarily join up well. Your first sentence here is a pretty solid example of what I'm talking about. I know you need to establish something about the eye, but it doesn't belong in that sentence. I'm going to avoid mentioning sentence-level issues as best I can, because honestly, there's way too many of them.

That said, this page feels really repetitive.

P.2

Ehh. I'm not feeling this, Lillian is whipping back and forth here. Pick an emotional radius and stick within it.

P.3

This page is really kind of meandering, and honestly, you're really compartmentalizing the emotion here. You've got a couple paragraphs about how Maykin's sad, but it's mostly about the narration telling us he's sad and I'm honestly not actually feeling it anywhere here, either in the telly parts or in the rest. The moment you know you're going to spend some time literally saying what a character wants is where you lose it.

P.4

that's twice in a row where the only descriptor you've applied to Lillian's voice is 'delicate'. Because it's across two different POVs this is the sort of thing that makes me side-eye a writer when I encounter this sort of thing in commercial fiction. It's playing to what the writer finds appealing and it never looks good.

And, again, tell tell tell tell tell, you're straight-up telling information and emotions.

P.5

nothing here I haven't said before. You're really expositing too hard for me to be all that interested, though I've got to wonder how an apparent slave economy is existing simultaneously with robot butlers. Upper echelons of society or no, if you've got an underclass who have no acknowledged personhood there's no particular reason to develop that sort of thing. And 'dregs', really?

P.6

Oh, for god's sake, do we really need a scene where the sweet, delicate woman gets lectured by the more morally upright man with whom we are intended to sympathize? And do it in the form of really heavy-handed exposition?

P.7

We're really in the realm of 'cartoonishly evil' here. And "arms crossed under her breasts, leaning against the door with a self-satisfied smile on her pointed face"... I scrolled past some space given to the arms crossed line but I'm going to ask you to think, very carefully, for a moment, about what a person with breasts crossing their arms under them will actually do to those breasts, and I'd like you to ask yourself why Nessian is hiking up her cleavage at her brother and sister.

And of course she's got a pointy face, that's how we know she's evil. This is beyond cliche at this point.

p.8

There's really nothing more that I can say here that I haven't said already.

P.9

Like the couple of sentences about 'never seen hair on myself' are entirely unnatural to the POV and serve no purpose beyond just shoveling information out. I hate feeling like I'm harping on things, but it's like the only way you know how to convey anything is to just say it's happening. I'm begging you, please read more, please read outside the genre.

I can't. I kind of skimmed to the end but I've got nothing further I can say that's new.

So, to answer your questions: You're spending too much time on the really heavy and direct exposition for any tension to exist, pacing is pretty difficult to discern because of this, and Nessian is a collection of 'evil sexy woman' cliches. I'm trying here, I'm really trying, because you're sincere enough and I don't wanna, like, crush you or anything, but I honestly do not know how I can help you, and I mean that as much on my own end as yours.

Edited by neongrey
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5 hours ago, Ernei said:

feel like reading from a different planet O.o

Language is funny, isn't it? In Thai, the word for breast is the same as the word for milk, which makes total sense, but therefore carries an entirely different cart of baggage.

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On 12/20/2016 at 5:02 AM, neongrey said:

We're really in the realm of 'cartoonishly evil' here. And "arms crossed under her breasts, leaning against the door with a self-satisfied smile on her pointed face"... I scrolled past some space given to the arms crossed line but I'm going to ask you to think, very carefully, for a moment, about what a person with breasts crossing their arms under them will actually do to those breasts, and I'd like you to ask yourself why Nessian is hiking up her cleavage at her brother and sister.

And of course she's got a pointy face, that's how we know she's evil. This is beyond cliche at this point.

So, I agree with everything else you've said in your crit, but i'm only going to address this as it's something you and @kaisa have both pointed out and it's really bothering me quite a bit.

So, breast is not a sexual word in and of itself, it needs context in order for it to be considered sexual. If a woman crosses her arms, elbow to elbow, they fall directly below her breasts. If you look at images of women crossing their arms, guess where they fall, almost always? Directly below their breast. If you look at images of men crossing their arms, guess where they fall? You guessed it. Below the breast.

I made no sexual reference in my chapter at all. None, not about Nessian OR Lillian. I never said Nessian was hiking her cleavage. How do you know she even has cleavage? I didn't mention it. Made zero reference to it. You're inferring, and for what reason I don't know. She's his sister and he hates her. I make that clear even BEFORE the scene, so why would he have cause to notice her cleavage? He doesn't, he notices her posture standing in the door.

I even did a bunch of searching on this and it was actually quite hard to find material on it.

I did find this article(Not really an article just a forum question) with mixed responses regarding WoT - https://www.reddit.com/r/WoT/comments/2ishu4/female_fans_do_you_fold_your_arms_over_or_under/

Is it not possible that RJ used the description because it simply is just that? If he didn't use it consistently across his books with men, then that would be a problem, and honestly i don't recall if he did or did not. But I will absolutely commit to that consistency in my books.

I'm a pretty shitty writer at the moment, but I plan to improve. This is a hiccup on a long road of finding my voice. Figuring out how to create consistent characters, understanding what to do and what not to do. What is appropriate and not appropriate. How to keep a consistent narrative. How to write sensitively. I'm going to blunder and I'm going to make mistakes. I will concede that. I just don't feel like you're reading that line with an objective eye. I think you're both looking for it and you're creating a scenario that doesn't actually exist.

I overuse the word delicate to describe Lillian's voice, that's more of a technical error than anything else in my opinion. I should either omit it after the first use or find another way to describe it. I was using it as a way for the reader to know that Stephain knew who the voice was coming from before I identify the character by name. It's just really poor technique on my part and lack of experience.

I'm not trying to offend, so I hope you don't read the response in that way. But I feel that I'm being accused unfairly. I'm taking such issue with it not because i'm being charged unfairly or that I'm being unfairly treated, but that I may be in the wrong in my presumed use of the word. It bothers me because I don't want to be that guy or be responsible for continuing a bad trend in entertainment.

 

Edited by TKWade
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On 12/20/2016 at 5:02 AM, neongrey said:

I'm trying here, I'm really trying, because you're sincere enough and I don't wanna, like, crush you

Don't worry about crushing me. I have very little experience and i'm stumbling into it. I recognize that. Crushing me isn't going to stop me from trying to improve. It's hard reading the raw response, I wont pretend it doesn't, I had to step away for a few days to distance myself and collect my thoughts.

That's not a bad thing. It's just the process of growth. I really do appreciate what you bring to me in your critiques. You challenge me in an infuriating way :)

Edited by TKWade
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1 hour ago, TKWade said:

So, breast is not a sexual word in and of itself, it needs context in order for it to be considered sexual. If a woman crosses her arms, elbow to elbow, they fall directly below her breasts. If you look at images of women crossing their arms, guess where they fall, almost always? Directly below their breast. If you look at images of men crossing their arms, guess where they fall? You guessed it. Below the breast.

I made no sexual reference in my chapter at all. None, not about Nessian OR Lillian. I never said Nessian was hiking her cleavage. How do you know she even has cleavage? I didn't mention it. Made zero reference to it. You're inferring, and for what reason I don't know. She's his sister and he hates her. I make that clear even BEFORE the scene, so why would he have cause to notice her cleavage? He doesn't, he notices her posture standing in the door.

I even did a bunch of searching on this and it was actually quite hard to find material on it.

I did find this article(Not really an article just a forum question) with mixed responses regarding WoT - https://www.reddit.com/r/WoT/comments/2ishu4/female_fans_do_you_fold_your_arms_over_or_under/

Is it not possible that RJ used the description because it simply is just that? If he didn't use it consistently across his books with men, then that would be a problem, and honestly i don't recall if he did or did not. But I will absolutely commit to that consistency in my books.

The thing of this is really-- even if you don't intend there to be this connotation, it's definitely there. Like, if you are a person with breasts, and you are crossing your arms under them, this is going to physically push the breasts up, causing the weight of the breast to rest upon their arms, and emphasizing them because this will push them up and forward, and this is why this particular motion is a sexualized one-- not because it uses the word breasts. It's an act that emphasizes the actor's sexuality. It's not nearly the 'I'm showing you how stern and grumpy I am' motion that it is if you don't have breasts-- not to say it's never used that way but it's far less common and there's baggage just because of the physical nature of the motion. You don't have to mention cleavage-- this is an act that creates and emphasizes it.

Robert Jordan was a lot of things as a writer and he was generally entertaining enough that I put up with his foibles, but he was a terrible writer of women-- a decent writer of men's impressions of what women are like, but those are a dime a dozen. I'm wary of anyone saying they're emulating Jordan in anything but especially in this, which is one of his most roundly-mocked common lines. The fact that Jordan did this as a descriptor for women should be a suggestion that you should stay away rather than that it's okay, to be honest.

2 hours ago, TKWade said:

I'm not trying to offend, so I hope you don't read the response in that way. But I feel that I'm being accused unfairly. I'm taking such issue with it not because i'm being charged unfairly or that I'm being unfairly treated, but that I may be in the wrong in my presumed use of the word. It bothers me because I don't want to be that guy or be responsible for continuing a bad trend in entertainment.

In this and things like this it's far less a point of offense and far more one of exhaustion. In this I don't blame you per se so much because it seems-- with all due respect-- that you've never in your life interrogated where a lot of these notions come from before. And I mean, I won't say that's okay, but what it is is perfectly normal. And the fact that you're not flipping tables and going on twitter harrassment sprees (eg) when confronted by them does go a long way in terms of being able to keep discussing the subject. And the fact is this is a pretty appropriate enviroment to be shaking these things loose from, so, you know, whatever.

I mean, now's the time to look at this sort of thing, because it's not contributing to anything yet, so hey. There's no shame in something needing to be worked upon while it's still being worked on.

2 hours ago, TKWade said:

I really do appreciate what you bring to me in your critiques.

Thanks. I worry; my intent is to be helpful but I've got such an iron-clad divide myself between critique of a work and critique of a person that it makes it impossible for me to gauge where other people draw their own lines.

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22 hours ago, TKWade said:

If a woman crosses her arms, elbow to elbow, they fall directly below her breasts. If you look at images of women crossing their arms, guess where they fall, almost always? Directly below their breast.

@neongrey hit all the points really well, so I'll not rehash them and just say I agree completely. But this, above, might be something worth talking about. 

Women have a very, very wide variety of body sizes and shapes. Now, images of women, from classic paintings to modern models, have a very male gaze body. In imagery meant for hetero male consumption, the women most certainly would not cross their arms over their breasts. They would put them below, and that forces the breasts up. 

When I cross my arms, I cross right over my nipples. Women with large breasts would likely cross well above the nipple (due to lower hanging breasts). Small breasts I could see the cross going under the nipple, especially if young. By saying all women do it the same way, you ascribe that male gaze on the female form, and put all women into this easily defined little box of how bodies are supposed to be shaped. And when you describe a female doing something like crossing her arms below her breasts, readers familiar with breast dynamics (which should be a field of study for sure) get a very specific image. 

Another thing to consider is this: Neon and I fully understand your frustration, and are trying our best to help you understand it, but at the core, here, you are arguing, you, who does not have 'female' breasts, with two people who do. You are telling us how we cross our arms, and how we should feel (or not feel) about how our anatomy is portrayed in media. And I point this out because I can see how upset you are, and I want you to see how the way you frame the discussion also leads to the reactions that Neon and I have. This is a great forum to have the discussion, because its public and you're asking questions that I'm sure other people have. We all want to help, and understand each other, but sometimes just the framing of a question can ruffle feathers, especially when it inserts a POV over another. It's, in a way, very akin to the 'stay in your lane' discussion we've had recently. Heh.

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23 hours ago, TKWade said:

But I will absolutely commit to that consistency in my books.

Wanted to add - if you can commit to the consistency, then you reset the norm for your world, and I have zero objections. It'd be a brave thing to do, though, and I think you'd get flack for it from male writers in the long run, but we'd fight at your back!

 

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1 hour ago, Ernei said:

why not just skip over this discussion and have the characters just keep their arm crossed? I don't think that you have to specifically say if they keep them crossed under/over/across their breast/s.

That's actually what we're talking about, for the most part. I do, however, find very amusing that this whole topic has us all looking at where our arms go around our chests, and considering cup size, arm length, and shoulder width. Happy Holidays, from 17th Shard, where we love you no matter where your arms fall in relation to your nipples!

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On 12/24/2016 at 11:56 AM, kaisa said:

Women have a very, very wide variety of body sizes and shapes. Now, images of women, from classic paintings to modern models, have a very male gaze body. In imagery meant for hetero male consumption, the women most certainly would not cross their arms over their breasts. They would put them below, and that forces the breasts up. 

Absolutely true - different body types will undoubtedly create different positioning of the arms.

On 12/24/2016 at 11:56 AM, kaisa said:

By saying all women do it the same way

I don't mean that all women do. Obviously we are all individual in nature. We all have different by types.

On 12/24/2016 at 11:56 AM, kaisa said:

you, who does not have 'female' breasts, with two people who do. You are telling us how we cross our arms, and how we should feel (or not feel) about how our anatomy is portrayed in media. And I point this out because I can see how upset you are, and I want you to see how the way you frame the discussion also leads to the reactions that Neon and I have.

So, I get this, I get what you're saying and where you're coming from. I don't mean to tell you something that you're obviously far more familiar with than I am. But just to play devils advocate. This is an observable thing within certain body types and not all of those are of the Hollywood, sexy, romanticized body types. We're not talking about something that has grey area. If my character is 5'8", average weight, with small bust, my sentence is accurate and works. It shouldn't be sexual in nature, but it is because of western societal expectations and connotations with the word itself. It almost reminds me of breast feeding in public - in some other countries it's not a thing, but in the western world it's a problem for some reason. It drives me crazy. I remember when we had our first child and my wife started breastfeeding in public areas and she would talk about how she would pump in the bathroom at her work and I would read bout women feeding their kids in bathrooms - it's jacked up. It was a great experience for me because it caused me to look at things that I never looked at before or considered. And it's a similar issue to what i'm working through right now. In my view it needs to be normalized. The only time the word breast or breasts themselves should be sexual should be in intimate situations or when overtly used for attraction.

I hope I'm not stepping over any lines here and I'm trying to stay sensitive to the subject. 

It's just frustrating and I hate it. And when we have conversation's like this I often wonder to myself - if I were a woman would this have even been mentioned? If I hadn't written such a shitty male gaze in my first submission would this have been pointed out? If I were better at writing women in general would this have been glazed over because it wouldn't have been expected from me in that connotation?

I don't know. Maybe as a male writer(if I can even be called that with my current skill level) I'm at a point where I'm wondering if I shouldn't just start over. Maybe write a few shorts with Female protagonists and just spend the next while, however long that ends up being, researching the feminine side of the human condition. I can't help that I'm a male and that I have a masculine view point inherently, but maybe if I spend more time just simply doing the research, asking questions, reading material from female writers and getting into the mind set. Maybe I can get it right or at least closer.

If nothing else - I did some research and found the male writers very rarely have main female protagonist. So maybe that isn't a problem I want to contribute to anyway.

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Given you directly lifted one of the most notoriously awful phrases from a very famous series of books, I would not chalk it up to your previous submissions here being what called attention to it. I'm also gonna point out, again, that the usage of the word 'breasts' is at best tangential to the actual issue here.

And honestly, I'm gonna throw this one out here: a) perhaps it is not on you to normalize how society sees breasts and b ) even if it were, that surely was not what was happening here.

Myself, I am not concerned about male gaze per se but what you do with that gaze, and I am not entirely certain you currently have the tools needed to apply it in a way that isn't going to be tiresome at best. So, yes: I am not joking in the slightest when I inevitably end up begging you to read more. It's very, very clear from your writing that you've restricted yourself to a very narrow slice of literature and it vastly informs the style with which you write. Please. Read more. Read more women. Read outside the genre. Read women outside the genre. Read writers of colour. Read LGBT writers. All of that.

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13 minutes ago, neongrey said:

a) perhaps it is not on you to normalize how society sees breasts and b ) even if it were, that surely was not what was happening here.

A) I'm not saying that it is. I'm just expressing my own frustration and trying to take into consideration the best way to funnel that frustration.

B ) Based on what exactly? Preconceived connotations of a word.

That's literally the only thing that is being taken into context. And that's proven based on the context of the actual scene and character's in question as well as the fact that if that single word were removed there would be no discussion happening here. If I remove the word then she could be crossing her arms in a few different ways and the reader wouldn't know how. And maybe it isn't important. For me, writing the scene, her being outnumbered by her brother and sister, it made sense.

Body language is as important as language itself in many instances. Maybe the conversation should be directed instead on how I wrote incorrectly about how women may manifest a defensive posture using body language.

I will read outside the genre as you've suggested. I'll read books written by writers of colour, women, and the LGBT community, for sure. Like I said, I want to write in a way that I'm wholly inclusive and thoughtful. I need to gain knowledge on how to do that and the only way to do that is to read, listen, and learn.

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