just a quick question, I need a little bit of help :O when it comes to writing stories including historical figures from the past... is it always recommended to reveal their true names or should you try and create a new character around them but try and include key facts? or is that not allowed
By writing Science Fiction I am writing all I know... 'the truth behind the untrue' ... its so hard to write about reality when the reality your ,mind processes the world in is entirely fictional.
its always good to widen our imagination, to let ourselves tell the stories of other people. i think that is why writers are advised to keep a journal; so they can write about things they see, so they can tell other people's stories..
I'd say that's a pretty interesting question because how do you define "know" when it comes to writing? If you don't "know" you can always research and learn and then decide if the topic's for you. Writers have always researched, right? (well, for the most part). As far as sci-fi, might help to research as there are scientific laws that might apply, but then it's all imagination. And look at the technology used in the "Star Trek" series that's actually come to pass. Fantasy, is all ... See More imagination--which gives you a lot of freedom--so if you're not much on imagination, don't write it. I'd say that "write what you know" might be termed "write what you have a feel for." I wouldn't write sci-fi as I like some, but it's not my first choice. I could write a hell of a novel based in ancient Egypt because that is something that fascinates me and I've studied. I always feel like there are no true limits when it comes to what we choose to write. Just write it well
I think sometimes the less we know of a n author the better, lest our prejudice, or just dislike, of that person spoil the reading. Since reading "Lord of the Ring" I've found out quite a bit about Tolkien I didn't like--especially the way he disliked how "the hippies" (still consider myself one) were interpreting his books. He tried to make "The Silmarillion" ore orthodox to reflect his Catholic views as a sort of retaliatory gesture.. 'Authors I may have had some similarities to personality ... See More wise, like Tom Robbins or Ken Kesey, I've only like one of their books. (Another Roadside Attraction and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). Maybe familiarity breeds contempt. (And BTW, thank you again for the wonderful review of my book "Ghost Girl..."
Any novel with the age of the characters between 18-25 :') coming of age has become young adult. It's become a new genre about early adulthood or facing more adult like responsibilities/situations x
WRT "Reading on Both Sides of History":
I want to take one small part and explore it.
You write, " ... Ideas need to be understood in their context and their moment in time, rather than assuming that all books exist in a never-never land of relevance. This is the role of good teachers, and not just K-12 teachers, but of anyone who can share a book and mentor a fellow reader. Simply throwing books at children won’t magically produce scholars and citizens, but it could create some ... See More seriously disillusioned and misguided young readers. Reading is a serious activity, since it involves our most precious values and beliefs. We need to guide our readers with equal seriousness, and make sure they understand the biases that shaped the past, as well as the ideas that are ‘writing’ the future."
So my quibble is that you are approaching this as a professor. The "Reading is a serious activity..." really got my back up, even though I understand from context what you are conveying about the larger point. Let me explain.
I have an 8 and a 10 year old. The 10 year old reads like I do; loves it, would rather be holding a book than a wii remote. (ok, sometimes) However, the 8 year does not, and it's partly because he's already fallen prey to the scholastic, "this is a serious thing.," attitude. (on a side note, we have the same issue with writing in school - it should be a JOY and a pastime, not a job ... punishment should not be "write 'I will not ____' 100 times" as that teaches writing is a punishment and not an opportunity).
Let the kids read and learn dragons and beaches and escapes and swords and ghosts ... and yes, about racism and societal problems too. It's not like they aren't hearing about it on the playground or at the dining room table (or on the news or on youtube....)
My mom related to me how when I was in 5th grade the school librarian called her because I wanted to take out a book on astral travel. Her response, correctly IMO, was, "Is it out on a general shelf? Then let him take it out!" And yes, it led to a conversation but only after I'd read the book.
Reading is fun. :-)
These book are windows to how people thought in their time. Ignoring them, or worse - banning (which is a course the most retar- extreme groups go for) would be killing the only remaining "living" form of history. On top of that, as a good old philosopher said, conflict is the soul of drama (don't quote me on that, I know the saying from a different language than English) which means these "sensitive" topics ARE SUPPOSED to evoke emotions in the reader, no matter if love, hate, empathy, or ... See More anything else. If we turn against it then we will end in an empty limbo of no feeling, lack of comfort/discomfort, opinion, and eventually free will and originality. Sexist, racist, and books of other vices must exist, and the only opinions about them should be how WE percieve the events (bad/right/straight up abominable), because in a generation or two that might drastically change yet again. People are fickle, collective values change, but books stay written, no matter if they are an inspiration or an example of what should under any circumstances not be.
Firstly: must apologize my poor English, it's not my mother tongue. I just signed in yesterday and found this site and have been reading comments few hours now. Very interesting subjects, thank you Joshua, and comments, too. You have had discussions for example like if a plot is more important than style or sentences.
Many years ago I read an Agatha Christie novel that was translated into my mother tongue. It was so bad that it made me furiously angry. Then I read it in English and ... See More it became my favourite of all Agatha Christie's novels. So, yes, the story can vanish behind the words if they are poorly written or, as in this case, translated.
And if we take only a few sentences out from certain books, do these books change or loose something essential in them? For example the line: 'I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills.' If we take that sentence out from Karen Blixen's wonderful book, is it still the same book? Or the sentence: 'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in posession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.' Do these words create in a single sentence the whole atmosphere or style of those books or would these books be as good as they are without these sentences? What's your opinion?
Someone wrote something about The Good Soldier Svejk and it's style but I couldn't find it anymore. If we read nothing else but the books like James Patterson's (haven't read any of them but I understand the concept), then we wouldn't understand that sentences written in a certain style and words put together in a certain way, have the ability to stay with us for the rest of out lives. Think for example James Joyces's short story 'The Dead' and especially the last chapters of it. Those chapters changed my way of thinking about other people and how we feel and what we are as a person.
Then again there are stories that are so wonderful that you forget completely how they are written, like 'A Town Like Alice' or 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society' for example. The point in this is that they make an impact that lasts. And yes, books are like movies, they can entertain like 'Titanic' or they can strike you straight into your heart like 'Sling Blade'.
What do you think, Joshua, could it be possible to divide authors into two categories: to those that write for themselves and because they just have the need to write and to those who possess the ability to write on some level and write only for the readers whatever sells best?
Recently I read a book by Beryl Markham that had such deep understanding of life and people and what an amazing life she had! This quote is from that book: 'She had long since forgotten the meaning of a smile, but the physical ability to make the gesture remained.'
Weekly topics and literary discussions with Dr. Joshua Grasso. All things historical, cultural, and what makes our stories worth reading.