9.03.2012

NaNoWriMo 2012 needs Blasian stories, too


Ladies and gentlemen, this is the 2012 edition of me begging more of you to join me and a few others in our quest to pump out more Blasian stories. Now that our Dreamcasting  thread is alive and well, I thought it prudent to use the momentum we already have.

The following post will contain many of the elements I wrote last year because they are still as relevant today as they were then.

As you've seen during the various Blasian Lit threads compiled by the awesome Eccentric Yoruba/CosmicYoruba, Blasian lit is sorely lacking. Let's save this genre by jumping in and joining Ankhesen and Amaya, who are constantly hammering out new tales.

Every November there’s an international writing contest called NaNoWriMo. Contrary to popular belief, this isn't just for "white folks." It and its resources are for us, too. In fact, our very own Neo-Prodigy wrote the first draft of his novel, Hollowstone, in this contest. In addition, The Hunger Games and Water for Elephants began their lives as NaNo novels. I’m sure if I check around more, I’ll find that one or two more stories must have found their way to a publishing house or even the big screen. 

NaNoWriMo is a contest that challenges each person to write 50,000 words, approximately 175 pages of a story from 12:00:01 a.m. November 1st to 11:59:59 p.m. November 30th. It's very simple. If you're so focused on typing this many words, then you shouldn't have time to go back, edit or second-guess yourself. Just sit down and type. It doesn't need to make sense. Just go with the flow. Output and QUANTITY, not quality, matters in November.
The story does not need to be complete by complete by November 30, 2010. This contest is designed to get you writing and nothing more. Besides, the average novel I own has a minimum of 100,000 words. You also need not worry about others reading your stories beforehand. When you upload the story for the word count verification, it'll be scrambled. No one will have access to it unless you give it them.

Remember, if we don't write our own stories, THEY'LL continue to write them for us! **shudder**

If you're not ready to write original blasian fiction, by all means, please write blasian fan fiction. Audrey/Dre, Zoey/Demetri, Alice/Kenji, Mika/Raizo, and Uhura/Sulu could all benefit from better stories and better characterizations.

On the other hand, if you think you're ready for original fiction but feel a bit unsure about things, here are some links that might be prove helpful.

You could try this tutorial I found at Youtube called "Lesson Story Structure and Plot." It has 12 parts. Before you click on the parts, get your copy of the plotting guide. It isn't exactly the same as the video though (unless he changed it). I like this guy because he's a computer programmer and efficient.

Story Structure Plotting Guide

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12

Characterizations are very important. Rich Hamper's character profile might work well for beginners. He also has a good metaprogram to help you get to the core of your characters.

While you're creating your characters, don't forget the lessons we learned in How to write about Africa by Binyavanga Wainaina and How to write about Aboriginal Australia by Jennifer Mills.

Last year, I struggled with whether or not to have dual protagonists and I found this link that directly addresses the question: The Case For – Okay, Against –Dual Protagonists.
Around the same time, our very own CosmicYoruba advised me to take a look at the Magical World Builder. I’m going to test this out on a short story this month. It looks good!!!
If you don’t know your characters well, you might want to do the character questionnaire at The Script Lab.
Since 2011’s NaNo, I’ve learned an extremely important lesson: setting matters. Without me realizing it, I’ve become rather sloppy about the handling of location. The setting for a story must be treated with as much care as a prime piece of real estate. Fictional people just like us are products of a certain environment and we need take care that this environment is rich, vibrant and teaming with life. The same applies if the character moves from location A to location K. In this case, we should take the time to explore how a character adjusts to this new circumstance.


Setting/location/circumstances are extremely vital when writing about Black women and Asian men. For example, writing about a Korean-American man from Detroit is NOT the same as writing about writing about a Korean man from Pusan. While you can expect a first or second or even third generation Korean to maintain some of his cultural practices, this person would be an American as well with all of the positive and the negative connotations that might come with this identity. Furthermore, Pusan is NOT Seoul. Location matters. 

The same thought and care must be given when writing about Black women. There is a huge difference between a Black woman born and raised far below the Mason-Dixon Line and one who was born and raised in Ohio. While it's true, we are products of the same racists society, racism doesn't play out the same equally. It manifests itself different. In the same vein, the definition of happiness and success might be fundamentally different as well.

Several months ago, when I began contemplating the story I wanted to write, I heard Walter Mosley whispering  in the back of my mind reminding me that if we people of color don’t write ourselves in the future, we won’t exist there. Check out Hollywood's sci-fi and/or fantasy movies and count the people of color, especially Black women and Asian men. For this reason, I decided to write a sci-fi/fantasy (quasi) story with people of color comprising the majority. 

I also decided to ban myself from buying materials. Instead, I trolled my  library and came up with a few things that might help me make my story a reality. Mr. H. was relieved because.  spend a lot of money on books. Now he's pleased that I'm using them to create. 

Within the clutter, I found several DVDs to help me with settings, books for basic science (I used a couple last year), home made copies of various documentaries about the assassination of a terrorist to help me get a handle on the military scenes, and other documentaries/books for general knowledge. 

  
I’ve not only watched and read material, but I’ve been keeping meticulous notes in a notebook. This is also something I've failed to do over the years. I was keeping information on my computer and that was consistently a bad idea. At the end of September, I'll revisit the material and decide which parts to use and on November 1, 2012, I’ll write.  There are bound to be some missing elements even after such extensive research, but that’s a task for early 2013.


 
The page displayed is about spiders, which is a creature that is important to both Indigenous Americans and West Africans. Convenient, eh?
 
Who’s up for the challenge? If you have even an inkling of a story on your brain, please take the time to start doing the research right now. We still have approximately two months before kick-off. If you decide to write a story this year, please leave a message here. As time draws closer, we can share each other’s user name on the NaNo site. Please feel free to use all of the resources here even if you do not enter the contest.

Knowledge is power. The more knowledge we have, the more powerful we'll be. The story you write will be your own and written in your voice. Tell it the way it needs to be told!!!!

31 comments:

  1. Thank you for this brilliant article. You said everything I ever wanted to say, but in a far superior way.

    We've gotten used to complaining. We complain we don't have this and don't have that, but when asked to step up create, and contribute we whine, we drag our heels, and we give excuses about our offline schedules.

    Meanwhile, the work still has to be done. And longer we stall, the more work we'll have ahead of us.

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    1. Thank you, Ankhesen, for your comments and for ignoring the fact that I have no command of English these days. Seriously, people of color need to wake up. The issue at hand isn't just about how they write us in their books, television shows or movies. The real problem is our lack of output.

      While it's true we might never get a lucrative book, television or movie deal, we can still provide for the needs of our people. We can self-publish e-books, create more web series to upload at youtube and other services like it, and we can use our time and energy to blog about us and our needs instead of focusing on them. Forget their televisions shows. Forget their movies. Forget their interpretations of us. Forget who they cast.

      Freeing our minds begin with telling our stories and making them accessible to our people. Black women and Asian men, especially those who do not live in Asia, need to write, write, and write or we might wake up one day to discover that we truly don't exist. It doesn't matter if you're prolific or not. It doesn't matter if you write in dialect or if you don't have an advanced university degree. It doesn't matter if circumstances made it impossible for you to get the education you deserve. You write the story and some of us here will EDIT to reflect your intentions.

      Tell the stories about our people as you see us. Forget about educating them. Educate us. The more knowledge we have about ourselves, the more powerful we'll be. This will enable us to work at our crappy jobs with our racist colleagues without missing a beat. Bettering ourselves through gaining more skills and earning that paper is paramount. We deserve to live our lives to the fullest.

      Freedom begins with a story -- YOUR STORY! Your story is OUR story.

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    2. This is why I love Hateya. Ok. I signed up.
      And as for writing ability, there is nothing like quantity to hone your skills. I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone writes.

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    3. **cheering and doing the happy jig** I'm absolutely thrilled you've signed up. Now you can enjoy watching the little progress bar and going crazy, too. Thank you so much!!!

      I agree that there's a positive side to quantity. During my very first NaNo experience, I literally did write everything that was in my head and ended up with ideas for SEVERAL stories rather than one. Though some might think my efforts a failure, I considered them a crucial step in my development. It is my intent to write a series of short "satellite" stories based on that chaos.

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    4. " We complain we don't have this and don't have that, but when asked to step up create, and contribute we whine, we drag our heels, and we give excuses about our offline schedules."

      Exactly. And too often many won't lift a finger to support those who are doing the heavy lifting for them.

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    5. And too often many won't lift a finger to support those who are doing the heavy lifting for them.

      It's much easier to sit around and rant about Hollywhite than it is drop a few bucks to help our struggling artists. It boggles the mind to see just how fundamentally self-destructive people are.

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  2. Thanks for the links! I'm considering submitting something. Honestly ... I'm not fully confident in my writing ability but this site is giving me courage. THANK YOU ALL!!

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    1. NaNoWriMo is the beginning of the process, not the end. It's just a way to get you started and your confidence will grow with the act of typing. Good luck to you. If you sign up, let us know and we'll share user names.

      Delete
  3. I applaud the initiative, it is AWESOME, and I hope many people here will give it a try :)

    I deleted my previous message because I didn't want to be negative here nor come off as making excuses...I'll try to start writing again and see if anything interesting comes up...

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    1. It is awesome, especially with us struggling towards the finish line together. Since this is your first time, go easy on yourself. You can write 50,000 words of anything you wish. I first began writing to dump information out of my brain. It was a stress-releasing technique and it worked. Even if you can't write 1667 words per day and reach 50,000, it's all right. Any effort you make means you're a winner in my book.

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    2. Indeed, I love this project. I wasn't negative towards it but towards myself, if it makes sense (lol). Thank you for helping us with the links you provided in your post. Yes, I'll be easy on myself and give it a try just to prove to myself that I can do it.

      Delete
  4. Hi! I read your blog sometimes but I finally felt so moved by this article to post. This was a perfect essay @ why POC need to write & create their own stories. I used to be in the waiting to be included, any bit part is ok crowd until I realized that I had my own voice & my own experiences as woman of color & I didn't need mainstream approval. POC are our own best voice. When I read genre books I focus on POC writers writing @ POC b/c that's what I need to create & sustain my creative life. Yes, we need more. Yes, we need to up the level from some of the cringe worthy stuff.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. any bit part is ok crowd until I realized that I had my own voice & my own experiences as woman of color & I didn't need mainstream approval.

      Even uttering the word, mainstream makes me want to wash my mouth out with soap. I read works written by POC because I want to know our stories. I want to know how POC in other parts of the country or the world live their lives.

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  5. Where is Robert? This exactly the type of project he needs to get involved in.

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  6. YES. I could honestly not agree more. Why sit around when we can take action?

    I have participated in NaNoWriMo and the community is just so great. It's interesting because there was a thread on interracial romance in the romance subforum and I met a few others that were also writing blasian romance. As one of the *sort of* younger participants, it's always nice to get tips and pointers from those with more experience, but when there aren't as many POC main characters, it's both discouraging and motivating (in a sense). By writing these novels/short stories we can tell others that a black female can be a 3-dimensional love interest in an epic fantasy or that a Native American male can take the lead in a scifi steampunk drama! And who knows, maybe a really amazing person will see the greatness of your story and publish it!

    For my novel this year, I'm writing a blasian alternate history/romance story with an Afghan/Uyghur Emperor and an Ethiopian Empress going to war against the Ottomans.

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    1. For my novel this year, I'm writing a blasian alternate history/romance story with an Afghan/Uyghur Emperor and an Ethiopian Empress going to war against the Ottomans.

      Sounds like a topic for the dreamcasting thread.

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    2. Afghan/Uyghur Emperor and an Ethiopian Empress going to war against the Ottomans.

      My wallet is open! I have Uyghur friends and I recently saw a documentary that introduced me to the awesomeness that comprises a particular group of Afghan people. It's a place I hope to visit one day.

      Delete
  7. Excellent post. My two cents on the matter: Don't want to be a writer, be a writer.

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  8. Excellent post Hateya, I will be on NaNo this year (as usual :D) and I hope to do much more writing this year even though my plans for NaNo 2012 do not exactly fit into the Blasian theme.

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    1. Like they say, "the third time is the charm." Seriously, it's been fabulous having you as a writing buddy for the last three years. I never actually enter into writing a story with a Blasian theme; however, they all seem to end up that way... sort of. Every male protagonist I write is Indigenous, so I haven't yet mastered writing a "mainstream Asian guy." ;)

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    2. I truly hope my third time is a charm. And yes! It has been awesome awesome having you as a writing buddy for the last THREE YEARS. I want to write lots of short stories for NaNo this year, all with varying themes.

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    3. If you read the success stories at NaNo, you'd discover that professionals generally take YEARS to find the perfect voice for the perfect story, so just type away to your heart's content. If you're writing a series of short stories, then you're actually penning, CosmicYoruba's [insert name] Anthology. You can't go wrong with this approach. New writers will also find this an excellent way to survive the month.

      THREE MORE YEARS!

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  9. Thanks so much for this post and the encouragement to use NaNoMo to get my writing underway. I write for academic purposes and I finally want to be able to write for me. I tend to hyper-focus with a deadline and others watching so this is perfect!

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    1. I'm sorry for the late reply. I'm so happy you'll be joining CosmicYoruba, a handful of others and I on this writing adventure. NaNo's deadline is one of its most appealing traits. Since this is up your alley, you're going to love it. I'm very much looking forward to working with you.

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  10. @Everyone,

    Near the end of October, I'll be asking everyone for their NaNo screen names. The excitement of working with all of you is encouraging me to do more research. Perhaps I'll even have a definitive plot this year. Thank you all so much.

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  11. If anyone is still planning on doing NaNoWriMo this year, please drop me a line and tell me your user name via email and I'll add you as a writing buddy. I'll share mine there, too. As usual, I'll remain in Japan's region to prevent myself by being distracted by too many posts.

    I'm sorry for that lateness of this message. I didn't even realize October had ended. *thud*

    Please write me at hateza [at] gmail dot com
    Also, please use: Writing buddies in the subject line. That account gets a lot of notifications.

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  12. I've just signed up. I'm excited!! :)

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    1. Squee!!! I'm glad you're joining us. I'll be checking on your progress and you can send NaNo mail whenever you wish.

      Delete

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