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DurianGray
Dec 23, 2010

King of Fruits


the_sea_hag posted:

Hello! I have a project that's in its very early stages (it's been an RP line since last October and I'm working with my cowriter to get it in shape as a romance novel) and I'd like to see if I can get any feedback on how I should talk about the character before I start seeking out a sensitivity reader. I am a queer cis woman.

My character, Y, started the story as gender non-conforming amab, but through rereading what I have so far it's becoming clear to me that Y's past and experience of gender would fit a trans woman well. So I'm at a crossroads:

a) Has Y not come to realize herself as a woman yet? If so, I would be putting her coming out close to the end of the book if not in the epilogue. My problem is that she would be deadnamed and referred to with incorrect pronouns throughout most of the narrative. So I'm questioning how this would impact my audience; if you are trans, how would it impact your reading and enjoyment of the story if, at the end, Y came out as trans? (Just an immediate response is what I'm looking for here.)

It also puts forth the question that I would really like to ask if I take this route: when I'm talking about Y, should I consistently refer to her with she/her pronouns conversationally, even if I'm talking about points in the novel before her coming out? I mainly don't want to piss off my sensitivity reader. IRL I retroactively refer to the trans people in my life by their proper pronouns when talking their lives pre-transition, but I'm not sure if this would make talking about Y confusing to an outside party.

b) Should I just make Y trans throughout the story? This would mean that, at the beginning of the story, she's living as a man because she can't afford to pass/is afraid of the danger that living as a woman poses in her social environment. In passages from her perspective, she would be referring to herself by her name, but everyone including her love interest would be deadnaming her and calling her by the wrong pronouns. This would probably be for the first three or so chapters before she comes out to her love interest and lives as a woman for the rest of the novel. If you're trans, how would the shift in pronouns impact your experience reading the story? If you're cis, how do you think the shift in pronouns/name impact your reading? (Again, just an immediate response/opinion is what I'm looking for here.)

If these are questions that garner less than simple answers/a longer conversation, I am willing to compensate for the time of anyone who wants to have a private discussion as an investment in making my story better. PM me and we'll hash out the details.

I'm nonbinary trans so I don't have this exact experience (and everyone has a different experience anyway, like sparksbloom said) but I'll give my 2 cents.

a) As a trans person, if I picked up the book because, say, I saw it tagged somewhere as having a trans character, I'd probably be pretty disappointed if that character wasn't even out to themself until the end or the epilogue. I'd probably just be thinking "where is the trans character?" the whole time. (I've definitely read books that get touted as having gay/bi main characters when it ends up just being nothing but a vague line of dialog near the end of the story where the character says/implies they aren't straight and it's almost always pretty disappointing.) If you're foreshadowing her coming out through the whole book that might work better and you wouldn't leave people wondering, but you do run the risk of writing a trans coming out story as a cis person, and that's tricky ground to tread at best.

WRT to your question of how to refer to the character to others, I think for the purpose of talking about the character with sensitivity readers and people who are helping with editing and the like (basically, people who are reading this not as a casual reader) I'd definitely use she/her since they would know the character's identity anyway. As far as with casual readers, I don't have a solid answer but I will say I am wary of the odds that some people might treat it like it's a spoiler if it isn't established until the end. In general, I'm personally not a fan of things where a person's gender identity and/or sexuality could be treated like a spoiler - it just doesn't sit right with me.

b) A pronoun/name shift after a few chapters really wouldn't bother me at all, but I also read a good amount of stuff with trans/nonbinary/genderfluid characters where that kind of thing is relatively common.

I'll also second what sparksbloom said that an option C where the character is already out at the beginning and her trans-ness is addressed in flashbacks or memories seems like something worth considering. You skip over a lot of the trickiness of writing a coming out story and it simplifies how you refer to your character immensely. Plus, if I was a reader and I'd picked this up in part because I heard one of the characters was trans, I wouldn't be left hanging.

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Gin_Rummy
Aug 4, 2007


Is there a good resource/general advice for writing dialogue that doesn't sound like a bunch of middle schoolers or insanely corny? I feel like I have most of the skills and tools needed to craft a satisfying enough world, characters, story, etc... but I think I get too hung up on how the dialogue sounds to actually churn out the rest of the prose in between.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Gin_Rummy posted:

Is there a good resource/general advice for writing dialogue that doesn't sound like a bunch of middle schoolers or insanely corny? I feel like I have most of the skills and tools needed to craft a satisfying enough world, characters, story, etc... but I think I get too hung up on how the dialogue sounds to actually churn out the rest of the prose in between.

I found this gave me a helpful framework for writing dialogue, even if you might not be a fan of this guy's work:

Leng posted:

Jerry B Jenkins also started up a YouTube channel and recently posted a pretty good video on writing dialogue:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpWKp-fnZuU

I plug Sanderson's BYU lectures all the time because they are also a good resource. Lecture 10 has the specifics on dialogue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJfE-HMfSkk

SimonChris
Apr 24, 2008

The Baron's daughter is missing, and you are the man to find her. No problem. With your inexhaustible arsenal of hard-boiled similes, there is nothing you can't handle.

Grimey Drawer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vRfNtvFVRo

Slightly off-topic, maybe, but Jon Ingold of Inkle Studies did a really good talk on the problems with video game dialogue, which makes a lot of good points about dialogue writing in general.

Wallet
Jun 19, 2006



Gin_Rummy posted:

Is there a good resource/general advice for writing dialogue that doesn't sound like a bunch of middle schoolers or insanely corny? I feel like I have most of the skills and tools needed to craft a satisfying enough world, characters, story, etc... but I think I get too hung up on how the dialogue sounds to actually churn out the rest of the prose in between.

Pay attention to dialogue when you're reading or watching T.V./movies and, like everything else, practice. It's probably difficult to find right now given the state of the world but if you can find a play/script writing group or class listening to other people read your dialogue out loud makes it a lot easier to hone in on where you're doing well and where you're loving up.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


Wallet posted:

Pay attention to dialogue when you're reading or watching T.V./movies and, like everything else, practice. It's probably difficult to find right now given the state of the world but if you can find a play/script writing group or class listening to other people read your dialogue out loud makes it a lot easier to hone in on where you're doing well and where you're loving up.

writing dialogue is like writing a fight. it's not interesting unless there are goals your characters are trying to achieve. Think of it with strikes, and parries and blocks, and feints, and changes of ground.

Wungus
Mar 5, 2004



sebmojo posted:

writing dialogue is like writing a fight. it's not interesting unless there are goals your characters are trying to achieve. Think of it with strikes, and parries and blocks, and feints, and changes of ground.
alternatively, if that doesn't work in your head:

writing dialogue is like exploring the shared ground between people. It's not interesting unless there's one person whose emotional state is trying to impress itself on or find common ground with another's; if you're just sharing information and barbs, it's going to read flat and dull. Think of conversations as having emotional arcs

Babysitter Super Sleuth
Apr 26, 2012

THERE'S FASCISM IN MY GIANT ROBOT ANIMES


So Iíve been writing a sci-fi story on and off for the last couple months because covid and I noticed while rereading some of it that I have a bit of a problem with my characters having very similar voices as written. I donít want to do anything like phonetically written accents or other really jarring ways of differentiating them, so I was wondering: does anyone have any suggestions for books/shorts that do a really good job of distinguishing characters in dialog, so I could get a better idea of how to approach that with some relative subtlety?

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool


sebmojo posted:

writing dialogue is like writing a fight. it's not interesting unless there are goals your characters are trying to achieve. Think of it with strikes, and parries and blocks, and feints, and changes of ground.

i don't like this phrasing because there's a lot of purposes to dialogue. sometimes its just ok if two characters talk about stuff, but it should absolutely not be the driving force of a book. imo if you're writing a sequel/transition, sometimes the dialogue is how you explore how a character felt about a specific situation and how they reorient themselves. or sometimes it's a pause after a particularly big scene. don't over-rely on motivation or conflict driven dialogue, but also don't pretend it's the only way to write good dialogue. sometimes talking is just talking for the sake of learning more about two characters and their relationship to each other even if it has nothing to moving the story forward. sometimes a pause in that is good for pacing purposes.

if you're in a short story though it's different because you probably need your dialogue to reveal character plot setting and conflict all at once. whereas in a book you can safely get away with picking two or more.

Wungus posted:

Think of conversations as having emotional arcs

this is a lot better, imo. because sometimes the end state of the dialogue is realization or connection or even distance. sometimes a character doesn't have a goal when entering dialogue but there is an intended purpose/change at the end, even if it's just "i know this character better"

anime was right fucked around with this message at 22:53 on Mar 6, 2021

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


Yah that's fair, I was meaning more that writing a good conversation has similar elements to writing a good fight, not that convis are always like fights, and that looking for dynamism is normally worthwhile.

Sisal Two-Step
May 29, 2006

mom without jaw
dad without wife


Babysitter Super Sleuth posted:

So Iíve been writing a sci-fi story on and off for the last couple months because covid and I noticed while rereading some of it that I have a bit of a problem with my characters having very similar voices as written. I donít want to do anything like phonetically written accents or other really jarring ways of differentiating them, so I was wondering: does anyone have any suggestions for books/shorts that do a really good job of distinguishing characters in dialog, so I could get a better idea of how to approach that with some relative subtlety?

This is a problem I frequently have too. Unfortunately, no immediate books come to mind as examples on how to do it well. Maybe it's one of those things that, when it's done right, the reader doesn't really notice.

I usually tweak the dialogue during the revisions. Some things I do is to try and keep in mind the socioeconomic background of the character, their education level, the sort of media they enjoy, the friends and company they keep, and so on. In my last completed novel, I had one character who came from a solidly lower middle-class background but went into higher academia and was now spending time among people who grew up in a higher class bracket. Because he was pretentious and a bit self-conscious about the difference, and because he read more, he spoke a little more proper and used a larger vocabulary. I didn't mention it explicitly in the text; it was just a bit of character building that I used to inform his dialogue.

One thing that keeps me out of writing speculative fiction is I never, ever want to have to come up with slang. I can't imagine anything more difficult.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Babysitter Super Sleuth posted:

does anyone have any suggestions for books/shorts that do a really good job of distinguishing characters in dialog, so I could get a better idea of how to approach that with some relative subtlety?

Here's a short story which is written entirely in dialogue, with no dialogue tags: https://www.mit.edu/people/dpolicar/writing/prose/text/thinkingMeat.html

It's only two characters, so it's easy to tell who's saying what, but you can see the difference in how they speak as well.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Speaking of improving on writing dialogue, sebmojo gave me permission to shop the Script Frenzy thread around CC so if you've ever had any interest in writing for stage or screen (or graphic novel, or podcast, or web series, or a documentary or any other form of storytelling that utilizes a script), come sign up for the 100 page script challenge in April with me!

Scripts are basically prose novels except there's only dialogue and action! So if you're struggling to make your characters sound distinct from each other, you'll get to work on it pretty hard by writing a script.

And if said script doesn't work out, you can still totally reuse all of the great dialogue and actions you came up with as a sort of outline for a prose novel! It's like getting a jumpstart on your next book!

ultrachrist
Sep 27, 2008


Grammar time:

Can you use "There's" to describe a plural? For example: "There's six birds in the tree."

To me, originally from New England, that sounds perfectly natural and something I would say aloud. But if I think about it for three seconds, "There's" is a contraction of "There is", and "There is six birds in the tree" is obviously wrong. Yet "There're" is nonsense. You're already pronouncing "There are".

On the other hand, I would never do the same with "where". "Where's the birds?" But my parents probably would.

My conclusion is that "there are / where are" don't have contractions. Despite how correct "There's" sounds to my ear.

DurianGray
Dec 23, 2010

King of Fruits


It depends on the context, really. If you've got a narrator or a character speaking who would naturally use "there's," then go with that. If you're writing from a more formal POV (something like a distant third person narrator, or a character who would just speak more 'correctly' for whatever reason) use "there are."

REMEMBER SPONGE MONKEYS
Oct 3, 2003

What do you think it means, bitch?


Thereíre, obviously.

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Rad-daddio
Apr 25, 2017



hahahaha! gently caress this writing poo poo! I'm going back to the coal mine!

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