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View Full Version : Do you have to be it to write it?



veinglory
06-05-2005, 02:14 AM
e.g. Do you think it is ok for a really very whitebread writer to do inter-racial erotic romance?

Or to generally write what you don't directly know.

clara bow
06-05-2005, 06:13 AM
I don't see why not, though I guess I'd want to know how integral the interracial element would be to the plot. If it's just a case of the characters being a race different from the author's without any ethnic/cultural issues being addressed, I don't see anyone really worrying about what race the author is. If the ethnic/cultural issues are very integral to the story, just make sure you do your research (;)) and be sensitive to the issues (or not--I suppose a politically incorrect take could be just as entertaining!). Just my 2 cents.

Deanna Lee
06-05-2005, 09:22 AM
Well as Emily knows I was recently attacked for writing interracial romance and was told quite bluntly that white women shouldn't write about black women as we aren't good at it.

She called white women "you people" by the way. That's the only thing that's really stuck in my craw after everything was said and done.

veinglory
06-05-2005, 02:41 PM
Yes that did get me started. I've already thought my way around my own issue of writing gay men (appropriation etc etc). I was curious to see how similar the white-writing-'ethnic' and girl-writing-gay issues are...

arrowqueen
06-06-2005, 01:57 AM
We're writers. I thought we were allowed to make up whatever we liked.

nolabohemian
06-07-2005, 04:43 AM
Sorry I haven't been around much lately, but I wanted to pipe in here. If fiction meant you could only write about what is real or true, then it would be non-fiction, by definition, and furthermore, it would be autobiography if you could only write about what you directly have experienced. Surprisingly enough, we write fiction, under the current rules, so be or write about whoever you please, so long as you aren't perpetuating negative stereotypes. I've never been with a women, but seem to do pretty well writing lesbian erotica that people publish. It's a story, after all. I wrote a story that took place in the future, too, but I've never been there... and a story about a ghost one time, which I've never been either (as far as I can remember). Do I need to go on?

veinglory
06-07-2005, 12:24 PM
But do you think the further outside you experience it is (i.e. ghosts are basically people and so not a complete unknown) the worse it will tend to be written?

CaoPaux
06-08-2005, 03:46 AM
But do you think the further outside you experience it is (i.e. ghosts are basically people and so not a complete unknown) the worse it will tend to be written?Perhaps, but that could only be judged by those who DO have experience with whatever it is, yes? So I'd think it'd only matter if your intended audience knows what of you write.

Maryn
06-08-2005, 05:59 AM
It's not so much whether we have the right to write what we are not, but the skill. If I could pull off an interracial story and get it right, then there's no reason in the world I shouldn't do it--and nobody, regardless of his or her color, should have any say-so in my decision to do it.

If, however, my writing doesn't present a plausible story to those readers for whom my fictional situation is reality, then criticism is valid--for my writing and research skills, not for my audacity in writing outside my own life's experiences.

We all assume the personality of the POV character, and unless you're writing your autobiography, it's just a cloak anyway. Who cares what color it is?

Maryn, who writes as a gay man, a straight man, or a straight woman, with readers none the wiser

wisedec4u
08-04-2005, 03:53 AM
As a writer, I don't think you have to be of the same race as the main characters of your story as long as the sex is good and the storyline has substance. What's the old saying?--We're all the same once you turn off the lights. For example I wrote a story for my creative writing class. It was an erotic love scene involving an inter-racial couple and it was mainly from the white male's pov. Since I tend to be a bit shy about my work, I submitted it anonymously. My instructor read it aloud in class. No one knew who wrote it. Everyone assumed it was one of the white male students. They were all shocked to find out it was me. I so happen to be 32 year old African-American female, wife and mother of 3 (soccer-mom type). Surprisingly, I got a lot praise for my work. Many of the students assumed that I must have dated a white man before to write such a realistic love scene. The truth is I've only been with two men in my life and both are African-American. I think as long as you have the imagination and skill to pull it off you can write about any characters you want no matter what race they happen to be.

I just read a book by J.J. Murray who happens to be a white man. All the books I've read by him are written from a black woman's pov. I think he does an excellent job of understanding how we feel on certain issues regarding sex and love, which is a major feat for any man black or white.

Burnz
08-05-2005, 08:24 AM
I haven't written an erotic story, but I have read a dozen or so. I am assuming here we are talking about a more sensual type of sex scene not the wham bam slam the door on the way out type. But as far as the writing what you aren't, I believe if you have enough talent you can write as whoever you want to be that day. Just do some research so you know what their characteristics are, their quirks and how that character feels they are viewed in society.

nycdiane
08-18-2005, 08:32 PM
Do you guys recall one of Jamie Foxx's acceptance speeches when he won one of his awards for his performance in 'Ray?' I think it was the Golden Globes where he basically said that he at first doubted how a white director, Taylor Hackford, would be able to do the story justice. But then he was blown away by how brilliantly Hackford pulled it off. I thought it was an icky, arrogant thing to say; it really got my dander up. Jamie Foxx was essentially assuming that Taylor Hackford had never experienced adversity, disappointment, sadness, rage, prejudice, addictive behavior, passion, joy, etc. Well, he certainly didn't experience his life as a blind black musician but he is a human being and that, I'm sure, is how he approaches his work - from a human perspective. Otherwise, the audiences at that particular movie wouldn't have included many different types of people. Taylor Hackford didn't have to be anything other than himself to direct 'Officer and a Gentleman,' 'White Nights,' and 'Dolores Claiborne' - the main characters of which were all vastly different from each other and who he is. Was it so farfetched that he could direct a movie about Ray Charles?

We are all connected by our humanity and that is how we can relate to stories about people who are completely unlike us. You may not yourself have a passion for a certain fetish or a particular gender as sexual partner, but I'm sure you've experienced passion about something - so find that as your subtext and write whatever the heck you feel drawn to writing.

Carole
08-19-2005, 06:57 PM
From the point of view of having the story be strictly entertainment, I think it may actually be beneficial to lack experience in some cases. There are times when experience shuts the door on new ideas because the *known* is too common. With inexperience, there may just be a broader mindset and openess to imagination!

Zonk
08-22-2005, 01:50 AM
Em, the second part of your question I found bloody funny (pun intended...), coming from someone who writes homoerotic werewolf romances (Eclipse of the Heart). Unless of course you want to 'come out' about your lycanthropy...:tongue

In general I guess I would have to echo those who say 'do your homework' - it is really pathetic reading something unintentionally funny - but I don't see a problem, once the characters aren't stereotypical racial caricatures.

Sure, you may get reactions like the one Deanna spoke of, but it would really be interesting to find out what that person's reaction would have been if they didn't know who/what she was...

Your other point about the further from your own experience you go is interesting; how would anyone know whether you were accurate or not if you wrote a 'ghost' character? (Or for that matter, a werewolf/vampire/ghoul, etc). The only thing you have to be careful of, I believe are the 'conventions' that readers of such books have come to expect; stray too far and you may lose them.

Cathy C
08-22-2005, 02:59 AM
I don't see a problem at all. I'm a 40-something white woman from Texas, and our latest book features an Indonesian woman and a South African man, and they're both shifters. But a number of people commented how "right" we've gotten their personalities, so I'd say go for it! :)

veinglory
08-22-2005, 03:06 AM
"Em, the second part of your question I found bloody funny (pun intended...), coming from someone who writes homoerotic werewolf romances (Eclipse of the Heart). Unless of course you want to 'come out' about your lycanthropy...:tongue "


It's easy to see how my question relates to my writing-I am also neither gay nor a man. Although a werewolf is fairly unlikely to email complaining about my poor research and stereotyping a gay man might.

Zonk
08-22-2005, 07:57 AM
"Em, the second part of your question I found bloody funny (pun intended...), coming from someone who writes homoerotic werewolf romances (Eclipse of the Heart). Unless of course you want to 'come out' about your lycanthropy...:tongue "


It's easy to see how my question relates to my writing-I am also neither gay nor a man. Although a werewolf is fairly unlikely to email complaining about my poor research and stereotyping a gay man might.

Exactly; I don't think the author's ethnicity (or species:) ) needs to be an issue, and tried to make light of it.
Did my remark offend you? That certainly was NOT my intention, and I'll quickly apologize if it did:flag: It's difficult enough sometimes to understand people when face to face; on a net forum one can be very easily misunderstood...

Of course it's easy to see the POV you're coming from :) It's also easy to understand why you wouldn't want to offend anyone. Unfortunately some folks (of every racial, political, and religious type) seem to make a career out of being offended. Why worry about that? My point was that you've already written about same-sex, 'interspecies' love, which no doubt will offend any number of people, so why worry about interracial romance? If we only write what we directly know, we wouldn't be writing about werewolves (e.g.) or genders other than our own. Yet all writers have developed characters of the opposite sex...

It just tickled my (admittedly off-centered) sense of humor, veinglory, forgive me, please, if it rankled, and take a rep point or something:Shrug:

Your point about actual e-mails is of course, well taken, LOL.

So if you want to write an interracial romance, go for it - I don't think you're the type who'll write stereotypically anyway, at least there's nothing in your writing history that suggests that :) - because you'll get e-mails anyway.



:D :D :D

veinglory
08-22-2005, 06:19 PM
Not offended at all, no worries! It was a valid enough point that is we all write what we know in the literal sense there would be no (or very little) fantasy or paranormal.

Zonk
08-23-2005, 01:53 AM
Speaking of 'writing what you know'...

"A common and usually unfortunate answer is "Write about what you know." Nothing can be more limiting to the imagination, nothing is quicker to turn on the psyche's censoring devices and distortion systems, than trying to write truthfully and interestingly about one's own home town, one's Episcopalian mother, one's crippled younger sister."
John Gardner, The Art of Fiction

He goes on to opine that if the writer does write about these subjects well, it's usually because of a background in in reading 'naturalistic' fiction, like you find in Harpers or The New Yorker...

He thinks writers write in genres, and should be encouraged to write in those genres in which can immerse themselves most easily.

Interesting:idea:

:D:D:D