Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » writing w/o experience - rookie mistakes (Page 1)

  This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   
Author Topic: writing w/o experience - rookie mistakes
micmcd
Member
Member # 7977

 - posted      Profile for micmcd   Email micmcd         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Quite a few of the most recent topics have dealt with the difficulty of writing about something you don't know. In general, we write what we do know (or imagine in scifiland), but we can't get around some things that are easy to make mistakes on.

This is one of the reasons I visit this board, but I'm curious to hear from the experts - what are the biggest "this person doesn't know what they're talking about" mistakes you see that ruins a book for you?

In my case, my three big areas are kids, horses, and boats. I have no kids, have never ridden a horse, and have never been on a boat where I had anything to do with the piloting of it.

Horse people, what do you hate when you see writers get wrong? Boaters? Parents? ... perhaps a little more controversially -- women -- anything you see male writers do with their female characters that screams "I don't understand women?"


Posts: 500 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hmm. The only thing that comes to mind right now was actually in Rothfuss' THE NAME OF THE WIND, which I thoroughly enjoyed. But at one point, he has the hero buy a horse in the morning and ride that horse eighty miles by noon or a little after.

For all I know that may be possible. Just. But it sure threw me out of the story with a "Huh?" moment.

He really didn't need to tell the distance and I would have been fine.


Posts: 4406 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rstegman
Member
Member # 3233

 - posted      Profile for rstegman   Email rstegman         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Meredith

There is a horse race in desert america. It is where they try go go 100 miles in 24 hours. One of the rider's horse went lame so he finished the race on foot and came in first. It did not count, but they decided to have a running race on the same course. A lot of the people actually run 100 miles in less than 24 hours.

Your question about a horse, 80 miles in just a few hours is not possible. Running the entire distance in any amount of time would also be impossible. As I said, it takes 24 hours to go 100 miles, 19 hours would be more believeable, but I have no idea what condition those horses would be in.

I tend to suspend belief when I am reading, and tend not to notice those kind of errors in books.


Posts: 1005 | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
tchernabyelo
Member
Member # 2651

 - posted      Profile for tchernabyelo   Email tchernabyelo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Horses often seem to be the most magical things in fantasy novels. http://www.ultimatehorsesite.com/info/farandfast.html gives some interesting background - note, for instance, that the pony express horses averaged 9mph over 25-mile stages, and that a trip of 105 miles completed in 7 hours actually involved 8 different horses. Horses gallop faster than humans, but not for very long; broadly speaking riding doesn't really make you any more distance than walking would, but allows you to carry more gear and you (if not the horse) feel less tired.

Plus your horse needs to eat. This is surprisingly often forgotten in fantasy novels.

However some horse experts can get a bit too tied up in modern horsemanship. I remember one critique on here where someone in a fantasy story was described as an "expert horseman" and rode a black horse. A critiquer spent a great deal of time explaining that if the character was an expert horseman, he would know that horses were not really black, but cam ein the following colour varieties... etc etc. The terms of what makes someone an "expert" do vary (people bred to the saddle, such as many of the central Asian peoples of the 12th-15th centuries, could carry out some astonishing feats of riding skill, but I bet they didn't worry so much about the precise terms for horse breeds or colours).


Posts: 1469 | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
the pony express horses averaged 9mph over 25-mile stages, and that a trip of 105 miles completed in 7 hours actually involved 8 different horses.

Now, see, that I believe. Which means that Rothfuss' horse, ridden for about six hours, and not always at a gallop because that would kill the horse, couldn't get any farther then maybe 40 miles.

Like I said, if he had just not set a specific distance, I would have been fine.


Posts: 4406 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
genevive42
Member
Member # 8714

 - posted      Profile for genevive42   Email genevive42         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Motorcycle stuff will get me.

One author referred to 'driving' a motorcycle. You can ride a motorcycle, you can even pilot a motorcycle but only a cager would say that someone 'drives' a motorcycle.

Motorcycle slang:

cager - car driver (car only, no two wheel experience)
b*tch - anyone riding on the back of a motorcycle
monkey - the passenger in a sidecar
scooter trash - this one explains itself

Most guys I know would rather ride b*tch than monkey.


Posts: 1993 | Registered: Jul 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
arriki
Member
Member # 3079

 - posted      Profile for arriki   Email arriki         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have a motor scooter. A Honda Elite 80. Now, now. Don't sneer. I get 100 miles the gallon and can ride up to 50 mph which allows me to ride on any roads except the freeway.

Yes, you really can wear a dress or skirt if they're long enough while riding the scooter.

You know the difference between a motorcycle and a scooter? The REAL difference?

Riding a motorcycle is like riding a horse. You sit on top with your legs hanging down on either side. A scooter is like driving a chair. You sit just like on/in a chair.

Motorcycles have gears and chokes and all sorts of complications. A scooter you just turn the key, hold in the brake, press the ignition to start the motor, twist the right hand gas feed and go.

I LOVE my scooter!


Posts: 1580 | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MartinV
Member
Member # 5512

 - posted      Profile for MartinV   Email MartinV         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have trouble when it comes to bureaucracy, specifically giving names to professions and/or ocupations. Head of the department is one of the rare ones I remember but I have absolutely no idea what it means and how to use it.

Same with military ranks. If I'm watching a movie, I usually have no problems seeing who outranks whom but to write it... Corporal, sargeant, major, lieutenant... Got me. I think general is the highest rank.

Any ideas on where to read these things up?


Posts: 1271 | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
KayTi
Member
Member # 5137

 - posted      Profile for KayTi           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I learned all my info about military rank from the WEB Griffin series called The Brotherhood of War. The first book is called, of all things, Lieutenants. Because that's the lowest rank of commissioned officers. My family and I all read these books voraciously when I was younger, so we all have the same knowledge (some of which may be faulty, but I think Griffin did his research/had experience.)

The novice thing that I have experienced a lot in books lately is the author who is writing for kids and feels the need to talk down to them.

There are ways to adjust your vocabulary and storytelling style to make books more understandable to younger readers, and there are also reasons to keep your vocabulary to help readers stretch. See above point about how I learned everything I know (and recently had a Marine Corps friend ask me what branch of the military my father was in, he had assumed my information was more direct than book-learning!) about military rank.

I've read a lot of mid-grade books recently that have just such a plodding and repetitive storytelling style, I want to smack the authors. Honestly! Kids can understand without you reiterating each point. They'll connect the dots, or their brains will work hard on connecting the dots and it will make them ask questions of friends, teachers, family, librarians, and they will get help in connecting the dots. There's really no need to condescend!


Posts: 1911 | Registered: Mar 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Zero
Member
Member # 3619

 - posted      Profile for Zero           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Wikipedia.
Posts: 2195 | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
tchernabyelo
Member
Member # 2651

 - posted      Profile for tchernabyelo   Email tchernabyelo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Wikipedia is a handy resource but should NEVER be used as the sole resource, particularly on anything tht might have more than one way of looking at it (so anything political or historical).

Remember, anyone can write anything in it. Yes, ridiculous stuff normally gets edited out, but some pages are very heavily policed by special interest groups who make very sure that things are slanted to their own viewpoint, despite all the NPOV claims for editorial policy.


Posts: 1469 | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
genevive42
Member
Member # 8714

 - posted      Profile for genevive42   Email genevive42         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
arriki, I'm glad you love your scooter. Two wheels is still two wheels.

But I will disagree about the only difference being the seating position.

One, the tires/wheels on a motorcycle are larger which is safer and more stable.

Two, all of those things you mentioned, the clutch, shifter etc. are good things in my book. As a pilot you have more control and the ability to adapt to a situation with more options.

Three, the power a motorcycle has isn't just about going fast. More power means more speed in situations where speeding past or through it is the bet option but you can't do that if you don't have the power.

Finally, depending on where you live, being able to ride in the carpool lane rocks.


Posts: 1993 | Registered: Jul 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
BenM
Member
Member # 8329

 - posted      Profile for BenM   Email BenM         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The most common stumbling block I seem to find in critiquing is to do with character motivation (which may more reflect where I'm at in my own writing).

I can accept a character doing almost anything, if the writer can make me believe (and show why the character believes) that that's the most logical thing for the character to do. But having conflicted characters that seem to randomly change opinions on something, or act in a way that doesn't immediately make sense, always bothers me. If I'm reading, regardless of genre, to follow a character through a story, I really don't want to be questioning what they're doing.

And one of my favourite m/c terms:

Squids. Often interpreted one of two ways. Usually, someone with no protective gear, usually shorts, wifebeater and flip-flops, most often riding an overpowered sports bike capable of a grillion miles per hour, probably in freeway traffic. Or, interpreted by some (perh. the older set) as 'squirrely kids', irresponsible riders who ride like they may not live another day, and quite possibly won't.

I miss my bike...


Posts: 920 | Registered: Nov 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Zero
Member
Member # 3619

 - posted      Profile for Zero           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Wikipedia is a handy resource but should NEVER be used as the sole resource, particularly on anything tht might have more than one way of looking at it (so anything political or historical).

On average Wiki is pretty damn accurate. Especially since you can go directly to its sources instead of just reading the wiki summary.


Posts: 2195 | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kitti
Member
Member # 7277

 - posted      Profile for Kitti   Email Kitti         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The problem with wikipedia is it fails to correct any deeply-held misconceptions within the population which constitutes its knowledge base. In other words, I would expect that many of the "rookie mistakes" authors fall prey to would be the same sort of mistakes you'd find in a wikipedia article, especially in out-of-the-way articles such as we sometimes stumble onto when we're researching something especially cool or arcane.

That said, it does make a pretty good starting place for a research project.


Posts: 715 | Registered: Nov 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
shimiqua
Member
Member # 7760

 - posted      Profile for shimiqua   Email shimiqua         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
perhaps a little more controversially -- women -- anything you see male writers do with their female characters that screams "I don't understand women?"

Yes. All the freakin time. If a Barbie in a red dress could replace the character, then you can tell the author doesn't understand women.

Women often think one thing, and say another. If you have a character who always means what she says with no hint that she is withholding her thoughts, or prettying up the situation, than you do not have a believable character, and she will come off as a ditz.

Women do things through the lens of "how will doing this make me appear." It changes everything we say, or do. And it's not insecurity that does that, it is just a survival technic we have inherited from ancestors who depended on others to provide for them. When your safety depends on the fact you are worth keeping you around, you try to tailor your action's so you are always worth keeping.

So every female character should hedge her own opinions somewhat.

There are going to be women who disagree with this, and say I don't care a whit about what people think about me, but they are just lying to themselves, or trying to make it appear that they don't care what people think.

That said, a Ken doll in military clothing could replace a lot of my characters.

Hope this helps.
~Sheena


Posts: 1201 | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
micmcd
Member
Member # 7977

 - posted      Profile for micmcd   Email micmcd         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks for the tip on writing women! I've been working on that for a few years (I can have characters never pilot a boat or shy away from horse travel, but I can't not have women as important characters), and I've picked up tips along the way that have made my female characters a lot better. In no way do I claim to understand women (just ask my wife), but I can fake it a little better. I think my problem back in the day wasn't that a barbie in a red dress could replace the character -- it's that the character could easily have been replaced by a man. I was so afraid of making the character into a stereotype that I more or less wrote a man named Kimberly.

One technique I've used that helped a lot was reading lots of books by female authors. Kelly Armstrong and Syne Mitchell are two of my favorites.

[This message has been edited by micmcd (edited November 13, 2009).]


Posts: 500 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Rhaythe
Member
Member # 7857

 - posted      Profile for Rhaythe   Email Rhaythe         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
On the other hand I enjoy reading Tess Gerritsen, but to a guy it's pretty obvious while reading about her male characters that the author is a woman. No guy I know calls his wife or girlfriend 'Darling' anywhere near that often. Or ever.
Posts: 487 | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Women often think one thing, and say another. If you have a character who always means what she says with no hint that she is withholding her thoughts, or prettying up the situation, than you do not have a believable character, and she will come off as a ditz.

Women do things through the lens of "how will doing this make me appear." It changes everything we say, or do. And it's not insecurity that does that, it is just a survival technic we have inherited from ancestors who depended on others to provide for them. When your safety depends on the fact you are worth keeping you around, you try to tailor your action's so you are always worth keeping.


While I agree with the basic assessment, I disagree with the biological imperative. In most hunter-gatherer societies, women supply as much if not more of the food than the men do.

But, I think it's an over simplification. After all, men lie, too. To me, the difference is why the characters lie.
It's a continuum, and any character in any situation can fall anywhere on the continuum. However, all else being equal, men are more likely to be goal-oriented in their lies. They lie because they want something. Women are more likely to tell the little white lies that keep the social fabric intact.

I actually think both sexes are about equally concerned about how they are viewed by the rest of the group. They just worry about different aspects. Guys, were all the stories told in the locker room true?

In a mixed group, men worry more about what the other men think about them. Women worry about both how the men see them and how the other women see them.

JMO


Posts: 4406 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
tchernabyelo
Member
Member # 2651

 - posted      Profile for tchernabyelo   Email tchernabyelo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
On the other hand I enjoy reading Tess Gerritsen, but to a guy it's pretty obvious while reading about her male characters that the author is a woman. No guy I know calls his wife or girlfriend 'Darling' anywhere near that often. Or ever.

This may be a cultural thing. But I haven't read any of her stuff so I can't be sure of the settings and whether it would be appropriate. Certainly there are some cultures (and I'm talking cultures within the US) where "darling" is used almost exclusively, to the extent that one begins to wonder if the man can actually remember his wife's name...

I'm also reminded of a Noel Coward spoof snatch of dialogue:
"Darling?"
"Yes, darling?"
"Nothing, darling... just "darling", darling."


Posts: 1469 | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
tchernabyelo
Member
Member # 2651

 - posted      Profile for tchernabyelo   Email tchernabyelo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
There are going to be women who disagree with this, and say I don't care a whit about what people think about me, but they are just lying to themselves, or trying to make it appear that they don't care what people think.

Sorry, but pre-dismissing any contrary arguments like this doesn't really make your case. You end up with an unproveable assertion by automatically labeling any counter-argument as a lie, which is also not terribly polite. And while you may be right in many or most instances, I really think that the generalisation you're making - "every woman on the planet thinks like I do!" - is unhelpful from a writing point of view. I wouldn't dream of suggesting that every man thinks like I do, and indeed I strongly believe that isn't the case - and if they actually do, they certainly present and process their thinking differently.


Posts: 1469 | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
genevive42
Member
Member # 8714

 - posted      Profile for genevive42   Email genevive42         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
"So every female character should hedge her own opinions somewhat."

Every? No group has such similar thinking that a statement like this can be so absolute.

I think Meredith has the right idea. There are different reasons men and women do things and each person does them to a different degree depending on their experience.

I'm sorry shimiqua but I find your statements too narrow and absolute to be a solid argument.

"There are going to be women who disagree with this,and say I don't care a whit about what people think about me, but they are just lying to themselves, or trying to make it appear that they don't care what people think. " - you're right. I do disagree with this. I'm not going to say I don't care what other people think. But I'd say most humans care what other people think at some time, in some group. Gender does not affect this.

I am a woman who has never fit the norm. I have always played with the boys and I prefer hanging out with men because I have found that they tend to be fairly straightforward in their motivations. I'm outspoken and rarely 'hedge my opinions'. I hate playing the social games that many women like to play and I find that I do not share a common pool of interest with most women. So I disagree because you are making blanket statements about a group that I am a part of and yet you obviously don't understand how I think.

It is good that we try to understand how the other side thinks so we can give our characters more depth and more believable reactions. Talk to your spouse, your significant other, friends of the opposite sex and learn as many different angles as you can. I have certainly learned a lot from my boyfriend about writing male characters.

Above all, remember one thing. Characters are individuals. No two should react in exactly the same way. (Mind melded, psychically bonded clones being controlled by a master computer are not included in this blanket statement.)

Okay, I've yammered enough. Thanks for listening.


Posts: 1993 | Registered: Jul 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Administrator
Member # 59

 - posted      Profile for Kathleen Dalton Woodbury   Email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Please, let's remember the purpose of this discussion is to help with things writers are weak at.

If characterization of members of the opposite sex can be improved by offering what are surely stereotypical differences between men and women, then let's allow for fudge factors, okay?

Of course there are exceptions, but the author who creates the character has to know what they are exceptions to. Can we keep the discussion on the average characteristics and not worry about those who are exceptions?

Let authors have some basic differences to work with, to create their own exceptions as they develop unique characters.

Just giving authors ideas of how some women perceive other women can provide insights into how a character might have the same kinds of perceptions. Same for how women perceive men and vice versa, as well as how men perceive other men.

Let's not let this degenerate into arguments about whether a particular perception applies to you. If you don't perceive things that way, how about saying something like, "another way to consider characterizing women (or men) might be the way I do..."?

Thanks.

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited November 13, 2009).]


Posts: 8541 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
micmcd
Member
Member # 7977

 - posted      Profile for micmcd   Email micmcd         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks KDW -- sorry I included the "controversial" bit. I did want it to be more of a list of easy mistakes such as thinking horses could gallop 200 miles in a day, having boats stop on a dime, or telltale signs of oddly mature children (still haven't seen any of those), guns that don't kick when you fire them, armor that deflects a direct blow from a sword, having characters "fire" arrows... the list goes on.


Posts: 500 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
genevive42
Member
Member # 8714

 - posted      Profile for genevive42   Email genevive42         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Sorry for the soapbox KDW. The absolute statements of women's behavior just got my hackles up.

As to the original post. micmd, since you have issues with horses and boats, have you been able to do any live research? Can you go for a horse ride in your area? Or maybe you could take a small boat ride/harbor cruise and ask if you could visit the bridge and talk to the captain to research your story. Most people are happy to share what they know of their profession. I know that if someone came into my shop saying they were researching picture framing (yeah, right) I'd certainly be happy to give them a tour and probably more information than they needed.


Posts: 1993 | Registered: Jul 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
micmcd
Member
Member # 7977

 - posted      Profile for micmcd   Email micmcd         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
To contribute to my own list -- COMPUTERS

I hate it when authors vastly overestimate the magical powers of "hacking."

* It is nearly impossible to "hack" into modern gov't agencies that take security seriously these days, such as the NSA, CIA, FBI, etc. I happen to know a bit about one such agency, and there are unbelievably simple steps they take to prevent this. For instance, there is no internet access at secure facilities.

* Most serious security leaks are the result of much more low-tech mistakes, like bringing a laptop with tons of SSNs with you when you leave the building.

* If a character just "hacks" into a bank and transfers himself a million dollars... well... I'm pretty much done with the story after that. Even if that character is supposed to be supernaturally smart.

* Most cyber-crime involves tricking humans into giving away important data, as opposed to tricking the machine itself into granting access to someone bad. A shocking amount of identity theft occurs because people love making their passwords "Password1."


Posts: 500 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MAP
Member
Member # 8631

 - posted      Profile for MAP           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Women often think one thing, and say another. If you have a character who always means what she says with no hint that she is withholding her thoughts, or prettying up the situation, than you do not have a believable character, and she will come off as a ditz.

Okay, I am a woman, and I sometimes do this. It depends on who I am talking to. If I don't know someone very well, I will disguise my opinions especially when I know the person I am talking to will disagree with me. I don't want to turn small talk into a debate.

But with my husband, sisters, and close friends I am honest and straightforward. I only withhold thoughts when I know they will hurt feelings.

Men, don't you do this as well???

The thing that tips me off that an author doesn't understand women is when all of the main female characters are the same.

In David Edding's Belgariad series, Cenedra(?) was just a younger version of Polgaria(?) IMO. In Robert Jordan's WOT series all the main female characters have almost the exact same personality. And yet Rand, Matt, and Perrin are all very different.

It is okay to have a female character behave like a man (because some woman are like this) but if every female character does, I am going to think you are clueless.

Edited to add: If you want to know about children, check out the "caliber of kids" thread.

[This message has been edited by MAP (edited November 13, 2009).]


Posts: 1102 | Registered: May 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Wolfe_boy
Member
Member # 5456

 - posted      Profile for Wolfe_boy   Email Wolfe_boy         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
laptop with tons of SSNs

Just how many nuclear powered submarines can you fit in a laptop?


Posts: 733 | Registered: Apr 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
posulliv
Member
Member # 8147

 - posted      Profile for posulliv   Email posulliv         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm with micmcd on the computer thing. Half the time computer hacker equals magician, but without any of the worked-out rules of magic.

There are two areas I wish I knew more about; biotechnology/bioengineering and foreign cultures.

So many of the stories I read are 'Americans in space' or 'Americans with swords', and even the ones that attempt to depict other cultures seem like 'Americans with samurai swords in space' to me. The values are American values. Even the villains have American villain-values. Nothing wrong with that, but I'd like to be able to (competently) do something different if the story called for it.

It also seems to me that we're in the 'vacuum tube' era of biotech, and like the computer hacker stories, biotech equals magic in a lot of near-future stories. If I wrote one with what I know now that's what my story would be. I'm trying to learn enough not to look like more of a fool than I am.


Oh yeah, and now that I reread this, maybe I should have said "United States" instead of "American".

[This message has been edited by posulliv (edited November 13, 2009).]


Posts: 389 | Registered: Aug 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
AstroStewart
Member
Member # 2597

 - posted      Profile for AstroStewart   Email AstroStewart         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
If I don't know someone very well, I will disguise my opinions especially when I know the person I am talking to will disagree with me. I don't want to turn small talk into a debate.

But with my husband, sisters, and close friends I am honest and straightforward. I only withhold thoughts when I know they will hurt feelings.

Men, don't you do this as well???


Obviously we're dealing in the realm of generalizations here. I'm sure many men do this exact same thing. But other men, including myself, don't act this way, especially on the "if I don't know someone very well" front. If I don't know someone very well, then I'm not going to disguise my opinions. I'm going to be myself. And if the other person doesn't like who I am, I don't really care. After all, I don't even know them very well; why should I care about their opinion of me? Basically, someone has to earn my respect before I care about their opinion (or I need to have the desire to earn *their* respect).

This is especially applicable to the ever-encompassing, ever-vacuous reference to "people," as in "what will people think if I [insert-action]?" The opinion of "people" certainly doesn't matter to me in the least. (And I think the same is true for a good portion of men, if not all.)

So what do people think? Is this a good generalization for difference in how men/women think? Women hold back on their true thoughts/reactions unless they are comfortable with someone, and typically men don't, and only modify their true opinion for very specific purposes.


Posts: 280 | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
dee_boncci
Member
Member # 2733

 - posted      Profile for dee_boncci   Email dee_boncci         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
MAP,

You raised a couple of interesting points.

Regarding Eddings, I thought I read that although the early books were published under one name, that in fact he was collaborating with his wife from the start. In all their work I've noticed a similarity of characters of both genders, and the same "witty" dialogue, to the point I would be reluctant to pick up one of their books anymore. So I don't think it's simply a matter of some guy having a shallow understanding of women.

I happen to be male and from that perspective females can be extraordinarily difficult to understand. From my female friends I've often heard the converse. As a result we quite often see female characters that behave like men except for a few stereotype traits from male authors and male characters that behave like women except for a few stereotype traits from female authors. I hope people don't find this offensive, but my life experiences tell me that on the whole there are behavior differences between the genders.

Since I don't believe I completely understand how women operate its difficult to create a female character that will ring true with female readers when it gets down to the level of motivation and emotional response. I probably tend to draw repeatedly from the small group of women that I know relatively well, and I imagine I have the same woman going around in a number of stories, sometimes multiple appearances in the same story. I wish I could do better, for sure, but I think I fall under what you describe.

Of course that only applies in stories where the gender-specific aspects of the internal characters drive the story in some way. If you have a character whose role in the story centers on their professional competence, for example, very often gender-influenced personality traits are irrelevant.

But then there's always the fun we get to have as writers by creating characters with atypical traits...

I'll close by repeating that I hope people don't find this offensive. I alluded to a lot of generalities, and I understand that most individuals, either gender, vary from typical, often substantially. I have struggled at times with characters of the opposite gender. I once wrote an entire novel from the POV of a young teenage girl, and don't think I did a convincing job with her, although it did make me acutely aware of the inherent challenge, and it's something I think I've improved on in the meantime.

[This message has been edited by dee_boncci (edited November 14, 2009).]


Posts: 612 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
philocinemas
Member
Member # 8108

 - posted      Profile for philocinemas   Email philocinemas         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
RE Men and Women:
I am a man, and I enjoy writing women more than men. I believe that women stories have better arcs and appeal to larger audiences. I agree in general with much of what shimiqua said, but I also believe main characters in stories should be the exceptions, not the rules.
I see men as wearing their thoughts and emotions more on their sleeves. I do this as a man, not because I don't care, but because I don't think. The "how will this comment or response affect the other person" moment often comes about 5 seconds after my mouth. I have noticed that this moment comes about 5 minutes before their mouths for women. However, if a woman becomes angry, she still thinks before she speaks, it's just a lot faster. Men continue speaking without first thinking until their whole systems malfunction and they either shut up, apologize, become violent, or walk away.

RE Boats:
Boats move. They never feel like they are sitting still unless they are on a lake without wind and other boats. (Small) Boats on the ocean feel like being on the smoothest kiddy-rollercoaster you've ever been on (I have never been on a cruise ship, but I've heard that the feeling of this movement is minimal - I'll let you know later this summer). Boats in lakes are constantly lurching and drifting (even with anchors). Action on boats should incorporate this factor.


Posts: 2003 | Registered: Jul 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
arriki
Member
Member # 3079

 - posted      Profile for arriki   Email arriki         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
We took a cruise two years ago.

The movement - to me - was a slight, very slight, sensation like having had a glass of wine, maybe two. (A very pleasant sensation.) It's been over thirty years since I've had one.


However, a number of fellow passengers were lining up for seasickness patches and pills. Different people, different experience.

That was a five day cruise in absolutely perfect weather from Galveston to Cozumel and back.

24 hour food and all of it included in the price of the ticket (except for alcoholic drinks). When I couldn't decide between steak and beef Wellington, the waiter insisted I order both. I always had two appetizers and several deserts.

It was a grand experience and one I would like to repeat someday.


During the two there-and-back-again nights crossing the Gulf, the ship speeded up. On one of the forward open decks some teenagers where playing around with holding onto a doorway and letting the wind blast them backwards, nearly horizontal. Again, teenagers.

[This message has been edited by arriki (edited November 14, 2009).]


Posts: 1580 | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rich
Member
Member # 8140

 - posted      Profile for rich   Email rich         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
60 Minutes had a segment on how protected the US is against hackers. Bottomline: Not very.

From an article on BreakingPointSystems:

quote:
Awareness of the threat of cyber war started to take hold in 2007 according to Jim Lewis, a director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. It was at that point the United States witnessed what Lewis called an "electronic Pearl Harbor," when unknown foreign entities conducted online espionage and broke into the Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Energy, NASA and others, walking away with terabytes of information. Lewis also acknowleged that the intrusion into CENTCOM last December was the second major "wake-up call" for the government, as foreign entities penetrated the highly secure military system and remained inside the digital infrastructure for several days "listening" to all traffic and activities.

The 60 Minutes segment is embedded in that link.

Just wanted to respond to the assertion that "it's nearly impossible to 'hack' into modern gov't agencies". It's not.

[This message has been edited by rich (edited November 14, 2009).]


Posts: 840 | Registered: Aug 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Somehow reading of military life by writers who've never been. (I've learned to avoid this since hanging 'round here, myself.)

Used to be, everybody had gone in and everybody knew what it was like...but, since the 1960s, and particularly since the all-volunteer army, people with soldiering experience are fewer and far between. (In the United States, that is---from what I can recall, the inhabitants of most other countries, except for those where fighting has actually happened, have even less in the way of military experience.)


Posts: 8728 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
philocinemas
Member
Member # 8108

 - posted      Profile for philocinemas   Email philocinemas         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Rich, I saw the 60 Minutes segment and thought about it when I read one of the earlier posts - thanks for mentioning it. They said that the National Power Grid was the most vulnerable, due to it having so many private sector companies involved - I found that ironic.

Personally, I think we should put Bruce Willis in charge of national security - I know I'd feel a lot safer!


Posts: 2003 | Registered: Jul 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
posulliv
Member
Member # 8147

 - posted      Profile for posulliv   Email posulliv         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It's hard to dispute that organizations with the resources of a government can successfully engage in cyber warfare.

What I object to is the depiction of the lone 'computer sidekick' that works at Best Buy by day and cracks whatever resource the real hero of the story wants cracked using an iMac _while the hero waits_. Or the law enforcement agent that has real-time access to all of the technical resources of every local, state, and federal agency to solve shoplifting crimes at the mall. Maybe these are exaggerations, but not by much.

I also buy that cyber crime is a big issue and getting bigger. I don't recall reading stories, though, where cyber criminals fund their operations by indiscriminate stealing or corporate extortion. Rather, the crimes depicted tend to be targeted at specific individuals, which is another thing entirely.

Maybe this seems like picking nits but it screams 'amateur' to me when I see it. Television is particularly stupid in this way with more than it's fair share of cringeworthy moments.

[This message has been edited by posulliv (edited November 14, 2009).]


Posts: 389 | Registered: Aug 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rich
Member
Member # 8140

 - posted      Profile for rich   Email rich         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
What I object to is the depiction of the lone 'computer sidekick' that works at Best Buy by day and cracks whatever resource the real hero of the story wants cracked using an iMac _while the hero waits_. Or the law enforcement agent that has real-time access to all of the technical resources of every local, state, and federal agency to solve shoplifting crimes at the mall.

I completely agree, Patrick, and I'm with you on that one. The worst example is when Jeff Goldblum uses a Thinkpad to send a virus into an alien spacecraft in Independence Day. Just wrong on so many levels.


Posts: 840 | Registered: Aug 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Elan
Member
Member # 2442

 - posted      Profile for Elan           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I most commonly see male writers make errors in portraying the way women think. (Generally, I suspect it shows the writer's personal issues with women.) To portray a woman as making blatantly stupid mistakes or errors in judgement just to set up the scene so the "hero" can rescue her will set my teeth on edge. The most common pattern I see is the male writer will have the woman walk cluelessly into a dangerous situation or isolate herself with an unknown stranger. While in real life, a woman MIGHT do that with enough liquor inside her, a clear-headed, half-way intelligent woman would never do that. There is a fundamental, core difference between men and women: Men are afraid strange women are going to laugh at them; women are afraid strange men will molest them. Thus a semi-intelligent woman will be more wary around a strange man until they get to know them. It will take a little doing to get into her confidence.

As for horses... it's tiring if you aren't used to riding one. Your leg muscles ache from sitting astride, you have to adjust and compensate for the teeth-jarring bouncing and swaying... an experienced rider gets into the rhythm. But a newbie will feel every aching bump of the ride.


Posts: 2026 | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
philocinemas
Member
Member # 8108

 - posted      Profile for philocinemas   Email philocinemas         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I've only ridden a couple of times. I enjoyed it, but the first time I did it, I wore shorts. Big mistake! Afterwards I realized why all those old cowboy pictures looked brown - other than the tinting technique.
Posts: 2003 | Registered: Jul 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Igwiz
Member
Member # 6867

 - posted      Profile for Igwiz   Email Igwiz         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
What is most telling to me is where the technology/magic system overshadows the characters. For the most part, F/SF writers LOVE tech and magic. Often times, I find that newer writers are SO focused on the tech or the magic that they lose sight of the fact that all of those things are just backdrops for the interactions between their characters.

Let's say that somebody reads your piece and then when they're done you ask, "What's the story about?" If they don't start with, "well, there's this girl/troll/princess/four-headed talking cow, and SHE is trying to..." then you are lost. You can have the coolest magic system known to creativity, but if you aren't telling a STORY about what's happening to HER, then you're writing a tech manual with characters as examples.

As to whether or not men can write women, that's another story. I would say yes, if they try hard enough, but the male writer has to be comfortable enough with the emotive motiviations of women to weave them successfully into the functions and actions of the character. Read Tchern's Yi Qin stories as a perfect example of a man writing a successful female character. Or, you can look to my Roots as Deep as Mountains. http://reflectionsedge.com/index.php/2008/10/roots-as-deep-as-mountains/ Since I sold it to a pub with a female editor, I assume I did enough right in developing the character that she was willing to pay me for it.

In both these examples, however, the story was still about they individual's experiences, challenges and changes. One is fantasy, and one is post-apocalyptic, but neither dwells on the "setting" at the expense of the character development. They focus on how the characters grow, change, and respond to the setting that they find themselves in. And that is, I believe, the greatest challenge to overcome. If you can write a convincing character and you do that by working with their emotional responses rather than their physical responses, then you will have a good story.

[This message has been edited by Igwiz (edited November 16, 2009).]


Posts: 269 | Registered: Nov 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Zero
Member
Member # 3619

 - posted      Profile for Zero           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Back to the men and women characters writing problems.

I've noticed this before, for example JK Rowling, I've always felt, had Harry and Ron argue and hold grudges against each other, etc, in somewhat non-masculine ways. Most men, or young men as it were, would prefer to be direct with the other and might have it out in one big argument or fight, the sooner the better. The silent treatment or compliments disguised as insults are quite rare among men.

But that said, she did a good enough job most of the time that I didn't see a middle-aged woman through the characters. I actually saw two young adult boys named Ron and Harry most of the time, by far.

I once had an interesting conversation with a psychiatrist who told me that in his opinion, and that of most other psychiatrists he knew, the differences between two individual people tend to be greater than the differences between men and women. In other words: if a character is acting differently than what you think he or she should based on his or her gender, it might just be the character's personality rather than a mistake on the author's part.

[This message has been edited by Zero (edited November 16, 2009).]


Posts: 2195 | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
micmcd
Member
Member # 7977

 - posted      Profile for micmcd   Email micmcd         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Perhaps I overshot on my previous statement. What I was mainly getting at was the tendency in published work to equate "hacking" with magic. A skilled computer criminal can steal money from a bank, but this isn't done by sitting with a laptop and using some sort of trickery to gain access to the network, then casually transferring yourself eleventy-billion dollars.

Similarly, I've seen several episodes of TV shows where a character "hacks" into "the CIA database" (because there's just one big one, right? and you just plug in a password on giantdatabase.cia.gov to get in, right?) and sneaks out with a list of all the USA's secret agents.

The military might be vulnerable to cyber attack, but not the kind usually depicted in fiction. I've never seen a book that hinged on the skillful application of a DDoS attack.


Posts: 500 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
shimiqua
Member
Member # 7760

 - posted      Profile for shimiqua   Email shimiqua         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm sorry if I got people's hackles up.

I want to say that I was trying to help men learn how to write women better. I apologize for the absoluteness of my statement, It clearly was only a half formed opinion strutting about as a "Yeah this makes sense for everybody" statement.

My bad. Sorry if it offended.

~Sheena


Posts: 1201 | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rich
Member
Member # 8140

 - posted      Profile for rich   Email rich         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You know who can write a believable male or female character? A good writer. Gender doesn't matter. A good writer can write believable prose about most things.
Posts: 840 | Registered: Aug 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MAP
Member
Member # 8631

 - posted      Profile for MAP           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
I've noticed this before, for example JK Rowling, I've always felt, had Harry and Ron argue and hold grudges against each other, etc, in somewhat non-masculine ways. Most men, or young men as it were, would prefer to be direct with the other and might have it out in one big argument or fight, the sooner the better. The silent treatment or compliments disguised as insults are quite rare among men.

Thanks for pointing this out Zero. I have noticed that my husband can have a horrible fight with his buddy then grab lunch with him the next day without resolving the issue. It boggles my mind that after the horrible things they say to each other, they can just act like it didn't even happen the next day. Most woman can't do this. We have to discuss the fight in great detail then cry and hug before we can get over it.

quote:
I once had an interesting conversation with a psychiatrist who told me that in his opinion, and that of most other psychiatrists he knew, the differences between two individual people tend to be greater than the differences between men and women. In other words: if a character is acting differently than what you think he or she should based on his or her gender, it might just be the character's personality rather than a mistake on the author's part.

This is so true, and I think it is key to writing the opposite gender correctly. I am not sure if we women understand men as well as we think we do, but I know that I never worry about whether my male characters ring true or not. I just write them like I see them. I wonder if a lot of you males who are afraid to write female characters are just stressing about it too much. Just write the character. You can have one of us women here on hatrack critique it for you to make sure the female characters feel real if you would like.

quote:
It also seems to me that we're in the 'vacuum tube' era of biotech, and like the computer hacker stories, biotech equals magic in a lot of near-future stories. If I wrote one with what I know now that's what my story would be. I'm trying to learn enough not to look like more of a fool than I am.

It is amazing what we can do now in genetic engineering, so biotech equaling magic in near-future stories isn't that far fetched. I am not an expert in all areas of biotech, but I am a biochemist, and I would be happy to look over anyone's story that involves biotechnology if you are worried about whether the science in your story is realistic.


Posts: 1102 | Registered: May 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
tchernabyelo
Member
Member # 2651

 - posted      Profile for tchernabyelo   Email tchernabyelo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Igwiz - many thanks.
Posts: 1469 | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MrsBrown
Member
Member # 5195

 - posted      Profile for MrsBrown   Email MrsBrown         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Another "Ugh" for Robert Jordan's heavy-handed, stereotyped treatment of women and male/female relationships. It's what made me stop reading the series.

The things that I find offputting these days are more about writing quality than any particular believability issue.

I'm pretty willing to suspend disbelief even if I know something is not accurate, so long as the story is good and I care about the characters.


Posts: 785 | Registered: Mar 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Zero
Member
Member # 3619

 - posted      Profile for Zero           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
shim,

I actually found your post very insightful. I hope you didn't take mine as disagreeing with you in any way. I was just trying to add to it.

[This message has been edited by Zero (edited November 16, 2009).]


Posts: 2195 | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Zero
Member
Member # 3619

 - posted      Profile for Zero           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Perhaps I overshot on my previous statement. What I was mainly getting at was the tendency in published work to equate "hacking" with magic. A skilled computer criminal can steal money from a bank, but this isn't done by sitting with a laptop and using some sort of trickery to gain access to the network, then casually transferring yourself eleventy-billion dollars.

Similarly, I've seen several episodes of TV shows where a character "hacks" into "the CIA database" (because there's just one big one, right? and you just plug in a password on giantdatabase.cia.gov to get in, right?) and sneaks out with a list of all the USA's secret agents.


This always makes me raise an eyebrow too. The worst example I can think of is Jurassic Park when the little girl is supposedly "hacking" into the database and not only is the process of hacking grossly misunderstood, it's this weird visual 3d rendered environment she's maneuvering through. Doesn't make any damn sense!

Or another one I get a kick out of is seeing a GUI say "Uploading Virus". Ha!

[This message has been edited by Zero (edited November 16, 2009).]


Posts: 2195 | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
  This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2