Search This Blog

Monday, January 20, 2014

I write what I want to write

Recently I was talking with someone about characters within a story that I am working on. He started talking about my characters using words and race names that I did not know. It took me a moment to understand his confusion, but I finally realized what he was thinking. He assumed that all my characters were based on the archetypes created by other authors. Thus, if I mention that a character is a goblin then it MUST fit into the prescribed goblin archetype. I don't like that notion. (Note: My friend wasn't being mean or anything, it just got me thinking.)

When I write I create from my own imagination. I try my best to create a world that is uniquely mine. I know that there are accepted norms in each genre, and it is alright to fit your work into those norms. I too draw from the genre I am writing in, but I also work to give it an element of originality. Unfortunately, there are some who feel that there are rules to follow when it comes to character/setting creation, rules that simply don't exist.

A grand example would be from The Crystal Needle. Before and after I first published the book, I encountered a prevailing thought about the Kitsune that I hadn't even considered. Some potential readers were eager to read my book with the expectations to find this theme in my pages. What did they expect? I was informed that in the fantasy genre of anthropomorphism the Kitsune is a sexy, sexual, seductive creature. So, when I talked about the main character being a Kitsune they immediately assumed my book was X rated.

Before I got upset I did my research. I wanted to be certain that I didn't make a horrible mistake in using this character. What if the kitsune creature in Japanese lore is only represented as a sexual creature? I don't like holding hard and fast to archetype, but if there is only one representation of that type of character then I would be attracting the wrong audience. I also didn't want parents to be offended that their teens were reading my book with that in it, even though what I wrote would not be X rated by any measure or standard. What I found was that the kitsune is NOT represented only as a sexual creature, but just another part of Japanese fantasy. Many many stories written about them are not X rated. In fact the whole notion depicting them as basically magical harlots was created more recently by a subculture in the fantasy fandoms. So, I was good. What had happened is that the readers seeing that in my book immediately jumped to conclusions based on other authors perception of this personality. They made wild assumptions and then weren't happy that I didn't fulfill their expectations. I apologized for unintentionally misleading them, but I told them that if they were looking for such things, look elsewhere.
Oh, there you are.

What I am trying to say with all of this is that I write what I want to write. My stories are my own. If I use recognizable images, I try to put a twist on them that makes it unique to me. I do keep some of the accepted characteristics, such as the fact that Kitsune are shapeshifters from Japanese mythology. But, that is about as far as I wanted to go in keeping it in expected archetype

So, with this attitude I do also have a different view of storytelling by others. When I see a movie like Disney's Hercules, I hear people who won't stop complaining about what they got wrong. Who is the final authority? That's right, no one. It's just another fantasy written for the entertainment of others. With my lion/man character that I draw and write about I have had the same issue. People will point to other authors and artists works and try to tell me that I am getting it wrong. My response is always the same, "So you have seen a lion/man in person? No? Then don't try to tell me that I got anything wrong."

 Whoever created the character has the final word on that specific character, they are not dependent on my interpretation and I am not dependent on theirs.

Thank you for reading. I hope you garnered something from my ramblings.