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Dec 30

Finished an original story

Posted on Tuesday, December 30, 2008 in Writing

I finally managed to finish an original story. If I could only write every day (or rather night) I’d feel a lot better. I only wish I’d get round to finishing my novel. Why is it so hard? I suppose I’m afraid I’ll ruin what I’ve already written. All I need is a sort of start. A couple of sentences to set the right mood. Usually I manage to think of something much sooner. I’m afraid that if I don’t get it finished soon, it will never happen. It’s just going to be pointless.

Sep 15

Weird slash

Posted on Monday, September 15, 2008 in Fandom, Writing

For some reason I got it into my head to wonder what’s the strangest slash (not grossest), but most unusual slash you’ve read. In my case, I think it’s a piece of original fiction by Selma Lagerlof (famous Swedish Nobel prize winning author). She would most likely have been astonished to hear her story described as slash, and she’d probably need an explanation of the term, but I get definite slash vibes from this one. A bit of BDSM too…

Her story is about two rivers who compete as they rush towards the sea, but eventually one submits to the other and they become one. LOL. Sounds a bit slashy, right?

I’m sure this isn’t the weirdest slash story that’s out there, but it’s what springs to mind right now (late, late at night, or very early in the morning, whichever way you’d like to see it).

Sep 3

Original stories

Posted on Wednesday, September 3, 2008 in Writing

I still haven’t worked on my novel, but I did get ideas for two original stories. At first I thought I was going to be able to start writing right away, the same night. The night, after all, is my favorite time for writing.

But no such luck. Still, I have worked out most of the things that will go into the stories. Plot, characters etc. I guess I just have cold feet. After writing a couple of stories I’ve been happy with, I’m afraid of making a mess of these.

The same is true for my novel, but even more so.

Oh, well. Writing is fun, but reading is necessary too. Fortunately, I have a couple of books I can read.

Dec 26

Writing Original Fiction Again

Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2007 in Writing

But the story didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. Maybe it was the subject. My idea for the story didn’t cut it. I’ll just have to keep hanging on. Write more original stories, before I can relax again, writing fan fiction.

For a while, i was quite happy with most of my writing. I was on a roll. Now I’ve lost it again, I guess.

If only the creativity returns, hopefully, I’ll have more, interesting ideas that will work. At least I hope so.

Maybe I should look at it another way. I’m getting back into it. This first story was just a warmup. The next will be better, hopefully.

Dec 15

Slash and relations between the sexes in original stories

Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2007 in Writing

I also know there’s a small, but growing number of original authors, who use the equivalent of slash, that is homosexual relations in their stories. This includes published authors, like the writers of Swordspoint and the sequel A Fall of Kings – Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, and others, like myself.

Another author, who might not write slash, but at least a more equal love story, is Anne Bishop. Her book the The Invisible Ring, is about a male former pleasure slave. Another character is still a pleasure slave, also a male. In most fantasy novels that type of character would be female. In a touching scene at the end of the story, the two pleasure slaves say farewell, and the younger, now free guy, embraces and kisses the other guy on the mouth, and tries to express his affection and love for him. Despite this physical display of affection, they’re both heterosexual.

I won’t say that all modern fantasy writers use traditional gender roles in their fiction. Many of my favorite authors write stories that are equal enough for me to enjoy them. That goes for Charles De Lint, Garth Nix, Kristen Britain, Diana Wynne Jones and others. Even a writer like Ursula Le Guin, who chooses to write about societies where women are oppressed, does it in a way I can understand.

It isn’t just in fantasy you can follow the evolution from traditional male chauvinist stories, to more appealing, modern stories.

Since I hardly read modern science fiction, it would be hard for me to think of any examples of modern writers, but on the other hand I have clearly seen how the old writers from the 1950’s depicted the relations between genders. The best one, in my opinion, are the ones that don’t really have any relationships between a man and a woman. Besides, funnily enough, you can easily find homosexual undertones in the relations between the heroes.

This goes for mysteries and thrillers too. My experience is that books, in this case mysteries, from the Mediterranean, South America and so on, are too sexist for me to endure them. The same applies to German books, strangely enough. French books are a sort of borderline case. There is hardly any nationality that doesn’t produce this kind of stale stories about women, but the French books I’ve read are usually acceptable.

I was quite surprised and amused when I read a thriller, which I believe was written in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s. The way women are described isn’t quite as dreadful as in Mary Stewart’s books, which I kind of like anyway, possibly because of her settings – often exotic and fascinating places. Still, at least one woman in this thriller by Helen McInnes – I can’t recall the title right now – is one of those Jane Austen-ish nineteenth century wives.

This annoys me enormously, but fortunately, there were also two typical slash relationships. Not fully evolved, naturally, only some kind of subconscious attraction between the hero and first an old friend of his, who dies in the story, and a new acquaintance. In both case it’s clear that the hero is a typical submissive, when he’s relating to these two men.

Years ago, he was happily married, but his wife died. One might wonder how this submissive male could stand to be married to a young woman who will have expected him to dominate her. In any case, this latent slash relationship more than compensated for the tiresome depiction of a marriage.

The various mystery writers differ widely. For instance, Ngaio Marsh. In her mysteries I’ve found one of the worst depictions of a marriage, where the relations between the couple are just as screwed up as in Mary Stewart’s books. The husband is some kind of brutal macho man, but in other ways more refined. His name is Alleyn and he’s vaguely aristocratic. The wife can be independent and tough enough, on her own, but when she’s attacked by a killer, she relishes seeing the killer being attacked in his turn, by her husband. Afterwards, she throws herself into her husband’s arms, like a little girl, to be comforted. Ugh. To Ngaio Marsh’s defence might be said that she’s quite old, as far as mystery writers go. She was born in 1895, -97 or -99. Her date of birth isn’t known for a fact, because her father only had it registered in 1900. She also never married and might have found the role models for her literary relationships in old texts, or modeled them on her parents’ marriage.

On the other hand, Dorothy Sayers belongs to the same generation, but her depictions of the relations between the genders are quite different. Her Lord Peter Wimsey is totally equal, at least in the actual love affair. For instance, he tells Harriet Vane, his future wife, when she’s admitted to having had lovers. “So what? So have I.” Or something along those lines. In his case, females.

MIchael Innes who is a little younger than Marsh – born in 1906 – is quite acceptable in his depictions of marriage, but in no way before his time, when it comes to equality. Unlike in stories by the Marsh and Stewart, there’s nothing in the relationship between Appleby and his wife Judith, that makes you sick.

Finally, I’d like to mention the greatest queen of mystery ever – Agatha Christie. The relationships in her stories vary greatly.

The Man In the Brown Suit is about a young girl who goes out looking for adventures and ends up in Africa. She wants to find a real Neanderthal man, who will hit her over the head and drag her into a cave. In the end she finds him.

In Taken at the flood or – as it’s also known – There is a tide – there’s a woman who at first spurns a suitor because he wasn’t in the war. He was a farmer so he wasn’t drafted. The woman finds this weak and unmanly. But when she finds out that he once killed a man someone unsympathetic in some way, possibly a blackmailer – she changes her mind. She finds his proclivity for violence attractive.

In Towards Zero there are two kids, who are poor. The woman marries a rich man and the young man is some kind of gigolo. They love each other and would rather marry each other, but can’t afford to. The books ends with the woman getting her husband’s money after he’s revealed to be a ruthless killer. She ends up with her true love. Christie describes the young man sympathetically, though that seemed unlikely, considering what she’d written earlier and simply because of the times.

The Tommy and Tuppence series is quite equal too. Tuppence is a modern emancipated woman. She’s been a bus driver or something like that during the first world war and after that she can’t return to being the obedient vicar’s daughter. In one of the books about the fun couple, she skillfully manipulates a young reporter, so she can pump him for information. She pretends to be a weak, helpless woman to make the young man tell her all she wants to know.

Funnily enough – though that’s really off-topic – in one of these books you’ll find examples of how words change meaning. ‘Make out’ must mean something else in that book from maybe the 1920’s. Back then it has to mean something like flirt. If not, Tommy is an extremely tolerant husband and Tuppence a unblushing exhibitionist, who will make out on the tennis court with another man. I won’t even get into the words queer or gay, though they’re not typical of this book anyway.

Finally, in Appointment With Death, you’ll meet a self assured young woman, who is a medical student. You get the impression she’ll be qualified soon, and I’m guessing she’s in her late twenties. She meets a young man in distress – a guy who is a few years younger than she is. He is being oppressed by his horrible stepmother. The stepmother is murdered, the stepson is a suspect, and the doctor-to-be decides to save him. Of course they end up together. The book makes it clear that the young med student is dominant and the young man a submissive. She was recently engaged to an older, dominant colleague, imagining herself partial to a man like that, but she soon found that she hated it.

The way I see it, earlier books, in this case mysteries, fall into three main categories. The first type are the traditional stories, where women are objects, submissive to men. In some cases the author really enjoys exploiting the women and there’s a clear sexual motive. In the second type, there are hardly any women at all. They are presumably still submissive, but invisible and there are clear, but latent homosexual ties between the men. Finally, there are a few where the relations between men and women are depicted in a tolerably equal way. Not like today, naturally, but enough so a modern reader might enjoy the stories.


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