Another excellent post, Felix: You said two things I wanted to touch on.
Many, many moons ago – er years – I was told by someone I respect, strangely enough a teacher. Gee…I wonder why? 😊. She said that when you write you should never put in what wasn’t necessary. But the most critical thing was “Never add erotica, if the story doesn’t need it.” There is too much ‘shock’ and not enough ‘substance’ in many writing — especially amateur works.
But then also remember the principle of Chekhov’s Gun. Why put a gun it in a story if it isn’t required?
Now this is one major sticking point with me. You know full well I do not give a damn if someone is offended by my lesbian/pansexual female characters. But I also follow #1 above. In my story Spiritwalk, the Anikawi characters are pansexuals for reasons known to me. It’s not because I want a couple of female characters for shock, it’s because of a dark and ugly reason. That is the ‘gun’ of that story.
But also if some Christian fundamentalist (or any belief that thinks women are subservient to men) finds offense to my characters then let them cast the first stone. For they are no better than I. I will only submit to judgment by the Great Maker.
-- Kantuck Nadie Nata-akon 2017-10-26 15:52 UTC
Why put a gun it in a story if it isn’t required?
Perhaps because it can help define a character and their milieu. Or perhaps because it just makes sense for it to be there. Are you going to set the action in a house and not describe the living room couch because it’s not important? How do you even know it’s not until you have it? That gun you added for characterization can become key to how the story ends (it literally happened to me).
It’s the same with minorities. No wait, it’s worse, because if you don’t mention a character is old, fat, disabled or whatever, in the minds of too many readers — or casting directors — they’ll default to middle-class white men with perfect bodies and faces. And that just adds to the problem, in addition to missing out on storytelling opportunities.
-- Felix 2017-10-26 15:53 UTC
Well, I must admit, you taught me yet another aspect that I didn’t think of, dideyohvsgi. I was watching Dr. Who (Tennent) a few days ago and the way they performed the camera work surprised me but also I could see what they was doing. They did a slow showing of an item early in the show and of course it was a major thing /toward the ending/. So I take it, that was a Chekhov’s gun aspect to the story.
So what I understand of your saying is, there could be a gun in a room, it’s not a true Chekhov’s gun, but mearly a description of a room. “It was a bright cheerful room, a rich man’s library with dusty tomes, a set of crossed guns over the fireplace crackling and popping. It’s orange light contrasting softly with the forest green wallpaper.”
While if the gun was a true Chekhov you would do it more like ” “It was a bright cheerful room, a rich man’s library with dusty tomes, over the fireplace, an 1832 .22 Winchester, along with it’s more modern counterpart. A fireplace crackling and popping. It’s orange light contrasting softly with the forest green wallpaper.”
I’m seeing that is the ‘slow view’ they did in Dr. Who. The gun is precisely described especially since the other is so lightly. Am I seeing that right?
-- Kantuck Nadie Nata-akon 2017-10-26 15:57 UTC
Of course, it may well be intentional. But it could also simply mean the author is writing what they know. The same way I write lavish descriptions of cities, and a certain friend of ours writes about boats. It’s these little things that make a story setting feel real, and not just a sketchy stage set. And if a detail you add can do double duty, then it’s all for the best.
-- Felix 2017-10-26 15:57 UTC