Kindle Forum banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
61 - 79 of 79 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,800 Posts
baldricko said:
This!
No, I am perhaps more well read of that period of time then most (specialist scholars aside). As one post already states above, Mark Twain wrote satire. The books are kids stories only on the surface. They are much deeper than that.

Charles Dickens indulged in naturalism in his writing, and that indeed was 'of the time'. He has been accused of all manner of sins, chauvanism and an apologist for British imperialism, and racist descriptions of some characters (which he toned down in his later books). So, could racism be found in his books, yes. What Dickens did endeavor to do was raise awareness in the middle class of the plight of the poor and oppressed. He was a champion of the antislavery movement as was Mark Twain.

Standing up against slavery and against the inhumanities of his time was brave and these writers were above all brave. You need to be brave as a writer. You need to be prepared to reveal parts of yourself in your books, points of view, that one day you might look back on and cringe. That's how we grow as writers.

Starting off wishing to offend no-one is not going to help you write good books.

Especially books that stand the test of time. Good fiction should at the very least widen the world of the reader, and they should reflect elements of the real world rather than distort it. Good fantasy and science fiction does that.
I think there's a difference though between writers who want to be the next Dickens or Twain and those who just want to write an inoffensive, commercially appealing story to make income. Both approaches are valid, but you have to ask yourself who your audience is and what you're trying to accomplish with your work. Some people are Mark Twain and some people are James Patterson.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
214 Posts
Cocky Ms M said:
By all means use the variant on the 1920s/1930s "Confucius say" joke here if you have to have it, and if your character will use this sort of joke throughout the book. But at least drop the part about it being an accent, which it most certainly isn't, and perhaps re-write to say something similar to: "I held up my finger. 'But Confucius say, kidnapping poor defenseless attorney easier than...'" Eliminate "grasshopper" to keep from mixing a 1930s joke with a 1970s TV show. The revised version also makes Nancy's comment about fortune cookies more believable.
Yeah, that's better ;)

I'll also reiterate - speaking in general, NOT regarding the OP - that there's a large margin between "Don't write to please anyone other than yourself" and "inoffensive" to "no one". Nor does a book need to be watered down to please the PC police in order to be "commercially appealing".

To suggest one needs to "write an inoffensive" story to be "commercially appealing" and that's what it takes " to make income" is highly insulting to book consumers.

Really, I'm getting the impression some here don't read very much if they think there are only two opposite absolutes as options. Those who want to only write to please themselves have no business being in the business of retail consumer products. Putting a book up for retail sale gives lie to the claim one only wants to please themselves.

That does not suggest the only other option is something watered down to pass PC police inspection.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,124 Posts
Paranormal Kitty said:
I think there's a difference though between writers who want to be the next Dickens or Twain and those who just want to write an inoffensive, commercially appealing story to make income. Both approaches are valid, but you have to ask yourself who your audience is and what you're trying to accomplish with your work. Some people are Mark Twain and some people are James Patterson.
If inoffensive is all that's desired by the author why then should he bother to look for realism in how people talk?

Yes, I do think that some of us only want to attract an audience and sell our books, and that's the some total of our writing ambitions. That's okay. Most of us don't pretend to be anything other than an author and a lot of us prefer not to be famous. I think that's the way many of the authors of what we consider classics today started out, with only that ambition foremost. Possibly the majority of them were never seen at the beginning of their careers as anything more than just another middling writer.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
380 Posts
I think I'll throw my hat in the ring for this question.

I have a computer intelligence in two my books. She's a "newly born" artificial intelligence and she's chosen a very attractive black female body to display. She has no physical body. She's also decided she likes a Southern accent and so throws plenty of y'all and other stereotypical words in there. (when pressed, she says that she loves Dolly Parton and her accent.)

When she's actually operating as a "computer intelligence" she speaks in a very careful perfect tone of voice without a bit of accent of any kind. When she's being "herself" is when the accent shows up.

She's also a very independent woman who takes nothing from anyone. She's one of two "second" characters, essentially one step below the MC.

Will this be seen as racist?

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
380 Posts
Cocky Ms M said:
By all means use the variant on the 1920s/1930s "Confucius say" joke here if you have to have it, and if your character will use this sort of joke throughout the book. But at least drop the part about it being an accent, which it most certainly isn't, and perhaps re-write to say something similar to: "I held up my finger. 'But Confucius say, kidnapping poor defenseless attorney easier than...'" Eliminate "grasshopper" to keep from mixing a 1930s joke with a 1970s TV show. The revised version also makes Nancy's comment about fortune cookies more believable.
I agree. It makes it obvious it's a caricature without belaboring the point of it being possibly racist.

And I also assume, as has been alluded to above, that this character tends to make silly puns, jokes and other wordplay that probably get mocked by his fellows. If it's a one-off, then it might be well left out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
110 Posts
Blimey, this thread has touched a nerve!

When you stand back and look at it dispassionately, the strength of feeling displayed here tells its own story. I think we can safely assume that this board is populated with sensible, intelligent, decent people - which only underscores the strength of the - perfectly genuine - sensitivities at large.

Well done to the OP for raising the subject, now can we all take a breather?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,090 Posts
Paranormal Kitty said:
I think there's a difference though between writers who want to be the next Dickens or Twain and those who just want to write an inoffensive, commercially appealing story to make income. Both approaches are valid, but you have to ask yourself who your audience is and what you're trying to accomplish with your work. Some people are Mark Twain and some people are James Patterson.
Exactly. Writing is a business. Business decisions usually involve marketing and tailoring the material (including the cover) to an audience, including a mass audience if that's what you're aiming for. Mass appeal vs. niche appeal. It's a choice every author makes, regardless of genre.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,088 Posts
The three folks whose posts I just removed: y'all may have noticed our moderation staffing is short at the moment. That is to say, we don't have time for lengthy discussions in the forum's smoke-filled back rooms, extensive post-editing, and giving contentious people many chances. So if you can't be civil to one another, put one another on ignore.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
160 Posts
Cocky Ms M said:
By all means use the variant on the 1920s/1930s "Confucius say" joke here if you have to have it, and if your character will use this sort of joke throughout the book. But at least drop the part about it being an accent, which it most certainly isn't, and perhaps re-write to say something similar to: "I held up my finger. 'But Confucius say, kidnapping poor defenseless attorney easier than...'" Eliminate "grasshopper" to keep from mixing a 1930s joke with a 1970s TV show. The revised version also makes Nancy's comment about fortune cookies more believable.
^^ this ^^ And as Lessa has pointed out, what you wrote is not an accent. It also breaks the basic show don't tell rule. Don't tell your readers that he's using a Confucius accent (whatever that is), and just "show" him saying "Confucius say..." Readers who get "Confucius accent" will also get "Confucius say...", and they'll hear it in whatever accent they want to.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
267 Posts
'Accents' are not accents to the speaker, only to the listener.  To the speaker, it's just a normal way to speak, understood throughout the culture or subculture.  If you want realistic characters from New Orleans, or from Boston, or from India, or from South Africa, or London, or Australia, that character needs to speak like the folks that live there, similar pronunciation and vernacular, and idioms.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,394 Posts
This reminds me of a Mexican Cartel character in a chapter of a WIP book, but my dilema wasn't a fear of racism but it sounding naff.

I got the idea from teaching English to Brazil Portuguese students. "th" is not used in their vocab and it is usually substituted with a "d" as they have great difficulty forming the tongue to pronounce correctly without lessons and practice. Even then they still find it difficult, they tell me.

To make his dialogue more acceptable I had him having had his tongue partially cut out as a child which gave him a speach impediment.

Trouble was that in substituting "th" with a "d" wherever it occurred, I kept hearing the song, "dem bones dem bones dem dry bones" in my head. Haven't as yet decided what do do with it because I put the WIP aside some time ago.

That aside, I recall reading a book by a best selling thriller author last year {can't remember which one} and they had a Chinese cab driver speak with a strong broken English accent and I didn't like it. Not because of racism, but because it just came across as condecensing stereotypical. In other words - naff. Though saying that, it passed the muster of a traditional publisher editor and was a bestseller.

I guess the argument is that to be true to people who have English as a second language and have not quite mastered it, or the have a strong dialect of any description, then you have to write dialogue as it is in real life. The problem is when a dialect is so strong as to make it difficult to understand when reading. An example of that would be a strong West Yorkshire dialect from the UK.

I don't see what you have written as racist, because you have only alluded to an accent rather writing it in dialogue, but I do think that when it is someone of a different race is mocking an accent of another race that it is questionable as to it being racist in nature if it is meant to offend a person of that race.

Having said that, if the character is a racist, then using an accent to mock in that context would be in my view acceptable to the story.

I think we forget sometimes that we are merely writing about real life character traits of all kinds and not of the authors or the readers own disposition, sensitivity, tolerence, or belief system.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,995 Posts
It hasn't been that long ago that groups of us white folk pulled the corners of our eyes to points for photographs and had to be called on the carpet for it. Some sports team, maybe? I grew up watching Charlie Chan films. Never watched a film with Sven Svorgensen being mocked for his Nordic ancestry. Yes, there's a difference in the way European whites and Asians have been depicted in Western culture. To pretend otherwise is silly.

If you want your character to appear a bit dated and out of touch, that's fine. Otherwise, wouldn't do the whole grasshoppa thing. 
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,842 Posts
Shelley K said:
It hasn't been that long ago that groups of us white folk pulled the corners of our eyes to points for photographs and had to be called on the carpet for it. Some sports team, maybe? I grew up watching Charlie Chan films. Never watched a film with Sven Svorgensen being mocked for his Nordic ancestry. Yes, there's a difference in the way European whites and Asians have been depicted in Western culture. To pretend otherwise is silly.

If you want your character to appear a bit dated and out of touch, that's fine. Otherwise, wouldn't do the whole grasshoppa thing.
You are spot-on.

I also want to point out that the OP's character is not speaking with an "accent". He is speaking with a caricature of broken English grammar, but it's done in a way that was disrespectful of Asians decades ago. Accents are aspects of pronunciation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
176 Posts
Herefortheride said:
You are spot-on.

I also want to point out that the OP's character is not speaking with an "accent". He is speaking with a caricature of broken English grammar, but it's done in a way that was disrespectful of Asians decades ago. Accents are aspects of pronunciation.
As I wrote, "Actually, Al, I have a slight amendment to make to my earlier comment.

The character isn't speaking in a "Chinese accent." It's a caricature of a Chinese accent.

In some way that should be indicated.

But I stick to my original point. Don't write in fear."

Edited. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,088 Posts
This is again getting away from writing/publishing and into larger political issues. We'd like to keep it open, as the question of whether/how to represent accent/dialect in writing is important, and KB is an ideal place to discuss stuff like that (because you'll get such a wide array of viewpoints), but if posters can't post within our rules, the thread will be locked.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,842 Posts
D.E.M. said:
As I wrote, "Actually, Al, I have a slight amendment to make to my earlier comment.

The character isn't speaking in a "Chinese accent." It's a caricature of a Chinese accent.

In some way that should be indicated.

But I stick to my original point. Don't write in fear."

Edited. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca
No, it is a caricature of broken English grammar, not a caricature of an accent.

Edited to fix a confusing quoting error and some incivility. Last chance on this one, folks. - Becca

Editing a couple days later: I've had to remove another post, so I think we can probably stick a fork in this one. - Becca
https://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615
https://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,952 Posts
Discussion Starter #78
It's interesting that I posted this same question on another forum (early-retirement.org). The moderators took it down right away, worried that it might be too provocative.

They were kinda right, kinda wrong. Things have almost gotten out of hand here.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,800 Posts
Shelley K said:
It hasn't been that long ago that groups of us white folk pulled the corners of our eyes to points for photographs and had to be called on the carpet for it. Some sports team, maybe?
Actually you might be thinking of Mexico fans at the World Cup or the Telemundo hosts or maybe Maradona or Cardona. There have been so many instances it's difficult to keep up.
 
61 - 79 of 79 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top