November 5, 2009

Obfuscating blackicity

So I thought I'd stop talking about NaNoWriMo for a day or so and talk about talking about NaNoWriMo

I'm so transparent.

Anyway, so if you've bothered yourself with any of my excerpts you may have noticed my main characters--actually most of the characters in the story--are people of color if not necessarily black. My protags & antagonists are black.

You see, I got my start writing mostly anime fanfiction (old shame). When I moved up from that, it was movies, then bands before I decided I didn't want to write fanfiction anymore (although I delve into it now and again just for lulz). So anyway, since last year and the year before that's utter racefail with regards to people of color in speculative fiction, I've been making a conscious decision to include more people of color in my work as more than just background/cannon fodder.

I think it's been a natural transition since I'm not afraid of researching or maybe observing my friends. And...damn dude, I'm black myself. The great thing about original fiction is that you have to start literally from scratch and work from the ground up. So building characters can be a little daunting, I understood that part of the argument at least.

But let's talk about me & how I'm prosperin' right now. As I said, my own protagonist is black. To boost my word count I've been describing people at great length and I'm starting to have random moments of crises.

For instance, describing my main character. I simply called him dark and tall without going into a lot of detail as to what "dark" would mean--dark brown? Black? I like to let the readers just make up their mind usually but that bothered me for a bit. I describe a few others as brown & tan in an attempt to really drive it home that "yooo these aren't tanned white folks we talkin' bout". There's been a couple of instances too where I just left white characters with little descriptive clues except hair color to give away and let the reader return to default--that is, assume they're white.

It sounds like a weird crisis only I would have, and it's really only this story that's made me think of it just because I've been doing so much shit to pad my word count out. I could easily just go back and edit though--I'm probably just slipping in my writing a bit.

Then there's dialogue. I guys know how I talk. We all know black folks don't strictly stick to the "ebonics" that the dominant culture so pins to us. In other words, we ain't ignant.

But I'm starting to wonder how believable my dialogue is/will be; everyone's more or less talking "intelligently" and just because I and most of my friends talk this way doesn't mean...bleh.

So you see I'm actually struggling, maybe too hard for something that's essentially for whiling away the long days and pushing myself to THE DANGER ZONE. It's turned out to be a greater challenge than I thought because it's forcing me to challenge my own assumptions about minority groups as well! I feel strangely like a white ivory tower liberal sometimes with my own peeps...

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