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UNRAVELING CRIMSON BY PARFAITIC (ADMINS OF 03131010)
“They say that a person meets around 30,000 people in their lifetime. Of those people besides your family, you will intimately know 300. Among all these encounters, it is said that God has arranged a special one for you, connected by a red thread. However, that bond of fate is invisible to everyone. And the other person at the end of the bond is your destiny.”
…the use of the term Mary-Sue comes with an obvious assumption attached: if characters like this are simply unacceptable by definition, then there must be other types of characters out there that are OK. After all, not every single female character ever written can possibly be a Mary-Sue. Even the people who cling to the term Mary-Sue as if it was their long-lost twin would not dispute that.
The Mary-Sue is a ‘fake girl’. A plastic girl, an unrealistic girl, a perfect girl. Her opposite number in that case must be a real girl. A human girl. A realistic girl. An imperfect girl. Fictional ladies whose failures and flaws are right there on the page. Ladies who cannot be dismissed as ‘too perfect’ or ‘wish fulfilment’. Let’s call this type of character a Sarah-Jane.
Now, because Sarah-Janes are in total contrast to the Mary-Sue, defying all the traits that are supposed to make a Mary-Sue unacceptable, then the Sarah-Jane, by definition, must be acceptable. I mean, obviously they’re not as tightly defined as the Mary-Sue type, and because their major trait is that they’re realistic, they’re going to vary a lot. But they must be the kind of character that readers want to see. The kind that readers will embrace. The kind that they will at least give a chance.
Yeah. No. It turns out the vast majority of talk about Sarah-Janes - realistic, flawed, prominent female characters in fiction - *still* centres on what is wrong with them, and all the reasons they are SO ANNOYING for… not being perfect?
Zoë Marriott, “Real Girls, Fake Girls, Everybody Hates Girls”
This is just a sample of a long and thoughtful essay — check out the rest!
A picture says a thousand words. Write them.
Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a critique about this picture. Write something about this picture.
Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!
welkin \WEL-kin, noun:
the sky; the vault of heaven.As the elegant coach trotted through the warm night air, Rome leaned back and gazed at the welkin, trying to guess which star Home orbited about.
— Mark S. Geston, Lords of the Starship, 1967Down washed the rain, deep lowered the welkin; the clouds, ruddy a while ago, had now, through all the blackness, turned deadly pale, as if in terror.
You tell me love is not salvation and all night it haunts me. In a dream I’m dancing with the man who first laid hands on me. He spins me ‘round his hooked hand and watches me unravel just to rope me back around him. I’m draped over his shoulders, joints tangled, his arms fastened as a cradle. No one has ever seen my shattered pieces as more than a mirror to shine their teeth in. How can you hold me whole? If you don’t love me because I’m broken, what do you love me for?
The night your body zig-zagged across
the bathroom floor
pills spilled like a severed Rosary,
you had plans to meet Her.
But She hadn’t even made your bed
or dusted off your welcome mat
so She whispered to you “not yet”
and sent you home
where She sung a new song into your bones.
You learned to dance,
to smile with more than your teeth
and to love the way the earth hummed beneath your feet.
They sigh with relief
you never met Her.
But She knows, some nights
you still bang on Her door
tired lungs begging
"Room for one more?"
A little while ago, we published some reading lists. They were well-received, which is pretty cool, but they’re incomplete. We’ve all read a lot more stuff since they came out, so it seems like a good idea to let you all know about the books that we read this year that we liked the most. Maybe you’ll find a book that you love too.
- Infinite Jest (David Foster Wallace) - Immense, hilarious, and sad. Young Adult malaise meets nitty-gritty adult recovery problems meets zany terrorists. This book has everything. It is the most impressive piece of work I have ever seen. Not only is it a monstrous literary achievement, but it pushes your heart as well as your mind. Reading it is an experience like no other you will ever have.
- The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Dìaz) - The novel of a young Dominican nerd who’s having a seriously hard time rationalizing the fact that he’s an uncool Dominican nerd. It’s written in high-octane slang and weaves contemporary tragedy with some equally tragic history. Fast, relentless, hilarious, and sad.
- Fight Club (Chuck Palahniuk) - If you want to learn about writing sentences, read this book. Its power is in its direct, sparse quality. The story is excellent and gripping, but anyone interested in breaking the limits of prose needs to read this.
- The Road (Cormac McCarthy) - Pretty sure I read this in one sitting. It roars. Shortly after the end of the world, a father and son wander an abandoned road and fight bandits, freezing temperatures, and starvation. Horrifyingly unashamed in its bleakness. If you like this one, I’d also recommend Suttree. It’s probably McCarthy’s best (excerpt perhaps Blood Meridian), but it’s pretty long and plotless. Start with The Road.
- Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë) - I have something of a prejudice against Victorian novels. I’m not sure why. But Jane Eyre just bowled me over. It’s tight and plotty. For those of you who have questions about writing an effectively introspective first-person narrator (and, judging by the ask box, that’s certainly a few of you), this is the book for you.
- The Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss) - If you never read a single other book I recommend, read The Name of the Wind. Incredibly engrossing, tirelessly researched, and impeccably realized, this book connected me so completely to its main character, Kvothe, that I was dancing around my living room for joy one chapter and weeping into my pillow the next. I read this book and bought extra copies to lend to friends. In book stores, I pressured complete strangers with my overwhelming enthusiasm, insisting that I lead them to the fantasy section and personally place the book into their hands. Seriously. Read this book.
- Invincible, Vol 1 (Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker) - A story about the teenaged son of an alien superhero father and a human mother who inherits some of his father’s powers and swears to protect Earth from evil. That sounds nice and normal doesn’t it? A very digestible story. NOT. Invincible is a superhero graphic novel unlike anything before it, and it pays homage to the superhero genre without wholly surrendering to it. As much a work of art as it is an achievement in storytelling, Invincible is well-worth the read.
- A Wounded Name (Dot Hutchison) - Talk about leveling up the YA romance genre! A Wounded Name is a twisted, sophisticated retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet from the perspective of Ophelia. Here’s the kicker: it’s set in modern-day Elsinore Academy and Ophelia and Dane (Hamlet) are a high school students. The prose is beautiful. Beautiful. And Ophelia’s mental state is handled very well.
- The Cuckoo’s Calling (J.K. Rowling) - A good, solid British mystery done right. J.K. Rowling is never going to top the Potter books for me, but Cuckoo was a well-executed story that was funny and jarring, unforgiving and absorbing. One of the things I most missed about Rowling’s Potter series was its ability to suck me into the story world and keep me there, deaf to my surrounding for hours at a time. This book had that same effect. It was blissful.
- Cinder (Marissa Meyer) - It’s Cinderella. All of Cinderella is there: two stepsisters, evil stepmother, a Prince Charming, losing the shoe. But it’s also nothing like that. There is so much more to the story. It’s a surprising take on an old fairytale set in a vibrant, full-conceptualized world with interesting, original characters. I was very, very impressed.
- The Summer Prince (Alaya Dawn Johnson) - A dystopia set in Brazil where kings are elected, and sacrificed, in tradition, and the main character in love with the current Summer King becomes deeply caught in the corruption of it all. The prose in this book was gorgeous. If nothing else, I adored the skill the author hand in handling the language. It was very—careful, just enough and never too much. It presented a mood that had such depth to it that it didn’t matter whether the main character was yet aware or not, the chill was there, the unsettling feeling that something was wrong, maybe even more so because the main character wouldn’t recognize it, because it was unsaid, and that this small dissonance comes from what contemporary readers realize that the characters in this book have been raised to ignore. It’s such a structured world, felt through the bones of this book. And its corruption is much more than a surface concern.
- The Temeraire series (Naomi Novik) - The Napoleonic Wars, but with dragons. The dragon and handler relationships involve such devotion to one another. The way that Laurence and Temeraire grow in understanding one another and caring for, the extent that a handler is willing to go for his dragon, is heavy, in what it means sometimes. And for Laurence, whose honor and love of his country is so important to him, that comes into conflict with his love for his dragon, and he is forced to decide which is the more important, and he is left to pay, in full, for his decision. As well, it’s a book series that’s incredibly concerned with countries all around the world, that while Laurence is an Englishman, the series isn’t Anglocentric. The Napoleonic Wars becomes more than a solely European conflict. Seeing how Novik creates other cultures, with their own beliefs of dragons, is one of my favorite parts of this series.
- Captive Prince (S.U. Pacat) - One prince gets caught by the enemy nation and gets sold as a slave to the other. The slightest catch is that the second prince does not know the royal identity of his slave. Together, they navigate a tightly spun world of political intrigue, all the while fiercely distrustful of one another. It is all about these intricate political machinations, all about trying to gain the upper hand. I’m not much for these types of stories, where the focus is so heavy on the plot, but the characters and their slow, so achingly slow, relationship development carry it. I don’t love these characters because they’re particularly sympathetic, but I adore them for what they mean to one another, for their subtle growth and care for the other, and the repercussions of his very act of caring.
- Crush (Richard Siken) - A collection of poems. These are probably some of my favorite poems. There is such raw emotion in them that it hurts. It’s this gorgeous punch. It is absolutely stunning without being too pretty, without getting lost in the images that it becomes little else. It is always about the emotion behind it, even as that spirals through many, many descriptions, each that convey something more to it. It’s an intimate way of writing, and an inspiration to my own.
- I’ll Get There, It Better Be Worth The Trip (John Donovan) - A boy with a dog falls into a friendship with another boy that becomes confusingly more. It’s a very easy book to read but one that’s got a lot of emotion as far as how deeply the character’s thoughts come through the narrative. The reader gets so far into the main character’s head that they follow his thoughts to their natural conclusion that—it makes me cry. And it’s not that “it’s a tragedy” sad; this book is not a tragedy. But it makes me sad because I cared so much, and that it makes me cry because I’m frustrated that it had to end like that. I understand why, but it makes me angry and sad to.