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Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I just want to thank those that have taken time out of their day to sign up to follow my blog:)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Real Racism Problem

I am a writer so I guess it is my nature to be intrigued by language.  I don’t just hear what people say to me, I also “hear” what they don’t plainly come out and say.  You see, the way in which someone has articulated something can at times be more telling than what they have actually said.  As you probably know by now Dr. Laura Schlessinger used the N-word 11 times on her nationally syndicated radio show.  As a result the familiar debate about whether or not the N-word should be stricken from our vocabulary has again sprung up.  When people use such an emotionally charged word it is easy to pounce on them for doing so, and I get that.  Believe me I get that.  But what really bothers me about the exchange Schlessinger had with the caller is something I have labeled the real racism problem, rhetoric.  Everyone gets so caught up in the N-word, to the point that the real racism problem gets ignored.

So what Schlessinger used the N-word 11 times.  We all, well most of us anyway, agree that using it is wrong on some level.  What doesn’t get discussed, because of all the furor over a single word, are all those other insensitive words.  Used to form generalizing, offensive statements that are more harmful than the single N-word.

What Schlessinger Said:   
a lot of blacks voted for Obama simply 'cause he was half-black.  Didn't matter what he was gonna do in office
What I (Tanya Yvonne) heard:
Blacks do not know or care about the issues.  They operate like children where girls seek out other girls and boys seek out other boys simply because they are a like.  Meaning blacks looked at then candidate Obama and deduced, he looks like me so must vote for him.    
What Schlessinger Said:  It was a black thing.
What I heard:  Blacks are not individuals.

What Schlessinger Said:  You gotta know that. That's not a surprise
What I heard:  I know how you people are.

What Schlessinger Said:  I don't get it. If anybody without enough melanin says it, it's a horrible thing; but when black people say it, it's affectionate. It's very confusing.
What I heard:  I really don’t understand why you are feeling this way.

What Schlessinger Said:  Yeah. We've got a black man as president, and we have more complaining about racism than ever. I mean, I think that's hilarious.
What I heard:  We have a black president so I feel we no longer have a race problem.  I don’t care about how you are feeling.

Language is very powerful.  The Dr. Lauras of the world are masters of this rhetoric game.  Because it is never what they come out and plainly say that creates divides.  Only the residue.  That nasty stickiness that you can’t really see but somehow feel.  The N-word 11 times -clearly heard.  All those others words -kind of heard, but definitely felt.  Time to focus on the real racism problem.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hook Me

Okay, so you have written a story that you want me to read.  I’ll give you one paragraph to convince me to read the whole story.  That’s it.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  No worries right?  Because I know somewhere in that first paragraph of your story there will be a hook.  Delicious morsels constructed of words that will leave me and other readers with burning questions.  Questions that can only be answered by reading your story.  A hook.

The rain pounded hard against the window.  But I could still hear them.  The light footsteps of a child.  Alone in the darkness of my bedroom I thought about hiding, or even jumping out the window.  Yet I couldn’t move.  I was paralyzed by fear.  I thought back to what had brought me to that moment. 

Is the narrator male or female?
Why be afraid of a kid?
Is this one of the parents?
Why consider jumping out a window?
Is someone crazy?
I have to find out. 

Now I want you to set your story aside for a few days.  Once you have done this go back and read your opening paragraph.  Ask yourself, does it leave me wanting more?  Be honest:)    


Friday, August 13, 2010

"Alien Line" Poster

What will happen to Teah when she discovers the truth?

Here is the poster (NOT the book cover)
for "Alien Line" created by n*Vision Designs.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What's Driving Your Story?

Are your stories driven by plot or character?  This question reminds me of this guy who was in my fiction workshop.  When his short stories were read aloud I was often left feeling as if I had been taken on a wild ride.  His stories were action packed.  Passage after passage of skirmishes or small feats, all memorable.  Even though what happened stuck with me who it happened to escaped my thoughts as soon as the story had ended.   The type of stories Workshop Guy was writing would fall under the heading, plot driven.  Meaning that how fast the car was going, how the vehicle flipped over a curb, or the extent of damage done to the car was narrated at length.  Whereas few words were used detailing what the character(s) was feeling or thinking at the time of that crash.  If the situation was reversed and Workshop Guy had taken several paragraphs to chronicle the character's feelings and thoughts instead, then the story could be categorized as character driven

It does not matter to me if a story is driven by plot or character.  My belief is that producing a captivating tale is what really matters.   My stories tend to be more character driven.  Yours may not.  But it is important to be aware of the kinds of stories you do tend to write.  That way you will be more likely to spend extra time on that action scene or give the reader some insight about a character’s motivation.