Notes from the Field: July 11 2017

Yep, that’s me, hard at work pretending to be editing my book manuscript.


Yep, that’s me, hard at work pretending to be editing my book manuscript.

But! I’m about 1/3 of the way through marking it up. I need to spend some more time marking up the other 2/3, but Jaime and I have some personal stuff happening this week (hence no Disney video this past weekend, as an aside to anyone who came over here from YouTube wondering where we went) and I’ve been spending my nights working on Book Two because of course I am. I really do need to get back to Book One, and I promise I will. I kinda have to, unless I can pull off some sort of George Lucas thing and start in the middle, then release Book One 20 years later or something.

Anyway, the thing about writing a second book in the midst of working on a first book is, well, besides sounding like a complete ass when I say that, now that all of the characters are reasonably well established there’s a bit more freedom of movement the second time out. Not to make completely unreasonable comparisons, but remember how the Harry Potter series got, upwards from the 4th book onward? You got the core characters, but they’re back, and doing new stuff! It’s weird writing the “new stuff” for my core characters, but if this means anything, even I get a thrill seeing them doing the new stuff. I really like this bunch of characters, and can’t wait to share them with the world at some point.

The thing about marking up the Book One manuscript is, I’m really too close to the material to be objective. To me, it’s all a masterpiece and every word is essential to not just the story, but the overall aesthetic. I know, right? Ass! And the people saying that the loudest are professional editors. Truthfully, though, marking up the manuscript helped identify some problem areas and having set the wad aside for a few days, it hit me getting in the shower this morning how to fix a problem chapter. So, there’s that.

Now then, I think we’re past the statue of limitations of making semi-spoilery references to Dog Day Afternoon. There’s a great scene where one bunch of protesters leaves and a new bunch takes their place, and that happens because Al Pacino’s character comes out as gay in the run of the botched robbery.

I say this because one of my main characters is a closeted lesbian, in that she doesn’t announce it to the world and her girlfriend is even more closeted than she is, when we meet them.

In Book Two (SPOILERS) she’s finding her way to being “out and proud” like she wanted to do in Book One, but finding that there is a cost, relative to being closeted and living with her parents. And because of the dynamics that are in play (big time) in the story, I had to Do My Research. Which means lots of eye rolling because…

Cis Hetero Middle-Aged Married White Suburban Male goes to Lesboland, film at 11

/Everyone leaves
//New group of people takes their place
///They read the above line

Well tough. And actually, I really did want to clear the room because now I’m turning on the TV-MA light and getting down to some Real Talk(tm).

What I do want out of all my characters, is realism. Which seems strange for fiction, but I hope that makes sense. I want people to follow the story and buy in to the characters.

What I don’t want, especially when dealing in the touchy area of hetero cis males writing lesbian characters, is to veer sharply into “the male gaze” rather than telling the story the way it needs to be told.

Thus: Characters will flirt, and be otherwise sexually active. Real talk.

This is not reserved to any gender or orientation.

To help me out, I went back to my old stand-by, Lesbian Films. And no, I don’t mean adult films, that you download in short snippets. I mean, I punched up “LGBTQ Movies” in the search bar in Netflix and sorted out which three I hadn’t already seen. Blush was the latest of the bunch, and I will note here that the one complaint the critics seemed to have most about La Belle Saison and Blue is the Warmest Color was that the sex scenes were awash in “the male gaze”. Well, to be fair, I was watching the movies, so for sure one male was gazing at the screen. Apparently what they wanted was “real” sex, in that it ought to be awkward, you know, like hetero sex scenes in movies. Well, for its many faults (SRSLY, I think I’m the only person who didn’t like the movie that much), Blush has an awkward sex scene, so, yeah.

So, after deciding that maybe films aren’t the best resource for lesbian character studies vis-a-vis fiction writing qua pompous ass says what, I punched up Plan B: YouTube!

Hey, guess what? There’s lots of lesbian 101 on YouTube.

I so have to share this: (TV 14 for flipping the bird a lot)


Okay, besides being hilarious, this was actually helpful, believe it or not. To write it, it helps to see it, because in turn I have to describe it.

I watched a mess of talk-to-the-camera lesbian 101 stuff after the above video, and got a better sense not only of how to flesh out my main character, but paint a realistic word picture of the crowd she falls in with. I created a new side character as a result of these videos and I’m excited to work her into the story.

Alright, I’m all talk and no action. Back to writing. If I offended anybody, well, that happens.

Author: Ethan Johnson

Words like silent raindrops.

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