Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Mythological fiction has to be 100% accurate?!

I got some work back today and I’m both very angry and upset. There are some comments I agree with, others I disagree with but can at least see where the teacher was coming from. For the most part I feel it is because they did not understand the character, or the meaning, well enough. That’s just my opinion, and perhaps I’m wrong, but if you read on I would like to explain, in as few words as I can, my biggest disagreements and the reason for them.

The first piece of work, for the most part I don’t have a problem with. I can understand the reasoning to what she has said should be done differently, and most I actually agree with. The main thing I don’t like is a complaint that at one point a character’s voice changes. While normally this would be a bad thing, just before this the character, out with the young girl he teaches, witnesses two policewomen shooting some men just a few feet away. The way he was speaking before was mostly for the girl, only eight years old. After the shooting he swears and complains quietly to himself, momentarily forgetting the child next to him. I believe in a situation like this, many people would react like that. But I suppose it’s open to interpretation.

This other piece of work though, I’ll admit, annoys me most of the way through. It actually offends me to read the comments, mostly because he seems to say I don’t know what I’m talking about.
Let me begin by saying, this story is about an interpretation of the devil, wherein he is a fallen angel who was imprisoned in hell until finally being free to walk the earth again in a body almost human except that he is immortal, heals quickly, feels no pain and has almost no emotion, specifically toward humans. The exception is a young woman whom he has fallen in love with. I know that’s probably a cliché idea but that’s beside the point.

He begins by cutting out almost all of the main character’s thoughts throughout the story. While I agree that in some places it was too much or may have interfered with the storyline, I do not agree that it was entirely unnecessary. Telling the story is one thing, the thing he insists is all I do, but I don’t think it’s wrong, especially in a story such as the one I was trying to write, to have a paragraph or two explaining the way the character feels. I don’t think this is treating the audience like idiots who can’t understand the story if it’s put simply, as he says it is, and I don’t think it’s spelling everything out. I personally, enjoy reading sections that show the characters true emotions that do not come across in the events that happen, and I am sure I am not the only one.

I also understand the complaint that ‘it doesn’t feel ‘felt’’ when the character is shot in the arm. However, a fallen angel or demon, in my stories at least, does not feel pain from a bullet as strongly as a human does, so he would not have a big reaction to it. Although I do agree that usually it should come across more that a character truly does feel a bullet or experiences pain.
He also points out that the idea of the girl’s mother being ‘splattered beneath a truck’ is seems comical. The good thing is it was phrased as a question because yes I suppose it was. Originally I was going to write it more seriously. But again, the girl in the story is the only human he cares about. At the beginning of the story he smiled as he passed a woman dying from being in a fire. I wanted to make it clear that the life and death of humans means little to him.
He then complains at the end because I quote Mark Twain. Fair enough on that point though I have seen several short stories use a quote relevant to the story either at the beginning or the end because it give the story more meaning.

Finally, and what I believe is the worst of the comments. He says several times that I need to research mythology rather than assume things. Aside from the fact that I have spent hours on end researching mythology, angels and demons, over the last few years because I’ve been using them so much in the story, I think the suggestion that I haven’t is wrong for a couple of reasons.
At one point he tells me ‘Lucifer and Gabriel are not sons of God’. As someone who grew up Christian, attending church and Christian schools, of course I knew that. I never actually said that. My main character called God ‘my father’ and Gabriel ‘brother’ and that is the extent of it. Personally, I don’t think it is such an absurd idea that angels might call God ‘father’ and refer to each other as ‘brothers and sisters’.
Furthermore he tells me that angels are gender neutral and sex with an angel as such would not be like human intercourse. This is true, in the bible. But how many fictional stories have given angels genders?
Typically in my stories, when an angel falls their angelic qualities are stripped away from them and their bodies become almost that of a human. This of course is a fictional story and I never thought I was doing anything wrong by creating my own interpretation of an angel.
After all, many stories feature interpretations of gods, angels, demons and other creatures of myth in a way that is not accurate to the original text. But since when did fiction have to be completely accurate? Isn’t that the point of fiction? As I said before, I’ll admit I used to take criticism of my writing badly. I still do. But now when I receive it even if I don’t agree with it, even if it makes me angry, I will try to calm myself and understand and accept what they are saying. However, I cannot do that here. Not for this point. This is supposed to be a creative writing class but right now I feel like my creativity has been attacked. I also find the constant comments that I haven’t done research and don’t know what I’m talking about to be demeaning. This is also the person who after my first assignment, simply for a few layout mistakes, told me it looks like I’ve never read a book. I wonder what I spent my whole childhood doing now…

So that’s it. Thank you if you managed to read all the way through my rant and I’m sorry for bringing it here, but I don’t like constantly complaining on facebook, I clearly can’t speak to the teachers about it and there’s no one here I can talk to right now. It’s been building up inside me and if I didn’t get it out somewhere I doubt I could properly finish the other things I have to do tonight.

If you want, feel free to leave a comment telling me what you think of this, I would love to hear other people’s opinions on it, whether you agree or disagree with me.

1 comment:

  1. Writing teachers in general loathe scifi/fantasy. Many many published authors have tales of their university professors rubbishing their work on stupid grounds, including work that the irritated student turned right around and SOLD to a publisher.

    Despite the vast popularity of genre fiction, most people employed as educators seem to think that it's beneath them.

    No matter what you write and how good or bad it is, there will be people who love it blindly and people who hate it without reason and will never be swayed... sometimes you have to learn whose opinions to listen to, nod, and then quietly disregard.

    Of course, when they have the power of grades over you, it can be a good idea to try and write something they'll be happy with... think of it as a challenging exercise. But don't think that you'll have to please them for the rest of your life. Learn what you can use from them, file the rest in the rubbish bin. :)