Tag Archives: point of view

I am a feminist writer

Feminism and feminist are loaded terms and have many disparate meanings and associations. So here is a brief definition of what I mean when I say feminist:

  • Everyone should be treated equally regardless of their race, gender, class, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, etc. (I know I forgot a few, identities, sorry.)
  • When I say equal, I don’t mean that everyone should be treated the same because people are different. And it is awesome that we are all not the same. Sameness is boring.
  • What I do mean when I say equal is that everyone should have equal access to the same opportunities. For example: access to education, healthcare, healthy food, and safe places.
  • P.S. I don’t hate men. And will laugh if you use the phrase feminazi seriously in a sentence and promptly stop listening to anything you have to say.

So why is this important or even worthwhile to discuss? Well, I am a feminist and I see the world through that perspective. It affects my writing – partially because it brings into focus topics that I am interested in exploring and addressing – both here on this blog as well as in my novels and short fiction.

©K. Klein 2012

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Movies in my mind

My characters and stories are incredibly visual to me. When the writing is flowing I can see the story in my mind and part of my job is to transcribe those images into the ethereal nature of words. Finding the right amount of description is a challenge for me. Often, my brother’s biggest complaints about my writing are him wanting more description.

However, I tend to err on the side of caution and begin by under-describing rather being too detailed. These days readers don’t want pages upon pages of minutes details; some writers can get away with it. Most cannot – and so I try to balance my own images with the needs of my readers. Part of the reason I write is so that my world can come alive through sharing it with others.

One difficult piece of description for me is the spatial aspect of it. When describing a room – where are the things in the room in relation to one another? Where are the people in relation to the things and each other?

For example, I love old houses with parlors. So how does that look to my mind? Or yours?

The parlor felt rich done in earth tones. A fireplace stood on the far wall away from the door; flames danced merrily within its confines. In front of the fireplace sat two comfy chairs with a table in between. Nearby the large picturesque window was a couch. Across the room from the couch was a large antique wooden desk with a hardback chair; the desk top had clutter of papers and books.

This is a rather rough description. Considering I did it kind of on the fly it isn’t too bad, but it still feels a bit stiff. What if we added in some people?

Miss Andrews walked into the parlor and sat on the cream couch near the large window. Mr. Saunders greeted her from the desk across the room; she returned his greeting. However, she did not wish to chat and instead took in the room. She enjoyed the view of the fire as it danced merrily within the fireplace. Her sister sat in one of the chairs in front of the fire, but didn’t say anything. Miss Andrews walked over to her and they chatted quietly as Mr. Saunders cleared the clutter away from his desk.

I like this better; it feels a little less stiff now that there are people populating the room. However, it still doesn’t feel to me like it has come alive. Perhaps adding in a bit of Miss Andrews’ emotions will help to set the scene.

Wiping away tears, Miss Andrews entered the parlor. She walked past the desk and Mr. Saunders greeted her; she returned the favor. Mr. Saunders not noticing her distress continued to clear the clutter away from his desk. Not wishing to speak she walked over to the cream couch and perched upon it. From there she enjoyed the view of the fire – it danced merrily. Her sister sat in one of the comfortable chairs before the fire; she turned and asked after Miss Andrews’ day. Miss Andrews walked over to her sister and whispered her discontent.

Of the three descriptions, I think the last one is the richest. It has layers of things, people, and emotions. I could probably stand to go over it again and throw in brief physical descriptions of Mr. Saunders, Miss Andrews and her sister. However, I tend to prefer not to give too much description of my characters. People tend to imagine them how they want even when description is provided.

How do you handle descriptions when you write? Does it take multiple drafts for you to get your vision across? I think my final description could still use some work. What would you add? Or take away?

©K. Klein 2012

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Inspiration & criticism

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.

~Henry David Thoreau

I am in the process of sharing my rewrite with close friends who volunteered to be beta readers. The thought of it makes me squirm because criticism is so gosh darn hard for me to take. I’ve improved as the years have gone by. I can actually hear the constructive criticism now instead of freaking out inside and out. But it is never going to be easy or anything.

Luckily, thus far, I’ve gotten positive feedback from most of my readers. I find it funny that my brother is my harshest critic and biggest supporter. He always tells me what he wants. That chapter needs more description. (My stories are visual to me, so I often gloss over description in the first and sometimes second drafts). Or he’ll say that he wants to know what X character is thinking or feeling.

He asks me the best questions. Because if he has these questions then I know someone else will have them too. So I am able to work on it because he gets me thinking about my writing from the readers’ perspective. Actually, I don’t consider a chapter in my current WIP/ re-write finished until I’ve read it aloud to him.

This does two things for me. One, I hear my words as I read them. I can hear any awkwardness. Secondly, it gets him asking me questions that need to be answered. I am so lucky. He is spot on; I don’t think I’ve disagreed with him yet. And even if I did, I would seriously consider his critiques before deciding not to change it.

In any case, he inspires me to be a better writer. I love it when he thinks my chapters are awesome and he has no questions. I love it when he does have questions too because it is fun to look at the chapter and make it deeper or more than it was originally.

©K. Klein 2012

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My love affair with books

There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.
Ray Bradbury

There is not a time that I can remember being unable to read. My grandmother told me that this is because my family would always read to me. My love affair with books started in her two-flat apartment with two or three (possibly more) bookshelves double and triple stacked with books.

Books are my refuge when the world becomes too hard to bear. They allow me to escape into another person’s head; to experience the world from a new point of view. Books also allow me to experience worlds beyond my own. Books open up the possibility of magic or faster than light travel or other technology beyond what we imagine is possible today. I love being able to dive into a place I’d never be able to go otherwise, through my books.

Why do you read? When did you discover your love of books?

©K. Klein 2012

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