Think about anyone who has come out as bisexual in the media. Megan Fox, Billie Joe Armstrong, Margaret Cho, Anna Paquin, Megan Mullally, David Bowie, Angelina Jolie.
Their sexuality is usually glossed over — often times, the media decides the person is either gay or straight, depending the relationship they are currently in or the relationship they get into in the future. If a man comes out as bisexual and in the future gets into a relationship with another man, people generally define him as homosexual (such as Alan Cumming). It’s important to note both homosexual and heterosexual people are monosexual and only attracted to one gender. In saying someone is straight or gay based on who they are currently with totally negates an individual’s identity.
Several people throughout have been classified as monosexual, despite identifying as bi. Marlon Brando himself was bisexual and he’s well-known as a “manly” man, it’s no surprise that people would want to erase his sexuality to fit their perception of him. Anne Frank was also bisexual; she wrote about having a love for girls and wanting a girl to date in her diaries. Angelina Jolie is one of the most well-known bisexuals and she still gets marked under a monosexual title because of her long term relationship with Brad Pitt. Yet, in doing this, people are neglecting her identity.
“I am not Mike Brown. I am white. I am middle class. I am female. I am small. I am not considered a threat. When police see me they see someone who looks like them. They see their mothers, their daughters, their sisters, themselves. I am not at risk of being shot by police for existing while black. I am not at risk of being shot while unarmed. I am not at risk of being shot while armed with nothing more than a BB gun. I am not at risk of being shot for reaching for my wallet. I am privileged.
But I am outraged. And if you aren’t outraged, then you aren’t paying attention. This is America in 2014. This is our reality. It’s so easy to get jaded and to ignore these atrocities, to act like this doesn’t affect us. It’s so easy to get apathetic. In the past it was the youth who protested. Where is the rage of the youth? Where is our rage?
Like I said, I am not Mike Brown. But I am outraged.”—: I am not Mike Brown. (via asgardian-feminist)
In six seconds, you’ll hate me.
But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.
From this point forward—at least for the next half year—you may not use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands, Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred others you love to use.
The list should also include: Loves and Hates.
And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those later.
Until some time around Christmas, you can’t write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn’t like him going out at night…”
Instead, you’ll have to Un-pack that to something like: “The
mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he’d had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.”
Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader wants it.
Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.” You’ll have to say: “Between classes, Gwen had always leaned on his locker when he’d go to open it. She’s roll her eyes and shove off with one foot, leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her butt. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”
In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.
Typically, writers use these “thought” verbs at the beginning of a paragraph (In this form, you can call them “Thesis Statements” and I’ll rail against those, later). In a way, they state the intention of the paragraph. And what follows, illustrates them.
“Brenda knew she’d never make the deadline. was backed up from the bridge, past the first eight or nine exits. Her cell phone battery was dead. At home, the dogs would need to go out, or there would be a mess to clean up. Plus, she’d promised to water the plants for her neighbor…”
Do you see how the opening “thesis statement” steals the thunder of what follows? Don’t do it.
If nothing else, cut the opening sentence and place it after all the others. Better yet, transplant it and change it to: Brenda would never make the deadline.
Thinking is abstract. Knowing and believing are intangible. Your story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking and knowing. And loving and hating.
Don’t tell your reader: “Lisa hated Tom.”
Instead, make your case like a lawyer in court, detail by detail.
Present each piece of evidence. For example: “During roll call, in the breath after the teacher said Tom’s name, in that moment before he could answer, right then, Lisa would whisper-shout ‘Butt Wipe,’ just as Tom was saying, ‘Here’.”
One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing, you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary character starts thinking or worrying or wondering.
For example: Waiting for the bus, Mark started to worry about how long the trip would take…”
A better break-down might be: “The schedule said the bus would come by at noon, but Mark’s watch said it was already 11:57. You could see all the way down the road, as far as the Mall, and not see a bus. No doubt, the driver was parked at the turn-around, the far end of the line, taking a nap. The driver was kicked back, asleep, and Mark was going to be late. Or worse, the driver was drinking, and he’d pull up drunk and charge Mark seventy-five cents for death in a fiery traffic accident…”
A character alone must lapse into fantasy or memory, but even then you can’t use “thought” verbs or any of their abstract relatives.
Oh, and you can just forget about using the verbs forget and remember.
No more transitions such as: “Wanda remembered how Nelson used to brush her hair.”
Instead: “Back in their sophomore year, Nelson used to brush her hair with smooth, long strokes of his hand.”
Again, Un-pack. Don’t take short-cuts.
Better yet, get your character with another character, fast.
Get them together and get the action started. Let their actions and words show their thoughts. You—stay out of their heads.
And while you’re avoiding “thought” verbs, be very wary about using the bland verbs “is” and “have.”
“Ann’s eyes are blue.”
“Ann has blue eyes.”
“Ann coughed and waved one hand past her face, clearing the cigarette smoke from her eyes, blue eyes, before she smiled…”
Instead of bland “is” and “has” statements, try burying your details of what a character has or is, in actions or gestures. At its most basic, this is showing your story instead of telling it.
And forever after, once you’ve learned to Un-pack your characters, you’ll hate the lazy writer who settles for: “Jim sat beside the telephone, wondering why Amanda didn’t call.”
Please. For now, hate me all you want, but don’t use thought verbs. After Christmas, go crazy, but I’d bet money you won’t.
For this month’s homework, pick through your writing and circle every “thought” verb. Then, find some way to eliminate it. Kill it by Un-packing it.
Then, pick through some published fiction and do the same thing. Be ruthless.
“Marty imagined fish, jumping in the moonlight…”
“Nancy recalled the way the wine tasted…”
“Larry knew he was a dead man…”
Find them. After that, find a way to re-write them. Make them stronger.
“I dont bother with beliefs. I see this life here and now. That is endlessly fascinating, and there is no need for security in an afterlife when this life is already here. Enjoy yourself. Relax. Sing with birds and laugh with the breeze. Namaste, love.”—crimson-twinkie (via shortstackphotos)
“Women are described in animal terms as pets, cows, sows, foxes, chicks, serpents, bitches, beavers, old bats, old hens, mother hens, pussycats, cats, cheetahs, bird-brains, and hare-brains…‘Mother Nature’ is raped, mastered, conquered, mined; her secrets are ‘penetrated,’ her ‘womb’ is to be put into the service of the ‘man of science.’ Virgin timber is felled, cut down; fertile soil is tilled, and land that lies ‘fallow’ is ‘barren,’ useless. The exploitation of nature and animals is justified by feminizing them; the exploitation of women is justified by naturalizing them.”—Karen J. Warren Ecological Feminism (via agentmaya)
“Until the lion has his historian, the hunter will always be the hero.”—
This proverb exists in different forms in many parts of Africa
"Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter" (Igbo, Nigeria).
"Until lions start writing down their own stories, the hunters will always be the heroes" (Kenya and Zimbabwe).
Black/African history has always being taught/told from the perspective of White American/European colonisers. We need to reclaim our history and culture. No more white African Queens, Kings and Gods, there needs to be a true representation of African history and culture in the media.
“When I say, ‘I love you,’ it’s not because I want you or because I can’t have you. It has nothing to do with me. I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I’ve seen your kindness and your strength. I’ve seen the best and the worst of you. And I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are. You’re a hell of a person.”—Joss Whedon (via cracked-vessel)