I'd appreciate if anyone can help let me know if my story is offensive

Toby Frost

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#62
I do have a few thoughts on that story and the policing of YA, but they're not related to this topic - or social justice issues at all - so I'll leave it there.
 

Joshua Jones

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#63
I think I am with you there, @Toby Frost. But, this is also an interesting statement on how readers identify with characters' experiences, even if they are not exactly synonymous. What I mean is, it sounds like she was depicting slavery and indenterment from an Asian perspective, but when read from an American perspective, it was (mis)interpreted as racist. Of course, I haven't read this work, so for all I know, she wrote of an African stand-in race who gleefully skipped through their slavery and had minimal cognitive ability to feel pain or achieve something higher, but it sounds like what she did was relatively benign until brought over to an alien context. That is a bit concerning, but also speaks clearly to the realities of reader identification with the characters.
 

SilentRoamer

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#64
Personally, I would fictionalize the ethnicity of the characters and write it in a fantasy world. You might still get people complaining like in the NYT article BlueStocking linked but I would probably just ignore them as marginal - after all you want to sell books I imagine.

If you are writing about ACTUAL Chinese and Japanese people then I think it is on you to research and be as authentic as possible, that being said if you are writing for a western audience how much of the nuance and cultural understanding is going to make it through?

I guess for me would be research workload vs authenticity and finding the balance between the two.

I would probably avoid all of the pitfalls and just create analagous cultures - you can still end up with a rich and varied world of peoples and cultures such as Robert Jordans Wheel of Time series without worrying too much about offending people. Although I imagine it wont be long before authors are accused of cultural appropriation if they write cultures outside of their own - I hope not.

There has been some really good advice and a lot of research material in this thread so I think it's probably on you now, the last thing I would say is:

STOP WORRYING AND START WRITING!
 

Brian G Turner

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#65
It takes place in the future afterall and the story is still about this ultimate tournament with the most baddest and most badass star-fighters, monsters, golems, robots, cyborgs, sorcerers, wizards, cybercops, super soldiers, witches, werewolves, zombies etc.
At the end of the day, if this is a first writing project, just write it - chances are a lot will change during that anyway. :)
 

Bee22

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#66
@Joshua Jones I completely agree with you man, I will do my best to do my homework!

@SilentRoamer since this is mostly geared towards a western audience (though I would love it to reach audiences worldwide) I see what you are saying, it might be too much of a risk to even take considering even if I've done my homework and get as authentic as possible, there's a good chance half the western audience wouldn't have a clue what the meanings or mythological references are being based upon.It's a very touchy subject and I wont be able to please everyone, going with a completely fictional race and nationalities could work and I know it's been done before, I'm still not certain I want to head that way. I'll have to see how my wriings go.

@The Bluestocking thank you so much for those references! I really appreciate your help and I can see what you mean by the YA author. It can get very controversial fast if not done properly I can't speak for her since I did not read her books and don't know how sensitive the community was of her work, but I can see the things she may have written that could of been of her lack of knowledge and I don't want to make that same mistake. The books, genres and mythology references you showed will help me greatly!
I just recently started learning more about some gods and goddesses in Chinese mythology I never heard of and Erlang Shen with his companion dog seems to interest me more now than Monkey King. I might even base the character on him as my protagonist. Of course I will do all the studying I can. I really want to get more into Chinese culture and I think just my interest for wanting to write my stories based off of it and it's mythological characters will get me more into it!

You can always throw me more references, the more knowledge I gain the more my story will tell itself to me and the more it will add to my studies. Unfortunately I only have those to talk with on the internet of Chinese background. Hopefully I will meet more people of Chinese heritage near me, I may have to do some traveling myself. Thanks Bluestockings! :)
 

The Bluestocking

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#67
thank you so much for those references! I really appreciate your help and I can see what you mean by the YA author. It can get very controversial fast if not done properly I can't speak for her since I did not read her books and don't know how sensitive the community was of her work, but I can see the things she may have written that could of been of her lack of knowledge and I don't want to make that same mistake.
It was NOT her lack of knowledge but that the audience was looking at her work through the American perspective on slavery which doesn't seem to take into account that slavery isn't exclusively American. But I'm not going to get into that discussion now.

The books, genres and mythology references you showed will help me greatly!
You're welcome! (Though I am still reading the future tense here - aka you haven't started yet - instead of the present tense - aka you've already started with the reading)

You can always throw me more references, the more knowledge I gain the more my story will tell itself to me and the more it will add to my studies.
To manage expectations:

I help when I can but I have my own pile of work to do for my WIPs and trying to get published in between an already insanely busy life running a non-profit in the day and teaching in the evenings. And I have my own writing group members to support through their WIPs as well as other writer friends who need me to help with beta reading etc.

My advice is to do the primary research yourself and only ask me or anyone else you need to ask about it when you get stuck. Don't rely on us as an automatic fount of information on Chinese (or Japanese) culture for your book. Get digging, get reading, get listening, get travelling.

Just remember not to rush it - you've picked some very old and complex cultures to base your novel on. Listen to @Phyrebrat about taking your time with research and learning the writing craft. If you're not the "hiding in the shed to write" type, maybe find a writing group in your area to join.

And most of all - as everyone in this thread has been saying: finish your first draft and when you have the words on the page, that we can provide some concrete help.
 
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The Bluestocking

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#68
Since this is mostly geared towards a western audience (though I would love it to reach audiences worldwide) I see what you are saying, it might be too much of a risk to even take considering even if I've done my homework and get as authentic as possible, there's a good chance half the western audience wouldn't have a clue what the meanings or mythological references are being based upon.
Um... publishers aren't going to market the book just to Western audiences, y'know. SFF is predominantly in English and books are marketed worldwide, and if successful, some are even translated into other languages.

And then there's the internet and Book Depository sending books to readers worldwide, even to countries where Amazon doesn't reach.

Never assume that your book might not reach the very people whose cultures you are mining for your stories.
 

SilentRoamer

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#69
Never assume that your book might not reach the very people whose cultures you are mining for your stories.
That's a good point and something I hadn't really considered in such a direct way.

I would want to be as authentic as possible if I were using real world cultures/peoples both out of decency to those people and for quality of the work - even if I hadn't before considered the writing reaching those people, I would probably use some sort of fictional analogies if doing something outside of my cultural norm.
 

Toby Frost

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#70
Random thought: this sounds a lot like Mortal Kombat and games of that sort. If you're coming from this from that angle, why not make the tournament a literal computer game? Perhaps players fight virtually: controlling robot fighters, or just using their minds to move the fighters in a shared online world. You could still have all the back-stage intrigue and the fighting, but you wouldn't need to know half as much about the societies the fighters come from and the fighting techniques they're using (especially if they're controlling things like dinosaurs and tigers as well as conventional martial artists). It could be like a cross between Rocky and Ready Player One.
 

The Bluestocking

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#71
Random thought: this sounds a lot like Mortal Kombat and games of that sort. If you're coming from this from that angle, why not make the tournament a literal computer game? Perhaps players fight virtually: controlling robot fighters, or just using their minds to move the fighters in a shared online world. You could still have all the back-stage intrigue and the fighting, but you wouldn't need to know half as much about the societies the fighters come from and the fighting techniques they're using (especially if they're controlling things like dinosaurs and tigers as well as conventional martial artists). It could be like a cross between Rocky and Ready Player One.
I'd read that, actually.
 
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