self indulgent

the_faery_queen

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how do you know when you're being self indulgant? when you are taking something YOU like too far?
i ask because, well, i like gay characters getting it on. and my hero, who isn't particularly gay (more nothing really) has finally got himself a boyfriend and i worry about taking the whole, them getting together thing, too far. he was a virgin, he is 25 (so he's been waiting a while to meet someone) and it is written in teh first person point of view, so it is bound to be something that goes into a bit of detail, but how much is too much?

and i dont' mean graphic detail of what happens, i dont' write that, but i mean the whole, them lying around, talking, being together, thing. how do i know when its gone from being relevant, to being just there because i like it?
 

Paradox 99

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Re: self indulgant

Interesting question that, Faery.
I guess two key questions to ask would be:

1) Does the material move the story forward?
2) Does it help to add more depth to the character(s)?

If the answer to either of these is "yes" then it's probably useful to keep it in there. I don't suppose it's absolutely necessary to have a "yes" to those, but I'm thinking it might be something that gets the chop later otherwise.
 

polymorphikos

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Re: self indulgant

You can also justify this by how cool something is. If something is really, really cool sounding in your story (moving away from sex specifically to things in general) then you can often get away with having virtually nothing to do with anything. The entire movie The Beyond is like this.
 

HieroGlyph

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Re: self indulgant

Doesnt sound like a matter of self-indulgence. Youve 'hit' upon something (possibly) highly important to that character and if this is the case it WILL have bearing upon following scenes and actions, regardless of how much you wish to reveal to the reader... So, as P.99 wrote: could be both 1) & 2).
 

scalem X

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Re: self indulgant

Oh my, what the hell are you writing;)

Look some people love to read all in dept some don't, I think it depends on your style. If you can write it in an interesting way, then go deep. If you are having trouble, you might consider focusing on your story.
 

Brian G Turner

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Re: self indulgant

I think it really depends on the market you're aiming at - last time I was in a Waterstones, there was far more room for gay fiction on display on SFF. :)
 

the_faery_queen

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Re: self indulgant

well its not gay fiction, tho perhaps one day i will try my hand at that. it is my main novel series, the one accepted for publication (well book 1 with the small print, bla bla) and i dunno, cos it is SUCH a change in direction im all nervy that it might seem tacked on, forced? my hero is a virgin, he's ridiculously naive, he wouldn't notice someone fancied him if they wore a big sign that said so, so there wouldn't be that many signs (its first person so if he doesn't know, no one else knows) but yeah, i still worry that it seems so out of the blue. and i guess i worry that it is too indulgant because it is first person, and he is a virgin. and its something that would be a big scene in anyone's life, but because its gay sex, and because its not central to the book, just to the characters, i worry about writing too much on that, and not enough on other stuff.

but that seems to be my main rant with the whole third book :( everything i write seems out of the blue. its frustrating.

but thanks guys! opinions/thoughts appreciated
 

flynx

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Re: self indulgant

As long as you don't mind ripping out every single word about the relationship after you've spent hours writing it then I say carry on.

If on re-reading you find that being gay is not at all important to the story then tear it out. Just because it's not going to actually see the light of published day doesn't mean you can't write it.

Was it Chekov? that wrote entire histories for his characters. Histories that existed only so that the writer knew his characters, their motivations and reasons. The only evidence of those histories in the actual stories or plays was how they acted and reacted in the specific tale he was telling.

On another site I'm always seeing people claim that they write only for themselves (I say, so why bother to publish?) but if you're willing to write reams of work that you know no one is going to read then do it.

It's all in the edit.
 

Susan Boulton

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Re: self indulgant

the_faery_queen said:
well its not gay fiction, tho perhaps one day i will try my hand at that. it is my main novel series, the one accepted for publication (well book 1 with the small print, bla bla) and i dunno, cos it is SUCH a change in direction im all nervy that it might seem tacked on, forced? my hero is a virgin, he's ridiculously naive, he wouldn't notice someone fancied him if they wore a big sign that said so, so there wouldn't be that many signs (its first person so if he doesn't know, no one else knows) but yeah, i still worry that it seems so out of the blue. and i guess i worry that it is too indulgant because it is first person, and he is a virgin. and its something that would be a big scene in anyone's life, but because its gay sex, and because its not central to the book, just to the characters, i worry about writing too much on that, and not enough on other stuff.

but that seems to be my main rant with the whole third book everything i write seems out of the blue. its frustrating.

but thanks guys! opinions/thoughts appreciated

Try and treat the relationship the same way you would if it were a boy/girl one.

In fact don't think about it being either a gay or hetro relationship, just write about a person falling in love for the first time. About them not knowing the ins and outs, worrying about making a fool of themselves, concerned about what the other person thinks of them.

All the bitter/sweet pain of that first relationship.
 

the_faery_queen

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Re: self indulgant

i'd still worry about it being self indulgant if it was a straight one, but probably worry less about it annoying people. not that i think all readers are homophobic, but i am aware it can make some people uncomfortable, and as its first person, it can be rather intimately inside the heros' head which might make it more so.

but yeah, that is generally good advice
 

Susan Boulton

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Re: self indulgant

Having trouble with the "self- indulgent" comment.

If the relationship is important to your character's development and the forwarding of your plot then write it. If it is not, then don't write it. As to what depth you want to take the description, it again depends on a number of things, plot and character development, which market your novel is aimed at and finally what you feel, not only comfortable writing, but capable of writing.

As you are the writer not the character it can hardly be called "self-indulgent"
 

the_faery_queen

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Re: self indulgant

not really! no offense to goodkind fans, but i think he totally self indulages with his violence to women and probably his communism stuff too. i think that if you let something that you personally like come out too often in a novel, without it barely relevance, that's being self indulgant

my problem is, how can i tell when it is being self indulgant, and when its actually relevant. to me i think it is. as i said, first person, he was a virgin, its his first love, so for me, that would mean spending a fair bit of time on it. BUT i don't want to bore readers, they may not care about this aspect of his life. just as i didn't care about fitz's invovlement with molly. i felt that the end of fools fate was totally self indulgant, too many marriages/kids and the plot was over.

i want to avoid that. just cos i think its relevant to teh character, it doesn't mean it is. its hard to seperate.
 

Susan Boulton

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Re: self indulgant

Huh?

Totally confused now.

What has Goodkind or Hobb to do with your story? They write what they believe is right for their characters, you write what you think is right for yours. To my mind it has nothing to do with being self-indulgent?

You are creating a story, you should put in what you believe the story needs. If you spend to much time worrying what other people will think of it you won't get it written at all. Write it, then leave it for a few months, go back and re-read it and edit if needed.
 

flynx

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Re: self indulgant

I don't know about goodkind or hobb but I think it's a valid point about readers appreciation. If you take someone like Heinlein, however good his stories are, a lot of his characters (and stories) come across as anarchic, homophobic, right wing, mysogenists. Not pleasant in my view and spoiling the stories somewhat in their irrelevance to the plot. Not so much that I've thrown the book across the room but he came close a few times.
 

Susan Boulton

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Re: self indulgant

flynx said:
I don't know about goodkind or hobb but I think it's a valid point about readers appreciation. If you take someone like Heinlein, however good his stories are, a lot of his characters (and stories) come across as anarchic, homophobic, right wing, mysogenists. Not pleasant in my view and spoiling the stories somewhat in their irrelevance to the plot. Not so much that I've thrown the book across the room but he came close a few times.


Thing is Heinlein wrote his stories and SOLD them. Time to worry about readers' appreciation once you have the work written and sold it.

I am not saying don't consider the audience you are writing for, a good cross section of guinea pigs *cough*, I mean test readers, is a must. You need to know what people think about your work, but in the end you need to go with what you believe you should have in your story. Be honest and loyal to your own voice, it is your story you are writing, not very Tom/Dick or Harry's

Sorry, but all the waffling about what people think before you have a finished product is irrelevant. When you are creating you need to be true to your idea, once you start chasing your own tail and worrying about what others will think about every word, you are defeating your self.

I would add this is just my opinion.
 

flynx

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Re: self indulgant

I quite agree. Write the kind of story that you would like to read, statistically there are bound to be others that like the same thing. If there are enough others, that's when you start making money.
 

the_faery_queen

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Re: self indulgant

hope so :)
besides, its book 3, i think anyone who gets that far shouldn't be put off by some gayness :)
 

scalem X

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Re: self indulgant

Well I only realise this now, but how about checking some manga/anime. There is this keyword "yaoi" (for gay themes). Actually I've never watched it/read it, but when you read regular manga's one is surprised by how the writers can keep the love from happening. I believe this might help you to see how far you can go and so. Just a thought, but since most of these manga's have a relatively huge fanbase well...
 

the_faery_queen

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Re: self indulgant

its a different auicdence tho. im not aiming my stuff at the type of people who like that sort of thing. which is mostly women. (not that i am not aiming at women, of course! im just aiming at a general fantasy market, not a specific one)
 

jackokent

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Re: self indulgant

I don't think it's just women who would enjoy a gay love story. My view is if the charactars are believable then they are what they are. I'm not sure people are that bothered these days. I read Swords Point by Ellen Kushner the other day which just so happenned to be centered around a gay relationship and was a natural as anything I've ever read. The only thing I would have thought that would really limit the readership would be how graphic you were. For many men and women alike a beautiful love story is a beautiful love story. Also, anything that makes a book stand a little bit apart might be a good thing. If you love your characters then go with your instincts, they are probably going to be more believable than trying to be PC.
 

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