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 Post subject: Balance/Stereotyping
PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 4:50 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2007 1:14 pm
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Location: Cheshire, UK
My thoughts (for what they are worth). I think a magazine always has to ensure they choose only the very best stories from those submitted (regardless of subject/sexual orientation/author). However, to this end, it is important that all reviewing and selecting of stories is done by a group of selectors that are indicative in their demographic makeup to the audience that the magazine hopes to attract. As a magazine is in most cases a money making venture this demographic needs to be either niche (to employ an unplugged hole in the market) or as wide as possible (to ensure maximum readership).

I think the weakness of many magazines (and the strength of niche market publications) is that story selection is the regime of a very small number of people (often only one) and if you don't like that person's taste then you won't like the magazine. One person's greatest story will be another person's garbage.

So in essence - if the goal is variety and fair representation then rather than go down the route of positive descrimination, it is far better to select the very best stories using the most varied group of selectors.

As to MMPORGS and Second Life. People generally are in these environments for specific reasons, and the majority are not looking for anything outside of this specific reason. e.g. fighting/cybersex/selling. If you go to a Disney theme park, then you're not generally receptive to a person trying to sell you car insurance. (but I suppose you might buy a book and read it while you queue for one of the rides - but it'd have to be a very long book).

Just my thoughts
Ta
Jon A

p.s. As a UK based writer I do tend to have a multicultural/european background to my stories (and some people have commented on this as a strength when reviewing my work), but this is more through familiarity with the subject matter than through deliberate variety. My stories do (at present) lack truly credible female characters, but this is something I am trying to improve on at present. Not sure I will ever be great at it though.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2007 1:00 am 
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Joined: Thu May 17, 2007 9:36 am
Posts: 7
Jonayre,

I've had trouble with male MCs too. I'm getting better at it, but the females are the default in my writing and I find male POVs hard to do. It's something pretty frequent for writers to have trouble with POVs different from their own. But while most writers try and sometimes sucede at writing in a different gender, many writers stay in their race and never think outside of it. At least, that's something I've noticed. Has anyone noticed something different?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2007 12:42 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2007 1:14 pm
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Location: Cheshire, UK
Sara Genge wrote:
many writers stay in their race and never think outside of it. At least, that's something I've noticed. Has anyone noticed something different?


It's the gender thing I have difficult with. I always worry that my female characters are very much externally observed rather than being genuine. I don't think I have the same problem with crossing racial boundaries (or at least I hope I don't) as long as the cultural links are reasonably close. My lead character in one of my more recent stories is Indian by descent, but English by upbringing, and is based to some extent on a man I worked with and had a great deal of respect for. I think I would have more difficulty writing a character from a different culture as my understanding of that culture might be lacking (I guess that is where the extensive research comes in - but for short stories I just don't have the staying power for the time that is needed to truly emmerse myself in a character that is outside my core experience).

I think that is why publications should endeavour to find reviewers from a variety of backgrounds, to ensure that all writers get a fair bite of the apple. This in turn will then introduce the reader to a variety of environments, experiences and characters and thus widen their own understanding of the world. (After all, that is one of the strengths of good writing - to take us to places and situations that we will probably never experience for ourselves).

Cheers
Jon A


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 7:15 pm 
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Jonayre,

You're probably right, but I can't comment on your suggestion because I don't know how many SF mags have minorities slushing/editing them.

Quote:
It's the gender thing I have difficult with. I always worry that my female characters are very much externally observed rather than being genuine.


If it makes you feel any better, a lot of the real people out there who I meet feel externally observed rather than genuine. :)

What I mean is that most people are weird. Learning to write in another gender is hard, but it's surprising to find out just how much weirdness you can get away with, as long as you don't stereotype in conventional ways: in the end, it's the cliches that kill you, not the lack of understanding of what goes on in a man or woman's head.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 7:43 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2007 10:06 pm
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Location: Clacton-on-Sea
Sara Genge wrote:
What I mean is that most people are weird. Learning to write in another gender is hard, but it's surprising to find out just how much weirdness you can get away with, as long as you don't stereotype in conventional ways: in the end, it's the cliches that kill you, not the lack of understanding of what goes on in a man or woman's head.


Very nicely put. Makes a lot of sense.
des

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 10:43 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:41 am
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Location: Beyond the Aquila Rift
Sara Genge wrote:
Quote:
Sara Genge wrote:
..SF will remain US-centric, boring, white and male.


It's wrong, I think, to stereotype all white US male writers as 'boring'.
Big difference between Rudy Rucker and Harry Turtledove!


I'm not stereotyping the writers, but the writing (still, stereotyping is wrong, I know). What I mean is, a writer with a multi-minority background can write boring UScentric white male fiction and a white male US writer can write diverse fiction if he sets his mind to it.

Most readers only care about the story anyway.


Not to mention that the best male SF writers aren't from the USA, to start with. :)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:25 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 11, 2007 12:28 pm
Posts: 67
Location: Cumbria, UK
Sara Genge wrote:
Quote:
Most readers only care about the story anyway.

Agreed!

I prefer to read a printed magazine (I like to know if I've skipped a page), but I prefer to keep a book (has a spine to remind me where it is on the bookshelf).
What would it do to costs if the whole magazine was presented electronically with an annual/biennial printed book containing the fiction, but without the newsy stuff that dates quickly?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 5:14 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 17, 2007 9:36 am
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I'm all for magazine anthologies. Shipping costs too much to be worth it for me to subscribe to as many mags as I would like, but anthos are something I'm always on lookout for.

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