First off, from here on out meetings will be limited to one hour. Anyone is welcome to hang out longer than that, but the time limit will help keep some of our discussions on track and ensure no one’s driving home too late on winter roads. Our next meeting will be Monday, February 4th at 5pm in the library. There’s no discussion on the agenda for next week so everyone can focus on their own projects, bearing in mind everything we learned about dialogue. We talked about its many roles in a narrative, how it contributes to plot and characterization, how realistic it should be, how to make yours better, and a few of the group’s personal struggles with the device. You can find the full discussion over here.
The new Theater Club may be looking for plays to put on! No specifics yet, but if you’re a Penn Highlands student interested in playwriting, definitely reach out to them.
A couple unrelated questions came up as well:
Q: Is it acceptable for a writer to write across genres, and if so, why do some authors choose to write under a pseudonym when doing so?
A: You can write whatever you want! Lots of writers write across genres—some even combine them. There are a lot of reasons to write under a pseudonym, but many of them boil down to marketing. Many women writers still write under their initials or a male pseudonym in order to have their books taken seriously (or sell at all); an author who writes for multiple age groups may use a pseudonym to prevent young readers from picking up something that’s too mature for them; an author who dips into different genres will use pseudonyms to separate, say, their romance from their murder mysteries, or their fantasy from their thrillers, because genres come with expectations. Others may use them to keep their writing life separate from their personal life or their other professional life. Basically a pseudonym = freedom.
Q: Is it acceptable to write a protagonist whose gender is not your own?
A: Yes. And, it’s complicated. There are no rules dictating what you can and can’t write, but self-awareness, empathy, respect, and humility are crucial when writing outside your lane, particularly if the lane you’re eyeing is marginalized in ways that you are not. Men have always written women. Women have always written men. These things . . . are not the same. Cisgender authors writing transgender characters need to be even more careful. Even when done in good faith, you almost certainly have some biases and preconceived notions that you aren’t aware of, so you run the risk of furthering harmful stereotypes without meaning to when writing a character with a background not your own. Too, your character will not necessarily share your lived experience, and something you’ve always thought universal could alienate readers hoping to see themselves in your character. Read widely and listen when someone speaks up about how they’ve been misrepresented in fiction and the harm it can do. Do your best to get things right and be chill about it when someone points out what you’ve gotten wrong.