A guest post from Paula Stokes
Author of Vicarious
August 2016, Tor Teen
PART V: Writing outside my perspective
Some specific challenges I faced:
Every story, whether you’re writing your own voice or writing outside your perspective, is going to have specific challenges. Here are some of the ones I faced writing Vicarious.
Romanizing Korean names.
When I first drafted the book, I used hyphens because that’s what I had seen the most of while I was living in Korea. However, as I was doing research, I noticed that a lot of websites were formatting the Korean names as two words, so I wondered if hyphens had been replaced by spaces. I asked one of my readers if there was a “correct” way to do it and she said all three formats were acceptable and it usually came down to what a child’s parents preferred and put onto legal documents. Because this is a first-person narrative and Winter probably hasn’t seen all of the other Korean characters write their names in order to know which form they use, I opted to use the two-word naming convention and stay consistent throughout the novel.
Romanizing Korean words. (This next part is also posted on Goodreads.
1. The McCune–Reischauer system. This was used prior to the year 2000 and included diacritical marks. This system is no longer used, though you will still find it in older works.
2. The Revised Romanization of Korean, released in 2000 and proclaimed as the new accepted standard by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. This system is used on all government maps, signs, subway stations etc.
I ultimately decided to use the RRoK accepted standard for non-proper nouns (chaebol in the ARC will become jaebeol in the finished book) and official government locations. Even though Vicarious only has about ten Korean words, the second book of the duology takes place in Seoul and will include more foreign places and terms, so I wanted to have a system in place for handling this.
One issue with using the RRoK, is that it creates potentially new spellings for words that a lot of American readers are already familiar with. For example "kimchi" would be "gimchi." "Hangul would be Hangeul." Etc. Whenever there was a conflict between the accepted RRoK spelling and accepted English spelling per Merriam Webster (what my publisher uses as a standard), I went with the accepted English, since that is the language of publication. Which means "kimchi" will be spelled with a k but what many people know as "kimbap" will be spelled "gimbap."
In addition, many Koreans Romanize Hangul based on the way they pronounce words, so just in dealing with my team of Korean beta readers, the Korean word for elder sister was spelled "unni," "unnie," and "uhnnie." The RRoK spells it "eonni," which is how you will see it in the books. I ultimately went with the RRoK as a baseline standard because it's what all "Learn to Speak Korean" books are now using, but I hope stumbling across "gimbap" when you're expecting "kimbap" doesn't detract from anyone's reading experience. No matter how you spell it, you should go eat some, because it's delicious :)
Disagreeing with my beta-readers
Lack of confidence
I questioned myself, my methods, and my manuscript constantly throughout the process of revising the book and drafting the sequel. There may have been a few panic attacks. But you know what? I still judge people based on their intent, and I believe that readers of Vicarious will see that my intent was honorable. Not that they shouldn’t critique flaws they find in the book—they absolutely should. Just that they hopefully won’t attack me as a person, even if the book is problematic for them. But if they do, I’ll handle that too. Some people learn by reading, some by watching videos. I have spent my whole life learning by making mistakes. It is entirely possible—likely, even—that I made some in Vicarious. I promise I will use the critical feedback I receive to do better in the future.
Are you considering writing outside your perspective? If so, I’m going to leave you with a few questions to think about:
- Are you doing it for the right reasons?
- Are you willing to put in long hours to do extensive research?
- Are you willing to do your very best and accept that there is no one “right way” to write diversity, which means that no matter what you do, your end product will not work for everyone?
- Are you receptive to criticism of your efforts?
- Are you strong enough to handle the potential fallout?
Thanks to all of my blog tour hosts, and thanks to readers who stuck with me for the whole series. I hope you check out Vicarious and leave honest reviews for other readers wherever you like to buy and review books.
Thoughts on the post + our mini-review!
There are many things to appreciate about this guest post, including Paula's obvious thought and justification behind her linguistic choices. (I'm actually very impressed with her point that there are very few Korean words in book one - something I was thinking while I was reading - and her acknowledgement that this was primarily foundation building for book two.)
Paula also makes it a wonderful point in asking some much-needed questions at the end of the post, which I think we can ask ourselves as both writers and readers as we read.
As for Vicarious, I was honestly a little wary when I first heard about the book - I have trouble reading books with potential PTSD issues.
But Paula sets up a strong, fascinating thriller that intermixes technology and a murder mystery, which leads readers into questioning everything that they know to be true alongside Winter. This is one of those books where you'll want to go into it knowing as little as possible, so let me just say:
It's a exciting, intriguing tale that pulled me through the book. I had to know what was going on, and Paula's relentless world building was fascinating from beginning to end.
About the book:
Now they work as digital stunt girls for Rose's ex-boyfriend, Gideon, engaging in dangerous and enticing activities while recording their neural impulses for his Vicarious Sensory Experiences, or ViSEs. Whether it's bungee jumping, shark diving, or grinding up against celebrities in the city's hottest dance clubs, Gideon can make it happen for you--for a price.
When Rose disappears and a ViSE recording of her murder is delivered to Gideon, Winter is devastated. She won't rest until she finds her sister's killer. But when the clues she uncovers conflict with the digital recordings her sister made, Winter isn't sure what to believe. To find out what happened to Rose, she'll have to untangle what's real from what only seems real, risking her own life in the process.
Paula Stokes weaves together a series of mysteries and the story of an unbreakable bond between sisters in this unforgettable high-tech thrill ride.
Amazon | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads
Check out the rest of the tour!
Mon. 8/15 Introduction + tour schedule authorpaulastokes.com
Tues. 8/16 Writing outside my perspective: Part 1 ivybookbindings.blogspot.com
Wed. 8/17 Review + interview with Paula readingandsometea.wordpress.com
Thurs. 8/18 Writing outside my perspective: Part 2 hiveretcafe.blogspot.ca
Fri. 8/19 Review + five facts about Winter bookcatpin.blogspot.ca
Mon. 8/22 Writing outside my perspective: Part 3 www.xpressoreads.com
Tues. 8/23 Review + five facts about Jesse bookiemoji.com
Wed. 8/24 Writing outside my perspective: Part 4 www.thesilverwords.com
Thurs. 8/25 Review + five facts about Rose cahreviews.blogspot.com
Fri. 8/26 Writing outside my perspective: Part 5 www.bookrookreviews.com