Thursday, June 25, 2015
Before we get started, I need to make a public service announcement. Those of you reading this blog, be warned: you're reading pornography. How do I know? Because the Lancaster County Library System said so. Apparently they've been tinkering with their content filter again, and the new one declared this blog "Pornography" and wouldn't let me on. Oddly, the four erotica publishers that were blocked under the old version are now accessible. Go figure.
So why is this innocent li'l blog now listed as indecent? You'd think the content filter would have gone after Shapeshifter Seductions, which has been known to feature descriptions of sex scenes and photos of naked men. Here's my theory: the computer is programmed to scan for key words that indicate the presence of racy content. Take a gander at the first three letters in "title." Uh-huh. I'm betting the computer lumped me in with all the naked boob sites. AI, gotta love it.
I've already listed a complaint with the site admins, trying to get the category switched to "Entertainment." (Update: nope, I'm still Porn.) In the meantime, we can all rest easy knowing that Lancaster County's libraries are keeping The Children safe from titles, because half of title is tit. I didn't check, but I'll bet the new filter will still let me onto those sites that show people how to build pipe bombs. I'm glad the system has its priorities in order.
I had no problem getting onto the Titleist Golf Balls website. They must know people.
# # #
Meanwhile, back at my YA-in-progress—which doesn't contain any sex (so far) but does have four-letter words—I made an interesting discovery. The book's nowhere close to finished yet, but it has a theme. That was news to me. I tend to write a surface story. If subtext creeps in, it's by accident. Ask me what my book's about, and I'll respond, "About 300 pages." Or I'll describe the plot. Theme? We don't need no stinkin' themes!
So what's this one, and how did it wind up in my story? In a nutshell: the book deals with an alien (ET division) girl who was found as an infant and raised by humans. Her superpower is shapeshifting. She can physically mimic almost anyone, male or female. She thinks she may be a mutant until she encounters another member of her species. Her people crash-landed on Earth generations ago. Now they're poised to take over the planet by replacing key world leaders. If all goes according to plan, humans will eventually be phased out, which leaves our human-raised alien girl in somewhat of a pickle.
That's the plot. Teenage girl thwarts alien invasion. (Or not. I'm still working my way through the story.) The real story—the theme—came to me as I got deeper into my MC's personality. Mainly: what is it? Her whole existence is based on copying others and turning herself into someone else. Joining the herd. Fitting in. The ultimate pressure to conform to the norm. But what is the norm for her? When she steps away from both humans and her alien species, who is she?
I suspect we're both going to find out over the course of the story. Right now, I have no more idea than she does. But that's why we read, and that's why we write: to find out what happens.
A huge chunk of the reading experience is relatability. If the readers don't like your characters, they'll toss your book against the wall and go read something else. I've been worried a non-human protagonist might be a turn-off, especially since she doesn't have a romance. (So far. She believes she's asexual. Truth is, she's just not sexually attracted to humans, who are a different species. Things could change when she spends time among the aliens. We'll find that out, too.) But there is a touchstone with the human teen experience that I hadn't even thought of when I started: her penchant for shaping herself to fit in with the group, and her self-discovery of who she is and where she fits into the world. If any teens are reading this, you're probably nodding right now.
Damn, I hope I have the chops to pull this off. Well, I wanted to learn how to write better. Here's my teaching tool. I can hone my skills on this. I should probably read more YA while I'm at it. The level of writing in YA books is better these days than what I remember. I blame J. K. Rowling. She and Harry Potter set the bar impossibly high, and now the rest of us have to aim for it. Bitch.
Or I could just write porn, since the library's intent on blocking me anyway. Porn doesn't need themes, just phallic symbols. Easier all around. Happy reading!