Saturday, November 7, 2009

Stylistic issues and random thoughts

I am nowhere near where I should be for my current writing goal but as I write I started to contemplate style.

I was wondering whether I should use macrons and other diacritics. In general I do not use macrons or diacritics on this blog because I am lazy and they take a bit longer to input. I probably should use them on some of the romanizations of Japanese words that I have used on this blog since the same word depending on whether it is a long or short vowel could mean something else entirely. As for the macron use I'm currently thinking about using in a fan fic are for character names e.g. using ō to indicate that the o in Ryoga's name is a long vowel; Ryōga.

If I do use them should I limit them to names and possible foreign words or use them on other things like acute accents such as in fiancée (which is a word adopted from french)?

Thinking about that should I call Ranma's situation engagements or betrothals i.e. should I say Ranma is engaged to Ukyo and Akane and Shampoo or betrothed to them? It is more common to see people call them engaged, which is why I'm contemplating using that term, but betrothed is probably the better term to use since betrothal often refers to agreements involving not only the couple but their families and often have binding legal or honor implications that engagements do not.

Something that just occurred to me some fics talk about some of the honor implications of breaking the engagements, often erroneous legal implications, and possible fallout (like Shampoo deciding that Akane really has to die) but I do not ever recall seeing a fic in which Ukyo or the Tendo's sue Ranma/Saotomes for breaking the engagement, which they could theoretically do under breach of promise laws. I do not know what those type of laws are currently in Japan but I do know that there are books in Japan that do have this as part of their plots for example: Kazumi Takahashi's novel, Hi no utsuwa, has the main character a university dean sued for breaking a marriage engagement.

The next stylistic thing is a common conundrum for Ranma fan fic writers, or anyone writing about a multi or no gendered being; that I have not given much thought about until just recently. Namely how should I indicate Ranma's gender? I've seen books, such as Peter David's Star Trek: New Frontier Series use hir and s/he for dual gendered beings but I personally find that annoying though I did enjoy those books. The use of singular they would probably confuse people thinking that they means multiple people instead of just Ranma. I could use it but it is usually not referred to people and may cause readers to view Ranma as not a person.

The way I am currently thinking about doing so is to, when narrating, use Ranma for male form and Ranma-onna for female form. I definitely won't use Ranma for male form and Ranko for female form because I do not believe Ranma would choose to use that alias again because of the memories associated with it and people not in the know would view Ranma and Ranko as two separate individuals. Though this maybe awkward on occasion.

When looking from a character point of view though I am unsure what to do. I originally was going to say that Ranma would always think of himself as being male, but upon further reflection that seems unlikely. Most of the time a person does not think of themselves as being male or female (I, am, me, etc. are gender neutral). Though the main reason is that Ranma has strong associations with some actions as being gender specific, so if Ranma were to be doing or contemplate doing something he associates as female he is likely to view himself as a female during those times (like putting on make-up, wearing a dress, or wearing a swimsuit). As for the other characters it would vary and be dependent on circumstance. Akane, for example, would think of Ranma as male regardless of form most of the time but there would be circumstances that would make her view him as female. Some examples: if it looks like Ranma is about to kiss her in female form or other displays of affection while in female form, a situation in which another girl is needed such as substituting for her in a contest, if he acts like a male while in female form in public (therefor embarrassing her), if she happens to notice that Ranma looks better in some outfit than she does, etc. Characters that do not know his true gender will of course use whatever gender he currently is as his gender. Then there is Tatewaki, he associates Ranma as female when in female form to the degree that all evidence otherwise is ignored, truthfully I think that would be fairly common to some extent. A person who sees Ranma most often in female form is likely to view Ranma as a female even if they know about the curse and that Ranma is actually male; particularly if they see Ranma doing things in female form they usually associate as feminine.

Next stylistic thing. Should I use Shampoo, Mousse, and Cologne or should I use Shanpū, Koron, and Mūsu? In many ways it doesn't matter and Shampoo, Mousse, and Cologne are more common (they were the ones VIZ chose to use) but I kind of like Shanpū, Koron, and Mūsu more (though you wouldn't really know it from reading this blog since I tend to use the more common one). I like them more in part because it shows that their names aren't actually hygiene products they just happen to sound like them to someone who speaks English (which was deliberately done by Takahasi).


Anonymous said...

Your biggest problem, as a writer, seems to be yourself. Shut your mind up and simply write. That little critic is merely a nuisance. You need to write without thinking, as you talk in everyday conversation.

I've noticed your lack of contractions. This shows that you're putting to much thought into your writing. Go back and fix your mistakes when it's done, not while your in the piece. This simple technique will save you from yourself and your habit of deleting good material.

Good luck and god speed.

MZephyr said...

I agree with the previous commenter that you write the story (or chapter) first, then go back and clean it up.

As for your various musings over names and accents, it's a personal decision. For myself, I avoid macrons and use names with which the readers are familiar, like Mousse. On the other hand, I do use acute accents in words such as fiancé. In part, this is because I can use é in the HTML and be fairly confident it will be rendered correctly for most browsers (or that FFnet will translate it to the unicode and present it correctly). I do not believe there is a corresponding code for macrons. On the other hand, I don't think I would use the macrons in my stories even if such was available. The only time I can recall using macrons is in those pages of my web site which deal with the Japanese language.

Pronouns for Ranma's two forms - it's a major issue with some people. I've had long discussions about it with some readers. My own decision has been to consistently use male pronouns for Ranma in narration regardless of his current gender, and to base pronouns in dialog on people's knowledge or lack thereof of his curse (or whether the character wants to get in subtle digs). Some readers, however, feel very strongly about matching pronoun gender to Ranma's current gender in narration, and will go so far as to ask you to "fix" it in reviews. There is no perfect solution here, and you should go with whatever makes you more comfortable.

Anonymous said...

You have the same problem I do, you think to much, and worry about what are at this stage unimportant details. Just go with what people are familiar with.

If you try to be "correct" or "different" you will have two problems at least on your hands.

1) Many readers will think you created original characters, and then had them replace Shampoo, Mousse, and Cologne for no reason. That ruins the flow of the story if you have to stop and think about who is who.

2) You may come off as a show off. I have stopped reading fanfics for this very reason. It would be little different from throwing in random Japanese words and or prefixes and suffixes.