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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Know Why in Your Writing

My boyfriend started reading Evergreen last night and messaged me asking why the setting was called the Middle Kingdom. The question caught me off guard because it had been so long since I'd thought of why. But I did know the answer, luckily. I would have been quite disappointed in myself if I hadn't.

For those of you who hadn't caught on, Evergreen is set in an alternative universe which is heavily based on eastern Asian cultures, particularly Chinese and Japanese. My mum was always a huge fan of foreign movies, and so as a child I watched many subtitled movies on the SBS with her. In many of the Chinese movies, China was referred to as the Middle Kingdom.

In 2009, the year I began writing Evergreen, I left Australia for the first time in my life and went to China for 10 days. I didn't get to see anything beyond Shanghai, no thanks to a certain swine-flu pandemic and the infected boy who sat next to me on the plane over. But just the fact that I was there, in a place that my imaginary world was inspired by, was enough to keep me going. I will go back to China one day and see all of the things I missed out on. We were supposed to go to Xian and Beijing before we came home.

Photo taken from observation deck (94th floor?) of the Shanghai World Financial Center.


This morning when I opened my laptop, I clicked into Google and decided to find some wiki-proof that China has been known as the Middle Kingdom. I was surprised to find that Egypt and India had also adopted similar ideas as countries. But here is the article I found about China which explained the situation best.

Moral of the story: Make sure you know your own reasons behind putting something in your writing. I'm glad I did.

- Bonnee.

16 comments:

  1. Didn't know about Egypt and India, but it's pretty common these days to refer to China as Middle Kingdom. Great picture of Shanghai. Ask you boyfriend to ask many questions about your Evergreen, like why this and why that. By the way, Amy Kaufman, the author relatively close to you in Melbourne announced a big giveaway of books. Her co-auhtored book, These Broken Stars, is coming out August 1 and is supposed to do well.
    http://amiekaufman.com
    She might gives you comments on the first pages of Evergreen.

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    1. I think getting people to ask me questions about Evergreen is a great way to see how well I know my own story.

      I remember you telling me about Amy, thanks, I'll go check her blog out again. I am following her but I haven't checked into her website for a while :/

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  2. (= Good point. If you don't know--your reader probably won't either. (=

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  3. I know what you mean, you get to know your novel so well that when somebody asks you a question about details, it can take you off guard. I know it's happened to me! But it's great that you could backtrack your reasoning, and place why exactly you used the Middle Kingdom as your setting. Everything should have a reason after all!

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    1. I'm glad to hear that I am not the only one it's happened to! It might not be essential knowledge for a reader, but for those who care to ask, it adds another layer of depth to the story, I feel, when the author is able to give them reasoning for something like this, other than "because I'm the author and I said so."

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  4. Cool, a pagoda-style Empire State Building!

    It is good to know why you do things in your books. You just have to know which of those things the reader needs to know, and which they don't. It's funny what different people pick up on. I would probably read Evergreen and not really be bothered at all by the name Middle Kingdom. I might think, 'I wonder why it's called that?' but not be bothered enough to ask.

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    1. I'm assuming that most people will not be bothered by the name of the Middle Kingdom. It's a place in my book, and that's the only thing they NEED to know. But for those who wonder why, and go out of their way to ask, yes, I have an answer. :) As I said in my reply to Fiona's comment, this information might add another layer of depth to the story for those who care to ask.

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  5. Cool!! Great idea to use in your book! Yeah, its funny how countries think of themselves as the only, or best people. Like the American tribes calling themselves "The People" as well as some tribes in the Congo. Even the word "Ukraine" means "The country" in old Ukrainian lingo!!

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    1. Those are some interesting fun-facts! :) I didn't know about the American tribes or the Congo tribes or the Ukraine. I guess way back then, there was just no knowing of life other than what was close to you. I guess it made sense to them up until they realized how small they were and how large the rest of the world was!

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  6. Hey! I've given you an award from over at my blog! :)

    http://www.lifeisgood-forever21.blogspot.com/2012/07/fabulous-blog-ribbon-award.html

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  7. Excellent advice. I am sure to know the answer to why in all my writing. It's an important habit to develop, especially for interviews.

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    1. You're absolutely right, though I can't say I was thinking that far ahead just yet. :)

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  8. Great post, I also took some pics in same place in 2010:)

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    1. Thanks, oh I wish I could go back there now!

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