1. DvnMrtn
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    DvnMrtn Contributing Member

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    Context & Audience

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by DvnMrtn, Feb 16, 2010.

    I started writing a short story for the short story competition and have decided that this will turn into a much larger project for me. Originally I wanted to challenge myself by writing something that I normally wouldn't write: A war story, from a female point of view, a romance.

    My real question though is in regards to Context & Audience. I want this to be set in WWII. It's the budding romance between a German woman who was dragged into the war because of her special skills and an English POW. I have a whole wack of conflicts plotted and planned and I'm really enjoying how it's turning out so far. But, how do I make something that took place seventy years ago relevant to a modern audience?

    This sounds easy enough. For example: The war happened. Yes it's interesting, yes it's history, but being anything more than a major element that drives the story forward I think is a bad idea. Even the theme of gender roles--how she is a female in the military--I don't think I should overly stress because people in contemporary society are becoming quite accustomed to mixed gender roles. It's not really an issue.

    I have a story in my head. I have characters, a plot, and an interesting set of conflicts. But I am having one hell of a time thinking of themes to stress that relate to a modern audience. Many professors of mine have stressed how important relating themes to modern audiences are and how quickly relevance and context can change. I'm having problems with this. Any input would be appreciated.
     
  2. DvnMrtn
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    DvnMrtn Contributing Member

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    Also, I would have posted some of my plot / story outline here but I am not sure if that is allowed in the 'General Writing' section. But I am unsure where else this thread belongs.
     
  3. DvnMrtn
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    DvnMrtn Contributing Member

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    I think by writing this I was able to answer my own question.

    Conflict is what makes a story interesting. Characters are what drive the story forward, giving it an emotional and three-dimensional feel, while at the same time relating the story to the audience. Theme is what makes fiction matter.

    What I need to do is figure out why this matters, what is important to me, to others, and to work that into the story itself. My problem is I never stopped long enough to figure out what I think is important, I just expected it to somehow appear in my mind.

    Still, any ideas would be appreciated. Where do you guys get inspiration for your themes?
     
  4. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    You need to research A LOT. When I read your OP, these things came to mind, just for starters:

    I wanted to challenge myself by writing something that I normally wouldn't write: A war story, from a female point of view, a romance.

    - So, two challenges, really. Maybe you should concentrate on one challenge at a time? It isn’t easy for a man to write an in-depth romance with a female as the main protagonist.
    Also, this is a German woman--maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think you are German. So, challenge number three.

    My real question though is in regards to Context
    - You will need to research WWII

    & Audience.
    - Yes, what readership/age group? Women over the age of 50 read romances a lot, and some of them know/remember a lot about WWII

    I have a whole wack of conflicts plotted and planned
    - You’ll have to decide if this mainly about the war, with a romance going on, or a romance with the war as a backdrop IMO

    how do I make something that took place seventy years ago relevant to a modern audience?
    - a REALLY strange question. You aren’t writing a history book, I assume. You are writing about war and romance, and these themes are TIMELESS.

    The war happened. Yes it's interesting, yes it's history, but being anything more than a major element that drives the story forward I think is a bad idea.
    - GAAAAAH! Stop saying ‘it’s history’! It still affects people now! History never dies! Don’t use the war idea if you are going to be so lukewarm about it. Get up some passion for your subject, even if it’s just background.

    Even the theme of gender roles--how she is a female in the military
    - ‘Females’ played a huge part in ‘the military’ (in Europe we would say: ‘The armed forces’). They were test pilots, drivers, logistics personnel, wireless operators and clerical workers as well as serving under arms (although they were involved less in actual combat). All of these jobs gave them a military ranking up to officer standing. They also worked in factories.
    However, I know that in SOME parts of Germany the women were encouraged to keep the home fires burning--Germans were, and are pretty conservative about women working in anything compared to the rest of Europe. So, what type of family and area of Germany does she come from?


    People in contemporary society are becoming quite accustomed to mixed gender roles. It's not really an issue.
    - Spoken just like a man. Remember, you aren’t writing about contemporary society. You are writing about the 1940s with a modern perspective, and from female POV to boot. For women who wanted to accomplish something outside society norms, and there were plenty of them, there were some obstacles, although I think you’ll find that many European women faced fewer difficulties in this respect than Americans, particularly during the war years. After all, the war was all around them and they were being bombed to hell and starving.
     
  5. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is if you want historical accuracy, unless you make her a nurse. In general, the only women in the military were nurses until recently. I'm not sure when women were accepted in other jobs.
     
  6. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    A lot of individuals like historic fiction, so, if done well, the audience is there. I would read it, if it wasn't too mushy.
     
  7. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is absolutely not true for the UK, where women have been in the armed forces since before WWI. My aunt was a WRN officer (pronounced 'wren': women's royal navy) and she was sent to what was then Ceylon toward the end of WWII. There are old established regiments in France that accept women, also.

    BUT as I said, I'm not sure if it was normal in Germany for women to serve in the forces. Probably women were more restricted to nursing etc, as Rei says.
     
  8. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    That would be a part of the romance market. If you want it to be historical fiction, then you need to do a lot of research. I once read a similar story, published in some fancy new Highland magazine that quickly went broke. It was a plot between three soldiers of the sides involved in the conflict - Germany, France, and England. That's probably the most obvious mistake I've seen in a book, and I threw it out of the window.

    And don't make it into a romance with surprisingly modern-thinking people, either. You wouldn't list England as a major side in WWI, so why have women in the 1940s going to the pub with their friends when their husband is cooking dinner?
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you don't!

    all you must do is make the STORY interesting and engaging enough for people to want to read it...

    next to nobody who writes successful historical fiction cares about making the historical event 'relevant' to the readers... they just concentrate on telling good stories that are set in whatever period of history they're hooked on, or feel is intriguing enough to attract the book-buyers/readers...

    but you seem to have come to that conclusion on your own, haven't you?

    as for you question on where inspiration comes from, for me, the answer is everywhere and anywhere... all i see/hear/read about/experience and even dream!
     

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