Saying What You Want to Say


I must admit that when I first wrote a book and first asked a friend (one of my teachers) to look over it and edit it for me, I was really surprised at what feedback I received. The majority of problems were in what the text either left out or what I didn’t clarify quite well. Naturally, being a kid with an overactive imagination, everything seemed there in my head, and I needed no clarification because I knew everything about the world, setting, characters, and plot inside-out and backwards. But that doesn’t mean the reader knows, as well.

Over this cold and long winter, I had the privilege to take a break and relax at home for basically the entire season. During this time, I could finally catch up on some anime I wanted to see. One of those such anime was Glasslip, a surreal and everyday story that seems intriguing on the surface but that fails at exactly the topic of this post: it tried too hard to be prophetic that it had no idea what it was saying, nor did it convey any sort of cohesive idea. I mean, sure, it was fun to ride along with the anime and take a peek into the characters’ everyday lives as they mulled over the future and their relationships with themselves, but the themes made about as much sense as the title, and there was never any slight confirmation that all the watchers’ comments below the video speculating on what kind of message the anime is trying too hard to portray was even there, let alone with answers or clues intentionally sprinkled in.

What was the deal with the snowglobe metaphor? What happened after the seemingly abrupt ending? These questions and many more cannot be answered completely because there were no clues or ground on which to base them that were included within the realm of the anime–which is the sole final say about whether one’s interpretation and theory is true. And whether you are one of those people that say “Well, it’s ‘abstract,’ so you just make it what you want” or “Maybe it is meant to be that way,” I just have to say one thing. The whole reason fanfictions and speculations exist is because the anime or narrative or whatever it is has a very good idea of what it is. Every book or movie or animation has to first know what it is, what sort of vibe it portrays, what kinds of ideas fall into its belief system and personality. From there, hints and open-ended ideas are taken in by the fans because, most often, there were clues along the way that pointed clearly to it following one path or another–this is the path or “alternate story” that the fanfiction writer attempts to create. In Glasslip, in order to write a fanfiction, you’d literally have to just stop and rewrite the whole thing as though you were an editor. And that’s saying something.

So, how does one go about making sure that the novel’s or script’s ideas are clearly conveyed or, at the very least, hinted in the narrative? Simple. Have others read it! After you get used to the idea of how simple people, educated people (like your Lit professor), or a different mix of people interpret the book, you will be able to go through the story yourself and be able to recognize things that may throw off or confuse readers. Some people say the simplest way is to “over-describe,” but I am here to tell you that is not the best way to go about it. Too much description may make it worse and will most likely narrow down the possibilities (unless you want readers to see this particular thing in only one possible way). Like I said, the best way really is to ask others to read it and have them ask you any questions freely as they read. If they are simple questions like “Where are we, again?” or “Who is talking here?” then that is a simple fix. If it is more complex like “Where did this come from? That doesn’t seem in character for this person,” or “I thought the theme was about unity; why are they supporting disharmony here?” then this is the time for you to evaluate the book, its themes, and characters quite well to determine what you are trying to convey first and then how properly to relay that in scenes, dialog, narration, or symbols. It is a skill that gets better with practice.

Glasslip is a 12-episode anime, and most 12-episode anime are packed with ideas and events. This anime was very loose with only vague ideas. If you are curious on what not to do or how to confuse readers, I suggest you watch a few episodes (preferably the whole thing, though that’s a little silly) going into the story with the expectation that you will find out, in the end, about these five things [disclaimer: you don’t, but this is part of the fun in practicing what you could add to the scenes or dialog to present these answers or to include these scenes. So, keep in mind that there may not be answers to these questions]

1- Who Johnathan the chicken is…or basically what the chickens themselves represent
2- The deal with the snow inside the schoolyard (someone said it could be a snowglobe metaphor, but that’s anyone’s guess) and how it relates to the themes presented
3- What the fragments of the future were trying to predict (metaphorically) instead of what they actually showed or what Touko thought they were.
4- What the “persona switch” episode (epi 11) meant (besides her sympathizing with “David”)
5- The overall theme of the anime (and don’t say “the future is a mystery”) [as it ties in with the sub-themes]
Bonus: Where the whole philosophical and artistic angle (with the references in episode one [concerning the chickens and the school]) went after that conversation ended.

I’d tell you my thoughts, but that’s for another day, I suppose. Really, these could be anyone’s guess, and there would be no teacher’s guide to compare it to, for there is nothing in the anime that says each thing is one way or another!

In the end, practice looking for ideas and consistency in books or animation you like. Try using that perspective in your writing to make for a better dialog with the reader. I hope, in a small way, I was able to convey properly what I was trying to say in this post. It is quite a difficult topic! When in doubt, pretend you are in a classroom and there is one student out of the 15 that doesn’t get the concept–work around that; try to explain it in a different way, maybe in a symbol or in a line of dialog. Just don’t be too straightforward like the bane of the obvious “Well, duh! The chickens represent the friends, silly!” she yelled out with a beaming smile. Be more subtle like, “I guess you guys are my new friends now, huh?” she muttered with a simper, picking at the ground with a fallen stick. “Huh. Strange. There are five of you, too…One for each of my friends. Well, I guess it all works out then.”

————————————–
Bonus:

To watch Glasslip (if you are terminally bored)
http://www.crunchyroll.com/glasslip

It is only in Japanese, but thankfully, there are English subtitles included. That barely helps in your understanding, though.

This year, I plan to finish and publish at least 2 (if not 3) novels and at least 2 kids’ books. So please look forward to that. They will all have the usual prices (except maybe a certain book which I cannot stand for some reason): 2.95 for main novels and 0.99 for books!

I’m sorry I haven’t posted something on here for the longest time. The weekly ramblings may be more sporadic, but I want to write more posts on topics like this (more writing tips and things), so please be patient. Any comments or critiques or things you’d like to see in the future? Feel free to leave a comment!

My current stories and books for sale! 2 main novels are present!
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ClaireKatsionCRK

For all those inquisitive minds, I wrote this post while listening to the Pokemon Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby soundtrack. Gotta love those songs.

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