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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 12:28 pm 
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Senior Maiko
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Either way is fine, Katsumari. You can pm me if you want :).

Tachibana-san, thank you! I'm having a lot of fun writing it.

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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 1:01 am 
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Whenever I write stories I get too...I do too much god molding with it...like my making my characters perfect when they should have humanistic faults...


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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2009 2:12 am 
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I won't go into too much detail now, (I don't want to spam the board lol) but I don't think I have enough time to PM you a super large block of text. PM me for specific comments please. But here are some key points that I will elaborate on later if you so desire.

-MUCH MUCH MUCH TOO MUCH. Too much detail. Too many names. Too many lines, words, paragraphs, and too many Japanese terms. Even I, as an Asian person with a knack for languages, had a hard time keeping track of all of the names, all of the strange terms and foreign nuances. Cutting detail, characters, and a lot of Rikako's musing would be more straightforward and yet you can still keep what you want to say.

-Movement. It was lacking. The first chapter of the novel is meant to enrapture and draw the reader in, but the setup of your chapter might repel (Because of the wordiness). There are too many details and not enough character development, introduction, or actual plot action.

-Rikako did not sound like a five year old. That was a very important disparity in my opinion. She sounded much much older. And Rikako 2 (or Yuko) is a very shallow character already. If she is meant to be a main character in the future, there should already be some depth to her so we can grow with both the pro/antagonist.

-Your detail is nice but the overflow makes them more insignificant. Smaller amounts of more intense detail would help.

I tried to be as straightforward as possible. PM me with complaints, comments, etc. if you'd like. I would definitely like to watch this new story become great. :]


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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2009 5:25 am 
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Senior Maiko
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Thanks for the critical critique. I've been waiting for one of those.

I was afraid Rikako would sound old, but at the same time, no one's going to let her act like a five year old because they will already be installing manners into her and increasing her wit so that she can debut around 12 or 13, so I aged her up. At the same time, I've met five year olds that don't sound like five year old children (people tell me I was just the same), so it's still within the realm of possiblity that she would act this way. Also, I wanted both Rikako and Yoko to be shallow, because I think it would be boring if they were both perfect people, or if Rikako was the perfect hero and Yoko the perfect villain. I do have more character development for her later, but it's based entirely on how often the two meet up, and since they would be inclined to avoid each other... well... in the end, I want people's feelings towards Yoko to be a little vague and to be a little mixed.

I can't really cut characters because they all are important in either Rikako's or Yoko's future. She also lives in a large, social community of women, in which she needs to know details about every single person. Because I'm trying to make my story accurate, it seems like I would be making it less so by having Rikako's life dedicated to three or so characters. She's going to associated with numerous people.

I'll try and cut some of it down, but it's not in my writing style to be minimalist. I live for details, and I don't like stories without them, so that's just how my writing style goes. I also think the readers need to know these Japanese terms, but I try and keep defining them over a while so that readers can get used to them. That way, when characters are later reviewing other character's ensembles and what-not, readers can perceive how very fine tuned their fashion sense was and how easy it was to make a social faux-pas.

I'm not sure how I could put more plot action into what is supposed to be a single day. The first chapter was meant to be an introduction, in which more plot can come a little later (like in the third chapter I'm writing now). I also have to consider how each chapter I put out of Rikako will be echoed by Rieko in the future, in which her first chapter needs to be an introduction not only to herself but to Demachiyanagi of the '70s. If I do too much, it will be hard to make Rieko's chapter congruent.

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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2009 12:58 pm 
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I see. Well the sounding old thing I guess has to be such. It's difficult to capture the air of a five year old while writing a novel (as we saw with Mineko Iwasaki's memoir) but it could be possible. I guess my advice is to be cautious about it.

Unfortunately, if you'd like this novel to be read and enjoyed by other people, unless you're targeting only geisha/kitsuke lovers, cutting characters might be the only way to go. OR you can introduce those all of the more minor characters in the future when the most important details (Yuko, Rikako's change, the plum blossom symbolism, the geiko who speaks to Rikako) are established and she is already getting used to the house. It's just that all of these details, important as they might seem, hinder the enjoyment of the reader by bogging them down and making them confuse one girl for another, etc.

There is a difference between being detailed and being unnecessarily intricate. You can create beautiful images and the feeling of length without using so many lines in one paragraph to describe one object or event. The Japanese terms are important but I feel that not EVERY detail must be included in order to keep the effect you want on the reader.

What I meant by shallow is that there seems to be no reason why Yuko is such a brat and her character seems undeveloped, not her personality. It should be hinted why she is so mean to Rikako right off the bat. If she had lived in an okiya for five years longer than Rikako, wouldn't she be even more refined and more so like a maiko than Rikako would? Without all of the rudeness? Does she get special treatment from her mother and the other girls? Is she a brat because she is imitating someone else? Even Yaechiyo had a reason to hate Mineko. So a little explanation as to why Yuko is the way she is will make her a richer character to develop. Also it's not wise to make the protagonist unlikable from the beginning of the story. Perhaps later, you can introduce some of her faults and her reflection of herself, but making her aggressive and equally as mean as Yuko in the beginning makes her unlikable and makes the reader unwilling to follow.

The plot action is there (introduction to the odori, the okiya, etc.), it's just bogged down by the unnecessary detail. I feel that twenty-odd pages of word document is an overly long introduction to the story (I'll estimate that to be around eighty pages of average sized text on an average size leaf of book paper. I also downsized the text size as much as I could when I printed your chapter out to review.)

WHEW. That's a lot. xP I said I wouldn't spam the board but I think I just did.


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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2009 1:23 pm 
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Spamming the board is alright, that's the this topic's point.

Children don't always get along, there wasn't supposed to be too much reasoning behind why they don't like each other right off the bat. The relationship between Rikako and Yoko is actually based on my childhood experiences, in which when I moved to a new school, a girl there who looked a lot like me took an instant disliking to me for no other reason than that. Of course, Rikako makes things worse by being better looking than Yoko, which would just complicate that matter. Now, if this had been their only reason for disliking one another, then they would have eventually gotten over it (which was my personal experience... sort of), but in Chapter 3, a series of mishaps and misunderstandings makes it impossible for them to overcome their distaste for one another, and the relationship becomes even worse. And I do mention in Chapter 3 that Yoko is spoiled, but this isn't something Rikako would have learned first hand on the first day if she was going out of her way to avoid Yoko (who was also doing vice versa).

I'm going to try and cut detail, but I just feel that some of it can't be cut, or I wouldn't like it if it was cut. Besides, when I convert my story into reading mode, which copies a regular sized book, it's still a decent size, nowhere near eighty pages.

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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2009 6:59 pm 
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Foyu-san, your writing is great! personally i love the details, they help me understand just how everything looked, and the kimono sounded just wow... i can't wait for chapter 3.

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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2009 8:02 pm 
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However a completely irrational hatred that occurs that suddenly is not believable either. At least elaborate more on the why, even just a sentence that succinctly summarizes the intimidation that Yoko feels by the threat of a prettier version of her.

It is also possible to figure out that Yoko is spoiled on the first day. If the other maiko and geiko give to Yoko's desires or tolerate her tantrums, it would be clear to the reader that she is spoiled. One does not always have to spoon feed the reader the details. In fact, it is more enjoyable for the intelligent reader to imagine the kimono and and the surroundings. To guide the reader in imagining the world you are creating, lay down broad roads, not railroad tracks.

Detail can ALWAYS be cut. It's a lesson that I learned the hard way. My favorite details were actually cut to enhance the rhythmic effect of my paragraphs from one of the short stories I was writing. But it's not like I lost it forever; I found another place in the story where it was perfectly suited and worked even better. You're not sacrificing anything by cutting detail. You're gaining so much more, actually.

I also have another note. It feels like most of the women in the okiya all look and sound the same (I think there were around four women that had nearly the same facial description). Yes, they're Asian people in a homogenous society and are difficult to distinguish from one another, but a striking detail about each one will make them more memorable and therefore, easier to keep track of. Then there's also the possibility of cutting characters to keep things on track.


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PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2009 7:28 am 
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It's not irrational. Yoko meets Rikako to see that not only does she look like her, she looks even better than her and has the same name to boot. That would cause a lot of little girls to become insecure, especially if they live in a world where beauty matters so much. I put sentences in there that explained that, but I guess I need more details.

Yoko isn't the type of girl to have a tantrum everyday, she's the type to sulk in her room and devise secretive plans. Being five, she's just not very good at the latter. That will change when she gets older. If she was an outgoing girl who was willing to so vocalize her distastes, then her first interaction with Rikako would have to be written differently, and that would change their entire relationship. Besides, I have her acting out a little in later chapters.

Most readers will not know what the surroundings or kimono would look like in a basic sense, so giving broad details will leave a lot of readers clueless. Giving distinct details will help them imagine a world they aren't even remotely familiar with. After all, the vast majority of American readers don't know what an okiya or ochaya looks like, and most of them can't even tell the difference between hanfu and kimono. Giving distinct details will help them more than vague hints. Besides, I LIKE details.

Anyway, I'm cutting a few characters, but that changes interactions I had planned in the future, so I might get stalled out later trying to think of new things.

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PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2009 6:22 pm 
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It sounded irrational and I required further explanation to understand so perhaps some edits will be helpful.

Yoko is already very conscious about the new threat in her home and is acting out against it. But WHY is she like that? She's just testy? Or has she some sort of past (abuse? confusion about family roles? living without a father or male influence?) that might remotely explain why she is the way she is? It'd be good to hint at that to set her character from the beginning and then build her up to become a really great antagonist in the future.

Liking details does not always mean that they'll help your story. Yes, most readers will not know what a kimono looks like or a what hanfu even is. Ochaya and okiya will also be hard to imagine, as well as hard to say. But forcing them into your perspective, overloading them with so much detail that they'll be trapped in the world rather than living in it, is not enjoyable. Like I said, spoonfeeding makes reading pointless. Readers might as well turn off their imaginations and turn on the television.

Introducing a foreign idea like a kimono or an okiya requires detail in the beginning, yes. But describing every other kimono in the story with painful detail, one that doesn't have a significant impact on the rest of the story or on Rikako's character, makes it tiresome if they must read about every single seam and color. Let the reader have some breathing space and the unnecessary details at a minimum.

And remember, I'm not advising that you cut everything out out. Keep the essential details and then make them beautiful. Your style is gentle and flowy, like kimono and the fragile karyukai, so you don't need an exaggerated amount of description to maintain that effect on the readers. Your writing style, your diction, your choice of rhythms will also help them imagine the world without coercion.


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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 1:31 pm 
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Here's the link to revised Chapters 1 and 2.

Rikako would only be able to pick up on so much of Yoko's reasonings, though. Besides, the problems Yoko and Rikako have in chapter two could have been resolved over time if miscommunications didn't occur later that completely tarnish their relationship. I don't want Yoko to essentially be an evil person, nor do I want Rikako to essentially be a great person. I want them both to just be regular people who don't like each other (with one, unfortunately, having greater power over the other). So, Yoko acts the way she does originally for shallow, childish reasons that become a deeper hatred later on, and vice versa with Rikako. I was hoping that people would be able to see parallels in their own lives.

While I can understand not explaining every kimono ensemble, I would be very unhappy if I didn't go into detail on the ensembles I do explain. Just saying 'She wore a blue kimono to a party' doesn't really inspire me personally or play into the background. The point of their ensembles is that they are perfectly attuned to the seasons in every detail, down to the design woven into the damask silk. I feel like it would cheapen the story if I didn't explain how much detail was put into a geiko's ensemble and how it was attuned to each particular season, because it takes away from the thinking process of the geiko's world. It also introduces concepts of detailed seasonality to readers new to Japanese aesthetics.

I think the fact that it would hard for readers to imagine ochaya and okiya would give me more reason to explain what they look like instead of leaving a reader to their own devices. I've read plenty of fanfiction set in old Japan in which the writer who is unfamiliar with Japanese aesthetics has their characters living in stone castles, sleeping on beds, and eating with forks. To leave a reader unfamiliar with Japanese aesthetics to their own devices leads them in the wrong direction entirely.

Edit- Link removed

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Last edited by Fuyouhime on Wed May 13, 2009 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 1:45 am 
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They are not going to be perfect foils, I understand. That'd be Shakespearean and totally boring. But there is a difference between making the protagonist realistic and making him/her unappealing. I'm going to use the common example of the two characters Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter series (I hope you read it or else I'm just blabbing lol). Harry Potter is likable and heroic. He has many characteristics of being the protagonist and sometimes, (especially in the beginning) it seems like he could do no wrong and go unpunished for any of his actions. But he was not at all a perfect person. He was petty, jealous, full of himself, etc. However, we saw those aspects of his personality develop over the course of the series. They did not jump out at us from the beginning, or else you wouldn't want to read further. Even Harry Potter wouldn't be able to pull it off. Draco Malfoy was a foil for Harry Potter in the beginning, that much is obvious. We started to blur the lines in the end of the series, and then we started to realize he was human with real conflicts and self-doubt. That made him more likable.

So that's an example of two imperfect characters, imperfect people, that still keep their roles as protagonist and the antagonist. Hopefully, you read the series so that my example is more meaningful xP

You can use that line "She wore a blue kimono to a party" and make it beautiful without creating an extravaganza. Once again, less can be more. But you feel that you absolutely need to describe it--okay. Let's go back to the blue kimono. Say that this one blue kimono that was at that party inspired Rikako to choose only the most perfect kimono to wear to her ozashiki, and then somehow that made her the toast of her hanamachi, the most fashionable girl around. Write a giant paragraph of detail about one geiko's kimono. Heck, write three. It's alright then, because that kimono is extremely significant to Rikako's character development and the future of the storyline. Mention the seasonality, intricacies of every color, seam, print, fold. No one is going to criticize you for that--because it's important to the story! But the extended detail of odori kimono or of the daily hikizuri of a maiko, is unnecessary unless they have an important role in character development or storyline.

Extended detail is used for emphasis. An overgrowth of it is just plain tiring.

The seasonality is not an issue. Give a more verbose explanation the first time you mention seasonality, then hint at it again whenever you deem it necessary to describe another kimono. Something as simple as "Sakura petals were floating away from the black limbs of the pathway trees. But they could not compare to the grace of the falling sakura motif that blew across the train of Takamaru's cerulean susohiki" would be enough to keep it fresh in the reader's mind that seasonal motifs were incredibly important to kimono and kanzashi.

I did not say to cut detail from describing a completely foreign concept. In fact, I said that it actually would require detail to make it visual and understandable. But okiya and ochaya don't change so one instance of detail would probably enough to help the reader understand the surroundings. What I am saying is when you have set the reader on the pathway (they have images of kimono and okiya in his/her mind at the beginning), don't confine them a cramped track (like what happens when excessive details are used for too many things).

God I'm tired. I have an AP test tomorrow and a whole short story to write Dx. Hopefully this makes sense.


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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 3:06 am 
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You can use that line "She wore a blue kimono to a party" and make it beautiful without creating an extravaganza. Once again, less can be more. But you feel that you absolutely need to describe it--okay. Let's go back to the blue kimono. Say that this one blue kimono that was at that party inspired Rikako to choose only the most perfect kimono to wear to her ozashiki, and then somehow that made her the toast of her hanamachi, the most fashionable girl around. Write a giant paragraph of detail about one geiko's kimono. Heck, write three. It's alright then, because that kimono is extremely significant to Rikako's character development and the future of the storyline. Mention the seasonality, intricacies of every color, seam, print, fold. No one is going to criticize you for that--because it's important to the story! But the extended detail of odori kimono or of the daily hikizuri of a maiko, is unnecessary unless they have an important role in character development or storyline

I would like to point out that in Mineko iwasaki's autobiography that she described fully a great number of the kimono that she wore throughout her career.


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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 3:11 am 
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They did not overwhelm her story and make it unreadable. They accented whatever she was speaking about. I read it many months ago but I do not remember being so oppressed by the description of kimono. I also would like to say that I don't think Mineko Iwasaki's memoir was anything of substantial literary quality and was more like a log of her daily activities that trivialized her incredibly rich and different life.


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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 3:37 am 
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Katsumari wrote:
Something as simple as "Sakura petals were floating away from the black limbs of the pathway trees. But they could not compare to the grace of the falling sakura motif that blew across the train of Takamaru's cerulean susohiki" would be enough to keep it fresh in the reader's mind that seasonal motifs were incredibly important to kimono and kanzashi.


Personally, I would find writing just a line or two about sakura would be something expected, and not something that inspirational to me. It doesn't show how finely tuned to the seasons geisha were, in which a single kimono, worth thousands of dollars, could only be worn for two weeks out of the whole year, and probably only worn once that entire time. Besides, the idea was that humans and human creations couldn't compare to the beauty of nature, so they didn't try to fight for supremacy but tried to integrate themselves into nature. Fighting for supremacy in beauty was more of western concept. I want to introduce new concepts of thinking about seasonality and nature, and a few lines at the beginning of a chapter don't really cut it for me, personally. Besides, I've been having people who aren't aware of Japanese culture and the geisha world read my chapters and they really appreciate the details I've given them. I think these details would be tedious to someone who was intimately aware of geisha culture and Japanese culture, but to someone who is new to all of this, a lot of detail is neccessary. Besides, I didn't say I would reteach seasonality over and over again, just that I would give mention to new seasonal motifs and their messages and meanings when the current season changes... which in Japanese culture, means from early spring to mid spring to late spring etc. etc.

Besides, if Rikako was to give a casual mention of what someone was wearing, she wouldn't say 'She wore a blue kimono to the party' unless that person wore an iromuji, and even then, she would say what the figured silk showed or how the obi complimented it because she'll have been trained over her life to notice every detail in an ensemble. Even in a casual mention, Rikako would be inclined to go into detail on what a person wore. Clothing is one of the main focuses of her whole life, she could never devote a mere sentence to it, and I wouldn't want to do that.

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