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Questions For My Story!

LemonWicky

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As it is been pointed out to me, I prolly need to ask specific questions and that will get me a faster response, but I have a ton, so I apologize in advance for my ignorance!
  1. I want my world to have a name that shows it is based off of Japan, but not a direct ripoff. I was thinking 'Nihon no Teikoku' but I don't think this is a correct way to say this. Is this okay or should I name it something different and what do you suggest?
  2. A character -named Hisako- is a spirit who guards an abandoned village deep in haunted woods infested by demons and malicious spirits. In her life, she was a Riftrunner -a part of my story that I may be able to explain later, if need be but I don't consider it important enough to mention for most of these questions- and she was a demon hunting priestess (an onmyōji, I think. I'm prolly wrong). She resides in a naginata and when angered, she transforms into an Onryō but changes back into a sweet, kind spirit. Is this accurate to Japanese folklore/mythology?
  3. The main character, Naraka, is a boy who lives in the village next to the haunted woods. He has red eyes with no pupil or iris, fangs ebony horns, nails, and toenails, and a tail. He's not a demon, but people of the village hate him, even though they let him live near them, on like, the outskirts of the village. They think he's a hanyō. Would they let him live so close to them, even if they think he's evil/bad luck?
  4. Hisako kind've raises Naraka, even though she's a spirit, and he's very much alive, for a number of years. Can this be done in compliance with Japanese folklore?
These are the main questions I have now. If anyone can answer them, I'd be eternally grateful!
 

Glenski

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How old do you want your Japanese helper to be?
 

LemonWicky

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How old do you want your Japanese helper to be?
Any age! If you've lived in Japan your whole or most of your life, I'm fine with it! I'm also fine if you have a major in Japanese culture, history, language, folklore/mythology...
I just want this story to be as accurate as possible, even if it's fantasy. I don't want to half-*** the cultures I use.
 

nice gaijin

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Could you clarify what you mean about wanting to make a world based on Japan but not a ripoff? Your proposed name for the world literally translates to "Empire of Japan," and smacks of Japanese imperialism of the early 20th century.

If you want to make a Japanese-ish world without referring directly to Japan, I recommend not referring to the country at all, and rather finding a suitable name for the village or region.

Also, you might want to do some research on Japanese mythology and demons, if you want to seem like you're adhering to the rules of that world. Otherwise it just comes across as if you're making up whatever you want and slapping Japanese names on things to make it seem exotic to readers who don't know any better.
 
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LemonWicky

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Could you clarify what you mean about wanting to make a world based on Japan but not a ripoff? Your proposed name for the world literally translates to "Empire of Japan," and smacks of Japanese imperialism of the early 20th century.

If you want to make a Japanese-ish world without referring directly to Japan, I recommend not referring to the country at all, and rather finding a suitable name for the village or region.

Also, you might want to do some research on Japanese mythology and demons, if you want to seem like you're adhering to the rules of that world. Otherwise it just comes across as if you're making up whatever you want and slapping Japanese names on things to make it seem exotic to readers who don't know any better.
I meant that I want to pay homage to the culture but I feel like I named it after Japan, people would get angry at me.
Maybe they wouldn't? I mean, it is the exact same culture...
 

nice gaijin

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You aren't paying homage to the culture if you don't understand it. Your setting should be integral to your character development; the culture in which they evolve is just as important as the decisions the characters themselves make. Otherwise, if you're just setting it in Japan and then making up whatever elements you think seem "Japanese enough," it's just appropriation and exotification.

Good authors are first good researchers.
 

LemonWicky

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You aren't paying homage to the culture if you don't understand it. Your setting should be integral to your character development; the culture in which they evolve is just as important as the decisions the characters themselves make. Otherwise, if you're just setting it in Japan and then making up whatever elements you think seem "Japanese enough," it's just appropriation and exotification.

Good authors are first good researchers.
You are right! That's why I'm doing this, because this is like...the absolute bare bones of my story and I have all these ideas, but I'm trying to make sure they're accurate. If they're not, I will change them accordingly!
 
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You can't make an 'accurate' picture of a culture that you don't know much about.

Personally, I think you can go one of two ways: make a fantasy story that takes place in mythical Japan; or make a fantasy story that takes place in your own original world.

Taking place in 'an original world that is like Japan but isn't Japan' is always going to be awkward. I have in fact attended writers panels on this precise topic and this is the very definition of 'cultural appropriation'; that doesn't mean your story might not be popular and read by many people and good in every other respect, but it does mean that the very basis of what you're talking about is what is going to offend people who are sensitive to cultural appropriation.

If you want to set it in mythical Japan, then there's really no substitute for settling down to reading all the folktales and myths that you can get your hands on. I don't really know how much is available in translation.
hukumusume.com is a nice free site full of hundreds of folktales, but unfortunately, the English language side of the site is pretty sparse, only a handful of stories are translated. Hukumusueme fairy tale collection

There's an anime going on now that does straightforward animations of folktales as a whole; you can see it at crunchyroll, although if you don't have a subscription you'll get the low res version and be subjected to commercials. Crunchyroll - Folktales from Japan Full episodes streaming online for free

That's about all I personally know of, but if I was going to write in mythical Japan, I'd be sure to read a bunch of actual books of myths and folktales.

Writing in a mythical setting obviously doesn't have to be 'accurate', it just has to feel right. And it won't feel right if you aren't personally familiar enough with the stories that you can answer most of the questions in your original post.

Language questions are another thing, of course, but if you don't speak any Japanese I'd just not *use* any Japanese in your writing. Folktales in translation don't generally include any words in Japanese (other than place names and the occasional noun to name an animal or object that simply doesn't have an English equivalent), instead the words are all translated into near equivalents.
 

LemonWicky

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Whatever you do, just please try not be this guy.
I am going to try my damnedest not to.
I just want someone who is willing and patient to let me ask questions. I'm trying my hardest not to be a racist or to make my story cultural appropriation.
I'm wanting to major in Japanese Language and Culture, and I am so desperate to learn but I feel like no one is willing to help an Ignorant American to learn.
I just need a straight answer...a simple 'Yes this is going to work and lemme teach you why' or 'No this isn't going to work and lemme teach you why' would be so helpful.
 
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I am going to try my damnedest not to.
I just want someone who is willing and patient to let me ask questions. I'm trying my hardest not to be a racist or to make my story cultural appropriation.
I'm wanting to major in Japanese Language and Culture, and I am so desperate to learn but I feel like no one is willing to help an Ignorant American to learn.
I just need a straight answer...a simple 'Yes this is going to work and lemme teach you why' or 'No this isn't going to work and lemme teach you why' would be so helpful.
At the risk of seeming arrogant, let me quote myself,
I said:
Taking place in 'an original world that is like Japan but isn't Japan' is always going to be awkward. ... this is the very definition of 'cultural appropriation'; ...
 

nice gaijin

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@SomeCallMeChris has provided you with some of the tools and ideas you need in order to create an authentic world based on Japan folklore: consume Japanese folklore so you understand it better. This is in line with what I urged you to do (research), and he broached the subject of cultural appropriation with more grace than I did, with real-world experience hearing from other authors on this subject; it would be foolhardy to ignore his advice.

It sounds like you've just been looking for someone to answer your questions so you can avoid doing the legwork yourself. Why bother writing a piece of Japanese folklore if you aren't willing to read some of it yourself?
 

Mike Cash

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I have found someone who is willing to teach me instead of lecture me.
Thank you anyway, though!
You're posting in public; everybody can read your replies.

You may only be snarky and facetious to one guy who is taking the time to try to help you in a way you don't care for, but the effect is that your juvenile attitude will discourage others from taking you seriously and they will just quietly ignore you rather than try to help.
 

Glenski

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I have helped an author whom I will not name but who didn't know Japanese culture and wanted to put it into her stories. A character she wanted to create would be Japanese, but the story was not set in Japan, so it wasn't hard to do the research for her at my end. I even got credited in the book(s).

At least she knew her limitations, and I honestly don't think you do. No offense. I also don't think you realize what others here are cautioning you to do and avoid.

Your more savvy readers will be your judge.
 

Timelyn

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I am going to try my damnedest not to.
I just want someone who is willing and patient to let me ask questions. I'm trying my hardest not to be a racist or to make my story cultural appropriation.
I'm wanting to major in Japanese Language and Culture, and I am so desperate to learn but I feel like no one is willing to help an Ignorant American to learn.
I just need a straight answer...a simple 'Yes this is going to work and lemme teach you why' or 'No this isn't going to work and lemme teach you why' would be so helpful.
It's like you're asking for full-time teachers of Japanese Language and Culture on the internet for free.
I'm not saying that you should pay to get the answers to your questions, it's just that it feels like you want all of your reaserch done for you on a forum thread.
Could you tell us what have you reaserched already on your own?

I just want this story to be as accurate as possible, even if it's fantasy.
I like to read about the creative procces (good) writers go through for their books and most of the writers that base their stories on particular cultures that are not their own are already major experts and active reaserchers, or at least they are in direct contact with them and they take the time (sometimes several years) to gather as much documentaded information as they possibly can. They do their approach in a very academic way, not by asking a few doubts in a forum ( no matter how good this one may be).

So basically, if you want to base your stories in an existant culture or even if you make one up AND you don't want to act a fool, first you become a major in the corresponding area or work face to face with experts and THEN you write.

If you are not willing to spend a few years of serious reaserch on this, then there is no way to make it as accurate as possible. You can't have a proffesional result in the minimum amount of time and with minumum effort.

Maybe you have already done all of this, but since you really haven't explained where you're starting from I can't tell. Can you tell us a little bit about this?
 

Mike Cash

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Dorothy L'Amour once told the director of a radio series she was headlining, "I can’t sing and I can’t act; it’s up to you guys to make me look good."

While she may not mean it, the OP gives the impression of wanting to churn out something to impress her friends with but wants us to do the behind-the-scenes heavy lifting.

Miss L'Amour was at least acknowledging her dependence on and appreciation for the people who worked in the dark so she could stand in the limelight.
 

JustinIs18

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You're posting in public; everybody can read your replies.

You may only be snarky and facetious to one guy who is taking the time to try to help you in a way you don't care for, but the effect is that your juvenile attitude will discourage others from taking you seriously and they will just quietly ignore you rather than try to help.
One word. AMERICANS!
 

LemonWicky

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It's like you're asking for full-time teachers of Japanese Language and Culture on the internet for free.
I'm not saying that you should pay to get the answers to your questions, it's just that it feels like you want all of your reaserch done for you on a forum thread.
Could you tell us what have you reaserched already on your own?



I like to read about the creative procces (good) writers go through for their books and most of the writers that base their stories on particular cultures that are not their own are already major experts and active reaserchers, or at least they are in direct contact with them and they take the time (sometimes several years) to gather as much documentaded information as they possibly can. They do their approach in a very academic way, not by asking a few doubts in a forum ( no matter how good this one may be).

So basically, if you want to base your stories in an existant culture or even if you make one up AND you don't want to act a fool, first you become a major in the corresponding area or work face to face with experts and THEN you write.

If you are not willing to spend a few years of serious reaserch on this, then there is no way to make it as accurate as possible. You can't have a proffesional result in the minimum amount of time and with minumum effort.

Maybe you have already done all of this, but since you really haven't explained where you're starting from I can't tell. Can you tell us a little bit about this?
I've already studied A LOT about the Japanese legends and folklore. I know most of the creation stories but really, my 'area of expertise' (Read: my insatiable love for foxes and magic) is the kitsune legends.
I would just really appreciate a second opinion of the ideas I have. As I've said before, this is the bare bones, pre-Alpha rough draft of the story. Any flaws or inconsistencies are things I am more than willing to change.
You're posting in public; everybody can read your replies.

You may only be snarky and facetious to one guy who is taking the time to try to help you in a way you don't care for, but the effect is that your juvenile attitude will discourage others from taking you seriously and they will just quietly ignore you rather than try to help.
I realize that I was being extremely childish and I apologize.
Not an excuse, but I have been so desperate for help and every time I asked for it, I was discouraged from writing this story because I would inherently be racist and culturally appropriate this story based on the fact I'm American.
I want to be taught, I want to learn, more than I can do on my own. I am but a simple high school graduate who starts college in three months time.I take nearly everything I read on the internet with a grain of salt, so I am wanting someone who knows the culture, who knows the myths and legends and folklore.
I am BEGGING for a chance to be taught but it's frustrating when all anyone wants to do is lecture me and tell me I'm wrong before I even really began.
I just want these questions answered for the time being. Please help me.
 

Glenski

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So far, what have been your references, that is, your sources of information? I'm talking SPECIFIC books and web sites.
 

Edward T.

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So far, what have been your references, that is, your sources of information? I'm talking SPECIFIC books and web sites.
Here is an article from the United State about a recent college graduate and the research she did on translating Japanese folklore. The Blue Will O’Wisp of Resentment—which she used as the basis of her research for her Fulbright proposal. I believe you might find this helpful. Link below.

Translating Japanese Folklore: Northern Kentucky University, Greater Cincinnati Region
 

Mike Cash

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I am but a simple high school graduate
So am I.
I want my world to have a name that shows it is based off of Japan, but not a direct ripoff. I was thinking 'Nihon no Teikoku' but I don't think this is a correct way to say this. Is this okay or should I name it something different and what do you suggest?
I suggest calling it Japan and not worrying about it.

A character -named Hisako- is a spirit who guards an abandoned village deep in haunted woods infested by demons and malicious spirits. In her life, she was a Riftrunner -a part of my story that I may be able to explain later, if need be but I don't consider it important enough to mention for most of these questions- and she was a demon hunting priestess (an onmyōji, I think. I'm prolly wrong). She resides in a naginata and when angered, she transforms into an Onryō but changes back into a sweet, kind spirit. Is this accurate to Japanese folklore/mythology?
Artistic license. Make it how you want it and don't worry about it.

The main character, Naraka, is a boy who lives in the village next to the haunted woods. He has red eyes with no pupil or iris, fangs ebony horns, nails, and toenails, and a tail. He's not a demon, but people of the village hate him, even though they let him live near them, on like, the outskirts of the village. They think he's a hanyō. Would they let him live so close to them, even if they think he's evil/bad luck?
Same answer as above.

Hisako kind've raises Naraka, even though she's a spirit, and he's very much alive, for a number of years. Can this be done in compliance with Japanese folklore?
Same answer as above.

You're creating something. This isn't something you're doing by assignment or on commission so you're under no obligations regarding content. It's fantasy fiction, where the only real bounds are the ones you place on yourself or what you allow others to place on you by giving a damn what they might think or say. It isn't even like science fiction where you have to stay at least within the recognized laws of physics (as a general thing, anyway). If you're not going to enjoy the total creative freedom that is inherently part of fantasy fiction, you may as well hobble your creativity whole hog and just write owner's manuals for microwave ovens or something. Don't let concern for what naysayers might think of it suck all the joy out of it.

And there's no such word as "kind've"...

There you go. Answers and lecture both.
 
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Mike Cash gave you good advice. Your job with fantasy fiction is to build a believable world. You don't have to make it be true to Japanese culture, so long as it's true and consistent with itself. You don't have to worry about it being accurate to Japan. Be inventive. Create an original, interesting world. Maybe your world could be descended from Japanese culture, changed over time and place to something different, but just as rich.

Also, you may find that by explaining your story (here and elsewhere), instead of writing it, you can talk yourself out of writing it. Any story can sound dumb or trite if you summarize it. Mine certainly do. But just about any story can be great, depending on the treatment by the author. So I make it a practice of never talking about a work in progress. I wait until it's as finished as I can make it before showing it to a few readers I trust.
 
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