(This is something I meant to write about prior to my hiatus.)
A few months ago, when the final trailer for “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald” was released, it was revealed that the mysterious character that actor Claudia Kim would be portraying in the film is Nagini; the (eventual) pet snake and servant of Lord Voldemort. A mixed reaction erupted as a result, with people saying how having the only Asian character in the entire film was cast as someone whose humanity is destroyed overtime, along with all the old stereotypes attached to the role, was poorly done. Others begged to differ.
As someone who believes the former, things were made worse when J.K. Rowling responded to it, by saying how the name Nagini is of Indonesian origin (despite the fact that the character is played by a South Korean woman). In other words, she wasn’t owning up to what was at fault, and for her, this unfortunately isn’t the first time either.
And that’s what brings me to my subject for today; making mistakes when in writing, and obviously I’m not talking about the grammatical kind. I’m talking about when in something in a story wasn’t as well-researched as it could have been, or an element of some sort was improperly used. There are other examples of a similar kind that apply, but basically, you get the just of it.
So what does one do when they realize that they’ve made a mistake? That can be a tricky situation a writer can find themselves in. But when one does fully realize a mistake has been made on their part, it is best that they at least own up to it, to say the very least. It’s not going to be easy, but not saying anything or, in Rowling’s case, not even care to realize why their error is an error is worse.
It’s also wise to consider how to prevent such mistakes from happening in the first place. A more thorough research is a good starting point. Also, fact-checking something you’re not sure about never hurts either. Maybe even get an opinion from somebody who is very knowledgeable in the subject you are writing about. In Rowling’s case, maybe she should have studied the history of the portrayal of Asian women in Western cinema before even thinking about fleshing out Nagini’s backstory.
Above all else, a writer should learn from their mistakes if anything. They should at least learn what they did wrong and know better than to repeat it in the future. Learning is a natural asset in writing anyway, especially in terms of how to improve. This is one way of doing so.
It is at this time that I now want to admit a mistake of my own. For those who’ve read An Absolute Mind, you may have noticed a certain term used when describing or referring to characters of the LGBT community. Since the novel is set in a utopian future, I figured that this term would be a good all-inclusive term for people of that particular community. But that term has historical and specific cultural context to it, and when doing a thorough read of it, I realized that I had used it improperly. While I was originally planning to retract it in a clever way in a future work, I don’t know exactly how long that would be. So I found it better to just be rid of it altogether and replace it with terms that are used by the LGBT community in the present day.
As you can see, this is a mistake that no one pointed out to me. Rather, this is one I figured out on my own. I deeply apologize for misusing the term, and I will work towards doing better in my future writings. So if you have a copy of An Absolute Mind and want a copy with the corrections, by now, you know where to look.
Try to prevent making mistakes in writing if possible, but in the event that you do make one, approach how you respond to it with grace.
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