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Leaves and Lunatics by EleCivil


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I notice EleCivil has joined us. Welcome, bud.

Has anyone noticed Leaves and Lunatics by EleCivil, currently on Nifty? It has been strictly relationship-oriented so far, with an insecure young teen as the central character, who knows his feelings, but is afraid to act on them.

I am not sure if the title might be a song or poem reference. All in all, I kinda like the story.

It's still in progress, with four chapters so far.

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I gotta say, I enjoyed the story, too. My only problem is that there's no real PLOT rearing its head yet, except for the conflict between the two or three characters. I also feel like the writer could've shown us more about WHY and HOW the characters fell in love, rather than just dealing with it in one paragraph, which was basically, "as the summer went on, they grew closer, etc.," which to me is leaving out a lot of story.

But yeah, the story was very refreshing compared to the usual crap I see on Nifty. Another good one that I recommend is The Confusion Sets In, which is here: http://nifty.nisusnet.com/nifty/gay/highsc...fusion-sets-in/.

Like Leaves & Lunatics, though, I miss having a real plot beyond just character exposition and conflict. To me, the story has to be ABOUT something, rather than just a series of episodic encounters. That having been said, both are entertaining and fairly well-written, as this stuff goes.

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Pecman, please be a little more gentle when you have a criticism. The writer has already responded in the thread. I'd hope he'd continue to feel welcome.

First, most writers are new or developing writers.

Second, the plot is there, although it may not move with the lightning-quick edits currently fashionable in the visual media. (That is, after Star Wars, et al.)

And what the heck, it's entertaining and has some thought to it and hasn't beat me over the head with a Big Giant Message yet, nor improbable nor constant sex. I find all that refreshing. Just IMHO.

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Hey, no need to sugarcoat on my account. Rip it apart, crucify it, and leave it for dead on the side of a stetch of highway somewhere if it'll help me improve.

The plot I'm working on can't really start until time moves on more in the story - I'll admit, that was due to bad planning, and was one of the main reasons why I did that one-month time jump. Probably sounds like I'm making excuses...because I am, heh. It's pretty much too late to go back and re-vamp this one, but if/when I write something else, I'll be keeping the timetable in mind.

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Pecman, please be a little more gentle when you have a criticism

Jeez, simmer down! I said I enjoyed reading the story, found it "refreshing," and in fact have recommended that it be added to the BEST OF NIFTY list. (So far, no luck, but I'm continuing to make my case.) I also congratulated the author in Email, which I do only rarely, when I find a story I really think stands out from the pack.

This is about as gentle as I can get. All my criticisms were done in a very even-handed, specific way -- nothing vague, I went right to the heart of where I think the story could be improved. Nothing more, nothing less.

To me, if a novel is four chapters in and I can't figure out what the plot is, there's a problem. Some people get away with this by calling what they do a "character study" or a "serial." But I think the novel form works better when there's an actual structure there, with a beginning, middle and end, and each chapter builds tension and sets up the ultimate climax of the story. There are writers who can write pure character and get away with it, but I think those are rare.

If you think my critiques are too harsh, I'm genuinely sorry. I'll be glad to bow out of any and all further discussions, if you think I'm causing more harm than good. Me personally, I choose my words very carefully; there's no insults intended there, and note that I'm talking only about words, not people.

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Hey, Pecman.

OK, your explanation clarifies some. Plus, I've been more stressed than usual the past week, so I was a little more touchy than I should be or usually am. And hey, if EleCivil's good with it, then who am I to object?

It's tough to know, regarding plot or character, what's too much and what's not enough. If those are four long to medium chapters, then yes, something about the characters and plot needs to be apparent. Not that you'd want to be able to predict it all (far from it) but both need to have some direction even as early in as four chapters. With L&L, the character development is really good, and the plot is quietly building.

I think I tend to like character a bit more or a different range of plot speeds, maybe. To each his own. Plenty room for various opinions.

Hmm. I left off of Confusion Sets In, I'll have to give it another go. (I think my reason for bailing was either circling around or excessive (IMHO) drug use, not sure. I'll look at it again. Could be I'm confusing it with another story at the moment; if so, sorry.)

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Hey, I'm an official AwesomeDuder now. Cool.

I bailed on The Confusion Sets In because of the drug use, too. That's always been a bail point for me, and it's lead to my almost missing out on some really good stories (For example, I almost bailed on Drama Club because of all the smoking).

Anyway, I'm working on chapter 5 right now. I was kind of writer's-blocked for a while there, but after a few night shifts in a deserted facility with nothing else to think about...well, now I know exactly what I want to do with this story. Problem is, I can't use any of my plans yet, because a lot of other stuff has to happen to build up to them, and I know that if I try to rush it, it'll suck. Arg, that's frustrating.

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So, solitude is the father of plot-making?

Woo-hoo, looking forward to chapter 5.

...And if that pic is you, you look a little like a former college roommate from many moons ago... except he was straight. Nice friend, though.

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Hey, I'm an official AwesomeDuder now. Cool.

Welcome. Your story has held my interest but I haven't yet written because I wanted to see where it was going first.....

I bailed on The Confusion Sets In because of the drug use, too. That's always been a bail point for me.

And me. If it's part of the story I might put up with it but in most cases it's superfluous and/or forced. I hate it.

I know that if I try to rush it, it'll suck. Arg, that's frustrating.
But the sign of a good writer :)

Now, in unrelated news I must confess. I read your story and said to myself, "That's clearly got a female author." I even wrote the Dudester and voiced my opinion on same. I apparently owe you an apology? :)



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No apology needed, but nope, I'm not a female. Not the first time I've been mistaken for one based on my writing, though. I've got a bad habit of using a lot of hedges/intensifiers, which I hear is a female trait. I'm working on cutting back on that, though.

Anyway, I'm not making any promises, but with they way things are shaping up, next chapter should be done by the end of the week.

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I've been putting off reading any new stories because it tends to take me away from writing my own. However, tonight I was in the mood to read something new instead of writing, and Leaves and Lunatics got the nod.

I was very impressed! (not that that is very hard, so don't read too much into that :wink: ). As a reader, I think I have to disagree with Pecman. There is sufficient interest in the story that trying to make the plot stronger would run the risk of taking the interest away from the central characters. Not every reader wants a story that "moves".

Probably my only criticism would be that after the strong development of the two lead characters and to a lesser extent Jerry, Andrew and Jill seem very pale in comparison. They seem to be playing a sufficiently major role in the story that developing them further seems imperative.

My opinion only, of course :D


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Heh, don't sweat it, EleCivil. I figured you were a guy. I've had that happen too, on a science fiction board, and seen others misidentified. S'pose it just goes to show there's nothing particularly "male" or "female" about writing. (shrugs)

Blue is male, and happy that way. Apparently, Blue likes the idea so much, his equipment likes, ah, similar equipment. (grin) -- And yay, now I'm mostly OK with that. Not all the way out yet, but working toward it, working through my issues...sorta sneaking up on it.

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Yay! I enjoyed the new chapter, sweet but not syrupy. Several chuckles, too. These characters are really neat. Heheh, ants and the shirtless rain dance...weather in Argentina.... :grin: I'm no good at juggling, sorry. But dang, I'd sure use a cup!

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I found the story on Nifty and liked it, before realizing this was another of the new writers here on AD. I like the story a lot and disagree wholeheartedly with the comments regarding plot. The idea of plot as something exclusively external is, in my opinion, a simplisitc one although this store DOES have external events, it focuses on the internal.

Some of the best writers in the world (Saul Bellow, Anne Tyler, Ray Bradbury, Phil Dick, Faulkner) write that way and possibly more wide reading would make that clear to L&L detractors. In any case, I don't see the story as being strictly internal although, as I say, that would not be a criticism, merely and observation, if it were true. Conflict need not be external and I'm already regretting that I put so much external conflict into DC as its not my first instinct. Its all a learning experience, I just started writing on my birthday this year, late July. Reading, however, I'm a past master at since I've been doing it since I was three.

My favorite line is something like, 'the summer took off like a bottle rocket and before they knew it, it was the fourth of July.' I love the use of language in this story. the elegant riffs of words/sounds and the occasional note of humor. I think this is the most elegantly written thing on AD currently, but that's just my opinion. I also like the way the sex scene was written, is this your first story of this kind? I think I was unduly influenced for the longest time in what vocabulary and style were expected [in DC] by general Nifty stories. I think I'm finally coming up for air and hope that my overall writing improves because of it, though that's late for DC itself.

L&L is lovely, please finish it, so many stories are left undone for whatever reason. Don't rush, don't add externals, don't change anything that your instincts suggest to you, please. I would say, if anything, that chapter 5 was slightly less beautiful and wonder if that was because you were responding to badly aimed criticisms. Please listen to your internal voice, its exceptionally fine. Don't listen to anyone else. Including me, telling you not to listen to....



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I'm pretty happy with L&L. It has its own special spark. Must be those sparklers and the juggling... and the cast, definitely the cast.

Internal and external conflicts -- Suppose we look at real life as a story. (Shaky premise, but let's go with it for a sec.) We'd see that what we do is affected both by what we do (internal conflicts), how we interact with others (both int. and ext.), and by external events that affect us. So, I'd say that, if we want to write a true-to-life story, it is going to be a mix of int. and ext. conflicts. Then there're all those "human versus x" from English lit. classes.

That's my way of saying, go with what seems natural to you to put into the story. The less formula-driven, probably the better. I don't see either L&L or DC as contrived. And personally, I see a good story as derived to a large degree from what the characters do, how they interact. It should make some sense within the story context. Does that mean I think only realistic stories are valid? No, I like all kinds of things. -- But it applies to most stories on Dude's site, such as L&L and DC, because most of them are true-to-life, even if they have sci-fi and fantasy bases or are soap opera serials. :wink:


Use of language, writing style -- I don't see any reason why a "gay story" can't be good literature with an engaging style. "Good" literature, what's that? I just mean that it should be a well-written, enjoyable tale, whether it happens to be about non-straight relationships or not.

Whatever style it is, if it's nicely done, I'm likely to keep reading. If it makes me sit up and think and say, "oh, wow, that's funny / deep / witty / beautifully said / what a heart," I'm for sure going to read it. Variety's great.

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I'm no good at juggling, sorry. But dang, I'd sure use a cup!

That's one of those "hindsight is 20-20" moments, there. You never really expect it to happen until it does, and then all of a sudden time slows down and you watch helplessly as momentum carries it to the one place you were hoping it would avoid. Really clears your mind, though. Zen and the art of groin-clubbery.

I just started writing on my birthday this year, late July.

Hey, another July birthday. Cool. I started right around my birthday this year, too. I had kind of been half-kicking the idea around for a while, then thought "Hey, now that I'm old enough to legally read the story, I might as well start writing it."

I love the use of language in this story. the elegant riffs of words/sounds and the occasional note of humor. I think this is the most elegantly written thing on AD currently, but that's just my opinion. I also like the way the sex scene was written, is this your first story of this kind?

Whoa, what a compliment. Thanks. To answer your question, yeah, I'm a first-timer.

L&L is lovely, please finish it, so many stories are left undone for whatever reason.

I do plan on finishing it - In fact, I've got the last chapter more or less written in my head right now, so it would kill me to not get it all out.

Oh, and while I'm typing stuff, I want to add a major thanks to Underthehoodster, who pointed something out to me earlier regarding the style that I was slipping into. That really helped me a lot, and it'll be especially important in the later chapters.

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Just enjoyed reading chapter five. Lots of humor and witty lines, cute, engaging characters, and a nice little sex scene that seemed just right. Even the parents are cute! Oh, and Cam answering the door in bare feet-you definitely made my day.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've been getting asked about this a lot lately. Nope, it isn't abandoned. I've got a good chunk of the next chapter written. I'd say to keep an eye out around the end of next week. No promises, mind you, I'm stuck working all of Thanksgiving weekend (4 a.m. shifts? You monsters!) so I'll only have a limited amount of time to write.

And, like Blue said, finals are coming up. Of course, I've never been much for studying, and writing is a good excuse to procrastinate a bit more. Don't get me wrong, I'd still procrastinate if I wasn't writing, but then I'd probably feel a bit more guilty about it. At least this way I'll get some productivity out of my...er, slackitude.

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I thoroughly got a kick out of these goofy friends in 6 and 7. I see you've introduced another conflict point. Good job on it and the cliffhanger. Nathan/Clint and Cam are in for some interesting times. -- Try to spend a little more time adding character-revealing bits for each of the friends, although you're doing some already. I'm looking forward to chapter 8.

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