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Lem

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I didn't like the way he did his dialogue in italics, and I hated the "song cues," but the basic story is good, and the description and mood are even better. Enjoyable as a short-story, but there's not much of a plot there. But I agree, the guy's got talent.

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In my note to him, I said that he may have trouble with his dialogue if the interactions became more complex.

His reply, by the way, indicated he had 10 chapters outlined, so I hope a serious longer story is on the horizon.

I didn't like the way he did his dialogue in italics, and I hated the "song cues," but the basic story is good, and the description and mood are even better. Enjoyable as a short-story, but there's not much of a plot there. But I agree, the guy's got talent.
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In my note to him, I said that he may have trouble with his dialogue if the interactions became more complex.

His reply, by the way, indicated he had 10 chapters outlined, so I hope a serious longer story is on the horizon.

He changed chapter 1, and added this comment:

A note on this chapter:

A lot of people were having issues reading the first version of this chapter due to the way it was formatted. I didn't realise that so many people were using newer technologies to read internet stories. (One person said that they were using Text-to-Speech software, and the columnar format was goofing things up.)

This is the second revision of the first chapter without the odd formatting. All subsequent chapters will be formatted the same as well. Music cues are gone.

I apologize for taking so long to get to this point. Life gets busy sometimes, and I feel like I am back at a point where I can pick this back up.

Colin :B)

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Going back and looking over this again, I don't like how the author insists on writing in present tense ("he walks over to me and says such-and-such, then together we walk outside..."). But it's definitely caught my attention.

I think if it were told in a more-conventional way, it'd be a stronger story, but the more I read it, the more I like it.

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I love present tense. It changes the feel of a story, adds immediacy, and is funto read because it's unusual.

However, it isn't easy to write in present tense. Every time I've tried, I've had to go back several times to clean it up. Your brain just reverts to past automatically, from force of habit probably, and takes you back to past and you don't even notice. I wonder if anyone can write a lengthy piece in present and not have to go back and correct it before it's ready. I sure haven't been able to.

C

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I just read the four posted chapters and enjoyed them. I occasionally got a little confused as to who was narrating, and what was going on, but I think the overall style is OK.

It's also short on plot. Not a lot happens in 4 chapters, but this is something I always whine about. Still, the characters are appealing, and I really have to applaud the author (apparently in England) for perfectly capturing life on a Southwestern American ranch. Really fine dialog.

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Guest Brandon T.

Just noting what The Pecman said in a post above, about the present tense and conventional style. From what I've read of contemporary fiction these days, it seems conventional to write in both present tense and first person. I--personally--cannot write in either. Scares the pants off me because it feels like my writing would be folded over itself since I already write from inside of a character's head and adding first person to that would feel clunky and redundant. BUT. I digress. Most fiction out there does seem to be told through first person, present tense, or both.

Or maybe you meant something else when you mentioned "conventional." If so, my bad. =D

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From what I've read of contemporary fiction these days, it seems conventional to write in both present tense and first person. I--personally--cannot write in either.

Sure you can. It ain't rocket science.

Read Orson Scott Card's Elements of Writing Fiction - Characters & Viewpoint (Writers Digest Press), or Alicia Rasley's The Power Of Point Of View: Make Your Story Come To Life.

Both will show you examples of how the same story looks written in 1st person, 2nd person, or 3rd person, as well as present tense vs. past tense.

I think there are pros and cons for each one, and some are more appropriate than others. But for the vast majority of fiction, I think 3rd person past works best -- and is the POV most often used in published novels and short stories.

1st person works well if you need to tell a story just from one person's point of view, like an autobiographical remembrance, or you have a situation which works best only when told by looking through one person's eyes. 1st person is also very appropriate for detective stories or mysteries, where you need to carefully restrict the amount of information to which the audience is aware.

Both books cite the importance for authors to avoid jumping back and forth between different characters in 1st person, which I agree with. If you need to that, use 3rd person.

(BTW, I deplore Card as a homophobic jerk, but I still respect him very much as a writer. He's just a lousy human being.)

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(BTW, I deplore Card as a homophobic jerk, but I still respect him very much as a writer. He's just a lousy human being.)

I've got to chime in with my comments and agree with Pecman here: Card is a homophobic, right-wing, card-carrying, religious, nut-job whose recent comments have me yearning for the return of the sedition act, but I digress.

Despite his many failings as a decent human being, Card is still a talented and gifted writer. I've read his Elements of Writing Fiction and How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. Unlike most texts on the subject, they are well written, funny, and very easy to read. They convey a wealth of practical advice and I strongly recommend them both to a beginning writer...

Rick

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I also have to agree with Peckman, but he comes to us with a film background. Well, so do I, but not from a working background, but from a screenwriting background. Only as a non-professional, that is...just writing to see if I'd win a contest. Never happened. He's told me that my flash fiction seemed more like a scene from a movie, and I guess it was.

Anyway, I like third person as a POV in fiction. It gives me a lot of freedom. I really don't like the first person, at least the way it's used today. Writers seem to get too much into a persons head and use that to explain to the reader what's going on or what he wants to say. I prefer to give a reader some respect and allude to something and let him/her figure it out. Isn't that the way life really works? I think it makes for more motivation for the reader to go on...or hate me!

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I really don't like the first person, at least the way it's used today. Writers seem to get too much into a persons head and use that to explain to the reader what's going on or what he wants to say.

I don't agree. I think there are perfectly valid reasons to use 1st person, and I would also point out that some of the greatest books ever written were done in 1st person. To name a few: Moby Dick, To Kill a Mockingbird, Great Expectations,all the Sherlock Holmes stories, etc.

I went back and forth a couple of times on whether to write Pieces of Destiny in 1st or 3rd, but the reason why I ultimately decided on 1st is because I figured that the characters from 1864 were so alien to most readers' experience, it'd be too confusing to express these characters' thoughts. The whole story has to be seen through the lead character's eyes, since he reflects our contemporary point of view. Going back and forth would be too much.

So again: a fish-out-of-water story, an autobiographical tale, or mystery/detective fiction... all of these work fine for 1st person POV. To use the above example, I think the Sherlock Holmes stories would not be nearly as good or as charming if not told by Dr. Watson (or in a few cases, by Holmes himself). The last Holmes story, His Last Bow, was done in 3rd person, and it's not very good.

I do agree that most of the time, 3rd person has many more advantages, and does give writers more freedom. But sometimes, that freedom can be a disadvantage, like when you're trying not to reveal too much information.

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Again, the wise wizard, Pecman, is correct. There has been great writing in the 1st person POV, and where appropriate or needed, I think it's a great way to write.

Maybe I came across as being a little bit over opinionated. I was mouthing an objection to the over use of 1st person as a gimmick, not to put it down as a legitimate way to tell story. The gimmick I'm referring to is the lack of creativity in telling a story. It's too easy to fall into the trap of having the protagonist just narrate in his mind what the story is. Dialog and description need to be used too.

To Kill A Mockingbird is still one of my favorite books, and I've read it at least 6 times since high school.

I've started my second novel, intending it to be told from the POV of my protagonist, hence I was writing in the 1st person. But before I had reached page 12, the story began to complete itself in my head, and I found that my antagonist needed his voice. I went to 3rd person because it became appropriate.

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I went to 3rd person because it became appropriate.

And therein lies the secret. It isn't that third person is better or worse, or first person is less powerful or more accessible. It's what style fits the story you're writing.

Many writers use both methods, fitting their voice to their story. I try to do the same thing. It's simply more appropriate to use one for some stories, another for others. You have to think about what you're trying to say, how it'll best be presented, then go that route. I think it's wrong to say, third person is more powerful, gives your more options and flexibility as an author, so I'm always going to choose that style of writing. You simply should choose what best fits your story.

I have an editor who constantly scolds me when I write in anything but third. He only writes in third, and thinks that's always the best voice for storytelling. I disagree. He can scold all he wants.

C

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By any chance, has anyone ever seen or better yet can copy and paste to this thread, a table of voices and their strengths and weaknesses so that authors might view this?

You know, Rubi, I've never actually seen a table like that. I'm sure there must be one, and it wouldn't be too difficult to develop one. I'm going from memory from the few writing classes that I've taken and some of the books on writing that I've read.

But as you can see from this thread, many people have as many different opinions about the strengths and weaknesses of any one POV. It will eventually come down to whatever you're comfortable with and which one in YOUR mind is appropriate to tell your story.

But there are a few universally accepted thoughts about the strengths and weaknesses of each POV.

Alright. Here's a challenge for all of us. Why don't we write a short description of what we feel about the various forms of POV, what each one is and used for, the strengths and short comings, etc., etc. and then post them. We could then leave this in one of the other forums for others to use as a reference. It would help those of us learning (like definitely me).

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Back to the announced topic of this forum, chapter 19 of Lem was just posted at nifty. It is very good.

I usually skim quickly past sex scenes, because they are mechanical and boring, but the one in chapter 19 is so well written that it was truly erotic. I don't know what made it so; perhaps it was the minimalist approach and the attention to side details. By minimalist, I mean two things: 1) the proportion of story to sex is high, and 2) the anatomical details are fewer, leaving much more to imagination.

There are so very few writers that can do sex scenes well. I know this is a genre in which such scenes are at a premium, but I wish other authors would study stories like Lem. I'm sure that there are others that people here can recommend, and if I had more time, I would name some as well.

UPDATE: Corrected to be Chapter 19.

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I think Camy's references to tense is very important.

POV is only one of the tools to signify the form of the story.

I am posting a short story discussion in flash fiction Camy to illustrate my point rather than clutter up this thread.

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