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Tanuki Racoon

Days of Silence

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I must say that I'm much more disturbed by Pecman's insistence that the story is badly flawed, due to that one premise, rather than by the premise itself.

Not badly flawed -- just that it bothers me to the point where I can't buy the premise. Strictly my opinion.

Guess what. Almost every story has a contrivance of some kind, and some are more plausible than others, TO BOTH READER AND WRITER.

I'm very much aware of that. But I think it's important to answer the reader's objections so that the story remains plausible. As one example, I wrote a story (Jagged Angel) that partially involved a high school student blackmailed over his homosexuality. I had to create several scenes to show why he put up with the blackmail, rather than just come out. A lot of that effort was propping up the plot contrivance so that it worked, and I think I pulled it off.

Just because you had a lovely life in which nobody ever acted this way, doesn't mean that it hasn't happened to others, or is about to happen to others...

Again: Two best friends, 12 years old, living 50 feet apart, not even speaking and avoiding looking at each other for four years. It's the living 50 feet apart that makes it impossible for me to believe.

And once more: if the author had just put in one scene where they had a huge fight, that might have made the situation credible. As written, it doesn't work for me.

Finally: I'm not saying two kids (or adults, or family members, or anybody) would never not speak to each other. Of course, it happens all the time. But there'd have to be a big reason not to ever speak, especially when two people live next door to each other and have known each other for many years. It's not satisfying as a story point to me, and since the entire plot hangs on this one incident, it's a crucial one.

I know that life can go in bizarre directions sometimes, often without explanation or motive. But I think fiction has to make more sense than life. For example, people die in car wrecks all the time; I just wrote an obituary for a friend at work who died only three weeks ago. But if you wrote a novel where one of the lead characters suddenly got hit by a car, without any build-up or foreshadowing in the plot, it would be terribly unsatisfying. There's a way to do it to maximize the drama and make it work logically.

"Internal logic" is very high on my list of the things a novel or short story must have in order to make sense. In this case, I think the story needs a better explanation of how and why the two boys didn't speak to each other for four years. I get that the "kisser" was terribly embarrassed, and the "kissee" was confused; the author just needs to flesh it out more.

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Yes, sure enough, there's the trump card again: Jagged Angel.

How many times have we seen this play out before?

Pecman disparages yet another story, and yet another fine author's work, in favor of his own.

Bravo, Pecman, bravo.

If you don't like a story, fine. If you don't find plot points or character traits believable, and wish to argue them, alright. Don't belabor it by repetition, when others counter. If you have real points, then you don't need to repeat. But PLEASE, don't keep bringing up your own story as an example, pro or con.

Why do you like to push or belittle other people's work so much?

That's just distasteful, and uncalled for.

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Blue, I'm sorry you feel that way, but that's not my intent. If I see a problem in a story -- whether it's written by an amateur or a pro, or whether it's a bit of Net fiction or a TV show or anything else -- it doesn't make a difference to me. I'm not trying to insult anybody, nor am I trying to promote myself.

My only point in bringing up my own story was to admit that all writers are confronted by moments in their stories where you hit a plot point where you say, "jesus, this is really contrived. What can I do to make this more believable?" It's a huge struggle to get this kind of thing right, and I'm very sympathetic to any writer who encounters it.

The point I raised earlier -- that many movies & TV shows have their entire plots hinge on two or more characters who won't have a simple conversation with each other -- captures the problem fairly well. Granted, sometimes you can use this gimmick and make great comedy or even art out of it; Seinfeld is a classic example of a show that did this every single week and got away with it beautifully.

But it's a very, very hard thing to pull off a contrivance like this convincingly. I think it's important for a writer to anticipate the readers' questions, so when they say, "hey -- why didn't the character do such-and-such," you have an answer within the story.

This story didn't do that for me. Not the end of the world, and I again say, it's just my opinion.

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First my disclaimer:

Contrary to my ego, I am not the best writer here at AD or in the world at large or small. I can not touch a candle to most here as to knowledge of proper grammatical structure. When you guys were discussing the story written in 2nd person I had nary a clue what that was. I do now. The does and don'ts of things I've read in posts here read, at times, as a fundementalists version of how to be a perfect christian. What I find somewhat humorous and in correlation with my fundementalists analogy, much as they, the fundementalist, can somehow always justify their spreading of hate and fear--so unchristian, is much like some of the authors here explaining away why the very rules expoused here didn't apply to their story.

I have the greatest respect for many here, not only for their knowledge, but also so many have given some very sound advice and direction. So, there I schmoozed a little..

I'm a writer, I create and weave a tale and it comes from my heart as most forms of art do. Does it mean it's great, good? Perhaps not. Though it may not be written perfectly, important to me is did you find it engaging. Did it flow. Did it make you think. Did it tug at your heartstrings or make you laugh. We as authors embellish we make things up. Are we always accurate, nah. Now does that mean I should write a story taking place in 1920 and have a line as: while we were watch Bonnanza on our Sony... Noooo!

If I have a point it is: I certainly wouldn't want someone to rake me over the coals in a public forum. Or if they must please use grammar vasoline, because it will hurt otherwise. I think it would be much nicer and better to contact the author via personal email. Am I thin skinned, no but I'm not a pachyderm either.

I submitted my story here as I liked the quality of the authors, and yes, thought I wrote passably enough to fit amongst a few of you. I was overjoyed when le Dude said they wanted to publish with the provision I had someone edit. I will save this adventure for another reason to ramble.

That all being said, and I'm sure there are a few mistakes, please forgive me writing purests; perhaps I'm way off base, out of line, in the outfield, or pick your own sports analogy, I got the sense that part of the mission of this site was to encourage potential writers. Please do not interpret this to mean I think it is necessary to respond to every person who sends in a story. (*Then again, that is handled at the front office.) Or stand on a soap box and recite portions of S & EB White. But once a story is here that respect, sensitivity, kindness, your basic good human qualities should be the way to approach your fellow authors. If it's a real slam or you really think the person needs "your" invalualbe critquing; do it privately.

Sharon, le Goddess extraordinaire, my editor was very upfront about my story. She doesn't believe I'm gonna' win a Pulitzer. Damn and I was gonna' donate my portion to saving homeless raccoons.

Okay, it's 1:30 a.m. I'm tired and old(er) and have rambled enough. I should probably also edit this--but for this instance I'm going by the old standby--communication is--did you understand what I wrote? Was it engaging, did it tug at your...

I like this site and look forward to any of you who may have an opinion as to my story, expressed--here or privately. You see, I'm a glutton for punishment and intend to submit others.

--Steven Keiths

If you can't laugh at yourself; you're probably not funny.

*I only use parentheses because it irritates Wibby. He was right though when it came to having them in my story--they're gone now.

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I agree with you, Steven. A lot of us are just beginning this journey into authordom, and are a little uncertain of our writing. It takes courage to present things for public inspection, especially writing, because so much of that comes from deep within ourselves, comes from our heart and intellect, and to have that unfavorably criticized can really and truly hurt.

Criticism is required if we're going to improve, so I think we all realize there is a place for it. But I wholly concur with you. If someone has some truly negative things to say, I feel the best place to say them is in private. I think we all have private email addresses that can be used. The stories also have feedback forms that are private.

If there are general statements that concern not only the immediate story but all writring, then it may be appropriate to disseminate them. But it's so easy to hurt, to undermine, to even stop someone from trying. I think we all need to be aware of that when we offer criticism.

I've been very lucky. I have generally received only favorable comments. If, when I first began, I had received the other kind, I'm pretty sure I'd simply have quit at that point. That I didn't is because fellow authors, and readers, were very kind.

C

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I think the story is certainly plausible. Especially the way the other guy (sorry, I forget characters' names quickly, and it was months since I read it :P) keeps changing his looks partly for the main character to notice him and partly to mirror his own thoughts. The other guy could only guess why he was being ignored by his bestfriend and his compensations for it were believable as well as heartbreaking.

It's like at first it was: "Hey, talk to me", then "Notice me, I exist", then finally "I give up, go play with your cool friends" :P

Ignoring someone is kinda self-reinforcing. First you ignore him for several days. Then you feel uneasy talking to him again, so you go on not talking to him for weeks. Then you realize how awkward it would be to talk to him again after weeks of silence, so it goes on for months. Then, finally, both of you wouldn't even know when to start, so definitely years.

I know six girls in high school who made their own clique. Then it fell apart rather messily (I think it was about boys LOL). And they only spoke the barest civil words to each other for 1 and a half year. LOL. Then at our senior year, they had a heart to heart talk and they ended up crying and saying sorry and stuff. Corny, yeah. :P But... y'know... they're girls LOL. Their ignoring each other wasn't even that noticeable to us and even the teachers, but sometimes you get this undercurrent of coldness when you hear them talking to each other. So, see... it does happen in real life.

And, last but not the least, the main character was not only avoiding the other guy, but also HIMSELF. He was still in denial to the fact that he might be gay, that's why he avoided the object of his (umm... waxing poetic here LOL) 'illicit desires'. In those circumstances, ignoring would not only be to avoid the other person but also a sort of self-defense. I would say, the story is both believable and well written.

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