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Guest Dabeagle

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Guest Dabeagle

This will ramble a bit, stay with me. Or not, but a cup of coffee may help you get through this.

There are a few online writers, and more than a few professional authors whose words you recognize right away; certain phrases, styles and so forth. Stephen King comes to mind. Of all the curses I had ever heard uttered from comedians, high school kids and mechanics, 'whore-master' still belongs to him. In fact he has a habit of substituting 'whore' for other compound curses.

Driver Nine as he was once known is also familiar to me, for his rambling and wide ranging discourses that tended to stay near the silver lining of the storm-cloud that as the drama portion of his stories; alway

s some good came from everything, you only had to find it. Nick Archer was the most realistic in daily events terms, never forgetting to add things like actually cooking a meal instead of simply presenting it as though no effort had gone into it. Comicality never fails to render his main character as someone who has a near fatal case of self doubt.

So last night as I sat at my gaming computer (everything else is accomplished via the workhorse laptop) and prepared to toke up my longest lasting addiction yet, which would be World of Warcrack, I started to troll Nifty. I do this to find some pearl in the mud, and I have a method. I rarely open stories whose titles are 'One guys Name and Another Guys Name'. "Some Guys Story" is another one I bypass.

I do this for practical reasons, I've been accused (rightly so) for recycling favorite first names, and all my stories would thus be titled with some variation of Jacob and Christopher.

So I happened upon Laika. now, I have bypassed this before, and I think it was because the name reminded me of 'Luka' by a somewhat forgotten songstress of the muddled nineties. It was sandwiched between some of the aforementioned run of the mill titles, so I opened it.

The style was familiar, a thoroughly enjoyable variation of characters who all got along. The spastic older brother makes you want one of your own. And I thought to myself, 'Self, we've read something like this before, the same style.' EleCivil. Where have I heard that before? I think I might have mailed him once, a long time ago about something else. I think it was Leaves and Lunatics, which can be safely argues to be a non-boring story title.

So I'm only up to chapter six, and I'm not working on updating my site right now because I'm distracted by this, but I've had enough coffee at this point that reading simply isn't enough, so here's a thread of praise for a story with a comfortably familiar style, complete with eclectic characters and a good story to boot. The good story part almost seems like a bonus.

So yes, in the end, I guess I have to liken EleCivil to Stephen King. I can keep reading him as long as he doesn't kill off my favorite characters.

Back to the doghouse I go.

~Dabeagle

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I can't think of two authors more different than Elecivil and Stephen King, but I understand what you're saying. Elecivil has a distinct style that is very recognisable. And I think he now owns the idea of deliberately wearing mismatching socks.....

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Hey, thanks, Dabeagle and Graeme! You made my day.

It's funny you should mention Steven King - I was reading TONS of King when I was writing Leaves and Lunatics. Strip out the supernatural aspects, and stories like IT, Low Men in Yellow Coats, and even chunks of Desperation are great coming-of-age stories, and definitely helped influence L&L.

Also, "whore-master" is one of my favorite swears of all time. Heh.

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Guest Dabeagle

Sorry Graeme, I should have put a smiley or two in there to clarify, I'm afraid I have a dry sense of humor and am not always clear. Comparing the two was kind of tongue in cheek, as they are only related by having distinct styles.

And that secret offshore bank account they both hope Mrs. King never finds out about.

I gave up on King, EleCivil, after the end of The Dark Tower. big fan up until the last book, and I haven't read anything he's written since.

Then again, when I saw 'The Mist' I nearly cheered and danced when the religious nut bought it tween the eyes. I loved 'It' and the first half of 'Hearts in Atlantis' though I found the second confusing as hell. I re-read several of the 'Dark Tower' books because of the storyline overhangs he created with other iconic stories, like the Stand, which I also loved a great deal.

Yes, Kind cusses in a unique way, I think the only other person to say something like that where, upon reading or hearing it I became insensible with laughter, was George Carlin.

Regardeless, back to the story.

EDIT 6:29 AM. I really liked Alex. I'm bummed he is turning into a bum. going to bed now...

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I gave up on King, EleCivil, after the end of The Dark Tower. big fan up until the last book, and I haven't read anything he's written since.

Same here. Except, I did read the Dark Tower: Gunslinger Born comic books. 'Cause, you know, I'm a nerd.

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It's funny you should mention Stephen King - I was reading TONS of King when I was writing Leaves and Lunatics. Strip out the supernatural aspects, and stories like IT, Low Men in Yellow Coats, and even chunks of Desperation are great coming-of-age stories, and definitely helped influence L&L.

Yeah, I totally agree. King is sometimes a terrific writer, but he has his bad years, too. His recent novel, Duma Key, was very well done, so maybe he's coming back to form. I grew up near the area in which this story takes place, and he vividly captures the feel of Florida's gulf coast.

BTW, if you liked King's It, check out Dan Simmons' Summer of Night, which is ten times more intense. One of the most remarkable horror stories I've ever read. King's quote on the back cover says, "I am in awe of Dan Simmons," and he's right.

Also, "whore-master" is one of my favorite swears of all time. Heh.

One of my old friends at work used to quote William S. Burroughs all the time, and "cock-raper" stayed with for a long time. I find it to be particularly effective when applied to computers that refuse to boot, or programs that malfunction.

King has a way of setting a scene in a very definite place, and I think you go in a similar direction, which is really effective. I liked most of Laika, but I'm still bummed that you didn't end the story with a climactic confrontation between the religious kid and his parents (and the almost-boyfriend), and I also felt the epilogue was unnecessary.

Don't get me wrong: I loved much of Laika. I just felt it went 90% of the way, and then stopped abruptly and left me confused, with a lot of loose ends. There's some beautiful writing there, particularly the dialog, along with some quirky plot twists, which make it among the best stories on this site.

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Guest Dabeagle

I have to agree. As I mentioned in a feedback message to EleCivil, the setting and dialogue are superior to many online stories I have read, better than the vast majority. It takes work and time to express properly the scenes in which a story lives and the words that make sense of it all.

I also have to agree with the 90%. In my constructive criticism, I felt the story suddenly took this left turn in the last chapter. Humans are often quirky and sudden in real life, often enough that it leaves us shaking our heads from time to time, but in the written form it, I feel, needs more time and expression. I suppose in some ways we are more demanding of rational action from some of our fictional friends. In an odd way, it actually is a compliment to the writer for creating such strong characters in definition that we feel they are not acting the way we know them.

All in all it was a strong story, and one I have recommended to others.

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Yeah, if anything, this is a compliment to Elecivil: the characters in Laika were so compelling, I wanted to see a big climactic scene that resolved the "religious parents vs. confused kid" scenario. I actually think a downbeat ending would have worked: the kid is forced to choose between his parents or his friend, and chooses the parents. But who knows... maybe we then could've have a different epilogue, years later, where the two boys meet as adults, the religious kid has come out and left his church, and they're now sadder but wiser people.

Nonetheless, I respect Elecivil, and it's his story. I can't slam it for not going in a direction I wanted, even if it disappoints me. I remember taking a film criticism class years ago, and the professor used to chastize us not to tell the filmmaker to make the film we wanted to see. In other words, we had to review what was there, not what was in our own heads. Hard distinction to make, and I apologize for yielding to the temptation of trying to rewrite other people's work.

BTW, good to see you here, DB. I've enjoyed your stories in the past, and hope you can hang out here often.

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BTW, if you liked King's It, check out Dan Simmons' Summer of Night, which is ten times more intense. One of the most remarkable horror stories I've ever read. King's quote on the back cover says, "I am in awe of Dan Simmons," and he's right.

I read Summer of Night a couple years ago. I didn't really get into it, though. Probably because I'd just come off of my King phase, so I was kind of burnt out on the horror genre as a whole.

I liked most of Laika, but I'm still bummed that you didn't end the story with a climactic confrontation between the religious kid and his parents (and the almost-boyfriend), and I also felt the epilogue was unnecessary.

Heh, yeah. To be honest, I wanted the climactic confrontation, too. I just couldn't see those characters doing it. Throughout the whole story, they'd spoken of the parents as a sort of force-of-nature. Whether that was true or not, they saw attempting to reason or fight against them as a lost cause.

Don't get me wrong: I loved much of Laika. I just felt it went 90% of the way, and then stopped abruptly and left me confused, with a lot of loose ends. There's some beautiful writing there, particularly the dialog, along with some quirky plot twists, which make it among the best stories on this site.

:icon_geek:

I have to agree. As I mentioned in a feedback message to EleCivil, the setting and dialogue are superior to many online stories I have read, better than the vast majority. It takes work and time to express properly the scenes in which a story lives and the words that make sense of it all.

Hey, thanks again, Dabeagle. I tried to reply to your email, by the way, but it looks like it bounced - I got a message about our mail servers not agreeing with each other or something.

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To be honest, I wanted the climactic confrontation, too. I just couldn't see those characters doing it. Throughout the whole story, they'd spoken of the parents as a sort of force-of-nature. Whether that was true or not, they saw attempting to reason or fight against them as a lost cause.

Well, your characters are already -- what, 15 or 16? Surely by the time the religious kid turns 18, I would expect he'd get the hell outta Dodge and would make his own life, preferably away from the church and his parents. Or maybe he'd at least leave them and get involved with a church that was more tolerant with his lifestyle.

I absolutely could see the characters having the confrontation, even if it was just a short scene, maybe 3-4 pages. To not have the parents ever find out, to not ever have the kid challenge his parents, and to not have the two boys resolve their relationship -- to me -- begs the question. My philosophy about writing has always been that storytelling is like playing chess: you have to stay one move ahead of the reader at all times, and anticipate every possible question and objection they might have, and take care of it early on.

To me, this looks like a situation you consciously avoided -- which is your choice, but to me, jumping into the actual confrontation and resolving it one way or the other would've been much harder to do, yet more satisfying for the reader. I felt like the entire story was leading up to this, and felt surprised when it didn't happen.

This, to me, would've been in effect the third act of the story. I think you have a terrific premise and good characters; it just seems like a build-up for a climax that doesn't quite happen. I think I told you awhile back in email that, if this were a movie or TV show, I'd have the same reaction.

The only ending I could come up with was (as I think I said previously), the religious kid gets caught, the family breaks up the relationship, and the lead character's heart is broken. Years later, they meet again as adults, only we find they're now in new relationships, happy where they're at, but still reminisce over what they could have had.

BTW, quick side-story I just thought of: one of my best friends, one of the first people I came out to as a matter of fact, was caught by his parents when he was having sex with a friend. They sent him to a religious camp designed to turn him straight. There, he met a bunch of other unhappy gay religious teens, and you can bet there was a lot going on after hours. He met a guy who wound up as his boyfriend for many years, but this guy was tormented by the conflict between his religion and his sexual orientation. They ultimately split up because the religious guy was very promiscuous (overcompensation, I think). The latter guy ultimately died of AIDS, and I was really broken up about it, because he was a close friend of mine as well.

I always thought there was a good story there: two gay teens meet at an anti-gay camp, have a brief affair, and we see their lives over a period of 10 years as they drift in and out of a relationship that ultimately disintegrates. I saw echoes of this in Laika, and I think the idea of religion is one that hasn't been explored very often in gay fiction. I'm not religious at all, but I envy people who find solace in that kind of experience.

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Hmm...I guess I have to disagree about missing the climactic ending. I actually thought it ended the way most of these kinds of things end, in real life - 'not with a bang, but a whimper.' Maybe I'm just revealing something about my own character, though. :icon_geek:

cheers!

aj

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Hmm...I guess I have to disagree about missing the climactic ending. I actually thought it ended the way most of these kinds of things end, in real life - 'not with a bang, but a whimper.' Maybe I'm just revealing something about my own character, though. :icon_geek:

cheers!

aj

Not to disagree with this at all, but just something to think about: perhaps one of the reasons fiction is so compelling is it so often doesn't end with a whimper, but with a dramatic denouement that resolves the main issue, whether happily or not. You're right that in real life, things often end without a bang, but isn't it more satisfying to read about it when it does?

C

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There are a LOT of short stories by published authors that end without a denouement. Flannery O'Connor, for example, at the end of her story Good Country People leaves the protagonist in a bad situation with no resolution. It's left as an exercise for the reader to imagine what might happen next, what the conclusion might be. This kind of ending can be thought provoking, and sometimes very irritating.

Colin :icon_geek:

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So last night as I sat at my gaming computer (everything else is accomplished via the workhorse laptop) and prepared to toke up my longest lasting addiction yet, which would be World of Warcrack, I started to troll Nifty.

Whoohoo! Someone else who shares my addiction! I'm currently working my pallie through the battlegrounds in a quest for better gear, 'cause I don't play on the weekends so I can't run instances or raid with the rest of my guild. Looking forward to WoLK and working like heck to get geared for it.

Ok, back to the original topic!

cheers!

aj

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There are a LOT of short stories by published authors that end without a denouement. Flannery O'Connor, for example, at the end of her story Good Country People leaves the protagonist in a bad situation with no resolution. It's left as an exercise for the reader to imagine what might happen next, what the conclusion might be. This kind of ending can be thought provoking, and sometimes very irritating.

Colin :hehe:

Call me a romantic. Actually, you can call me anything you'd like, because I don't think you can come up with anything new that someone hasn't used already. :icon_geek:

Anyway, I really prefer resolution . I guess I want that 'fuzzy slippers' feeling when I'm done reading. I get frazzeled by the conflict in good stories and want to have 'ending.' What I do think about is what is in ACT II, how people react to what is put there by the author for them to resolve. How did they do it? Would I do the same? Do I believe in what they believe in or do I believe differently? Would I have their courage? God, the list goes on and on. I do think about what's being written, but in the end, I want to feel completed.

Richard

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I agree 110% with what Richard and Cole say above. If the story ends with a whimper and not a bang, I don't think it's going to be satisfying to readers.

In this specific case, I think Elecivil set up a scenario -- gay kid has fundamentalist parents, kid meets and falls in love with another teen, a brief almost-affair ensues -- but the issue of the parents is never really resolved. In fact, we never exactly meet the parents, which I think is a little bit of a cheat.

Bear in mind, I understand and sympathize with the author, and readily admit that going in a different direction can be a valid choice.

Still, there's an old principle in fiction that says: if you show a loaded gun hidden in a drawer in chapter 1, that gun better go off by chapter 5 (or sooner). To me, the conflict with the parents is a dangling plot detail that needs to be resolved.

I'm going to bail on discussing this further, because I don't want to aggravate Elecivil. I'm a big fan, and I didn't intend for this conversation to be a "let's pile on the author" thing.

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Guest Dabeagle

Multiple responses here, and I've not mastered the quote feature here, so you'll have to figure out who I am speaking to in your own.

Yes, WoW has sucked me in for quite a while now. I have a 70 Alliance Mage and Druid and Arms Warrior, but have been playing a Blood Elf Rogue intensely now since I just can't seem to stick with several nights a week raiding. A heroic or two and I'm toast normally.

Back to the story.

I agree this isn't a pile on, just a discussion. I have never been a big fan of 'The Lady or the Tiger' type stories, only because to me they seemed unfinished. Laika wasn't unfinished, it simply didn't explore some things that we thought might have been. For me, after the fantastic set up, the characterizations and the work that went into bringing these characters to life, the sudden turnaround in the last chapter took me by surprise.

Yes, I admit perhaps I was looking for that 'fuzzy slipper' as well, but more so the complete turnaround of the preachers kid left me scratching my head. Now, realistically this might have been a real life panic reaction, retreating to the known. Despair has a certain amount of solace in it, if it's a known quantity.

Like I said, it took me by surprise and it wasn't a happy one. The fact that the door was left open in the end was nice, but you have to wonder how the main character would feel at that point. It seems their window closed, the preachers kid didn't maintain or even try to communicate at all, so i find it pretty ballsy to to walk in like that as if nothing happened.

But people are quirky. Would I have liked to see the confrontation? Maybe. What are the options if there were a confrontation? Kid gets kicked out? Kid gets clamps put more firmly on him? Sent to one of those horrible reprogramming places? In a way taking the expected route limits your choices.

Personally, after reflecting, I'd have liked to see a cloak and dagger kind of ending, one where they sneak around, almost get caught, a growing, healing kind of story.

But I generally don't like stories to end anyways, most of the time, especially good ones. I tend to drag them out, but not leave them ambiguously as I have accused my friend Wibby of doing recently. (He denies the charge, btw).

Moreover, how well it speaks of an writer to have made something so many actually wanted to discuss, and did so? In the end, we all cared enough to comment and that's a substantial amount of praise.

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I agree this isn't a pile on, just a discussion.

I too had your impression of an UNended story, but withheld any comment. I didn't desire to give my foot another pleasurable moment by winding up in a place that it so loves...my mouth.

This such a rich story. I feel a continuation coming, the stage has been set. (OMG, a cliche, but in this case it fits.) It needs the icing on the cake to complete it. It's the postage stamp on sending off a manuscript to a publisher. It's the putting away the lube after...not going there. I've got more if you want.

Seriously though, I've read a few unhappy ending stories and a few stories that just ended. But this one needs completing.

Richard

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Anyway, I really prefer resolution . I guess I want that 'fuzzy slippers' feeling when I'm done reading.

Me too. That made it tough to write the ending to this (and not just the ending, but the last couple chapters, because I knew what was going to happen). But one thing I wanted to do with this story was to completely tear up the fuzzy slippers - you know, set things up with a bunch of jokes and light-heartedness and some quick "cute" romance scenes...and then pull that rug out from under the readers and leave them feeling uncomfortable (I'll admit, though, the epilogue kind of softened the blow...I guess I'm just not ruthless enough, yet). Which is why...

Still, there's an old principle in fiction that says: if you show a loaded gun hidden in a drawer in chapter 1, that gun better go off by chapter 5 (or sooner). To me, the conflict with the parents is a dangling plot detail that needs to be resolved.

...I never let the gun go off. Conflict, especially in the form of a knock-down, drag-out fight, is comfortable. We understand it. Even if the hero loses the fight, we can say "Hey, but he tried!"

I didn't want that to happen. I wanted complete and total defeat. The kind of defeat that can only happen when someone's spirit is broken to the point that they don't see the point in fighting in the first place. The kind of defeat that comes from being raised to believe that your life's worth and your potential for happiness are completely at the mercy of another being, be it God or parents or lovers or subculture trendsetters or the scientists blasting you into space.

What are the options if there were a confrontation? Kid gets kicked out? Kid gets clamps put more firmly on him? Sent to one of those horrible reprogramming places? In a way taking the expected route limits your choices.

One of my "alternate endings" that I was kicking around went that kind of route, but I decided against it. That kind of an ending would've left the character as some kind of a martyred saint, which isn't what I wanted. The kid had some serious issues, and getting into a relationship with his first almost-boyfriend wasn't going to solve them - in fact, it made his guilt and self-loathing a lot worse, until he finally decided that the pain of self-imposed isolation would be better than the pain of self-directed hatred.

Basically, love couldn't conquer all.

In the end, we all cared enough to comment and that's a substantial amount of praise.

...And that's why I love you guys. Group hug? :lol:

No?

All right. I'll be over here.

(Seriously, this kind of response is awesome. Considering I was setting out to write an ending that made people unhappy and uncomfortable, this doesn't feel like a "pile-on", this feels like a love-in. Heheh.)

I feel a continuation coming, the stage has been set. [...] Seriously though, I've read a few unhappy ending stories and a few stories that just ended. But this one needs completing.

Gears are in motion...but these particular gears are slightly misaligned, so don't expect to see anything for quite some time.

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Seriously, this kind of response is awesome. Considering I was setting out to write an ending that made people unhappy and uncomfortable, this doesn't feel like a "pile-on", this feels like a love-in.

Ah, in that case, I feel better. I was concerned that maybe we were all giving you a bunch of crap, and I'm glad to know you didn't take it that way.

If you were deliberately going for that kind of ending, so be it. Again, it's a testament to your skill as a writer that many of us cared enough to say, "wait a minute! But what happened after this?" That's real talent, when your readers want to continue the story in their heads long after the tale has ended.

And I absolutely agree that going with a downbeat ending is both unexpected and unique, and I don't think enough authors have the courage to do it. My old pal Keith Morissette did it a couple of times with his stories The Boyfriend and Little Secrets, Little Lies, but the key there was, it was a satisfying ending that had no loose ends and plenty of conflict. Me, I try to hit a balance between believability and pathos, and I readily agree that a "happy ever after" ending isn't often the best choice.

BTW: I still say you need a "ten years later" or "five years later" epilogue (or even a sequel), where your two main characters meet again, sadder but wiser. Maybe that's a way to satisfy both your original goal and yet still answer the readers' questions. Please at least mull that over as a future story idea.

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