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Graeme again

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I was delighted to see another story by Graeme show up on the boards, and immediately clicked on it. I was not disappointed: Graeme's latest is a tale with a VERY interesting premise, and some very fun characters. Go check out The Price of Friendship - I don't think you'll be disappointed.

cheers!

aj

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You know, I initially thought this was going to have the usual cliches of an early relationship, but I had to admit, Graeme really surprised me with the... well, I'll omit that detail for those who haven't read it yet.

I can't recall ever reading a story with this concept -- assuming Graeme sticks to it all the way through. Very unique idea, and those are in short supply. Any story where the lead character has to deliberately lie, and we're inside his head, is very unusual. It's definitely caught my interest.

My only nitpick would be to tell the reader where the hell we were. It took me about 10 paragraphs before figuring out it was Australia. If there were just a city mentioned here or there in conversation, I would've been much less confused. (This is what happens when you come from a "who, what, when, where, why, how" background. I gots to know the facts first.)

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Thanks, guys!

Pecman -- I was aware of the clich? you alluded to, and it was part of the inspiration for the story.

I chose first person because I wanted the readers to be inside Rick's head. What he is thinking and why he reacts the way he does is the keystone to the story concept. Since he's the centre of the story, I'm hoping to avoid the usual problems of first person (eg. needing the readers to know what's happening elsewhere). It's been working so far with what I've written.

I'm confused by your comment about location though. Is there somewhere else in the world, other than Australia? :wink:

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Well, you know me: I'm such a nutball, I mention the specific street names and city names in every one of my stories, even if it's just a casual aside. In some cases, it's a little thing, but I think the setting is an integral part of the story. To me, that gives the reader a clearer idea of what the seasons are, how the buildings look, how the people would dress, etc. Your story would be much different if it were to take place in Russia, or Greenland, or Africa. Don't make us assume that just because you live in Australia, everything you write will take place in the same country. I gotta have all the details, or it just isn't real to me.

In fact, I just had to consult an 1860's reference on St. Louis, to make sure I got the name of a street right for Pieces of Destiny. But I'm also anal enough that if I say that October 19th, 1864 is a Wednesday, by god, it really is a Wednesday.

Definitely a good story idea, and I agree: when you can take a cliche and turn it on its ear, it becomes something unique and interesting. Well-done! I can't wait to see where this goes.

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Pecman, except for a short story or two, has Graeme ever written a story that was not set in Australia? Actually, there are plenty of clues along the way, certainly that the story is not set in America and not likely in the UK. Getting the location of the story within the first chapter of the story is certainly acceptable and, BTW, if you're ever in Australia, Melbourne is well worth a visit. It certainly tends to get short shrift compared to its more famous neighbor to the north - Melbourne is beautiful, and charming. It's too bad air travel has gotten so @&%$ expensive.

******** Caution: Spoilers Below ***********

Graeme, I absolutely love this premise. At first I thought this was going to be just another boy meets boy story. It never occurred to me that Rick was straight. Rick misread all the clues Drew was sending him and gave back all the answers he thought were appropriate for someone who was straight and accepting of gay friends. What he didn't realize is that his answers could also be interpreted as being appropriate for someone who was gay themselves, but how could he have missed that Drew was asking him out on a date? Even then, he could have recovered when Sue confronted him in the mall, but Rick had had a really bad experience two years earlier, and he wasn't willing to take a chance on losing this group of friends. Chances are it would have been Drew who would have been embarrassed, but Rick just wasn't going to rock the boat, so he made the decision to be gay for the next couple of years. Surely he could do that, right?

Actually, this isn't so far fetched, and it's not surprising that someone like Graeme, who has actually lived a double life, would think of it. Many of us have been there, too. It took me twenty years to get the courage to come out to my wife, and four years later, we're still together. If gay men can play the straight role, straight men can certainly play a gay role.

Now I expect this to be a comedy, but wouldn't it be funny if Rick actually ends up falling in love with Drew? Stranger things have happened?

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Well, since Altimexis has posted the spoilers, I'll ask the obvious question:

What's going to happen when the lead character has to... well, "prove" he's gay? There have already been two movies with a similar premise: the recent I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, and then the 1982 Ryan O'Neal film Partners. In both cases, one or more straughgt characters had to pretend to be gay throughout the entire film for various contrived reasons. Eventually, things go terribly wrong. (No doubt there are many more films than this, but these are two I know.)

Regardless, this is a great conflict set-up, where the kid will have to struggle with, "do I continue to pretend to be gay, so I can be popular and have friends," or "should I just be honest and risk being a nobody again?" How far will he go to "prove" he's gay? As we say in the world of sitcoms: "and hilarity ensues."

I would argue that the easy answer is, have the lead character just tell the gay friend, "look, I thought I might be gay, but now I'm not so sure. Now I think I'm falling in love with this hot girl. So maybe I'm straight after all. But look, we can still be friends, etc." Hell, this might make a great conversation with a girl: "hey, even though I'm gay, for some reason I'm really attracted to you. Can you help me figure out if I'm actually straight?" Boy, there's a come-on line if I ever heard one. :hehe:

No doubt, though, Graeme will make this journey a lot more difficult for our characters, and he'll be tortured to the bitter end. I think it's fair to say that all of us know all too well what it's like to have to pretend to be straight (or at least, not go out of our way to reveal our gay sides) when we were teenagers, just to fit in with everybody else, so turning this situation upside-down is a terrific idea. I love it so far.

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And where else would Graeme's stories take place?

To be fair, I do have short stories set in the USA, including my latest one, Torn in Two. It's just the majority that are set in Australia. :happy:

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If the "mate" in the first couple of lines, and "mobile" instead of "cell" a bit further didn't give it away, surely the use of "footy" was a clincher. Detective work doesn't seem to be a strength in some of you guys. :happy:

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To be fair, I do have short stories set in the USA, including my latest one, Torn in Two. It's just the majority that are set in Australia. :hehe:

Graeme is following one of the principal rules of writing. Write what you know about. If I tried to write a story set in the Outback, it'd come across as set in Minnesota without the snow. :happy:

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Graeme is following one of the principal rules of writing. Write what you know about.

Yeah, but there's another important rule: tell us where the hell we are. I'm only asking for one sentence that says, "here in Melbourne, the nights were freezing in July," or something along those lines. Just one sentence would be fine. (And while I pride myself on my linguistics, I can't always "hear" an Australian accent in print. For all I know, they could've been from England or Ireland or god-knows-where.)

Show me a major published novel that doesn't tell the reader where they are in the first chapter. It's not a problem with a movie, since they can always fall back on the crutch of just dropping in a title that says "Melbourne" or "Los Angeles" over a distinguishing shot of the city. But in a novel, verbalizing the time and setting are key to establishing the scene. Without that, we're blind.

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Yeah, but there's another important rule: tell us where the hell we are. I'm only asking for one sentence that says, "here in Melbourne, the nights were freezing in July," or something along those lines. Just one sentence would be fine. (And while I pride myself on my linguistics, I can't always "hear" an Australian accent in print. For all I know, they could've been from England or Ireland or god-knows-where.)

Show me a major published novel that doesn't tell the reader where they are in the first chapter. It's not a problem with a movie, since they can always fall back on the crutch of just dropping in a title that says "Melbourne" or "Los Angeles" over a distinguishing shot of the city. But in a novel, verbalizing the time and setting are key to establishing the scene. Without that, we're blind.

Not to disagree as such with the contention of 'where' being important for the reader, I think it is important to not confuse the 'where' with nationality or even actual physical places.

For instance the place may well be in the mind of the character, whilst the character himself may be elsewhere. Hamlet is an example of that, even though we are told he is the Prince of Denmark in the title.

Other major stories, novels, and (plays and poetry in particular) do not always specify the longitude and latitude of where the story unravels.

Science fiction, Fantasy as well as myth often have fabricated places as a backdrop for their story. The reader neither knows nor needs to know the country, nationality or even the time for such stories.

"Once upon a time in a land far, far away" is a common way of letting the reader know that the story and its characters are attempts at universal metaphors for the human condition not related to a specific place or time. This is a double edged sword that allows the reader, to view parallels to his own situation, too horrible to confront in reality, or to escape from that reality altogether.

In this regard I am fascinated to read stories that do not specify explicit details of place and time because they deal more directly with the core human conditions common to us all. Yet this is not entirely possible if the condition is dependent on social or cultural influences, and they almost always are. However when these stories are based on the metaphysical philosophy side of the human condition then place can well be irrelevant, even when contrived, perhaps especially when contrived. This means the author must be particularly careful not to fabricate a setting that has too strong a bearing on the story itself. It need only be a place, like any place to which the reader can relate.

Other stories, can of course demand a strong identity with cultural and national specifics. It would be pointless to write a story about my lusty exploits with kangaroos set anywhere but in outback Australia, unless I was a zoology major in another city.

On the otherhand I don't find it necessary to state the 'where' at all if my story has strong universality in its ideas of the characters' thoughts and experiences. That kind of story's 'where' is in the head of the character and if written well enough, in the reader's too.

So I would agree location/s can be important for a spy novel, but are not always necessary for a psychological thriller, just to mention two genre.

(And as an aside, personally I detest the Aussie accent. I have to live with it, which is something the rest of you shouldn't have to do.) :happy:

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I feel compelled to add, even though I'm certainly not a major author (or even a minor one), that I feel almost as repelled by too much unnecessary detail of where and when, as some people do by endless description of the protagonist.

As a reader, I like to have the storyline fed to me, but I like to fill in the details personally, with my imagination. If the lead character exits, turns, and heads down the stairs, it is really irrelevant if he turned right or left, and I will supply that in my head. Unless there is a compelling reason to give details of exact location, it is better to avoid it. As a reader, I like to make the story partly my own, and this is best done by adding to the story. If it is too specific, I actually find myself less interested in the story. I don't know how others read works of fiction, but I immerse myself into the characters and their feelings and experiences, and too much detail makes it harder to do that.

I can read a story about a girl experiencing love with a boy, simply by ignoring (this is over simplification) her gender and imagining that boy loving me. That is much harder to do if she is constantly identified as Sandra, with the long red hair and bouncy boobs. Immersing myself into her character becomes challenging. Well, the same goes for location. I can imagine myself walking along a dry trail, and looking into a hot dust filled valley, shimmering in the sun, but if you then add specific details, such as it being in the Chilean plateau near the Andes, and it all goes away for me. I know I can't imagine the area, never having been there, and the plants would be all wrong (the ones I imagine) and it becomes much more of a challenge to 'picture things' in my mind. So, unless it is of vital importance, I think those details could be left out.

The point is, from my perspective, don't try to make anything a rule. If you have a personal challenge with stories with something, or without something, that is vital to you, try to get past that, rather than implying it is a deficiency in the writing.

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Other major stories, novels, and (plays and poetry in particular) do not always specify the longitude and latitude of where the story unravels.

Just one sentence is all I ask. In the case of SF, I think location is even more important, because chances are the story is already strange enough. For example, I'm still reading Dan Kirk's Dreams of Humanity. He goes out of his way to establish the location near the beginning of each scene: are we in a spaceship? On a new planet? In the lead character's home? Read it and see for yourself.

Confusion on the part of the reader is never a good thing. I agree with previous comments that it's wrong to spoon-feed all the fact to the reader, and it's good to make them guess a little bit, but don't confuse them about setting at the very beginning of a novel.

And as an aside, personally I detest the Aussie accent. I have to live with it, which is something the rest of you shouldn't have to do.

Naaaa, no worries, mate. My best friend at work is an Aussie, and the accent's not a big deal. It's just all part of the beautiful tapestry of mankind. As long as two people can make themselves understood, I don't see (or hear) a problem.

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For those who are following this story, I can now state for sure that the story will be concluding with chapter 19. Only two more chapters to go....

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Great story, great premise, which is normal from Graeme. :wub:

But this story has kept my anxiety level up for far too long. I want to know how it ends. :lol:

Just a few more days. :icon6:

Thanks Graeme. :icon_twisted:

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What a great story Graeme :icon6:

As I read chapter by chapter, I really didn't see how Rick was going to dig himself out the hole he had dug himself.

I'd probably say that the situations and the complications of coming clean became more and more complicated with every new chapter.

When I knew there was no simple way out of Rick's situation, and only a couple of chapters left to go, you had me hook, line, and sinker. Once again, the simplest way was the best way.

By coming clean I believe Rick and Drew will have an even closer friendship. Just even the fact that Drew can see how far Rick was willing to go because of his feelings for Drew was not lost.

I'm hoping for a sequel, as there are a lot of questions to be answered still. but for now I am more than content with the ending.

Great Job Graeme, take a bow :hehe:

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Thanks, guys!

Yes, a sequel is on the cards, but not immediately. I've got one or two other writing projects I want to do first, so it will be some time before I return to this story. But I fully intend to do so :icon6:

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Good job, and a thoughtful (and very realistic) ending. Congrats on taking a cliche and turning it on its ear.

About the only suggestion I would make is that I expected there to be a huge, knock-down, drag-out fight at the end. To me, a violent clash that ends in some understanding and a truce would've been more dramatic.

But then, you know me: I always see things in terms of TV. This is a teenage Lifetime channel special (the sensitive channel mostly for women and occasionally for gays). It'd be perfect as a 2-hour TV movie -- particularly if we cast Zac Efron as Drew, and maybe Chace Crawford as Rick. Now that's a show I'd like to see. :icon6:

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