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Drama Club by Tragic Rabbit

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Hi Gang,

Here's another jewel I found mining around the moonscape at Nifty. Joey is obviously having as much fun writing Drama Club as I am reading it, and he is interested in YOUR input.

Let's give him a big welcome and you can communicate with him right here at AwesomeDude Forums.

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I've been reading the story. It's good. I do have some helpful suggestions.

SLOW DOWN. Damn. No need to rush. A little more detail please. You have all those other characters. How about a bit about them -- comments on their looks and personalities. They're in a car or restaurant or classroom? Tell us about it. It'll make the story seemed less rushed and more substantial without making your work much more difficult.

Fixing that one detail will cure your story of the two of the three complaints I have.

The other is: Why is everyone in your story always having a cigarette? I think your characters have smoked several packs so far. It's TOO noticeable. Ideally nobody would ever smoke (kids are reading this) but I know people DO smoke. But sometimes they come up for air.

Story idea: have him try and quit. That could be a long and funny (albeit painful) story arc.

Best,

WBMS

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Hi, Tragic Rabbit,

I'm not sure, I might be your polar opposite. So please keep the snowshoes and the salt shaker handy (grain of salt, y'know). Also, I want to offer constructive thoughts. I hope I won't bother you; I sure don't mean to.

First, what I like so far. Later, I'll get to criticism. I'm only in Ch. 2, so bear with me.

Wow. Closet-boy here thinks Angel might be my polar opposite. Part of me can't imagine being so out or campy. Part of me is a little envious of the freedom and ease these kids express their sexuality. In high school, I actually defended two friends into drama and mime from some idiots. I do get that you may be using the drama club as a way to explain being a little (or a lot) flamboyant.

I like that they like acting and plays, and that you've shown it as a substitute family. It's true in life and in metaphor for being gay. About the play quotes, a formatting suggestion: try indenting them. Use the blockquote tag for the HTML, if you're doing it that way at all.

I love the sense of fun and humor. I know there'll be other things, but I like that you're (and they're) having fun.

Aside: Strange, I'd never considered "Bottom" in quite the context of a "bottom" before; I wouldn't put that pun past the Bard, either, he might well have meant that too.

I guess I've missed it. Is the main character's name pronounced as in Spanish ("Ahn-hel") or English? I don't know why I started with him as "Angel;" that doesn't make sense. I know people who pronounce their names the English way, though, too. If Angel wants to reply to that or anything else, he's welcome.

Now the criticism. Ouch!

(Sotto voce, V.O. offstage, from a Closet onstage.) Already they've all had more sex than I did in high school. (Grumbles.) OK, that's partly just me. But actually, it's a criticism of the story, too. Maybe your point is that they really are that casual about it. That's outside my experience; I wasn't a drama kid and I was uptight, confused, late-bloomer, whatever.

If that's your intent, fine; maybe it's a good point in itself. But otherwise, I'd agree with WBMS: slow down and build up their character relationships, so we as readers know that they aren't just doing it with whoever is, uh, handy. (Sorry 'bout the pun. I have a weakness for 'em.) To me, that's a difference between a piece meant to be performed and a piece to be read. What has to be compressed and can be shown on-stage with all five senses needs more time and has more time in written form. What I mean is that the reader, unless he's looking for a quickie, wants more depth, and it seems like you are aware of that from knowing about the arts. I figure it will develop as the story goes along. Then again, maybe closet-boy is just uncomfortable with it. You may have noticed the words, "I" and "me" seem to occur a lot here. Ahem.

Cigarettes. I hadn't noticed that, but I don't smoke. Neither here nor there to me how you handle that.

This may figure into parts of your story I haven't read yet. If Angel in particular went to school around here either now or especially back when I went, wearing makeup, he'd get sent to the principal's or nurse's and ordered to come back dressed according to dress code. That assumes he didn't first get stomped into a pulp by some of those idiots I mentioned earlier. I mention that only because it points out a story conflict and real-life conflict that you'd have to account for. I have no idea how dress code policy now deals with even the milder forms of decoration, although I've seen one or two kids, even boys, occasionally with dyed hair. But then, school uniforms are foreign to me too.

Hmm. Guess that's it. Hope I haven't torn it to shreds. I'll keep reading, honest. The play's the thing.

Oh, and as for sexual innuendo in Shakespeare, how about the opening scenes of R&J? I remember being surprised when my high school English teacher actually explained it to us! -- Sorry, don't have the play in front of me, so I'll paraphrase. Romeo and Mercutio and others are in a fight with the Jets or Sharks or Capulets...something like that. One of them comments, "My naked weapon stands unsheathed!" He was joking about his sword, but with those codpieces.... Oh my. (I liked the "DiCaprio" movie version...possibly mostly for Leo...but I liked it all around. Nice adaptation.)

Maybe you have other plays in later chapters. Surely they'll have other things than Shakespeare, such as South Pacific or Our Town or something else usual for high school. Or maybe Ms. Robi will do something unusual. -- By the way, you've said how much the kids love her. Let us get more insight into her character so we see why. If it helps, maybe think of this as presenting the backstory and research that actors develop about their characters. Here, you have the room to present that with words.

I'm known for long replies. Hope it was helpful and not just a rambling soliloquy. What? Who turned out the lights? What's that hook doing here? Wait a minute, I'll remember my line, I promise! (Lines and blocking and stage fright, but I've acted twice with the on-again, off-again group at church. Loved it, just need more practice to build confidence.)

You have my sympathies. I grew up in Texas too, just a very few years earlier, it seems.

(Edited to add:)

(Later:) OK, I read through Ch. 3. Guess I spoke too soon about conflict. Still hope for more char. development, but looks like you're getting to that. -- And don't let my natterings discourage you. Keep writing! -- Hmm. Maybe I shoulda hung out with the drama kids. Might've cured some of the shyness and denial from the kid who liked a few friends more than he could admit. What? Was that mic. on? Hehehe. Oops.

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I've been reading the story. It's good. I do have some helpful suggestions.

SLOW DOWN. Damn. No need to rush. A little more detail please. You have all those other characters. How about a bit about them -- comments on their looks and personalities. They're in a car or restaurant or classroom? Tell us about it. It'll make the story seemed less rushed and more substantial without making your work much more difficult.

Fixing that one detail will cure your story of the two of the three complaints I have.

The other is: Why is everyone in your story always having a cigarette? I think your characters have smoked several packs so far. It's TOO noticeable. Ideally nobody would ever smoke (kids are reading this) but I know people DO smoke. But sometimes they come up for air.

Story idea: have him try and quit. That could be a long and funny (albeit painful) story arc.

Best,

WBMS

Dear WBMS:

Thanks so much for posting, I really need some help and will be using a lot of the suggestions I get here. This is my first story in a long, long time and my first erotic or teen story ever. I've never written dialogue before or other things that I'm having to figure out right now. I hope that the five chapters show at least some progress as I learn.

I discovered Nifty about six weeks ago and have been reading stories non-stop, discovering some I liked and a lot that I didn't. I had no idea there were places online to write as a amateur, somehow I missed out on this until now. Two weeks ago, I decided to try doing it, too. I typed out the first chapter of a little thing on a high school drama club, fully intending to actually make another idea into my first story. Nifty put this one out and I got a lot of really nice commentary from readers and went ahead with Drama Club. It's kind of blowing my mind how much fun I'm having.

On that note, huge hugs and thanks to the Dudester for bringing me over here where I can get some real feedback. Comments from readers are great but usually not all that helpful. One interesting thing I've noticed is that some of these guys seem to see me AS Angel, or at least, as a sexy teen queen and appear to be disappointed when they find I'm not. I may start being a lot more vague about who Tragic Rabbit really is!

All that said, I know I suck at it but I really, truly believe that I can get a lot better with some help. By the third chapter, I had a handle on the IDEA of chapters and now, with chapter five, I have the thing more or less plotted out. I still feel VERY unsure of a lot of things and would really appreciate any and all commentary. I promise not to cry in public, either, if it hurts my feelings. Not much, anyway.

To answer your two questions/comments:

I can see that its going fast. I'm unsure what is too much detail and what is not enough. I've read, on Nifty, a lot of stories with endless personal detail (or glacially moving plots) that sort of went over the top and maybe I was trying to avoid that. I'm also NEW to this whole thing in general: fiction writing, erotica and online chapter writing.

To fix the speed thing, would you suggest longer scenes OR more scenes or what, exactly?

I'm sure you're right about the pacing, if that's the word you mean, and I plan on going back over the first chapters later on to rework them. For now, I'm learning. Let me know what you think after you've finished chapter five--did I improve at all? I'm trying to, really.

They (actually its mainly Gene and Angel) smoke a lot for two reasons: I am chain-smoking as I write Drama Club. <G> More importantly, they smoke because its a highly social activity and allows characters to drop defenses and talk together at odd moments. It also underscores other addictive behaviors. Possibly some sublimated oral fixation, too. <wink>

I love the idea of someone trying to quit. I'm going to add that with either Gene or Angel, perhaps both. Thanks!

If there is anything that you like, that I'm doing right specifically, it would help me to know what it was so I don't stop doing it. I'm completely new to this and have no idea where I'm hitting and where I'm missing unless someone tells me.

I appreciate your time in replying and really look forward to anything else you might have as you read more. I do need help and I know it. I want to get better fast and finish the Drama Club. I need a finished project of some kind in my life right now but will probably find myself addicted to this kind of thing. It's really more fun than I could have ever imagined.

Peace.

The Tragic Rabbit

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Hi, Tragic Rabbit,

I'm not sure, I might be your polar opposite. So please keep the snowshoes and the salt shaker handy (grain of salt, y'know). Also, I want to offer constructive thoughts. I hope I won't bother you; I sure don't mean to.

First, what I like so far. Later, I'll get to criticism. I'm only in Ch. 2, so bear with me.

Wow. Closet-boy here thinks Angel might be my polar opposite. Part of me can't imagine being so out or campy. Part of me is a little envious of the freedom and ease these kids express their sexuality. In high school, I actually defended two friends into drama and mime from some idiots. I do get that you may be using the drama club as a way to explain being a little (or a lot) flamboyant.

I like that they like acting and plays, and that you've shown it as a substitute family. It's true in life and in metaphor for being gay. About the play quotes, a formatting suggestion: try indenting them. Use the blockquote tag for the HTML, if you're doing it that way at all.

I love the sense of fun and humor. I know there'll be other things, but I like that you're (and they're) having fun.

Aside: Strange, I'd never considered "Bottom" in quite the context of a "bottom" before; I wouldn't put that pun past the Bard, either, he might well have meant that too.

I guess I've missed it. Is the main character's name pronounced as in Spanish ("Ahn-hel") or English? I don't know why I started with him as "Angel;" that doesn't make sense. I know people who pronounce their names the English way, though, too. If Angel wants to reply to that or anything else, he's welcome.

Now the criticism. Ouch!

(Sotto voce, V.O. offstage, from a Closet onstage.) Already they've all had more sex than I did in high school. (Grumbles.) OK, that's partly just me. But actually, it's a criticism of the story, too. Maybe your point is that they really are that casual about it. That's outside my experience; I wasn't a drama kid and I was uptight, confused, late-bloomer, whatever.

If that's your intent, fine; maybe it's a good point in itself. But otherwise, I'd agree with WBMS: slow down and build up their character relationships, so we as readers know that they aren't just doing it with whoever is, uh, handy. (Sorry 'bout the pun. I have a weakness for 'em.) To me, that's a difference between a piece meant to be performed and a piece to be read. What has to be compressed and can be shown on-stage with all five senses needs more time and has more time in written form. What I mean is that the reader, unless he's looking for a quickie, wants more depth, and it seems like you are aware of that from knowing about the arts. I figure it will develop as the story goes along. Then again, maybe closet-boy is just uncomfortable with it. You may have noticed the words, "I" and "me" seem to occur a lot here. Ahem.

Cigarettes. I hadn't noticed that, but I don't smoke. Neither here nor there to me how you handle that.

This may figure into parts of your story I haven't read yet. If Angel in particular went to school around here either now or especially back when I went, wearing makeup, he'd get sent to the principal's or nurse's and ordered to come back dressed according to dress code. That assumes he didn't first get stomped into a pulp by some of those idiots I mentioned earlier. I mention that only because it points out a story conflict and real-life conflict that you'd have to account for. I have no idea how dress code policy now deals with even the milder forms of decoration, although I've seen one or two kids, even boys, occasionally with dyed hair. But then, school uniforms are foreign to me too.

Hmm. Guess that's it. Hope I haven't torn it to shreds. I'll keep reading, honest. The play's the thing.

Oh, and as for sexual innuendo in Shakespeare, how about the opening scenes of R&J? I remember being surprised when my high school English teacher actually explained it to us! -- Sorry, don't have the play in front of me, so I'll paraphrase. Romeo and Mercutio and others are in a fight with the Jets or Sharks or Capulets...something like that. One of them comments, "My naked weapon stands unsheathed!" He was joking about his sword, but with those codpieces.... Oh my. (I liked the "DiCaprio" movie version...possibly mostly for Leo...but I liked it all around. Nice adaptation.)

Maybe you have other plays in later chapters. Surely they'll have other things than Shakespeare, such as South Pacific or Our Town or something else usual for high school. Or maybe Ms. Robi will do something unusual. -- By the way, you've said how much the kids love her. Let us get more insight into her character so we see why. If it helps, maybe think of this as presenting the backstory and research that actors develop about their characters. Here, you have the room to present that with words.

I'm known for long replies. Hope it was helpful and not just a rambling soliloquy. What? Who turned out the lights? What's that hook doing here? Wait a minute, I'll remember my line, I promise! (Lines and blocking and stage fright, but I've acted twice with the on-again, off-again group at church. Loved it, just need more practice to build confidence.)

You have my sympathies. I grew up in Texas too, just a very few years earlier, it seems.

(Edited to add:)

(Later:) OK, I read through Ch. 3. Guess I spoke too soon about conflict. Still hope for more char. development, but looks like you're getting to that. -- And don't let my natterings discourage you. Keep writing! -- Hmm. Maybe I shoulda hung out with the drama kids. Might've cured some of the shyness and denial from the kid who liked a few friends more than he could admit. What? Was that mic. on? Hehehe. Oops.

Okay, I wrote out long replies to this post twice and lost them to reboots so this may seem short and abrupt but that's the reason. I want to get it done and out before I have to reboot yet again.

Hi, Blue!

Angel doesn't seem campy to me, maybe we are indeed different. He's not the butchest stud in the bunch but hardly a flamer. If he's coming across in some way that makes him less a sympathetic character, that's bad. However, most of the stories I read on Nifty had studly, muscled, straight-acting, athletic, rich men who were hung like race-horses so I wanted some characters of another kind, characters that seemed more realistic to ME.

Shakespeare makes a number of jokes on the name 'Bottom' in MSND.

Angel can be pronounced either way but most younger Latinos go with the anglicized <s> pronunciation in mixed settings. I'm Latino myself, if you're fishing, but I was trying not to emphasize the fact that Angel isn't white. I wasn't sure how non-white characters would be received.

I'm not sure what to say about high school sex. I had sex in high school (and at the high school-almost always in the theatre department!) and so did a lot of my friends. Not by any means all, though, and there are characters in Drama Club who don't. Others have sex but with misgivings. Drama students I've known since my own graduation are also sexually active, not all, but many. My real life experience is that much high school sex doesn't end in actual completion of the act and maybe that should be reflected in the story. Its so difficult for a teen to even find a private place that Drama Club sex does have an element of wish-fulfillment. At least one sex scene in the story is close to an actual experiences of mine, though, so its not SO far off. In MY opinion. Are we 'disagreeing' because of what we each think of high school sex or because of how it works in the story? And what about the several dream-sex scenes?

On slowing down: how exactly? longer scenes? more scenes? See, I'm really new at this!

Boys wear makeup in high school. I wore makeup (sometimes) in high school. I had a whole Ziggy Stardust thing going during my senior year. I've known a lot of theatre students to wear makeup on a regular basis. Some private schools might not allow makeup but I've never been to or heard of a public school that didn't permit it. That does not mean that a guy wearing makeup doesn't get hassled, he does, and sometimes even by administration but its not generally a dress-code violation. This is my experience, someone else's may vary. Angel IS hassled in school for his presentation and even Gene (chapter four or five) tells him it's asking for trouble. So the idea that its not fully accepted is covered in the story. Does it need to be covered more? A gay-bashing is coming up in the next chapter, are you sure I'm not covering it? I'm asking--I don't know if I am or not. I'm flying blind.

Thanks for suggesting that I develop the teachers. I originally had the idea that this might be more a kid-space story but maybe it would be better the other way. I'm not sure but open to suggestion.

Northside will do other productions and at least one will be part of the story, possibly Camelot but I'm still thinking of an appropriate play to end Drama Club with as a tie in to the events that end the story.

Here are some things I'm going crazy trying to figure out:

1) is the dialogue believable or not? if not, why not?

2) are the characters likable? if so, which and how? if not, why?

3) are the scenes interspersed in a way that is effective? if not, why?

4) am i getting any kind of thread going that is coherent? if not, how can i improve?

5) i guess the above comments let me know that my worries about pacing or character development were well founded and that i've farked up...any details on how to fix this are appreciated. talk in small words.

6) how are the sex scenes (AS sex scenes)? how are they are part of the story?

7) what, if anything, am i doing right?

8) what are the worst parts of my prose--i need a list to tack up by my monitor of what NOT to do.

Please read all the chapters if you can and let me know if I'm getting any better and if its making any sense yet.

I'll think of more later but that's all that I can dredge up right now. I'm ticked at the computer and worried that it'll crash on me again so I'm posting this fast.

THANKS TO ALL OF YOU!

Hugs and Kisses.

Tragic Rabbit

P.S.(Monday noon) I re-read through what I've done so far and I guess you're right, it is too much sex and utter shyte. I'm a tad depressed now and wondering what I'm doing. What sort of things are liked online? Can I fix this or should I just drop it and start something else? *sigh*

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I discovered Nifty about six weeks ago and have been reading stories non-stop, discovering some I liked and a lot that I didn't.

Step one. If it's on Nifty it's probably shit. Either this site or Dabeagle offer much better quality. Or, go read some of Driver's writings. NOBODY writes better than Driver. Nobody including present company. Driver is at http://storiesbydriver.netfirms.com and that's how to write.

All that said, I know I suck at it but I really, truly believe that I can get a lot better with some help.

No, if you just sucked you wouldn't even get to be on this site. Nothing here sucks. It's all decent. Maybe you or I or someone else doesn't care for a particular story or author. That's personal taste. But nobody here would tell you something here sucks.

I still feel VERY unsure of a lot of things and would really appreciate any and all commentary. I promise not to cry in public, either, if it hurts my feelings. Not much, anyway.

I've had harsh criticism (from fans and fellow authors such as Pecman). My feelings are not hurt. I like it because it makes me better. I am a good writer and I was a professional sportswriter with a weekly published column for several years. So I had more practice than most. That doesn't always carry over to fiction.

I can see that its going fast. I'm unsure what is too much detail and what is not enough. I've read, on Nifty, a lot of stories with endless personal detail (or glacially moving plots) that sort of went over the top and maybe I was trying to avoid that. I'm also NEW to this whole thing in general: fiction writing, erotica and online chapter writing.

Again, stop with the Nifty comments. We're talking PACING here. "We got in the car and went to Manny's house." is fast pacing. "We got into the car and I immediately noticed all the trash on the back seat, the open packs of cigarettes on the floor, and the crumpled beer cans under the front seat." That is slower pacing and it tells us quite a bit about the car's driver. I can go further even, "We approached the car, though calling it a car was certainly a kindness as it was rusted through and through. The passenger door didn't open and I had to crawl in from the driver's side. I immediately noticed (append above)"

See? Same exact scene at three different speeds. You aren't boring us here, you're giving us detail. If you start telling us it had 42,786 miles and Goodyear, Eagle X1 tyres, that's oveboard.

To fix the speed thing, would you suggest longer scenes OR more scenes or what, exactly?

Neither. See above. You misunderstand.

They (actually its mainly Gene and Angel) smoke a lot for two reasons: I am chain-smoking as I write Drama Club. <G> More importantly, they smoke because its a highly social activity and allows characters to drop defenses and talk together at odd moments. It also underscores other addictive behaviors. Possibly some sublimated oral fixation, too.

I understand smoking. I just feel that a bit of self-censorship is appropriate here for the SOLE reason there are lots of teens here. It's not the image we want them to think is ok. I'm not judging you or the habit, I'm watching out for our young residents. You've got smoking so prevalent it's noticeable. However ONE character with an addictive personailty is a great idea. You just need to reduce the number.

If there is anything that you like, that I'm doing right specifically, it would help me to know what it was so I don't stop doing it. I'm completely new to this and have no idea where I'm hitting and where I'm missing unless someone tells me.

Your story is good. Your plot is good. Your continuity is excellent.

This is the first of two posts I'm making :)

-- wbms

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Angel doesn't seem campy to me' date=' maybe we are indeed different. He's not the butchest stud in the bunch but hardly a flamer. If he's coming across in some way that makes him less a sympathetic character, that's bad. [/quote']

He IS a little campy but that's OK. He's also sympathetic. Don't equate campy with bad. Just accept what you have.

I'm Latino myself' date=' if you're fishing, but I was trying not to emphasize the fact that Angel isn't white. I wasn't sure how non-white characters would be received.[/quote']

Nobody would give a shit. If they do give a shit that he isn't white then they are probably beneath contempt. Not that you asked my opinion.

Boys wear makeup in high school. I wore makeup (sometimes) in high school. I had a whole Ziggy Stardust thing going during my senior year.

No' date=' they don't. At least not now though I can't remember many EVER wearing it. Now, only the Goth kids wear much makeup and even that isn't too much. I hate to argue, but you're just WRONG here. :)

A gay-bashing is coming up in the next chapter' date=' are you sure I'm not covering it?[/quote']

If you ever put a spoiler in again I will be forced to hunt you down and kick your sorry ass halfway to China. Write it down :P

1) is the dialogue believable or not? if not' date=' why not?

2) are the characters likable? if so, which and how? if not, why?

3) are the scenes interspersed in a way that is effective? if not, why?

6) how are the sex scenes (AS sex scenes)? how are they are part of the story?

1, 2: Yes.

3: Usually

6: It is my opinion your character should stop fucking like rabbits :) Sex is ok but the only thing there's more of than sex is cigarettes. If you keep doing something you rob it of any real meaning. Again this is my opinion.

P.S.(Monday noon) I re-read through what I've done so far and I guess you're right' date=' it is too much sex and utter shyte. *[/quote']

Calm down. Take a deep breath. And keep going. If you're a writer, you can fix ANYTHING if you want. You have the skills. You just need to take your time and need a good proofreader who isn't afraid to give it back and say "This is utter crap -- please re-do it." My proofreaders gladly tell me they've seen better prose on a toilet wall and to fix something. And what you've done is good. We're not knocking you -- we're trying to make it better. It could be worse, we could utterly ignore you.

-- wbms

(second of two posts)

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I'm Latino myself, if you're fishing, but I was trying not to emphasize the fact that Angel isn't white. I wasn't sure how non-white characters would be received.

Nobody would give a shit. If they do give a shit that he isn't white then they are probably beneath contempt. Not that you asked my opinion.

I just starting reading stories recently but have only seen one or two characters who weren't white, so I was concerned. I do plan on writing about non-white characters but I have a little more confidence now in what is acceptable (and read with interest as opposed to ignored). I'm not unfamiliar with the feeling that the world's interest is usually in inverse proportion to the darkness of a person's skin.

A gay-bashing is coming up in the next chapter, are you sure I'm not covering it?

If you ever put a spoiler in again I will be forced to hunt you down and kick your sorry ass halfway to China. Write it down :p

Sorry!

P.S.(Monday noon) I re-read through what I've done so far and I guess you're right, it is too much sex and utter shyte. *

Calm down. Take a deep breath. And keep going. If you're a writer, you can fix ANYTHING if you want. You have the skills. You just need to take your time and need a good proofreader who isn't afraid to give it back and say "This is utter crap -- please re-do it." My proofreaders gladly tell me they've seen better prose on a toilet wall and to fix something. And what you've done is good. We're not knocking you -- we're trying to make it better. It could be worse, we could utterly ignore you.

So where do I find a proofreader? I only just got up the nerve to tell one of my friends what I'm doing and asked for her opinions but she has yet to get back to me. I can't show pages like these to just anyone.

Thanks to all of you, again, for taking the time to comment and offer help. I do appreciate it, it's much better than being ignored.

Tragic Rabbit

P.S. How do you close off the quotes in replies like this one?

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OK, OK,

When I invited Tragic Rabbit to join us here as part of the New Writers Series, it was because I read his early chapters on Nifty and identified what I believe is his excellent potential.

We have worked hard to develop a family atmosphere here and our goal is to help those really serious about mastering the craft of fiction writing along the way. We have a number of talented folks here and unfortunately a number of them -at the moment- are on summer or extended weekend vacations.

I have to remind everybody here, that except for the stories that made their debut here... Nick Nurse's Aurora, Sequoyah's MOON WATCHING and Ryan Keith's One Life, all of the stories and authors were scouted by me from the pages of... yes you guessed it.... Nifty Archives.

I kind of look on Nifty like I look on the sea. It is a place of vast resources, some good... some bad... some mediocre. (Notice how I avoided the good, bad & ugly comparison) I am not a fiction writer, and realizing that what I am good at is spotting talent... I, with encouragement from Keith Morrisette, Nick Nurse and Underthehoodster, decided to start AwesomeDude as a place where readers and writers could come together to enjoy some of the best of what had been published on Nifty and also have a safe haven where creative ideas could be tried out and encouragement could be taken from peers.

So far that has been working out quite nicely. The only difference betwen authors in our New Writers Series and those other authors on the site is that those with the Red Letter notations behind their names are actively seeking the advice and counsel of their peers. Thus the red flags to draw your attention to them, as well as the threads here in this part of the forums so they may be conveniently addressed.

I think that most of the comments made are to the point and are good. I really don't want any of our folks, though, to get the idea that they have the right to "pistol whip" anyone participating in the program or that anyone is senior to anyone else.

A good example is the reference to the wearing of make-up by male students in public schools. It is a widespread practice for the kids with the "goth" look or whatever to do so. It is so common and widespread that it, in itself, has become a non-issue with most students... just a way of self-expression. The gay issue, however, is another thing. But to say that Joey doesn't know what he is talking about on this matter is not wise. Unless you are a teacher, administrator, student or parent you probably are not in a position to comment on that. And since Joey, as he points out in his bio, IS a speech and drama teacher at a public school, I would probably defer to him on this matter.

I think it is just too easy to generalize and frame things our own limited views of the world. As writers I would hope that everyone would be a little more open minded as we try provide help to those who have requested it.

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I just wanted to say that I'm finding this particular thread extremely interesting.

Constructive criticism that is also supportive is often hard to find. I think writebymyself and blue have been doing an excellent job.

I'm looking forward to this thread, and others like it, continuing.

Graeme

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Well, when I read Tragic Rabbit's replies last night, it made me put on my thinking cap. So you'll get a couple of big, long, wordy posts after this one. Hope they help.

Hey, Tragic Rabbit. I have a couple of replies to post. Reading through the thread tonight, I see a couple of things.

1. YOU DO NOT SUCK! (Well, not at writing, anyway, what you do with friends is none of my business. Heheh. Just teasin'. No probs with that here.)

2. Nifty: Mixed bag. Some real gems, some crap, some not to meet in a dark alley. -- I read things there.

3. Read Driver's "Falling Off a Log." It'll make you laugh and cry and want to take guitar and sing.

4. What WBMS said about pacing and description is good. What amount of detail reveals the characters and the setting and mood? It's a play, in words. -- I'm an amateur at writing, too. What they teach, even in college, is not like actually structuring and painting with words, is it? Yup. I agree.

5. Your writing is NOT "utter shyte" by any means! Far from it! You've started a wonderful story and I'd like to read it. Please don't give up on it. I really hate when a nice story isn't completed.

6. "How non-white would be received?!" Please buddy, you are welcome here. I don't know how else to say it. :'(

7. Here's how you do a quote: [ quote ] Omit spaces between the square brackets and the tag name. [ /quote ]

8. Where do you find a proofreader or editor or "beta reader," to use a fanfic term? Ask here. There are writers and editors/proofers here. Let me think on it, OK? I only have to think about it time-wise. (I edit Perry and Jesse. I started editing with V-19 or V-20.)

-----

Below, I've realized I refer to teens as "kids." Major Oops. As a teen, I *hated* that. I was *not* a kid. I respected adults and wanted them to respect me as a *teen* and not talk down to me.

So, teens and anyone younger, I really, really apologize. The only difference being an "adult" brings is experience, or seasoning, and your hormones calm back down to a reasonable level, but they're still there. (Trust me, you'll still get horny. Ahem.) There are plenty of "adults" who are immature and plenty of teens or younger kids who are mature. The best is to keep your child-like sense of wonder and fun and optimism. Oh, seems like I climbed up on a soapbox. Sorry.

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Hello, Tragic Rabbit.

Oh boy, long reply here.

I've now read through all the chapters so far.

Sorry you're having computer troubles. You might try writing your replies in a text editor and then cutting and pasting into the forum.

I meant initial impressions, when I said Angel seemed campy or flaming at first. I also didn't mean it in the phony, negative sense (well, not entirely). It's clear even beginning in Chs. 1 and 2 that he isn't just being over the top or in your face, and as things develop, we see that he has reasons in his past that contribute to him being up front and (outwardly at least) unworried about how he presents himself. I guess that reflects how the public and even gays or questioning folks get worried about someone who fits the stereotype in some way. Yes, it also says something about what I'm comfortable with or used to or have issues with.

Angel is a sympathetic character. Compare him with Jem ("Princess Sparkles") in Ryan K.'s One Life, and you'll see right away that Angel is clearly not like the scarily out-there Jem. (BTW, I figure there's more to that character than we've seen so far.)

First impressions again on the sex scenes in Ch. 1 and 2. Very quickly, we're introduced to two or three hurried, teen hormone-filled scenes and a couple of dream sequences.

So as a reader, my first impression is to wonder if this is a quickie (j/o) or a farce, or quite what story reasons the author might have for starting that way. As things go along, it's clear this isn't a quickie or a farce, it's serious and honest.

BUT - From that we learn very quickly that Angel is not your typical straight-acting boy and that the guys and girls in drama are comfortable enough together that things happen from the excitement of the moment and ongoing friendships. We also learn immediately who he likes/loves/trusts.

However, most of the stories I read on Nifty had studly, muscled, straight-acting, athletic, rich men who were hung like race-horses so I wanted some characters of another kind, characters that seemed more realistic to ME.

Yup. I agree wholeheartedly on that. The stories I like tend to have recognizably true-to-life characters. That can mean just about any personality or body type for a character. -- I am not Mr. Macho, not a race-horse (sorry to disappoint!), just average. That pale, skinny, quiet brain in school? That was me, friendly but not a party animal.

I wasn't fishing about you or about Angel. I'm Anglo, but I *expect* diversity; I'd feel strange and incomplete without it. Drama kid, meet a language geek. :) If it's shown as a natural part of the characters, that makes sense. We are both just as likely to buy bread as tortillas. That's a lame example, but it's concrete. If people have a problem with that, then it's not *your* problem, they just don't (or won't) understand. To me, it's bad writing and worse ideology when it's pointed out endlessly just how (stereotypically) ethnic some guy is.

'Disagreeing' about high school sex? Not quite. It was my first impression from Chs. 1 and 2, because of how it works in introducing the story, how it's immediately there. Maybe it would be good to show how, for teens, it's so often incomplete, interrupted, not private, frustrating, or just plain not there or not all that they'd want -- along with how it can be a long, steady relationship, a casual friendliness, a sudden surprise, or many other things, new and complex. Unrealistic? Heh, those hormones kick into overdrive for all of us in our teens. So spontaneous attractions or hard-ons, for no reason, or dreams, solo, the sudden need to go take care of it, but not always the opportunity at the time...yes, all of those. Also the hesitant, "I really like him. How can I work around to ask him? Is it right to do that? What if he says no?" That, too. Also finding out that someone wasn't interested before asking, or that maybe they were, or rejection, or being outed, or all of the kinds of cautious maybe's or yes's. -- See, it's how it comes across, degree or quality, not that it's there.

I mean, I read these stories, right, so obviously I like what's there. Um, frankly, past history and personal experience and unresolved religious questions enter into it for me. When I first found *stories* online, not just a jumble of classy and classless pictures, wow. Then when I found that some of those stories had more than just Wham-Bam-Thank-You-Sam, but that they had people I could relate to, experiences so like mine...amazing. I needed that, big-time. There are blogs and boards? I can actually *talk* to people like me, safely? Thank God. -- It looks like you are finding that out now.

Beginning with Ch. 3 and onward, it looks like you are learning quickly and hitting your stride. Interactions and conversations and inner thoughts take over, and the sex gets more balanced. I think you're on the right track. Compare a written story with a script. The words in the former have to take the place of the stage directions and all of the things that a stage production shows about the scene and cast. The written piece has room for lots of extras too, that a play doesn't have time to show; two different art forms, both tell a story.

:arrow: Suppose you had to write out a novelization of a short skit or one-act play. (Do they do that as a drama exercise?) Your task is to describe all the important parts of the scene, and include the dialogue as-is or add to it. Maybe that will help you figure it out. The storytelling varies with the type of impact you're going for.

Look at books you like to see how they're structured. Ack, lit. criticism, sorta takes the fun out of reading a fav. book, huh? Just keep it in the back of your mind as you read. I'm sort of assuming that a theatre major would have some of the same composition and lit. classes, so I figure you have some idea of it. I can see you like poetry.

I think you're stressing over pacing from what people are telling you, but I think you're figuring that out as you go. It makes me wonder if I missed your intent in 1 and 2, because after them, you seem to change pace.

OK, I see as the story goes along that Angel gets concern and flak for how he dresses and acts. You handle that really well. Yes, that and the other issues you cover, those are spot-on too. Good story material. So yes, you're covering that well. Been there, friends or myself. Not fun, but needs to be talked about.

Where and when I went to high school (public school, outskirts of a big city, suburbs and otherwise, middle class and lower) Angel would've been sent to the office for dress code. Heck, you could go the office for hair over your collar or facial hair or an "inappropriate" (metal music) t-shirt. This was right as Madonna was coming onto the scene and right before Boy George. Trying to explain who Boy George to my parents was...different. ;) I'm not sure how they'd deal with all the variety you see now. But a teacher friend of mine commented that the boy in that Sprint(?) commercial, who's going out with a very mild club-kid look (tail, punk hair, earring, necklace) would not be tolerated by the kids where she teaches. -- Not how I was brought up, but it's silly for people to get uptight about it, isn't it? I got a big kick out of how adults reacted when one kid at church showed up with a bright red dye-job. The kids and younger adults got it; the older adults either got it or were mystified or disapproved.

Thanks for suggesting that I develop the teachers. I originally had the idea that this might be more a kid-space story but maybe it would be better the other way. I'm not sure but open to suggestion.

I'd say the drama kids are the main characters, but she is an important supporting character. She's important to them, so demonstrate why. The role of the teachers or counselors in the story and how the young guys and girls think of them determines the size and importance of their roles.

--------

New Stuff:

Wow, as the story goes on, you've got a lot of good stuff, story-wise, coming in. Backstory that explains who Angel is and why; phobia with Ryan; ambiguity with Gene and Michael; poor Bobby's situation.

Gene: I sort of expected him to be a sympathetic straight who turned out to be a friend. Didn't expect him and Michael to have anything going. Not complaining, just surprised a little.

Bobby: Poor guy. I guess we'll see what happens in Ch. 6. Ugh, his parents and those pamphlets.

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Here are some things I'm going crazy trying to figure out:

1) is the dialogue believable or not? if not, why not?

2) are the characters likable? if so, which and how? if not, why?

3) are the scenes interspersed in a way that is effective? if not, why?

4) am i getting any kind of thread going that is coherent? if not, how can i improve?

5) i guess the above comments let me know that my worries about pacing or character development were well founded and that i've farked up...any details on how to fix this are appreciated. talk in small words.

6) how are the sex scenes (AS sex scenes)? how are they are part of the story?

7) what, if anything, am i doing right?

8) what are the worst parts of my prose--i need a list to tack up by my monitor of what NOT to do.

(The 8 + ")" gets transformed into a smiley. Try "8." instead.)

Definitely getting better and making sense. Stage Fright ?= Writer's Block? Breathe in, breathe out.

Spelling note, common problem, hardly just you: "a breath" without a final E for the noun; "to breathe" with final E for the verb. Don't recall if you missed it, but it happens a lot. (Crazy English spelling....)

1. Your dialogue's fine, to me. If you need slang or sentence fragments or dialect, that's fine too, in dialogue. If you do need to write dialect, less is more, i.e. don't respell every word phonetically. A word or two will get the message across. Doesn't look like any of the chars. need dialect, though.

2. Still getting to know the chars., some of the major chars. might could use some more details, so we see their depth; Jaye, for instance. Not sure how Doug or Camille will fit in, major, minor, extra. Getting a good idea of who Angel and Bobby are. Gene and Michael get some detail fairly quickly, also Anthony. When we first see Gene, we learn he's a little cool and distant, Spock-like. If I weren't a Trek fan, I might wonder if that was a little shorthand, how he's first presented, but it works for me. Each time he talks with Angel and in the confrontation scene in ch. 4, we get a better idea of who Gene is. All the characters that are supposed to be likeable or ambiguous (good, bad, both, neither) or villains come off as they should.

3. Scene changes. Try indenting the quotes from plays or poems, except if the chars. are delivering the lines within the story. If you have a major act or scene change that seems to need it, use a line with a few dashes or stars as a cue to the reader for the separation. It also helps Dude or any editor to know how to format the story for posting on the site.

Because of that, it took a little while to know whether the actors were saying their lines or whether the quotes were there to indicate a change. For the same reason, it took a moment to realize when a dream sequence began and ended. Interior dialogue (thoughts or soliloquy) might have the same issue. The quotes are a nice, artful way to add to the story, and very appropriate for a story about a drama club (or language arts or journalism/lit. mag. or foreign language clubs). The dream sequences add psych. interest too. The tech. aspect is all I'd mention. Use your judgment on when an act or scene change should be abrupt or gentle in transition.

Please do keep the quotes and the variety. It adds to the story and helps distinguish it. It's right for a drama club story. Just nice all around. Hey, Tragic Rabbit's literate! Not litter he ate. ;)

4. Threads. I think those are there, it's a little early in the story to tell. Char. arcs with Angel and Jaye, Angel and Bobby, Bobby and his parents, Angel and his parents, Angel's changing perception of Gene, Angel and Michael, Gene and Michael, the Drama Club and the Bullies among the Jocks and school. You have a recurring cat motif going, too, as a sexual metaphor. Angel as representative of drama itself. How Doug, Camille, Trey, Anthony, Ms. Robi, or John enter into it, not sure. You've introduced some of the conflicts, maybe not all.

5. Heheheh. Well, I hope I've covered that. For the record, still I don't think you've screwed up. Anything we need to clarify for you, just ask. (Who said we make sense or know what we're talking about?)

6. Hope I've clarified that a little; I think I confused/frustrated you before. The sex scenes seem a little quick/brief, but that does kinda fit with what high school was like. Otherwise the scenes are alright. Wish it could be as simple and comfortable in my own life. Shyness, self-doubt, and past history, here. We know who's involved. How did they get involved? How close are they, what kind of relationship? Case in point: Gene. It surprised me for Gene to be gay and with Michael. Even if Michael or Gene were not, it would make sense (and was handled well) how Michael exited and got Gene (offstage) to break up the fight. So maybe a little background on them would be good. Maybe that's ahead anyway. How do the scenes fit with the story? Hmm. Tough question. Not sure. In a couple of places we do get clues that Bobby is insecure about his feelings, which becomes important in Ch. 5. Oh, one other item. The red dream sequence. I'll take that as foreshadowing, but I don't know for sure if it was for the fight with Ryan, the situation with Bobby, both, or some future event. It adds a psychological thriller element which is interesting.

7. Hope I've answered that. Prob'ly more right than you think. (Jeez, this Blue guy is long-winded when he posts.)

8. Hope I've answered that too. Nothing jumped out at me as, "don't *do* that!"

WHEW! You still awake, there? Did I bore ya to tears? Didn't drive you to tears by criticizing the story, did I? (Please, no.) Jeez, what's with this Blue character, anyway? -- Well, it's a chance to talk to people about something I've kept bottled up for a long time, for one. For another, I like writing and like liberal arts. Maybe you can tell.... ;)

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asking...

So, you interested in proofing my next story? :)

That being said I hope Dude didn't think I was 'pistol-whipping' our boy. I was trying to help and reply to his questions. If I didn't like the story I wouldn't be wasting my time answering him. I think he's worth it. So there :)

Of course Blue says it better than I do.....

-- wbms

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Put that pistol down, babe

Put that pistol down...

Pistol packin' mama,

Put that pistol down...

LOL.. sorry about the pistol whipping remark... a weak attempt at humor. Your efforts are appreciated by all, wibby, including Joey... I am sure.

I agree Drama Club and its author are well worth our time and investment in it. Joey writes with a passion that is hard to find these days. I wish I had a dozen of him! :D

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[

Hello' date=' Tragic Rabbit.

Oh boy, long reply here.

I've now read through all the chapters so far.

Sorry you're having computer troubles. You might try writing your replies in a text editor and then cutting and pasting into the forum.

I meant initial impressions, when I said Angel seemed campy or flaming at first. I also didn't mean it in the phony, negative sense (well, not entirely). It's clear even beginning in Chs. 1 and 2 that he isn't just being over the top or in your face, and as things develop, we see that he has reasons in his past that contribute to him being up front and (outwardly at least) unworried about how he presents himself. I guess that reflects how the public and even gays or questioning folks get worried about someone who fits the stereotype in some way. Yes, it also says something about what I'm comfortable with or used to or have issues with.

Angel is a sympathetic character. Compare him with Jem ("Princess Sparkles") in Ryan K.'s One Life, and you'll see right away that Angel is clearly not like the scarily out-there Jem. (BTW, I figure there's more to that character than we've seen so far.)

First impressions again on the sex scenes in Ch. 1 and 2. Very quickly, we're introduced to two or three hurried, teen hormone-filled scenes and a couple of dream sequences.

So as a reader, my first impression is to wonder if this is a quickie (j/o) or a farce, or quite what story reasons the author might have for starting that way. As things go along, it's clear this isn't a quickie or a farce, it's serious and honest. ]

********************** (this quote thing just isn't working out for me)

Well, it started off as just a sketch and was, yes, something of a j/o oriented farce. I planned (and still plan) on another story entirely. When readers said they liked this one, though, I kept at it and by Part 3, I'd become sort of attached to the storyline and characters in a way I could never have anticipated doing. I sometimes feel as if the characters really exist in some way and are doing things on the page when I'm not looking but that make sense in their lives/story. Today, I saw a boy who reminded me of Angel, a person I made up completely. I just can't express how much I'm enjoying this whole process.

However, its not my intention to litter the bandwidth so I want to do the best job I can with Drama Club. This WILL include reworking from the beginning but I'm loathe to do that until I've finished. At that point, I'll have what could be considered a first draft and then, if interest hasn't evaporated, can mold it into something a little better. By then, I should be a better writer, too, as in MY tiny opinion, I'm learning Part by Part. At least that's my thought, that the mistakes are lessening. Or maybe I'm just making new ones each chapter.

*********************************

[ BUT - From that we learn very quickly that Angel is not your typical straight-acting boy and that the guys and girls in drama are comfortable enough together that things happen from the excitement of the moment and ongoing friendships. We also learn immediately who he likes/loves/trusts.

However, most of the stories I read on Nifty had studly, muscled, straight-acting, athletic, rich men who were hung like race-horses so I wanted some characters of another kind, characters that seemed more realistic to ME.[/quote ]

Yup. I agree wholeheartedly on that. The stories I like tend to have recognizably true-to-life characters. That can mean just about any personality or body type for a character. -- I am not Mr. Macho, not a race-horse (sorry to disappoint!), just average. That pale, skinny, quiet brain in school? That was me, friendly but not a party animal.

I wasn't fishing about you or about Angel. I'm Anglo, but I *expect* diversity; I'd feel strange and incomplete without it. Drama kid, meet a language geek. :) If it's shown as a natural part of the characters, that makes sense. We are both just as likely to buy bread as tortillas. That's a lame example, but it's concrete. If people have a problem with that, then it's not *your* problem, they just don't (or won't) understand. To me, it's bad writing and worse ideology when it's pointed out endlessly just how (stereotypically) ethnic some guy is. ]

***************************

I think I may have expressed myself badly. I wasn't calling anyone a racist nor did I mean that comment to be in regard to myself. I only meant that people seem to read most about white people in the same way that people, of all colors, tend to buy white dolls for their children and that's only in part because white dolls (like white characters in films and fiction) are more common. Its the dominant culture, the dominant archtype, whatever, so that's what people identify with. I made Angel (Angelo de la Torres, but this isn't mentioned for some time in the story) Latino but I didn't want to draw attention to it. I wasn't saying any of you or any of the readers were excessively white or hostile towards non-whites, only that readers might choose not to finish stories with Latino main characters. I've already decided that wasn't accurate but its hard to tell from what I've read thus far online.

Speaking of what I'ver read in the six weeks since I discovered all this stuff (Nifty, etc), I wanted to say that, while almost all of it was forgettable at best, six or eight stories were the reason that I kept sifting through and reading and were ALSO the reason I decided to put finger to keyboard. One of those was, coincidentally, The Boyfriend so imagine how pleased I was to find it here AND a related story in the works (which I've now read and I could just kiss David all over but that's another tail). So if Drama Club gives you a headache or clogs up the drains at AwesomeDude, blame Keith (sorry, Keith!) and a few others.

**************************

[ 'Disagreeing' about high school sex? Not quite. It was my first impression from Chs. 1 and 2, because of how it works in introducing the story, how it's immediately there. Maybe it would be good to show how, for teens, it's so often incomplete, interrupted, not private, frustrating, or just plain not there or not all that they'd want - ]

**************************

I'm going to try to do that but am not sure it'll work out. Its not the main focus right now, though, but I do think it'd make the whole thing more realistic.

*******************************

[ - along with how it can be a long, steady relationship, a casual friendliness, a sudden surprise, or many other things, new and complex. Unrealistic? Heh, those hormones kick into overdrive for all of us in our teens. So spontaneous attractions or hard-ons, for no reason, or dreams, solo, the sudden need to go take care of it, but not always the opportunity at the time...yes, all of those. Also the hesitant, "I really like him. How can I work around to ask him? Is it right to do that? What if he says no?" That, too. Also finding out that someone wasn't interested before asking, or that maybe they were, or rejection, or being outed, or all of the kinds of cautious maybe's or yes's. -- See, it's how it comes across, degree or quality, not that it's there. ]

***********************

I'm confused. When did this all change? :lol:

***************************

[ I mean, I read these stories, right, so obviously I like what's there. Um, frankly, past history and personal experience and unresolved religious questions enter into it for me. When I first found *stories* online, not just a jumble of classy and classless pictures, wow. Then when I found that some of those stories had more than just Wham-Bam-Thank-You-Sam, but that they had people I could relate to, experiences so like mine...amazing. I needed that, big-time. There are blogs and boards? I can actually *talk* to people like me, safely? Thank God. -- It looks like you are finding that out now. ]

*******************

Finding people I can talk to about these gay romances/erotica or finding people I can talk to about being gay?

Mother always insisted there WERE no 'people like me'. I always hoped she meant something nice by that. :?

*********************************

[ Beginning with Ch. 3 and onward, it looks like you are learning quickly and hitting your stride. Interactions and conversations and inner thoughts take over, and the sex gets more balanced. I think you're on the right track. Compare a written story with a script. The words in the former have to take the place of the stage directions and all of the things that a stage production shows about the scene and cast. The written piece has room for lots of extras too, that a play doesn't have time to show; two different art forms, both tell a story.

:arrow: Suppose you had to write out a novelization of a short skit or one-act play. (Do they do that as a drama exercise?) Your task is to describe all the important parts of the scene, and include the dialogue as-is or add to it. Maybe that will help you figure it out. The storytelling varies with the type of impact you're going for.

Look at books you like to see how they're structured. Ack, lit. criticism, sorta takes the fun out of reading a fav. book, huh? Just keep it in the back of your mind as you read. I'm sort of assuming that a theatre major would have some of the same composition and lit. classes, so I figure you have some idea of it. I can see you like poetry. ]

********************************

I love poetry but less than prose. I didn't major in theatre because my high school theatre teacher always told us not to. And never, never to work in soap operas if we could help it. But mainly she told us to get real jobs.

*************************

[ I think you're stressing over pacing from what people are telling you, but I think you're figuring that out as you go. It makes me wonder if I missed your intent in 1 and 2, because after them, you seem to change pace.

OK, I see as the story goes along that Angel gets concern and flak for how he dresses and acts. You handle that really well. Yes, that and the other issues you cover, those are spot-on too. Good story material. So yes, you're covering that well. Been there, friends or myself. Not fun, but needs to be talked about. ]

**************************

I think Angel is becoming sort of the focal point for what a lot of characters in the story find objectionable in any gay person/teenager. He is what they are but writ large. Maybe that's why some readers will find him a slightly uncomfortable main character?

**********************************************

[ Where and when I went to high school (public school, outskirts of a big city, suburbs and otherwise, middle class and lower) Angel would've been sent to the office for dress code. Heck, you could go the office for hair over your collar or facial hair or an "inappropriate" (metal music) t-shirt. ]

*********************

I didn't say it was easy or encouraged in the dress code. What happens is this:

You do it and do it and do it (and get shat on and shat on again) until finally they quit writing you up, quit sending you out and quit farking with you. If not you, then the next kid. That's how it happens and still happens and will always happen, in my opinion. I never said it was 'allowed' in the sense that there was any kind of official approval or widespread support from the student body.

Its not fun to walk through campus and know all heads are turning to look. But if that's what you have to do to feel sane and be the person you need to be, then you do it, if you can work up a little courage, not much, maybe five minutes at time, here and there, and then you....just....do it. Same thing for kids who wear their hair longer/shorter/shaved or their skin tattooed. You think its easy to walk through a school with fourteen piercings in your face? Of course not, so why do kids do it?

Because they can't not. And slowly, things change, if not for that kid then for the next one.

Anyway, that's how I see it.

********************************

[ This was right as Madonna was coming onto the scene and right before Boy George. Trying to explain who Boy George to my parents was...different. ;) I'm not sure how they'd deal with all the variety you see now. But a teacher friend of mine commented that the boy in that Sprint(?) commercial, who's going out with a very mild club-kid look (tail, punk hair, earring, necklace) would not be tolerated by the kids where she teaches. -- Not how I was brought up, but it's silly for people to get uptight about it, isn't it? I got a big kick out of how adults reacted when one kid at church showed up with a bright red dye-job. The kids and younger adults got it; the older adults either got it or were mystified or disapproved.

Thanks for suggesting that I develop the teachers. I originally had the idea that this might be more a kid-space story but maybe it would be better the other way. I'm not sure but open to suggestion.
]

*********************

I started adding more depth to the dance teacher. He's dedicated to my closet. :p

**************************

[ I'd say the drama kids are the main characters, but she is an important supporting character. She's important to them, so demonstrate why. The role of the teachers or counselors in the story and how the young guys and girls think of them determines the size and importance of their roles.

--------

New Stuff:

Wow, as the story goes on, you've got a lot of good stuff, story-wise, coming in. Backstory that explains who Angel is and why; phobia with Ryan; ambiguity with Gene and Michael; poor Bobby's situation.

Gene: I sort of expected him to be a sympathetic straight who turned out to be a friend. Didn't expect him and Michael to have anything going. Not complaining, just surprised a little.

Bobby: Poor guy. I guess we'll see what happens in Ch. 6. Ugh, his parents and those pamphlets.

]

*****************************

Since I slowed the P-A-C-E :oops: , events aren't as far along at the end of Part Six as I'd expected. Bobby doesn't reappear in real time until Part Seven, for instance. Just thought I'd mention.

PLEASE let me know if any element of the story, any character or thread of the plot (or the whole plot) has a problem or is getting offbase. The one thing that seems really hard is keeping all of it in my head at one time and trying to see a coherent whole. Its like looking in a hand mirror to see if your suit looks good. Grrr.

I had some questions but they've gone out of my head. :wink:

Kisses...

Tragic Rabbit

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[ LOL.. sorry about the pistol whipping remark... a weak attempt at humor. Your efforts are appreciated by all, wibby, including Joey... I am sure.

I agree Drama Club and its author are well worth our time and investment in it. Joey writes with a passion that is hard to find these days. I wish I had a dozen of him! :D ]

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Dude's only sayin' that because I'll let him cyber with me for hours at night. God, he's so hot.

"Dude lay in the moonlight, glorying in his nakedness while TRabbit hastily shucked off his clothes and dove for it." Film at 11.

No, seriously, thanks to all of you for the advice and pats on the head. I need them. I'm not only new at this but I've got the all the self-esteem of John Bobbitt in a tearoom.

Kisses...

Tragic Rabbit

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Hey, you don't need to quote the previous posts unless something particularly needs it. Folks ought to read the whole thread. The slash in the ends a quoted passage.

BTW, if you don't know, the term "slash fic" refers to same-sex pairings, sometimes against char., in fanfic, from "boy/boy, girl/girl," that sort of thing.

Tragic Rabbit said:

When readers said they liked this one, though, I kept at it and by Part 3, I'd become sort of attached to the storyline and characters in a way I could never have anticipated doing. I sometimes feel as if the characters really exist in some way and are doing things on the page when I'm not looking but that make sense in their lives/story. Today, I saw a boy who reminded me of Angel, a person I made up completely. I just can't express how much I'm enjoying this whole process.

Heh, you've got the writing bug, alright. Wait'll they insist on doing something you didn't expect, or do something you'd never do yourself.

Relationships, meeting, dating -- LOL, Yeah, you're right, when *did* those change? Archetypes.

Finding people I can talk to about these gay romances/erotica or finding people I can talk to about being gay?

All those.

Mother always insisted there WERE no 'people like me'. I always hoped she meant something nice by that.

You're only half kidding; maybe not kidding. -- My parents loved me and said I could tell them anything. Somehow I got the message, "anything but ~that.~" I don't know if it was true.

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I think I understand now what your approach or intent is with Angel, kind of an anti-hero, or at least someone that many people would only look at on the surface.

I get your point about makeup, too. I get it about performing, no question. I think I get it about personal style. Yet, I balked. Why? Do I think it's effeminate? I know better, from history. I had a friend whose voice and manner fit the "effeminate" or "gay" stereotype. He was a great guy; I honestly didn't care, and said so publicly. (I think they moved before graduation.) Maybe, like usual, I'm over-thinking this. -- Strange to be uncertain over something basically trivial.

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Chapter 6 was terrific. The surrealistic scenes at the start made sense. Bobby's mother, not getting it at all. Mary, trying to get it but not quite there, embarrassing Angel. Angel getting a reprimand from John at just the wrong time. Gene's astute reaction. Michael choosing the wrong time and getting the wrong reaction, from someone unprepared for the idea. Angel and Jaye's relationship clarified somehow.

Bobby's mother and father, and the whole "deprogramming" thing. You said it, very Manchurian Candidate. -- I know people who think that way.

You said a whole lot in how Angel simply turned his head and looked away, saddened and embarrassed. I know that feeling.

When I first posted in this thread, I said that Angel and I might be polar opposites. I meant it somewhat jokingly, but partly seriously too.

However, I'd be lying through my teeth if I said I'd never been harrassed or never second-guessed myself just for an inflection or a movement, or for being stared at for no damn reason I could fathom, just because I'm me. I don't really think "it" "shows." Other times, I wonder if there's this big, glowing, lavender neon sign on my forehead...or one of those blue dots. (By the way, I didn't know about handkerchiefs or that bit about, "what if every gay person turned blue for a day," when I chose to go by Blue.)

...Er, sorry, guys, I think I went off on a rant there for a second. Please bear with me. Tragic Rabbit may feel all new and vulnerable about his writing. I'm sitting in this figurative closet, trying to peek out. I told someone today and didn't get rejected. I was scared to death. I live in one of the biggest cities in my state, nation, this planet, with a well-known gay part of town, arts, alternative, the works. I've been there, but never to go to a gay bar or...anything. I have no idea who knows or suspects, except for probably a few former roommates or classmates. No one ever, ever was *impolite* or honest or ~whatever~ enough to seriously ask me, except in cases where I felt sure I was being baited in school. Damn it, this is not fun. -- I have lived with this for a long time, and I'm not going anywhere or doing anything stupid or unsafe.

Sorry to vent, folks. -- I'm really thankful the person I told didn't tell me to get lost (or worse).

A big thanks to everyone here, who's helped just by being here. -- Again, I'm here and not goin' anywhere. -- Thanks for listening to a guy in a "closet" have a semi-public meltdown. Needed to get it off my chest.

Tragic Rabbit, you rock, don't let anybody tell you different.

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...Er, sorry, guys, I think I went off on a rant there for a second. Please bear with me. Tragic Rabbit may feel all new and vulnerable about his writing. I'm sitting in this figurative closet, trying to peek out. I told someone today and didn't get rejected. I was scared to death. I live in one of the biggest cities in my state, nation, this planet, with a well-known gay part of town, arts, alternative, the works. I've been there, but never to go to a gay bar or...anything. I have no idea who knows or suspects, except for probably a few former roommates or classmates. No one ever, ever was *impolite* or honest or ~whatever~ enough to seriously ask me, except in cases where I felt sure I was being baited in school. Damn it, this is not fun. -- I have lived with this for a long time, and I'm not going anywhere or doing anything stupid or unsafe.

Sorry to vent, folks. -- I'm really thankful the person I told didn't tell me to get lost (or worse).

A big thanks to everyone here, who's helped just by being here. -- Again, I'm here and not goin' anywhere. -- Thanks for listening to a guy in a "closet" have a semi-public meltdown. Needed to get it off my chest.

Tragic Rabbit, you rock, don't let anybody tell you different.

BIG HUGS, BLUE!

Angel says to tell you two things: First, that, yeah, it's really, really scarey to tell people that even though the worst thing you imagine almost never happens. And, secondly, that it gets easier each time you do it, promise. The payoff in relaxation is amazing.

Gene says: Like yourself, Blue! Guess what? You're a nice person! Tell, not tell, doesn't matter, just be sure to LIKE yourself.

Kisses...

Tragic Rabbit

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:D Thanks, Joey. A big hug back. And to Angel and Gene and the rest, a big thank you. Here's a card and flowers :rose: for Bobby, when he gets out of ICU, who's braver than he thinks.

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Busy like a Rabbit, aren'tcha? Quiet transitional chapter, right up 'til we get the kicker at the end. Bwahahah! Yes, folks, Rabbit knows about cliffhangers, suspense, and misunderstandings as keys to dramatic conflict. Clever, devious Rabbit.

Did you know that in at least one fandom, there are "Fluffy Plot Bunnies" and "Shippy Plot Bunnies," but the ones to really watch out for are the "Evil Plot Bunnies?" (That group of plot bunnies wear leather jackets and like to give writers great ideas for unexpected plot twists and character arcs.) -- I never knew there was a Tragic Rabbit plot bunny doing his own writing, though. But the last few chapters have proven it. (BTW, that's Farscape fandom, my handle over there is similar. Heh, *surprise,* if anybody's a fan of the show.

Yeah, I went on a tangent.

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Hmm. My own continuity meter must be off a bit. I can't recall if Gene's last name (Kuo) or being Asian American was mentioned earlier. Oops, had to revise my mental image slightly. Wasn't a huge thing for me, just a detail I hadn't known. By the way, I like that Gene and Angel are probably from families who've likely been here for generations. Extra style points for subtlety.

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Busy like a Rabbit, aren'tcha? Quiet transitional chapter, right up 'til we get the kicker at the end. Bwahahah! Yes, folks, Rabbit knows about cliffhangers, suspense, and misunderstandings as keys to dramatic conflict. Clever, devious Rabbit.

Did you know that in at least one fandom, there are "Fluffy Plot Bunnies" and "Shippy Plot Bunnies," but the ones to really watch out for are the "Evil Plot Bunnies?" (That group of plot bunnies wear leather jackets and like to give writers great ideas for unexpected plot twists and character arcs.) -- I never knew there was a Tragic Rabbit plot bunny doing his own writing, though. But the last few chapters have proven it. (BTW, that's Farscape fandom, my handle over there is similar. Heh, *surprise,* if anybody's a fan of the show.

Yeah, I went on a tangent.

-----

Hmm. My own continuity meter must be off a bit. I can't recall if Gene's last name (Kuo) or being Asian American was mentioned earlier. Oops, had to revise my mental image slightly. Wasn't a huge thing for me, just a detail I hadn't known. By the way, I like that Gene and Angel are probably from families who've likely been here for generations. Extra style points for subtlety.

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Danke, I hope that I am learning something about plot twists and such...I feel like I'm doing something right when readers email to yell about whatever, 'is bobby okay?', 'doesn't jaye know he loves angel?', "will gene tap angel?', 'will mike get angel to love him'...etc. Either I have their interest or they're bloody bored as fuck. I did feel that 7 was a quiet chapter until then, too, so...that's good. I think. I'm never sure if its getting boring but, on the other hand, I don't want melodrama. Is it melodrama?More on this concern below.

Never heard of Fluffy Bunnies other than Yours Truly. Interesting.

The last names Kuo and de la Torres (Gene and Angel) were in my notes from the start but I deliberately didn't use them for awhile. I didn't want to dwell on their 'ethnicity' but did want it there and wasn't sure how to do it other than to drop something along the way, but not at first. Their ethnic backgrounds don't mean anything to their friends so I didn't want them to mean anything to the readers. Is this okay? Is is sufficient? I'm not sure although the Dude said he liked it that way. I know that it would matter to some readers, in real life anyway, and wanted to give them a chance to feel like it didn't , didn't matter...is that preachy or just real?

Gene Kuo was always meant to be ethnic Chinese via Taiwan. Should I describe something about him that points this out physically? I mean, is it necessary? Does it seem as if I'm being lazy if I don't? I'd rather just have him BE but if you think it needs something more, I can do that. It definitely doesn't matter to his friends, that's the only thing I wanted to show, really, by waiting. Friedman (Gene's debate coach) is a Jew, when he appears, does this need to be stated? Does the name make that evident? likely? beneath radar? Friedman is also 'handicapped', is that something that needs to be part of exposition or can it just be an aside, like the rest?

Is it necessary to state in some way that Bobby, Jaye and Michael are White? Is it obvious? Known? Irrelevant?What ethnicity does Anthony seem to be?

So, just in general, is this way of handling physical/ethnic differences an okay one? Does it work? Is it pretentious? Preachy? Is there any sense of awkwardness or discontinuity? If its just that you say, while reading, 'aha, gene's not white, he's chinese' then, okay, that's how I'd like you to feel but if its distracting, that's bad. Angel should seem pretty queer by the end of chapter one but not particularly seem Latino...if that works, its what I meant. They're gay, or drama or whatever, but the other stuff is supposed to be secondary...in my head anyway.

PROBLEM: On the plot, is it MELODRAMATIC? this would be bad, imo. I have ideas for where this story is going but am now second guessing myself on whether its overblown and melodramatic. Thoughts? Bobby is very depressed and I'm about to chuck the ten pages I just did on p.8 to rewrite and rethink how I present it. Is his obsession with being 'normal' reasonable or overblown? Should I concentrate on depression rather than the desire to be normal? Is this a reasonable or healthy thing to present teens thinking about?

Some violence is coming up (no spoilers), how can this be handled without resort to melodrama? How much is too much?

Is it reasonable that the action is all within a few days? The whole story will be in a two week time frame, is that okay? Is it done in a realisitic way? Is it a bad idea overall? What about when Parts go backwards and relive time periods already covered in a Part from the perspective of another character(s)? Is that done well? okay? is it distracting and awkward? What could I do to make it better?

How much should I listen to what readers say they want to see?

How much internal monologue is too much? I'm writing a lot for P.8 and then overthinking it and not sure. Is my dialogue a better way to present things? Btw, how IS my dialogue? If there are good or bad scenes of dialogue, what are they?

How real are the characters? How many characters can I reasonably present as upfront, downstage center? Can I bring some of them forward for more coverage without losing coherence? Anthony, Doug, Camille, Trey, Friedman? Is the fact that readers LIKE a character proof I'm doing it right or just proof of something else? Shouldn't some characters be DISliked? Are these characters multidimensional, with good and bad qualtiites both? How could I do a better job of that?

Okay, off to work on P.8 some more after a cold shower.

If the words aren't leaping out, should I leave it and return later or force myself through? If they're leaping but look bad to me, is that a cue to stop or to just let things happen?

It's really cool to me how real these people seem to me--and I know I made them up. I really like some of them...is this sick, creating a stable of friends out of the air? Is it normal?

How stupid is this whole story, overall? I mean....I dunno.

Is it okay to make this a little heavier than some readers seem to want it? How light is too light? How heavy is too heavy? Do I have to have a moral at the end, figuratively speaking? What if Exodus wins with Bobby, what if Angel were to wash his face and butch up....what if...what obligation, if any, do I have to present things in a positive way for gay readers, esp teenage ones? I remember you guys saying I shouldn't have people SMOKING because it sent the wrong 'message'...is that reasonable? What if I prefer the massage to the message?

Random, yes, heartfelt, though.

Tragic Rabbit

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Their ethnic backgrounds don't mean anything to their friends so I didn't want them to mean anything to the readers. Is this okay? Is is sufficient? I'm not sure although the Dude said he liked it that way. I know that it would matter to some readers, in real life anyway, and wanted to give them a chance to feel like it didn't , didn't matter...is that preachy or just real?

Generally, I think the deal in journalism is that it's considered politically incorrect to specify race in stories, except when there's a wanted criminal or something ("white male, about 25, 180 pounds, brown hair, scar on left face"). I believe the same is true with fiction, but it's dealer's choice. Provide as much description as you see fit.

I think one subtle way to do it is to let other characters describe the people for you. As in, "hey, have you always had this mole?" or "do your parents freak out if you date a white chick, you being Chinese and all?" I wouldn't mess with the Jewish thing at all; maybe mention the kid's out of school on the High Holy Days or something, but anything beyond that is too much to me.

On the plot, is it MELODRAMATIC? this would be bad, imo. I have ideas for where this story is going but am now second guessing myself on whether its overblown and melodramatic. Thoughts?

I've read your first chapter, and my gut feeling is things are happening a little too fast to me. Me personally, my preference is for stuff to develop slowly, and start coalescing over time. I think trying to pace yourself (and the story) is a tough thing to manage, while still keeping enough details going on to make the story interesting to readers (and yourself).

I think a lot of your questions really revolve around STRUCTURE, which to me involves how the plot develops over time, how the characters interact with each other, where the dramatic highlights (and lowlights) occur, and how things build to a climax. Both the novels I've written so far (Groovy Kind of Love and Jagged Angel) had a similar weird structural thing, where the real climax to the novel happens about 2/3 of the way in, and the rest of the story deals with the aftermath that follows, and how the lead character(s) react.

I think it's important to outline where you're going with a novel before you actually sit down to write it. But at the same time, just make very basic, superficial notes -- like maybe two or three sentences per chapter -- so you know the gist of what happens in each one. There's still lots of room for you to invent things, and you have to go into it knowing that the outline can and will radically change over time.

Some violence is coming up (no spoilers), how can this be handled without resort to melodrama? How much is too much?

It depends on the nature of the violence. I think about a dozen people die in Angel, and each incident was different. Some happened "on-camera," with the violence fairly visceral, and some of it was a lot more subtle. Some of it was sudden and shocking, and some of it built up over time. Every incident is different; there are no rules on this stuff.

The bottom line to me is to make the violence 100% realistic, so that even if it happens unexpectedly, the reader never says, "what the hell is going on? Why is this happening? This makes no sense!" For example, I have a school shooting in Angel, but I foreshadowed that with a couple of scenes beforehand, so we knew something was coming -- but we didn't know how or when it would happen.

How much internal monologue is too much? I'm writing a lot for P.8 and then overthinking it and not sure. Is my dialogue a better way to present things?

Hard to say. I find long stretches of dialog to take up much too many pages, and can be tedious to read. I think a balance has to be struck between descriptive prose and dialog. Less is more. If a dialog scene is relatively dull, and doesn't really reveal anything new or surprising about the characters, consider changing it to description instead.

Internal monologues can be tricky, depending on whether you're writing in 1st person or 3rd. I think a little of this goes a long way, but be wary of ever showing the thoughts of two different people in the same scene. That can get very messy, very quickly.

How many characters can I reasonably present as upfront, downstage center? Can I bring some of them forward for more coverage without losing coherence? Anthony, Doug, Camille, Trey, Friedman? Is the fact that readers LIKE a character proof I'm doing it right or just proof of something else? Shouldn't some characters be DISliked? Are these characters multidimensional, with good and bad qualtiites both?

I think there are no rules here. Hell, J.R.R. Tolkien had -- what? -- over 200 speaking characters in Lord of the Rings. I think Stephen King has over 100 in The Stand. But those two guys are far better writers than you and me.

My advice would be to keep in mind there are various levels of characters in a story. Some are peripheral to the plot, like "supporting players" in a movie, and we don't need to know much about them; some are the stars of the show, and we need to know anything and everything about them. Some are merely extras, and they may only have one or two sentences in the whole story.

I do think it's important to constantly think about conflict and emotion in the story, but at the same time, make sure that they're blended in with the plot smoothly enough that nothing seems contrived or phony. Villains (even minor ones) can provide a jumping-off point for major conflict: fight scenes (verbal or physical), threats, suspicion, fear, even blackmail or worse. I thought one of the most effective scenes in Groovy was one where the lead character sees a villain beat up a gay kid, but he doesn't do anything to stop it, because he's too afraid to say anything. All of us have been through this kind of situation, and even though it's harrowing and unpleasant, the point in my story was to reinforce the fear the lead character (and his boyfriend) had about being discovered. So the villain served a useful purpose here, even though he wasn't directly harrassing the lead character.

If the words aren't leaping out, should I leave it and return later or force myself through? If they're leaping but look bad to me, is that a cue to stop or to just let things happen?

I know better than to force myself to write when I'm not in the mood. If I ain't feelin' it, screw it. I walk away and try to relax, or work out, or watch TV, or listen to music. I've had some of my best mental bursts of energy just after a good workout -- pump iron to the point of exhaustion, come home, take a shower, then I'm in the mood to write.

I take a little notebook around with me everywhere, just in case some brilliant thought strikes me at an odd moment. I also keep a notebook by my bed, just on the miraculous possibility I'll get a good idea from a dream. (It's happened. One of the last scenes in Groovy came from a dream.)

When I get really blocked, sometimes I'll jump ahead in the story and write something totally unreleated to the current situation. Or if I have a problem opening a chapter, I'll begin somewhere in the middle of the chapter, write to the end, then read what I wrote, and then come up with some kind of opening that works.

Is it okay to make this a little heavier than some readers seem to want it? How light is too light? How heavy is too heavy? Do I have to have a moral at the end, figuratively speaking? What if Exodus wins with Bobby, what if Angel were to wash his face and butch up....what if...what obligation, if any, do I have to present things in a positive way for gay readers, esp teenage ones?

Screw that. Write from your gut, and write what you feel. I have to say, though, I felt like you got into the sex scenes very quickly, without a lot of build-up. That's just my opinion, and I'm not saying it's necessarily wrong -- just not the choice I would usually make.

I don't think every story has to have a moral, necessarily, but I learned from reading Joseph Campbell about how a lot of the greatest stories ever written present "a difficult moral decision that the lead character has to make." That's what influenced the way the story took a left turn in Jagged Angel, where up to a point, we mainly saw how the lead character reacted to different situations. We finally reach a scene where he has to actually act and make something happen, and that's a pivotal change.

A lot of the books on writing that I've read stress that you need to be able to sit down and come up with one sentence that describes the "theme" of your novel. In the case of Groovy, mine would be "true love is worth all the risks." In the case of Jagged Angel, I think it would be "you're better off being honest about who you are." It's hard to sum up 175,000 words in one sentence, but if you can just articulate this, I think it helps you know in your gut just exactly what your story is really about. Ask yourself, "what's the point? What am I really trying to say here? What will the reader feel when the story is over with? How much will the characters change from the beginning of the story to the end?" To me, that's the most important thing of all -- along with just following all the rules of good storytelling.

It's really cool to me how real these people seem to me--and I know I made them up. I really like some of them...is this sick, creating a stable of friends out of the air? Is it normal?

I can tell you there's a little of me in all the characers I've created -- good and bad. But even the bad people in my stories had little good moments, and weren't 100% awful. And the good characters all had flaws. To me, the flaws are what make them interesting, and what make them real.

I think you have to think of them as real people, in that you're describing a situation as if you watched it unfold. In the case of Groovy, because that was such a personal story to me, I felt like I lived some of the scenes (even ones that never resembled my own life). I actually felt a sense of loss when major characters died. Some of my readers were furious when I did it, but I pointed out that there were clues there all along that these characters' days were numbered, and that I always knew who was going to survive and who wasn't. So to me, don't worry about satisfying your readers. Satisfy yourself first and foremost, and hopefully you'll entertain some people along the way.

BTW, there's tons of good books that cover all of the above ad infinitum. I dunno if you've read any, but I list half a dozen writing books over in the "Writers Workshop" area. Lotta good tips there. I don't profess to knowing it all, but I do read a helluva lot, and I like to think I'm a much better writer today for having read these books. Without them, I just would've been flailing around in the dark, trying to guess at stuff I could've never figured out on my own.

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:arrow: How to show race / culture / language / religion -or- physical differences including handicaps? Don't try to minimize or accentuate those things. People do notice them. Don't get hung up on *any* positive or negative value placed on that. As the writer, you're both an objective journalist and a person with a viewpoint.

Since this is writing, readers can't tell anything about your characters unless you write it. A reader builds his mental image of a character from that. The details show up the way they'd run through the narrator's mind in person, here and there. How and when would you notice things about someone in person? How would you describe someone or some scene? Chances are, you mention what's most noticeable first and other things later, as they come up. Is someone very unique or different in some way? Go ahead and mention it right away. The narrator or audience would notice. If it is less apparent, mention it at points when it comes up.

If a reader is upset because you've described some feature, well, too bad. Chances are another reader is really thrilled you've just included a character like him or his best friend or his cousin, and you've proven by some detail that you actually know what that person is like. Whether that is being gay; or handicapped; or religious; or some odd trait...or anything, your readers should recognize cin?ma v?rit?. If it bothers them, they can !itch about it and you can know whether they're nutcases or not.

Look at The Least of These or look at Sequoyah's stuff. They've dealt with the issues of race or handicaps.

Don't overthink it. Write what comes naturally.

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:arrow: Physical descriptions of the characters? Racial cues? Most people notice those quickly, within their group or outside of it. They give each other details like first or last names or country names or physical features. They are likely to omit the group if the person being described is in the same group, but if it's important to clarify or goes against the usual perception, they'll say it. But maybe something else is more unique, so that will get mentioned first. Fairly quickly, though, your reader or listener will either ask for fuller physical descriptions or will start assuming based on preconceptions.

Your reader is coming into the story essentially clueless except for what you tell him. Or at least, he's like a new person just seeing it all for the first time. You, the author, are familiar with all the details, but your reader is just discovering them. What would you notice if you were new?

Some readers, it will really mess with their heads if they have to adjust their mental image on even the tiniest detail of looks or personality. It doesn't have to be race. Suppose you go through over ten chapters and suddenly find out one of the main characters has really bright, strawberry blond hair in a short cut. Huh? The author didn't say that in pages and pages of other description. Oh well, he doesn't have that nice brown hair you thought he did. Or you suddenly discover a character is Australian instead of American, which means the accent you've been hearing in your head is all wrong, and why wasn't he using Aussie slang? Sometimes it can be a major detail that is overlooked, and it can ruin the conception for the reader. -- I'm not picking on you, those are all from published mainstream novels.

It isn't a big deal if I as a reader find out quickly that I have to change my mental image. It gets to be a big deal if I as a reader have gotten really used to that mental image or really identify with it and find out, oops, no it wasn't that way at all. -- You haven't done that yet,

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:arrow: Melodrama? No, IMHO, your stuff isn't melodramatic. I haven't noticed soap suds except in the shower and kitchen where they belong. The only organs being played with are, well, they don't have keys! Good thing, a chastity belt would be really annoying.

Really, the dramatic tone has been fine throughout, not overwrought or underdone.

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WHOA! CALM DOWN!

Of course Bobby is depressed. Of course all his friends and family are up in the air. That would be tough on anybody. And many gay teens do go through depression and attempted suicide like that. I very nearly did. Years passed. I found fiction online after finding images. I even got brave enough to read non-fiction books specifically about being gay. What really struck me was that so much of it was just the way I had felt all those years, going back to my first true sexual feelings as a pre-teen. All the good and the bad, all of it. In non-fictional discussions and in fiction, what I had thought was just me, only me...was common. Some of the endings were disheartening. But some of them were more than I could hope for.

SO if some teen or adult reads your story, maybe they can see how, written out, other people are affected, how other gays and their friends feel, how it's possible to go on and build a new life.

Is Bobby's reaction believable? Is it believable for him to want to be "normal" or "healed?" Absolutely. My aunt would be helping his parents.

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How much should you listen to what readers want? They are not writing it. Blue or WBMS are not writing it. You are. You're the playwright and the director and the sponsor for the story you're writing. The story is what you imagine it to be. -- Just because I make some comment doesn't mean I'm right, for heaven's sake. What the flip do I know?

Is there something wrong in inventing imaginary characters and a story running around in your head? No. You seem to be in good company, anyway. I'd worry a lot more about the people who can't imagine or pretend than the ones who do. -- Example: Blue has notes and chapters running around on disc, on paper, or in his head for various mainstream stories. In college, Blue tore up two very short gay stories, in a fit of guilt, which was unfortunate, 'cause they were pretty good. But about a year ago, Blue wrote about four chapters of a story that took on a life of its own. The characters started insisting they say and do things. That was OK. What was worrisome was the mix of my personal life and my imagination and where I thought the story was going. I didn't want it to mix in details about myself; these were pretend characters, just a story. I didn't know what to make of where the story seemed to be headed. I chickened out. It's still sitting on disc, though. Without revealing details, I asked some creative friends what they thought. Was I nuts? Nope, they said. They thought maybe that meant I felt strongly about what I was writing and said that of course authors and artists include personal observations about oneself or others. They also said I could let the story take its course and see what happened or I could change its course if I wasn't happy with it. I still put it up for a while. I think I have an idea of what I want to do with it now.

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Your other questions? Only you can really answer them. What's the limit? You know what your limit is and what you'd do if you read a book or saw a play or movie, or if your students were going to read or see it. (Hope that didn't give you cold chills. Some of your students might feel relieved.) If you're not happy with how the story's shaping up, you know it. If the characters seem to insist that something isn't turning out right, or if they clam up, or even if they run hog-wild, you know on some level what the story needs to get back on track. If you need time to figure out where it got off track and how to fix it, well, that makes sense. What, it's supposed to spring from your forehead onto the page fully formed, instantly? I don't think so! I do hope you figure out your answers quickly. I'd like to know what happens.

You raise a lot of questions. I'd say the theatre analogy holds there too, mostly. Some people like the villains. Go figure. It can be fun to play the villain, for sure. The part's as important as you make it. "I'd rather have a walk-on part in the war, than a lead role in a cage," if you'll pardon a Pink Floyd quote. -- Just because some minor character has only one or two lines or just one scene, doesn't mean it's not important to the play. In The Empire Strikes Back Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) uses body language alone to show his frustration and sadness at being caged, and has an homage to Hamlet with C3PO's head as Yorick's skull. Yoda doesn't have a huge role either, but it's important.

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If it helps, remember that closet-boy here is reading it and hasn't run screaming from the aisles yet. As a high school guy, I would've blushed like crazy and felt guilty...and kept reading. ("Oh, wow, I wish one of my friends, like maybe ____, would do that with me. I'd sure like to do it with him.")

Well, presumably by now you've had that shower and slept some. Hope today looks better for ya.

AGAIN, RELAX! You're doing fine. Really.

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Hi, TragicRabbit,

Well, I've read 8 and 9: One heavy chapter and one to build some groundwork.

Eight was difficult. From what I've read and from my own experience, Bobby's self-doubts aren't all that uncommon, although his are writ large upon the stage. But it seems there really are people like Bobby's parents out there, and people like Bobby. Ryan, now there's one spooky guy, he needs to quit listening to "love gun." (No, not our Canadian Ryan, he's almost scarily well adjusted and way too smart.)

Nine seems to be building for the future. Mr. Friedman gets a carefully, enigmatically neutral intro, but he also seems to give his approval without saying so. We get a little background on Gene and Michael. Jaye does a slight course adjustment from his earlier response. Angel's internal monologue explains he was too angry to respond to Jeannie, Bobby's mother. Angel and Jaye have an unusual exchange; congrats on that, showing they have brains as well as hormones, and that sometimes the two (brains and hormones or two friends) don't agree.

I wonder where all those queer Vulcans are? ... Probably chasing all those queer Wookiees with the economy-sized Nair.... ;o)

Hey, Rabbit, I guess school has started up. I hope the students are off to a great start.

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