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Shades of Gray by Solsticeman

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I am so happy to see this story appear on awesomedude because it now gives me a chance to push the author into giving us more. That's a wicked thought, isn't it? But like most readers I like to see good characters continue and the flow of this story would allow that. We just have to ask politely.

Much of this story is based upon real life experiences for the author, but surely there is room for some additional thoughts even if they have to be fictional. No pressure mind you, just a suggestion that many readers would enjoy another look at such endearing young characters.

How many of us would have enjoyed finding a Gray in our lives so early on? Stories like this are well within the comfort zone of our fantasies. In all honesty, Solsticeman has chosen an interesting place to stop the story, but I can't call it a conclusion. The pitfall of writing about young characters is that they have a fictional life beyond the ending of a story and so this one begs a sequel.

I know that's asking a lot. Authors always have several irons in the fire at once, but if there is time...

My thanks to Solsticeman for sharing this delightful tale with us.

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Wow Chris, that's quite a shove in the right direction. I think my biggest problem will be (well actually its the 66k words opus thats in its way, but) the mother. Gray as a story became so centred around her that I need to go back to thinking about the boys in their own right. Maybe their niceness is a place to start. The poverty of kids whose fathers were injured or killed in the mines was as crushing as their fathers' injuries. I can picture the kid in our primary school class whose clothes were so ragged you could literally see his ass. So maybe that's where to begin... Yes, I just had an idea :-)

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I remember this story in its earlier version and find the latest edition beautifully strengthened. As Chris suggested, the story can't stop here, but then, any story has to stop someplace, doesn't it? However, stopping with the mother's tale just doesn't feel quite complete. I think what I miss at this point is a real plot. Let me try to explain. Here we have two boys who, after looking longingly at each other from afar suddenly fall together, almost literally. From there on, with very minor issues, they have clear sailing. The coincidences of the birthdays and the mother's story are nice touches, but they are just that. In short, there needs to be conflict, perhaps between the two boys, but not necessarily. What would happen, for instance, when Jeff's mother finds out what is happening? I long to see these two wonderful boys overcome some real obstacles on their way to ever-deepening love. I hope you don't mind my saying this. I'm really new at this game and am not sure what the parameters are. I do love the way you write, and I look forward to a continuing saga with these two beautiful kids.

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Alan... Many thanks for your input. The original Bogs version started as a teen romp, and as such was going quite well in a Nifty kind of way... then it fell in love. I think I felt that it became a short story not so much about the boys as about their mother. I have had a couple of goes at expanding it. Not with any great success! I suspect that the mother now gets in my way. I have even considered them going on holiday, camping in the mountains and having some form of accident or crisis... to get them away from the protection of their mother. At this stage I think I see the shortened Gray as a "miniature" cute in itself but self-terminated by the "rightness" of the last couple of lines. Extending it is I think to start again lifting just the two protagonists into a new more taxing situation. In fact, because the location is accurate its arguable that both my Adult Fiction and The Boy and the Level use the same Jeff character... so almost anything I write in the same setting is liable to come out feeling "samey". Its difficult... it ended so completely with the photograph that getting it restarted has needed a kickstart... perhaps your kickstart :-) so thanks for that

A thought added later.

I think that in some ways I wasnt so much trying for a plot as for the feeling for a time and place. That is the nature of the title.. the shades in question are not just the black and white photo memory of life in a mining village so much as the shades... the uncles, father, mother (and earlier sister)... the figures standing just out of shot who form us. The memories the story invokes in me are incredibly strong I really can feel the cold steel under my hand when I read that line. So... conflict between Jeff and Jeff's mother? not a chance... that's MY mother and she isnt going to find out... not in my childhood! As stories go its far too close for comfort.

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My feeling is that most any story, even one with a strong ending, can be said to be begging for more. Because, as time moves forward, so do the lives the characters who haven't been killed off. So, more is going on with these people and in this setting, and we're curious.

But this story is a story set at a certain specific time and in a specific setting and contains characters who experience the events of that time and setting at an important time in their lives, and the events are written beautifully, and the characters are developed beautifully, shown as they were at that age, and I for one think the story stands alone as a jewel. It is what it is, a coming of age of two boys.

Anything can have a sequel. As someone said on this forum not long ago, so often the sequel leaves us feeling a little empty, like the first story we so loved has been diluted. Diminished.

Yes, stories are benefited by conflict. But there is conflict alreay present in this story. There is an innate conflict any time you have gay boys finding love. The conflict is with he mores of the society in which they live. The conflict expands into danger every time they're together away from the protective embrace of Gray's mother; they could be caught or revealed.

The fact that this isn't a typical story, that it is about two boys in the early stages of learning who they are and what love is about and are fortunate enough to find an adult on their side, encouraging their love, makes it pretty special. I for one don't think it requires tinkering. I love it the way it is.


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