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aj

Awfully quiet in here...

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I've noticed that it's gotten awfully quiet in here. While I'm aware that editors are, in general, pretty busy people, I think it might be time for another flurry of activity. Anybody got any cool ideas? If you have some long-buried ideas for editing, pull one out and let's talk about it. you never know what might come of it.

cheers!

aj

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At the risk of getting all the editors upset with me, I noticed that apart from myself, there hasn't been much in the way of comments about the editting itself, in the demo that was done.

Some things for people to comment on:

WBMS had the comment that he thinks I should've provided more description of the boy in the story. I had a private comment from someone saying they disagreed. It is a personal taste thing, to a degree, but what do people think? Is it better to provide a description, or let people imagine for themselves the appearance of the characters? I will concede that at the moment there is NO description, but is this necessarily a bad thing for a short story?

Aaron suggested that the story should be written as first person POV, so we could see what the boy is actually thinking. My personal response to that, which I never passed back, is "I don't think so!" Writing the thoughts of someone under the age of maybe ten is probably beyond me -- I need to do more SF writing first so I can understand an alien mentality.... (as the father of a four- and six-year-old, I can attest to the fact that they DO think differently).

I will always welcome feedback and suggestions like these for my writing, even if I don't take them up. But how far should an editor go in this respect? Different authors will react in different ways -- is this something that an editor should ask up front when he starts working with a new author?

Going back into my little hole, now....

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At the risk of getting all the editors upset with me, I noticed that apart from myself, there hasn't been much in the way of comments about the editting itself, in the demo that was done.

Some things for people to comment on:

WBMS had the comment that he thinks I should've provided more description of the boy in the story. I had a private comment from someone saying they disagreed. It is a personal taste thing, to a degree, but what do people think? Is it better to provide a description, or let people imagine for themselves the appearance of the characters? I will concede that at the moment there is NO description, but is this necessarily a bad thing for a short story?

Aaron suggested that the story should be written as first person POV, so we could see what the boy is actually thinking. My personal response to that, which I never passed back, is "I don't think so!" Writing the thoughts of someone under the age of maybe ten is probably beyond me -- I need to do more SF writing first so I can understand an alien mentality.... (as the father of a four- and six-year-old, I can attest to the fact that they DO think differently).

I will always welcome feedback and suggestions like these for my writing, even if I don't take them up. But how far should an editor go in this respect? Different authors will react in different ways -- is this something that an editor should ask up front when he starts working with a new author?

Going back into my little hole, now....

I would have to say, if a description of a character is relevent to the story, then do one, if not, then provide a brief one like a small boy of 4 years. I wouldn't need to know hair or eye color to know the child is young.

The POV of someone so young wouldn't be easy to write although it could be interesting. I know you've had some interesting conversations with your sons Graeme, just from reading your family snippets.

As far as feedback, I try to provide my authors with enough of my reason(s) for a suggested change. I rarely get anything back from the author about my changes. And when I have gotten anything, its been constructive, as you have done with Collision. I can only assume the author likes what I suggested and used it. In the end, it is the authors choice.

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I agree that a physical description of the boy is not needed. The boy's actions are all we really need to know about, and you demonstrate those quite adequately--short stories are not a place for long expository passages.

Why does the pov need to be first person in order for us to see what the boy is thinking? Pov and access to the boy's thoughts are separate issues--there is such a thing as third person, semi-omniscient point of view after all, which is what you have employed in this piece. We have access to the boy's thought processes throughout the whole story...he says not one word in the entire story, and yet we know what he's thinking.

And, for the record, I'd LOVE to see you take on a speculative fiction story...I think you'd do a good job of it, and I think you'd find that it's an excellent way to explore a lot of issues.

cheers!

AJ

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As you probably noted, I like to leave comments at the end of the piece about things I noted in the piece and some justifications for my edits...occasionally, if there is a really serious problem ("die author, die!") I will add comments in the text in my ubiquitous green text.

My relationship with Jamie is a special case, I think, and I've gotten rather spoiled. It's a best case scenario for me, because he has no concern for his own ego in the search for producing the very best story that The Scrolls can be, and we've worked together long enough to know that my goal is unwaveringly the same. That takes both our egos out of the way, and some wonderful things can happen. If certain constructions get too frequent, I can comment on them and not worry that he'll be offended. If a particular scene needs a major overhaul, I can write either an alternative scenario or a scene outline, and know that he's going to give it serious consideration or accept it. Nothing is sacred or golden in the scrolls, and the result is a very strong story. The only exception to this rule is the over all plot line, which if you know anything about Jamie, you know is already all planned out.

cheers!

aj

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I agree that a physical description of the boy is not needed. The boy's actions are all we really need to know about, and you demonstrate those quite adequately--short stories are not a place for long expository passages.

Au contraire, mon frere. But, my suggestion was not to add mountains of exposition. And a physical description of some nature adds a bit of depth.

I suggested (go look) that a simple word can communicate a lot.

The boy went to the pool.

The tow-headed boy went to the pool.

(We have hair colour here)

You can add tiny additions of three words here and four words there to do this and you have a feeling of depth and completeness. I could completely describe the kid in under twenty words and it would really help.

That was my point in making my comment.

So there.

Dammit.

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Thanks, everyone!

Looking at the differences in opinions between editors was, I believe, part of the reason for the exercise. Exploring the reasoning behind some of the editing decisions or suggestions is another. I'm glad to see that more of those discussions are taking place.

WMBS: You point is well taken. A paragraph describing the boy would jar the story off track, but small, subtle changes can help lift a story and make it much stronger -- that is one of the things I, personally, was looking to get out of this exercise.

Graeme

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WBMS had the comment that he thinks I should've provided more description of the boy in the story. I had a private comment from someone saying they disagreed.

I think that private comment might be the one I wrote to Graeme. Here's what I wrote to him: "You've left him as a blank slate, upon which readers who are lacking in parental skills will automatically draw their own child's image. Non-parent readers will draw images of themselves at that age. I think the lack of description of the boy draws the readers into the story, and that's very effective."

The point I was trying to make is that I think when an author wants a short, short story to have an impact on readers, as in the case of "Happy Shells", which is not a happy story, it can be better to omit character description. Am I being naive in thinking that readers can be sucked into a story to the point that they project themselves into certain roles, such as the roles of the parents in "Happy Shells", and can thereby be shown the effects of their actions? Does the omitting of character description, in some cases, help in accomplishing that?

Maybe I should be asking this in the Writers' Workshop section.

Thanks in advance for your opinions.

Aaron

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You guys have made my argument in a much more articulate way than I ever could have. I knew there was a reason why I liked the idea of this undescribed child...in addition to all the reasons you mention, I think part of my thinking was that short stories have to be so focused, and descriptions of the child's physical body are not needed here. The story is about his thoughts and feelings, and nothing hinges on what he looks like. I think of short story writing as being a lot like fencing--whatever doesn't get you closer to having the tip of your foil on your opponent's chest is wasted motion.

cheers!

aj

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You guys have made my argument in a much more articulate way than I ever could have. I knew there was a reason why I liked the idea of this undescribed child...in addition to all the reasons you mention, I think part of my thinking was that short stories have to be so focused, and descriptions of the child's physical body are not needed here. The story is about his thoughts and feelings, and nothing hinges on what he looks like. I think of short story writing as being a lot like fencing--whatever doesn't get you closer to having the tip of your foil on your opponent's chest is wasted motion.

cheers!

aj

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You guys have made my argument in a much more articulate way than I ever could have. I knew there was a reason why I liked the idea of this undescribed child...in addition to all the reasons you mention, I think part of my thinking was that short stories have to be so focused, and descriptions of the child's physical body are not needed here. The story is about his thoughts and feelings, and nothing hinges on what he looks like. I think of short story writing as being a lot like fencing--whatever doesn't get you closer to having the tip of your foil on your opponent's chest is wasted motion.

cheers!

aj

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