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Author Topic: First 13
mfreivald
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Working Title - The Problems with Time

Length - Uncertain

Harvey Alvarez lost his nerve. Does that count? The experiment intended to find out if it was possible to change the past. There were two schools. The "Yes" school and the "No" school as Jacobson so eloquently liked to call them. Alvarez, like Jacobson, was of the "Yes" school. They didn't want to disrupt the time continuum until they knew what they were doing, so the team of scientists targeted a recent event from which a change would cause modest and recent consequences. Alvarez traveled back six months in time to prevent the president of the university from spilling bisque on his tie. And he lost his nerve.
It was a simple task. Because of the incident, the president of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Orville Farnsworth, lost

That's all I can fit in the first 13, but to finish the thought in the second paragraph, he basically looses his nerve because he is smitten with the university president's daughter who - unbenownst to the time travel team of scientists happened to be attending the function with her father. (The function is basically dinner with a politician that controls the purse strings to the whole time travel operation.)


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dee_boncci
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It's hard to get too involved with a guy for chickening out and for a university presidents tie.

If the smittenness with the presidents daughter is a main thread of the story, it might be better to start with it.

Otherwise, give the reader a strong reason to care about what the POV character is up to. He should have a crucial (to him) goal, and something opposing his obtaining it. The sooner it is given the reader, the sooner the reader can get interested in the story. I think it is especially critical to get that up front in a short story.

Hope this helps


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Verloren
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I liked the voice, and found that interesting.

It felt like things were being told out of order. "Does that count?" made me wonder, did what count? What was at stake? I didn't find out until later.

Try rearranging the sequencing here. Perhaps it is the love interest. Or perhaps it is the time travel experiment.

Maybe it would help to have you show what happened during the experiment, rather than just tell us.

Good luck!

-V


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oliverhouse
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Are you looking for readers, or just a crit of the first 13?

I like the first sentence -- he must have been doing something that set him a little on edge, and he has a problem because he lost his nerve -- but "Does that count?" simply seems not to follow, and doesn't seem to add any value. I'd cut it. You need all the space you can get for high-value text on the first page. (Sorry, talking like a marketer. It's that kind of morning.)

To pick a nit: I think it should be "Harvey Alvarez had lost his nerve" because he had already finished losing his nerve when the story began (if I understand it correctly).

quote:
There were two schools. The "Yes" school and the "No" school as Jacobson so eloquently liked to call them.

The second sentence is a fragment, and unnecessary. 'There were two schools, and Alvarez, like his colleague Jacobson, was of the "Yes" school.'

The nit-picker in me said, "well, they did disrupt the time continuum, didn't they?" You really mean that they didn't want to cause too much change -- they didn't want to kill off Hitler, say -- until they understood more about the ramifications of doing so. They were thinking big, but starting small. But you didn't say that.

You're starting off with a fairly distant voice here. It feels omniscient because you're talking about Alvarez, Jacobson, and the team of scientists, and you're not in anyone's particular POV. I'm assuming you won't be this distant for the rest of the story, so you might consider dropping us more fully into Alvarez's POV here. Plus, that might help you characterize Alvarez, and possibly the other scientists, by showing how seriously they each took "the incident".

I like the idea, I think: I'm assuming, because you're starting the story this way, that preventing the President from spilling bisque on his tie would have much stronger implications than they suspect. If that's not true, you might give a better clue of what the real issue is up front.

You know that as I critique I always try to see how I would write something, and I especially focus on cutting. Cutting seems especially important if you're trying to establish a hook on the first page. If you're interested, I have a rewrite that uses the same distant POV, pared down to 75 words from 129 (a 42% cut). I'll post here if you're interested.

I'd also like to post it on my cutting blog if you'd allow it, but my feelings won't be hurt if you say "no" to that.

Hope this helps,
Oliver


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mfreivald
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Dee_boncci, thank you for your comments.

"It's hard to get too involved with a guy for chickening out and for a university presidents tie."

Well, I was hoping that finding out why he chickened out and why it is relevant would be a decent enough hook. This isn't going to be a typical science fiction story with civilization as we know it wobbling at the abyss, so I don't have anything life threatening or dangerous that I can present here. So I was hoping for some empathy regarding his loss of nerve.

And, btw, his loss of nerve is not just a device in the story. It is important for understanding the story.

So, I understand you want something to involve you better, and it's definitely a valid point, but I'm at a loss as how to do it with this particular story. (I will meditate on it for a good while.)

"If the smittenness with the presidents daughter is a main thread of the story, it might be better to start with it."

That depends upon what you mean by a "main thread." It is a thread that is integrated into the story from beginning to end, but it is really just a supporting thread for the primary ones. I could exchange it for something entirely different and write a similar story. I really don't want to start with it.

"Otherwise, give the reader a strong reason to care about what the POV character is up to. He should have a crucial (to him) goal, and something opposing his obtaining it."

I can't really reveal his main goals right away unless I write an entirely different kind of story than I want to, so I would have to start with a different goal. That goal is to prove that time can be changed and score one for his academic circle, and the thing that got into his way this time was his "nerve." The subsequent paragraphs that require him to explain to the other scientists what happened and the ensuing arguments about it should create some tension there.

Maybe I can find a way to gear up that tension more quickly, but I'll have to give it some thought.

"The sooner it is given the reader, the sooner the reader can get interested in the story. I think it is especially critical to get that up front in a short story."

Sure. It is difficult for me to say since I wrote it, but I think the POV character losing his nerve would get my attention. Interesting things must follow very quickly, to be sure. But I don't think I can get it into the first thirteen lines.

And, yes, your comments are helpful.


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mfreivald
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Thank you for your comments, Verloren.

"I liked the voice, and found that interesting."

This is probably the best comment you could give me. Above all, I am experimenting with voice here.

"It felt like things were being told out of order. "Does that count?" made me wonder, did what count? What was at stake? I didn't find out until later."

I've been agonizing over that line a bit. It just feels right to me, and I'll need a real good reason to drop it.
- I like the fact that it made you ask, "…did what count?"
- I like the fact that you ask, "What was at stake?"
Both of these things are explained very quickly in the story. (The argument among the scientists that I mentioned above to dee_boncci.) You actually haven't found out at this point. I'm actually curious. What do you think you found out about whether it "counted," or not?

"Does that count?" echoes rather mysteriously one of the main themes of the work. It might even be a good title. It is one of the questions echoing in the protagonists mind. I know it confuses the reader just a little bit, but I think there is a payoff for it, and it is a line that can be easily dismissed/suspended for the purpose of tracking the rest of the story.

"Try rearranging the sequencing here. Perhaps it is the love interest. Or perhaps it is the time travel experiment."

They are slightly out of order. The recounting of the time trip when he lost his nerve will tell what just happened, but it is a bit jumbled because of the human beings trying to deal with it. But it should be quite clear after a few paragraphs. Do you think there is that compelling of a need for it this early?

"Maybe it would help to have you show what happened during the experiment, rather than just tell us."

That is coming in the next few paragraphs. But I couldn't possibly fit it into the first 13. My main concern up front is the protagonists reaction to what went on.

"Good luck!"

Thanks!


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mfreivald
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"Are you looking for readers, or just a crit of the first 13?"

At the moment, just a crit of the first 13. I'm trying out some things, and I don't want to get too ahead of myself without working them out.

"I like the first sentence -- he must have been doing something that set him a little on edge, and he has a problem because he lost his nerve -- but "Does that count?" simply seems not to follow, and doesn't seem to add any value. I'd cut it."

Agonize, agonize, agonize. I really like that little disruption for a lot of reasons. I know you are right, and it will probably be cut in the end, but I think I'm going to maintain my attachment to this particular sin for a while. (Maybe for review purposes I should just cut it, then insert it in the end if it is compelling enough to me.) What about as a title? Is _Does_That_Count?_ a decent title?

I will be sure to review your comments on the mechanics for the next go.

"The nit-picker in me said, "well, they did disrupt the time continuum, didn't they?""

Well, no. Er…maybe. One school says that, yes, he did disrupt the time continuum (in this case he merely displaced molecules of air that may or may not have consequences depending upon the individual member of that school you interrogate.) In the "no" school, any disruption that occurs through time travel is _already_ integrated into the time continuum, and didn't change anything. I can explain this now because this is revealed very early in the story. (I'm getting a lot of mileage out of the upcoming argument.)

However, the point you are addressing is really about the ideas of the POV, which is taken from the "yes" camp. So – yes – that line needs rewritten.

"You really mean that they didn't want to cause too much change -- they didn't want to kill off Hitler, say -- until they understood more about the ramifications of doing so. They were thinking big, but starting small. But you didn't say that."

That is an accurate description of the "Yes" camp.

"You're starting off with a fairly distant voice here."

All good points. I'll work on that.

"I like the idea, I think: I'm assuming, because you're starting the story this way, that preventing the President from spilling bisque on his tie would have much stronger implications than they suspect. If that's not true, you might give a better clue of what the real issue is up front."

A story about the much stronger implications of spilling bisque on the president's tie might be a more interesting one than mine. But in my story that is a failed attempt, and they will go on to different things.

The real issue of the story is the opposing camps and how they respond to everything that happens. Certain characters will act according to their school of thought, and the protagonist will have some particularly …er… interesting objectives. While pursuing those objectives, I'm hoping the reader will consider the ramifications of 1) What if he's right? And 2) What if the other guys are right?

"If you're interested, I have a rewrite that uses the same distant POV, pared down to 75 words from 129 (a 42% cut). I'll post here if you're interested."

Absolutely I'm interested.

"I'd also like to post it on my cutting blog if you'd allow it, but my feelings won't be hurt if you say "no" to that."

That's a great idea for a blog. Feel free to use this example.

Thanks for your comments, Oliver.


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dee_boncci
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Losing his nerve could be a hook if the consequences of the outcome were known and dire. But when I read he lost his nerve and blew the bet, the first thing that popped into my head was "so what?". The reason for that question was that I don't know what's at stake. Who lost what? Who won what?

For me as an individual reader, I don't know how engaged I'd be in a story about an academic question, unless there was a character(s) that would suffer some serious loss as a result of the outcome, whom I could root for (or against). If that's the case for your story, then you might consider making the emergence of that situation the start of the story.

You were closer to hooking me with the bit about the daughter being the cause of chickening out, rather than the chickening out for it's own sake. Now if I knew a priori the guy was an ex-SEAL decorated for valor multiple times and then he lost his nerve, that might hook me.

I don't think there's any reason to completely change the story, but you might relook at the ordering of information and see if there's a way to get the reader to understand what's on the line right off.


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oliverhouse
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After reading your comments back from the critiques, I think this is your biggest problem:
quote:
So, I understand you want something to involve you better, and it's definitely a valid point, but I'm at a loss as how to do it with this particular story.

If you're trying to make a philosophical point, or the issue is somewhat nebulous, you might be better off going deep and really letting us get to know a character. I'd be willing to discuss with you offline if you'd like.

Here's the cut I mentioned:

quote:
Harvey Alvarez had lost his nerve. He and Jacobson believed that they would be able to change the past, and to test their theory the scientists had targeted a recent event -- a trivial incident, really -- from which a change would cause modest and recent consequences. Alvarez traveled back six months to prevent Orville Farnsworth, president of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, from spilling bisque on his tie. And he lost his nerve.

That's only seven lines, which gives you more room to breathe for potentially more important stuff; and I think it preserves most of your ideas without doing too much violence to your style. (I would rewrite differently if I were going deeper into Alvarez's POV, of course, but I don't know Alvarez well enough to do that.)

You might like "Does that count?" more because you know too much about the story. As a reader, though, that context-free question jolts me out of your story rather than intriguing me about what comes next. I'm not rooted enough in what's going on right now (I don't even know what Alvarez lost his nerve to do yet!) to have an interruption like this. So like it all you want, agonize all you like, fight fight fight against giving it up.

And then cut it.

It might work better as a title. Enigmatic titles are common and frequently aren't fully understood until late in the story.

[This message has been edited by oliverhouse (edited April 06, 2007).]


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wbriggs
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quote:

Harvey Alvarez lost his nerve. Does that count? [COUNT FOR WHAT?] The experiment [WHOSE EXPERIMENT?] intended to find out if it was possible to change the past.

[PARAGRAPH.]There were two schools OF THOUGHT. The "Yes" school and the "No" school as Jacobson [WHO?] so eloquently liked to call them.



I think the idea's great.

I don't like the order of exposition, because I keep saying "huh?" a lot.

I'm not sure where you'll want your story to start. Quite possibly "already"!

If you don't want to start with the scene with the tie, you can summarize it:

quote:
The time-travel experiment was intended to find out if it was possible to change the past. Dr. Henry Alvarez traveled back six months in time to prevent the president of the university from spilling bisque on his tie. And he lost his nerve.
Then PDQ get to an in-the-moment scene of what happened after.

I'd agree that having someone lose his nerve isn't interesting (unless we're there experiencing it with him), but if you're going for humor, preventing a stained tie is pretty good. You could push it further. Henry tried, and ended up causing a worse disaster.


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mfreivald
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wbriggs, thanks for your comments.

I'm not entirely happy with this, but I want to keep this exchange going and get your reactions to it. I think I may be stubbornly trying to make a pie when I have the ingredients of meatloaf. I think I lose some of the original voice with it, but the trade offs might be worthwhile.

Harvey Alvarez lost his nerve and started the Time Machine to return. This experiment should have silenced the proponents of the "The Past Cannot Be Changed" school once and for all. Dr. Daniel Glenn was their chief proponent. He was also a smug little jerk with yellow teeth, and Alvarez resented him. Alvarez, a grad student, agreed with Dr. Mark Jacobson, who led the school that said the past could be changed. To minimize the disruption their experiment would do to the time continuum until they were sufficiently adept, the team had targeted a change to a recent event that would cause only moderate and recent consequences. Alvarez had traveled back six months to prevent the president of the university from spilling bisque on his tie. And he had lost his nerve.

As explained above, this is followed immediately with the team interrogating Alvarez about why he didn't accomplish the task, where they find out that his soon-to-be girlfriend was there.

By the way, Oliver mentioned above that the POV seemed distant. How much do you think this is because I'm using last names?


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hoptoad
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i don't need to know about yellow teeth right away, I want to know what he intends to do and how fails.

short and sharp

i would suggest this sort of order:

a: this is what he intended to do
b: he lost his nerve
c: ramifications

not ramifications first.

just my opinion, btw it sounds like its going to be a great story.

pps: Immediacy could be more engaging. 'Harvey Alvarez lost his nerve.' Rather than 'Harvey Alvarez had lost his nerve.'

Perhaps something like Harvey Alvarez lost his nerve. He watched the lobster bisque pour down the dean's tie and was paralysed with fear. I gotta get out of here.

I hope he begins to wonder whether his inability to act is a natural part of time-travel itself. A way of getting around the grandfather paradox thing. Maybe no one can change a thing regardless of their intent. Time travel without fear. Cool. Like a trip to a 3D holographic movie, you can observe as much as you want but you can never act contrary to the natural order, but rather than paralysis it is more that you find a 'reason' not to act.

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited April 07, 2007).]


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mfreivald
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Thank you for the comments, hoptoad.

quote:
i don't need to know about yellow teeth right away, I want to know what he intends to do and how fails.
short and sharp

I'm trying to get there. <whimper> Actually, the yellow teeth thing is trying to give some characterization to Alvarez. The narrator is speaking very closely to Alvarez's attitude, and it was meant to show a certain shallow and petty way of him. I was trying it out in response to Oliver's suggestion that I try to get closer to his character.

I may wind up putting it in the order you suggested, but I really like starting it off at the moment he lost his nerve. If I can get it to work that way, I'll probably stick with that, but if my skills aren't up to it, your order would be better.

quote:
… btw it sounds like its going to be a great story.

Thanks! I hope so.

quote:
pps: Immediacy could be more engaging. 'Harvey Alvarez lost his nerve.' Rather than 'Harvey Alvarez had lost his nerve.'

Oliver pointed out that it was probably not grammatically correct that way. I added the action with the return of the time machine just so I could keep that immediacy in the first line, then changed the repeated line. (I may drop the second line. It was meant to maintain a certain voice, and that voice is disappearing rapidly.)

I do like you idea of having him watch the bisque dribble down the man's tie.

quote:
I hope he begins to wonder…

<grin>


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wbriggs
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What hoptoad said, about order of exposition

Harvey Alvarez lost his nerve and started the Time Machine to return. [What Time Machine, and returning from where, and lost his nerve in regard to what? These questions are immediately in our minds, but you don't answer them immediately. Better to answer them *before* they come up if possible IMJ.]

About the distant POV: last names aren't the reason, I think. It's that we don't know what's happening or what its sigificance is. See Characters & Viewpoint, OSC, "deep penetration."


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mfreivald
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quote:
See Characters & Viewpoint, OSC, "deep penetration."

Thanks! It's on my shelf. I'll take a look.


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mfreivald
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Hey, guys. How about this? (The final version might have a few more words in it, but I cut them to fit the 13 lines.)

Harvey Alvarez lost his nerve. He wanted to silence that smug jerk, Dr. Glenn, and crush his insistence that the past could not be changed. Instead he watched as the university president, Orville Farnsworth, spilled lobster bisque down his silk tie. All Harvey needed to do was warn him that a busboy dropped a dirty towel into the bisque and return home. Farnsworth would have rejected the soup and averted the wardrobe disaster. More importantly, Senator Daikel would not have called him a buffoon and pulled the funding for the Time Travel project.

But Harvey did not know that Sherry – the daughter of the president and the love of Harvey's life – would be dining with her father, and at that time she didn't know Harvey. A trip six months into the past was wasted because he lost his nerve.



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wbriggs
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*Much* improved, I think. A couple of points:

Harvey Alvarez lost his nerve. He wanted to silence that smug jerk, Dr. Glenn, and crush his insistence that the past could not be changed. Instead, ON THE FIRST EXPERIMENTAL TRIP TO THE PAST, HARVEY watched as the university president...

* We need to know that the tie-staining happened on Alvarez's time-travel jaunt

* Last sentence of the paragraph: I'm confused about order of exposition. Now I get it (after thinking about it for about 30 seconds): in the current timeline, Daikel pulled the funding, and Harvey wants to fix it.

Possible fix:

Farnsworth would reject the soup and avert the wardrobe disaster. More importantly, Senator Daikel would not call him a buffoon and pull the funding for the Time Travel project. EVERYTHING WOULD BE FIXED.

The "would have" got me a little confused as to when these events happened/would happen. A time travel problem!

This is turning out funny; I like it.


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hoptoad
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ditto on briggs' comments
this is starting to sound good.

Best of luck to our friend Harvey.


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jeffrey.hite
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I think you have a lot going for you in this work, but I think that you are trying to cram too much into the first 13. IMHO there are still issues with the order, but I think it is as much of an "information overload" thing as an order issue.

if you don't mind, ignore me if you feel like it.

"The time machine project was the biggest thing in his life, the biggest thing for the university, heck for the whole world, and he had blown it. Not because of some technical glitch, but because he had lost his nerve. Granted it was for the love of his life, but still. Now, the money that he could have gotten for the project by preventing a simple social blunder, was still not going to be there. Worse still, Dr. forgothisname, would never shutup about the past not being changeable, because no one, even himself, would accecpt his explination."

I think that covers most of what you wanted to say. Again this is just my take at it and I only played with it for minute.
Obviously this is your work, but I have always found it useful for people to tell me, by retelling the story, what they found the high points were, and what order they remembered them in. I hope this helps for you and you are not offended by my sloppy retelling.

I was hooked enough to keep reading. Keep working on it.

-Jeff


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mfreivald
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Thank you wbriggs, hoptoad, and jeffrey.hite.

This was a good exercise for me. I'm sure I'll improve on it later (keeping in mind your latest suggestions, wbriggs), but I'm going to concentrate on the continuation of it now. (Not at all to discourage further comment.)

And Jeffrey, I enjoyed your take on it, and I think it is valuable. I will compare my latest with it and see if there are some improvements I can make. But whether I make them, or not, you give me further perspective on what I have.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
I'm going to concentrate on the continuation of it now.

Good for you! I fear too many people let themselves get bogged down in "fixing" their first 13 lines and never manage to finish the story.

Once you've got the first draft done, then you can go back and look at the feedback you've received, and you'll have a better idea of whether or not (and in what ways) it actually applies to what your story turned out to be.


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mfreivald
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Thank you, Kathleen.

I think the process has revealed the trade-offs to me pretty well. But one of the unknowns is how the character of the opening will be in sync with the rest of the story. Having worked it out this much, I feel like I have some quality work in the making, but the character of it could need considerable tweeking by the time I'm done. (Or maybe I'm just thinking about it too much.)


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Well, if it were a novel, there might be a huge difference when you got back to the beginning. Of course, that assumes that you write straight through from the beginning to the end, and not all writers do that.

Since it's a shorter work, the story shouldn't range too far afield. Even if you feel that it does, remember that part of the reason for the rewrite is to bring everything you've written into harmony.


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mfreivald
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I'm sure you are right. But in just this last week, I came up with two new possible endings. When I started I only had one, but I really like one of its competitors. One of the endings is comically tragic, one is tragic in a morose way, and a third is happy and sad - but more serious than the other two. They have varying degrees of headiness to them that may or many not reflect back on what I have so far. I'm still going to try to retain the general character of the story for each ending, though. We'll see.
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mfreivald
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Hello again.

I have revised my first 13 and completed the story. I'd like to hammer at the first 13 here, but I'm looking for one or two readers to critique the whole thing.

Title: Does this Count?
Word count: Approximately 8,250

Harvey Alvarez lost his nerve. He watched helplessly as the university president, Orville Farnsworth, spilled lobster bisque down his front all over his blue silk tie. Harvey's task in the experiment should have been simple. Take the time machine back to the start of the banquet. Warn the president that he saw a busboy drop a dirty washcloth into the bisque. Return. Farnsworth would then reject the soup, and the wardrobe disaster would be averted. More importantly, Senator Daikel sitting across from him would not decide he was a buffoon and pull the supplemental funding for the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Time Travel project.
A successful execution of Harvey's assignment would have silenced that smug little jerk, Dr. Daniel Glenn, and put to

The next few lines tell why he lost his nerve.

Thanks,
Mark


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InarticulateBabbler
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A lot better. Just a few nits:

quote:

Harvey Alvarez lost his nerve. He watched helplessly as the university president, Orville Farnsworth, spilled lobster bisque down his front all over his blue silk tie. Harvey's task in the experiment should have been simple. Take the time machine back to the start of the banquet. Warn the president that he saw a busboy drop a dirty washcloth into the bisque. Return. Farnsworth would then reject the soup, and the wardrobe disaster would be averted. More importantly, Senator Daikel[,] sitting across from him[,] would not decide he was a buffoon and pull the [supplemental<--needed? This sentence is a little long, and throws the pace.] funding for the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Time Travel project.
A successful execution of Harvey's assignment would have silenced that smug little jerk, Dr. Daniel Glenn, and put to

If you're not in a rush, I'll give it a read.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited May 25, 2007).]


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kings_falcon
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much better.

Comments are mostly NITS:

quote:
Harvey Alvarez lost his nerve. He watched helplessly as the university president, Orville Farnsworth, spilled lobster bisque down his front all over his blue silk tie.

He didn't watch helplessly, he chose not to act. You contradict yourself by using "helplessly." Also, since you are going to explain losing his nerve in the next paragraph, you might not need it as the first sentance. It's the line starting "Harvey's task in the experiment . . " that catches my attention. The "lost his nerve" doesn't do it for me.

It's a good first paragraph: I know the players, there is action and inaction, and I know the stakes. Good job.

I'm slow, but you can send it on to me too.

Maybe:

Harvey Alvaraz watched at the university president . . .


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Lolo
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This is really good! I agree with the previous comments about that sentence being long. I think if you cut 'supplemental' and abbreviate UNO (or whatever it should be) it would simplify it. You can always write out University of Nebraka later. Just my opinion. I also agree with kings_falcon about 'helplessly.' But I actually like the "lost his nerve" sentence. Maybe because of all the times I've lost my nerve...

I'd love to read it, but probably won't be able to get it back to you until the end of next week or beginning of June. If that's OK, send it off.

Laura


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DebbieKW
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Or perhaps, "He watched in dismay as the university president..." or some-such. I like knowing how he's feeling about the incident, but I agree that 'helplessly' isn't quite the right word.

As everyone else has said, it's much better now.


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KayTi
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Plausibility point - a dirty washcloth in the bisque? That's such an egregious violation of acceptable banquet standards that it really stuck out to me. If someone were to say this to the university president, i could imagine many scenarios where he completely blows his top instead of just refusing the soup. Certainly wouldn't expect a university president to let OTHERS consume a soup that had a dirty washcloth in it...which isn't what you're necessarily saying, but it's one of the weird paths my brain took upon reading that line.

Suggest something else for the thing the person should whisper to UnvPres. Maybe tell UP there's something in the soup he's allergic to? Maybe even give you a chance to further the MC's neuroticness (is that a word? LOL, I'm picking up on this MC being a bit neurotic...) by having MC tell UP about an allergen. "MC told UP there was Evil Robot Monkey Juice in the soup, which not everyone knew UP was allergic to. MC obsessed about whether a member of the waitstaff was going to contradict him."

I don't really have a better idea at this point, but just wanted to point out the dirty washcloth thing as being one of those little details that can send a reader off on a tangent that you may not have wanted/intended.


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mfreivald
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Thank you IB, KF, Lolo, DebbieKW, and KayTi for your helpful contributions and your kind words.

IB,
I agree about that sentence being too long. I've been struggling with it. I'll work on it and post the result soon.

quote:
If you're not in a rush, I'll give it a read.

Will send. Thanks!

Kings_falcon,

quote:
He didn't watch helplessly, he chose not to act. You contradict yourself by using "helplessly."

I intended it to mean that he was helpless at that instant because he hesitated too long in the previous instants, so strictly speaking it isn't a contradiction. However, as you have demonstrated, it's a bit ambiguous, and a weak choice of words. Besides, I think DebbieKW's "in dismay" suggestion comes much closer to what I was trying to say.

quote:
Also, since you are going to explain losing his nerve in the next paragraph, you might not need it as the first sentance. It's the line starting "Harvey's task in the experiment . . " that catches my attention. The "lost his nerve" doesn't do it for me.

It might actually be better without it, but I like it a lot, so I'm going to have a hard time parting with it. I'll fiddle with it.

quote:
It's a good first paragraph: I know the players, there is action and inaction, and I know the stakes. Good job.

Thanks! I am encouraged!

quote:
I'm slow, but you can send it on to me too.

Will send. Thanks!

Lolo,

quote:
I think if you cut 'supplemental' and abbreviate UNO (or whatever it should be) it would simplify it. You can always write out University of Nebraka later.

Abbreviating UNO is a good suggestion, and a few versions of the story did just that, but I was uncomfortable with the "Huh, what's that?" factor. So I think the non-abbreviated form is going to stay.

quote:
If that's OK, send it off.

Will send. Thanks!

KayTi

quote:
Plausibility point - a dirty washcloth in the bisque? That's such an egregious violation of acceptable banquet standards that it really stuck out to me.

That had not occurred to me, so I will give it some thought. A few things.
1) The sequence of action isn't clear. (I don't think it has to be.) It could be that the bisque is coming out right then – it could even be getting served to old Orville right then. From UP's perspective, the waiters might all be curtailing the consumption of the bisque.
2) The story doesn't tell us what else the UP will or will not do. He might take action to prevent others from consuming the stuff. But the MC isn't concerned with that, and the sequence of events describes intended results, not actual ones.
3) The tone is meant to be vaguely whimsical here, so I think (on first blush) I can get away with it.
4) Without giving too much away, I am ever so gently spoofing or caricaturing the scientists and the scientific method here.

All that said, I am concerned that it might disrupt a reader, so I'll keep it in mind.

I am impressed with your perspicacity. I have no clue what I wrote in the first thirteen that gave away that he was a bit neurotic, but I do think of him that way.

Your other suggestions are good, but I think the dirty washcloth works better with its simplicity, and for reasons that I won't say now for fear of influencing the perceptions of the critiquers.

Thanks again,
Mark

[This message has been edited by mfreivald (edited May 26, 2007).]


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jonner
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Hi. I’m new here, so take this for what it’s worth…

I have been trying to take a look at the style of suggestions in this forum, and got hooked into this discussion to soon to really get any idea about what the norm is, but it’s such a great feeling to see other people giving there opinions and being nice, and discussing story with one another, that I just had to say something. I’ll try to keep it brief.

When I first read the starting paragraph, apart from being a bit thrown off by the “Yes” group and “No” group sentence, I thought it was a good beginning. I was in fact, looking forward (in a sense) to reading a funny story about how this guy eventually chickens out in a seemingly easy ‘time - travel - related task.’ I thought perhaps you were going to go into a bit of a toned down Douglas Adams type humor, involving time travel and it’s various quirky but less than catastrophic effects, etc. I understand all of the critiques which followed… but now, in the end you are having what I would previously have taken as the end scene, right at the beginning, where the guy watches the soup running down his shirt (tie, sorry). I guess my first thoughts about the story may have been wrong, however, I’d like to champion the type of story beginning you had at first. It seemed to me to build a background against which the rest of the story could be painted rather humorously. (I know that there is probably a technical name for this, the idea of telling the ending of the story at the beginning, and then detailing the actual events? Foreshadowing?) And I’m very understanding if I have misunderstood the whole thing, but I think that having a few unanswered questions in the opening is what a hook is, isn’t it? And I believe somebody somewhere has often said that the first paragraph is free, can’t quite remember who…

In the end, the first starting paragraph you had sparked my interest mostly with the time travel question (can it change the past?) and the character question (why did this guy fail?) Actually, it wasn’t even the question of time travel, so much as that this was the first time travel experiment, presumably very secret, and what was going to happen? As the discussion wore on, I saw the two answers to these questions: could time travel effect the past? Answer: maybe, but comically we will never know as his failure precludes and future investigation ( or yes or no, really, depending on how the story concludes) of time travel. And the personal character question, why did he chicken out slash fail? It was because of a girl! (isn’t it always?) <grin > This really had the potential to be very funny, or very sweet, or very funny and very sweet. Or I suppose comically tragic… but I digress…

But of course.. this being the first post from me on the forum… hope it is taken in the light it was intended and was helpful.

Jonner


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apeiron
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As a student, I actually laughed out loud when I read this. Talk about picking the Great Incidents of the Past. Sounds like something university students would pick--an event that lead to enough of a chain of events to be considered significant...but ONLY to those within that university community!
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KayTi
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You know, you might be able to do this without dirty washcloth *or* any other explanation. can't you say "MC was supposed to whisper something in the ear of UP that would make him refuse the soup. MC dithered on what to say, one of many reasons he's now paralyzed with horror as he sees the soup drip-drop down the front of UP's tie."

Get what I'm saying? Just an idea. Good luck with this!


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mfreivald
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Welcome to the Hatrack, jonner.

quote:
When I first read the starting paragraph, apart from being a bit thrown off by the “Yes” group and “No” group sentence, I thought it was a good beginning. I was in fact, looking forward (in a sense) to reading a funny story…

I was experimenting with the voice at the beginning. Any humor or entertainment value that the voice provided was outweighed by the difficulty it caused the majority of the readers. It also turned out to lack the level of seriousness the story required. (Or, more accurately, the story turned out to require a greater level of seriousness than the voice provided.) I'd like to say more, but I don't want to color the opinions of the reviewers.

quote:
… but now, in the end you are having what I would previously have taken as the end scene, right at the beginning,…

The way this particular occurrence fits into the story becomes much clearer in the ensuing paragraphs.

quote:
And I’m very understanding if I have misunderstood the whole thing, but I think that having a few unanswered questions in the opening is what a hook is, isn’t it?

I agree with you somewhat here. There are some disparate opinions on the Hatrack about it. I am working on a post to broach the question of mystery in general in the first 13 lines. (Not a mystery as in a mystery thriller, but mystery as it relates to everything.) However, I think you will find the majority of the comments looking for clarification to be helpful, and should be given serious consideration. There is a fine line between encouraging mystery and questions and confusing the reader with ill-thought concealment of information or cheap tricks used for a contrived suspense.

quote:
And I believe somebody somewhere has often said that the first paragraph is free, can’t quite remember who…

I think you have a great deal of freedom in *some* aspects of the first scene of a story. OSC, for example, wrote that you have a free choice of POV in the first scene. However, that doesn't make the first paragraph free in all ways. It is extremely important to give the reader a reason to care in a lucid way. I am very tolerant of mystery, but you aren't going to get my attention with something that is incomprehensible.

quote:
… hope it is taken in the light it was intended and was helpful.

Very much so. I was especially glad to read how it built up your expectations.

ciao,
Mark

[This message has been edited by mfreivald (edited May 26, 2007).]


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InarticulateBabbler
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I think the main misconcetion is this:

Mystery is fine...if it doesn't violate PoV. If the viewpoint character doesn't know it, the reader shouldn't. If the viewpoint character knows something that you don't want the reader to know, it's the wrong PoV to tell the story from.]


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mfreivald
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quote:
If the viewpoint character knows something that you don't want the reader to know, it's the wrong PoV to tell the story from.

Ah! I think I at least understand what you meant by a violation of POV in our earlier discussion. It seems what you are saying (please correct me if I am wrong) that the written story conveys the consciousness of the POV character, so information that the POV withheld would be like separating the character from his knowledge and therefore violating his completeness. It would be sort of like the character being intentionally mysterious or deceptive to himself.

I think there are two issues with that. 1) Is it an actual violation of POV?, and 2) Is it wise to do it even if it is not a violation?

I don't think there is any law of writing that says it cannot be done. There are a number of reasons I think such a law would be unreasonable.

  • I don't think that the narration of the story is always the conveyance of a person's complete awareness. We are never guaranteed to be told everything the POV character knows.
  • What if the POV character is not the narrator? We don't necessarily expect the narrator to have complete omniscience of the character.
  • What if the narrator or POV character is deceptive in the telling of it?
  • It seems to me a true "violation" would be to have the narrator express information that the POV character does not have, while maintaining the POV perspective. The violation stretches outside the bounds of a POV. It doesn't violate anything to stay "too far" *within* those boundaries.
  • The pure economy of writing prevents us from telling everything at once, and it would literally be impossible to impart all knowledge of a POV character and eliminate mystery.
  • Many of the masters withhold information that the POV character knows. Agatha Christie wrote a complete novel where the POV character was privy to some dramatic and critical information that wasn't revealed until the end. I recently read a book by Faulkner where his characters withheld things they knew – and he was writing in first person singular. I think he was trying to affect a feeling of shame and turning away from the particular knowledge I have in mind. Toni Morrison, a Nobel Peace Prize author, in her book Beloved seems to frequently withhold information intentionally that her POV characters know.
  • All of us work with latent knowledge and active knowledge. For example, a character doesn't consider all the knowledge of morality that he possesses in choosing not to murder someone. "It's wrong" is sufficient active knowledge to reject it. But we all possess tons of knowledge about why it is wrong that does not necessarily come into play. This can also come into play when dealing with another character. Our active knowledge might be that a person is difficult. There may be tons of latent knowledge about that person that doesn't come into someone's mind when they see the person, think "difficult," and duck down an alley. Even the person's *name* might not come into one's awareness.

There are also times when I think withholding information might be useful.

  • What if the character is himself trying to avoid facing the reality? One of the impressions from the first 13 we critiqued that sparked this disagreement is that the character cooking at the stove was trying to avoid facing the danger of the strange character that came in the room. This could be used to good effect, I think. (Like Faulkner seemed to do regarding shame.)
  • Sometimes part of the story is trying to figure out what the POV character is thinking. Full disclosure wouldn't allow that. A character can be mysterious to the reader without being intentionally mysterious to himself.
  • Sometimes information is simply more effectively revealed to the reader at a later time.

All this being said, I do agree that you have to be very careful about intentionally withholding information that the POV character or the narrator know. Probably the majority of the time it is inadvisable, but I don't know for sure. I really don't think it is any hard and fast rule, though.

Still – I take IB's opinion seriously, and I am only an amateur with a running hypothesis. IB may very well be wiser than me about this, and I value his input into my education. This is a topic in which I am very interested, so I will undoubtedly annoy the heck out of many in my pursuit of understanding.

ciao,
Mark


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DebbieKW
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Mark,

I once read a story where their were three rotating POV characters whose lives were 'so messed up' because of 'that incident' in their past. It was annoying to have characters obsess over an incident they all knew the details of but the author deliberately never names or tells the details of until about 2/3rds of the way into the book. For instance, well into the book, one gal pulls out a 'green object' and a 'black object' from a box and holds them to her chest while wondering why the other characters won't confess 'what really happened that night.' Believe me, you have all the information that I did upon reading it. It won't have hurt the book at all if the author just admitted the objects were a bikini and the incident was a girl drowning in the ocean. In fact, the story would have been a lot more understandable and enjoyable if she had! This type of 'mystery' may seem suspenseful to the author but just annoys most readers.

One of the reasons I didn't like the way "the character cooking at the stove was trying to avoid facing the...strange character that came in the room" scene was written is because I wasn't sure of the character's motives for ignoring the strange character. Was it because (s)he didn't want to deal with the knowledge or was it because the character wasn't real or some other explanation? If the reason (s)he ignored the character was clear, then I would have liked the scene a lot better. If you're going to withhold information because the character doesn't want to think about it, then I'd suggest making that obvious even if it takes an outright statement that he doesn't want to think about it and why. Then I won't feel angry at the author for withholding info. I understand why it wasn't revealed.

All that said, I'm currently writing a short story that is another of my Great Experiments. I'm testing how much 'not thinking about it POV mystery' will work. The POV character has knowledge that would make everything that is happening be seen in a different light by the reader, but she has no reason to actively think about that information. However, it is hinted upon the whole time by the way she talks and reacts to people. The end should be a surprise, but not a shock since all the information was there from the beginning. However, it's quite possible that this story should simply be told from another POV instead.

Overall, I think that 'POV mystery' that inexperienced writers try to add doesn't achieve what they think it will. Yes, perhaps the rule can be successfully broken by an experienced writer, but only because they completely understand why the rule is there to begin with. (Thus, my experiment.)

Just my 2 cents.


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InarticulateBabbler
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As to the question of PoV:

1) We don't need to know everything that they know -- unless it's 1st Person -- we have to know what they know AT THAT POINT in the story.

2) How can a narrarator narrarate if he/she doesn't do it from her/his PoV?

3) This is called an "unreliable narrarator" and you have got to walk a more careful line with that.

4) Narraration IS telling the story from a PoV.

5) Don't tell everything, just everything relevant to the reader's immersion in the PoV and the story.

6) The rule of thumb is: Master the rules before you break them. The "Masters" are masters for a reason.

7)You don't have to divulge the "latent knowledge" in an info-dump, but you do include a lot of the basics in how he/she thinks, what he/she thinks, and his/her actions.

Intentional PoV witholding is the sign of a weakness in your prose.

1) The PoV would know if a character is trying to avoid facing reality, and reveal it through actions, phrases, or dialogue. I didn't get that the protagonist was trying to avoid seeing the person wearing the red hat, or any significance they placed on the hat. I'm not a fool, I knew you were avoiding telling me whom it was, but it felt like you were intentionally avoiding it. That's cheating me and it stops me from reading.

2) The story is never trying to figure out what the PoV is thinking, though it might be trying to figure out what the protagonist is. The protagonist and the PoV can be different: Sherlock Holmes is told by Watson.

3) Some information IS more effective if it's revealed at a later time, but is even more effective if it is learned by the PoV AS the reader learns it.

I hope this helps.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited May 27, 2007).]


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mfreivald
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quote:
This type of 'mystery' may seem suspenseful to the author but just annoys most readers.

DebbieKW, as you describe the story, I agree. I'm not going to argue that concealing information can't be done very poorly. Nor am I advocating withholding information just whenever you feel like it. What you described just seems like crumby writing to me.

quote:
One of the reasons I didn't like the way "the character cooking at the stove was trying to avoid facing the...strange character that came in the room" scene was written is because I wasn't sure of the character's motives for ignoring the strange character.

But motive is very often a mystery. In fact it is always somewhat of a mystery. I did expect to find out more in the ensuing paragraphs, but I certainly didn't need to know the motivation, yet, in the first thirteen. We are probably different kinds of readers who would enjoy different kinds of stories – which is perfectly okay.

quote:
If you're going to withhold information because the character doesn't want to think about it, then I'd suggest making that obvious…

Well, I think you are imposing a rule here that isn't necessary. It may be a good guideline for inexperienced writers – but I wouldn't make it an absolute rule. If it is done poorly and makes you angry, I would blame it more on poor writing and/or a poor decision to withhold, not on the violation of a rule.

quote:
All that said, I'm currently writing a short story that is another of my Great Experiments.

See – I think you are great. You disagree with me on the method, yet you take up the challenge to see if you could make it work. I will be very interested in how this works out for you.

quote:
Overall, I think that 'POV mystery' that inexperienced writers try to add doesn't achieve what they think it will.

I agree. But that doesn't mean it is true of all of their attempts, or even of all inexperienced writers. There are two sides of this coin. One side says you should withhold information with great care and only if you have good reason. The other side says we shouldn't discourage a specific instance of it unless there is very good reason. In the case of the previous discussion, it might have been prudent to advise the author to reveal the information and warn against the pitfalls of concealing information. But I don't think it was prudent to insist upon it for that specific case.

ciao,
Mark


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mfreivald
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Let me say first that I value this exchange. It is making me think, and the more we discuss it, the more we examine and evaluate particulars of the issue. I appreciate your opinion and all of your contributions, InarticulateBabbler, even if we disagree on this particular thing.

I am also pleased that you agreed to review my story. I expect that you will get me to examine many things I would not have examined without your critique.

quote:

1) We don't need to know everything that they know -- unless it's 1st Person -- we have to know what they know AT THAT POINT in the story.

I think Faulkner would disagree with you. And for the Sci-fi fans, I think Phillip K. Dick would disagree, too. I think many authors would disagree with you, as do I. It may be a bad idea in many specific cases (I expect we would find a lot of agreement with specific cases) – but it isn't a hard rule.

quote:
2) How can a narrarator narrarate if he/she doesn't do it from her/his PoV?

I know for a fact from studies of literature that a narrator is not always the POV character. Outside of first-person works, I would bet it is more often that he is not. Sometimes the narrator is an unknown entity. He is usually someone other than the author, and all kinds of subtle things can be done with the narrator to affect the story. The narrator has some level of insight into the POV character, but that does not mean he has complete omniscience. I say this on the authority of college professors, author commentary, and books that teach writing.

quote:
3) This is called an "unreliable narrarator" and you have got to walk a more careful line with that.

I have said from the beginning that a good deal of prudence is warranted. Having to walk a careful line is a very different proposition than a hard and fast rule.

quote:
4) Narraration IS telling the story from a PoV.

Right. But the narrator is not necessarily the same being as the being whose POV he is relating. Again – I have this on good authority. (If I can find the time, I might even see if I can find some resources that discuss it.)

This might be the main reason we see it differently. If I believed that the narrator and POV character were always the same conscious beings, I would see things more your way. (Though still not to such an absolute degree.)

quote:
5) Don't tell everything, just everything relevant to the reader's immersion in the PoV and the story.

I believe I have given a number of reasons where immersion in the POV warrants the postponement of information. Psychological avoidance and latent/active knowledge being two of them.

quote:
6) The rule of thumb is: Master the rules before you break them. The "Masters" are masters for a reason.

I agree – to a degree. But I don't think I want to discourage a new writer from trying it – especially if there is no compelling reason it doesn't work. For all I know, the particular writer I am advising has an innate ability to handle that kind of thing, and thrusting an absolute rule upon them would stunt some marvelous work in literature. Counseling them to be prudent is one thing. Forbidding them outright is another.

quote:
7)You don't have to divulge the "latent knowledge" in an info-dump, but you do include a lot of the basics in how he/she thinks, what he/she thinks, and his/her actions.

Generally that's true. But we are discussing whether or not a rule should hold for all *specific* situations. It is the extreme assertion that it should never be done, against which I am respectfully objecting.

quote:
Intentional PoV witholding is the sign of a weakness in your prose.

Then I guess Faulkner and Phillip K. Dick were a couple of hacks. (And Graham Greene, and Toni Morrison, and Ursulla K. LeGuin, and virtually every other author I have explored regarding this specific issue.)

quote:
1) The PoV would know if a character is trying to avoid facing reality, and reveal it through actions, phrases, or dialogue. I didn't get that the protagonist was trying to avoid seeing the person wearing the red hat, or any significance they placed on the hat.

That may be a good general guideline. But I wouldn't say it absolutely. I would council prudence and care – I wouldn't forbid it or say it is a bad idea until I saw it unfold.

Additionally – from a psychological standpoint – I don't at all agree that the POV would actively know if he was trying to avoid facing reality. From a stream of conscious POV (which the first 13 seemed to be) it wouldn't be in the active language at all.

quote:
I'm not a fool, I knew you were avoiding telling me whom it was, but it felt like you were intentionally avoiding it. That's cheating me and it stops me from reading.

I have not implied, nor will I imply that you are a fool. The best indication I think you are a fool is if I simply stop saying anything to you.

You aren't under the misapprehension that it was my story that we were discussing before, are you? The first 13 came from another member, and I was not disturbed by the level of mystery about who the man in the red hat was at all. Ever since we had that discussion, I have been paying attention when very good authors have delayed revealing who an entity was, and it is very, very common that they are not revealed as early as the first 13. Including in cases of first-person singular. (!)

quote:
2) The story is never trying to figure out what the PoV is thinking, though it might be trying to figure out what the protagonist is.

I respectfully disagree. And as I stated above, I think the bulk of our disagreement may stem from your idea that the POV and the narrator are always the same being. (Even if they were, I would avoid a plenary dictum on the matter.)

quote:
3) Some information IS more effective if it's revealed at a later time, but is even more effective if it is learned by the PoV AS the reader learns it.

That may often be true. But what makes it always true? Why can't latent information or psychological avoidance play a roll making it more effective to reveal the information later?

quote:
I hope this helps.

You are making me think a lot, so it definitely helps. For the record, I have not dismissed the possibility that you are more in the right than I am. That isn't to say that I don't think I'm right in this. But I am only one guy learning about it, and I think this warrants more thought and more discussion.

ciao,
Mark


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mfreivald
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I wanted to massage this some more, but I am on the road tomorrow and will have little time for it in the next few days, so I'd like to get your reactions to this latest iteration of my first 13.

Harvey Alvarez lost his nerve. He watched in dismay as the university president, Orville Farnsworth, spilled lobster bisque down his front all over his blue silk tie. Harvey's task in the experiment should have been simple. Take the time machine back to the start of the banquet. Warn the president that he saw a busboy drop a dirty washcloth into the bisque. Return. Farnsworth would then reject the soup, and the wardrobe disaster would be averted. More importantly, his guest, Senator Daikel, would not dismiss him as a buffoon and pull the funding for the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Time Travel project.

A successful execution of Harvey's assignment would have silenced that smug little jerk, Dr. Daniel Glenn, and put to rest Glenn's theory that the past could not be changed. But

KayTi, I'm taking your issue with the washcloth seriously, but I haven't found anything that I like better, yet.

Thanks, all.
Mark


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jonner
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I was attempting to be funny, as the person who said this is OSC, on the writting lessons on this webpage, in his article on Beginings. Just one of the instances is:

"Having a good first sentence is nice, but it's not the opening. By definition, the first sentence is in the first paragraph, and the first paragraph is free. That is, the first paragraph of a story does not have to be in the same voice or mood or tone as the rest of the work. The first paragraph is important for setting the scene, for giving vital information that allows what follows to make sense. But the real opening is after that first paragraph -- when the story starts in earnest."

I made the mistake of assuming that everyone would understand who i was refering too, sorry :-)

Also, i don't mind the new begining, but it is a different story now, or apears to be to me. The first would have, in my understanding, been a story about what led up to the soup spilling, this begining has made the story about the events that will follow the experiments failure. I sort of think this has to much going on now, or that it's starting in the middle or end of the story. That may be because I have knowlege about the story that a first time reader wolud not. Thanks for repling to my comments.

jonner


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InarticulateBabbler
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I like this better. It's clear, I know up front that Harvey has gone back in time, and what for.

Just a couple small nits:

quote:

Harvey Alvarez lost his nerve. He watched in dismay as the university president, Orville Farnsworth, spilled lobster bisque down his front all over his blue silk tie. Harvey's task in the experiment should have been simple[:] Take the time machine back to the start of the banquet[; w]arn the president that he saw a busboy drop a dirty washcloth into the bisque[; r]eturn. Farnsworth would then reject the soup, and the wardrobe disaster would be averted. More importantly, his guest, Senator Daikel, would not dismiss him as a buffoon and pull the funding for the University of Nebraska[Whoever suggested "U of N" was right in that it would allow enough of a mental breather to make this sentence smooth] at Omaha's Time Travel project.

Is this a finished story? Do you yet have a word count?

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited May 28, 2007).]


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mfreivald
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InarticulateBabbler, I sent you (and the other two) the completed story. About 8,250 words. Did you not receive it? Did your spam filter catch it?
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mfreivald
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quote:
Also, i don't mind the new begining, but it is a different story now,...

jonner, it seems the story was different than you predicted from the start, but it is also true that the story developed significantly from my original intention. The action has mostly stayed the same, but my voice changed a lot. I was experimenting with voice when I first posted that first 13.

Your prediction was a good one - it just wasn't the "right" one.


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mfreivald
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Hello, again. I think this version improves on things. It incorporates a lot of your suggestions. (Thanks to everyone.) Comments/Crits/Suggestions?

Harvey Alvarez lost his nerve. His task should have been simple. Take the time machine back to the start of the banquet. Warn the university president, Orville Farnsworth, that he saw a busboy drop a dirty washcloth into the bisque. Return. Farnsworth would then reject the soup, the wardrobe disaster would be averted, and, more importantly, his guest, Senator Daikel, would not dismiss him as a buffoon and pull the funding for UNO's Time Travel project. But Harvey failed. He watched in dismay as the president spilled lobster bisque down his front all over his blue silk tie.

A successful execution of Harvey's assignment would have silenced that smug little jerk, Dr. Daniel Glenn, and put to rest Glenn's theory that the past could not be changed. But


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priscillabgoo
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Hi Mark,
I'd like to read if you still need it. I could get to it this weekend.

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mfreivald
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Thanks for the offer Priscilla. I'll send it to you, but I've had a few reviews, and I'm mostly looking for input on the latest first 13.

Still hoping to get some comment on my last entry.

Is it improved?
Any issues?


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