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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Twilight Meetings Version3-Fantasy-In Progress

   
Author Topic: Twilight Meetings Version3-Fantasy-In Progress
Merlion-Emrys
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The original version of this was I believe the first or nearly first thing I posted on Hatrack. I'm re-writing it, for the second time. It's high fantasy, and I'm especially focusing on point of view, character emmersion and a strong character goal. I plan to submit it to BSC first when its done. Comments on the begining are nice, offers to read it all when finished even better.

Naronin had just finished his afternoon meal and he was about to sit down with one of his lore-books when there was a knock at the door. It surprised him, since he’d had no visitors since he’d taken up residence in the small cottage outside the village. That was to his liking though. He’d come to this place to find peace and quiet for his studies.
Don’t deceive yourself, a stern voice in his mind told him, you came to get away from the whispers and the stares. You came hoping you would finally find a way to let go of the memories and the guilt.
He waved the voice away and put his book down with a sigh. He went to the door slowly, so slowly, debating all the way. No doubt some villager had caught wind of his skills and come for


Slightly tweaked version...thanks for the suggestions Owasin. I'm still debating the "surprise" issue..


Naronin had just finished his afternoon meal. He was about to sit down with one of his lore-books when there was a knock at the door. It surprised him, since he’d had no visitors since he’d taken up residence in the small cottage outside the village. That was to his liking though. He’d come to this place to find peace and quiet for his studies.
Don’t deceive yourself, his mind told him, you came to get away from the whispers and the stares. You came hoping you would finally find a way to let go of the memories and the guilt.
He waved the voice away and put his book down with a sigh. He went to the door slowly, so slowly, debating all the way. No doubt some villager had caught wind of his skills and come for help with some problem…a sick calf or a broken plow or a cheating wife.


A third version


Naronin was about to sit down with one of his lore-books when there was a knock at the door. He started in surprise, and then frowned. He’d had no visitors since coming to live in this small cottage outside the village. Nor had he desired any.
I came here to find peace and quiet for my studies. Is that too much to ask?
Don’t deceive yourself, another part of his mind snapped, you came to get away from the whispers and the stares. You came hoping you would find a way to let go of the memories and the guilt.
He waved the voice away and put his book down with a sigh. He went to the door slowly, so slowly, debating all the way. No doubt some villager had caught wind of his skills and come for help with some problem…a sick calf or a broken plow or a cheating wife.


[This message has been edited by Merlion-Emrys (edited March 17, 2009).]


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Owasm
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Having a taste of your style in Harmony, I think this works well for setting your mood.

Two comments:

1. The first sentence seems a bit of a run-on to me. I would just take out the 'and' after meal and start a new sentence.

2. The stern voice. Since this is a fantasy, I think the voice needs a stronger indication if it's his or another presence. As it sits we only know the voice is stern and he waves it away. That's too ambiguous for me. The thought of what the voice is disturbs the opening's flow. If your intent is to be ambiguous, then it succeeds.

The collection of possible requests at the door set just the right tone.

- Owasm


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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
The first sentence seems a bit of a run-on to me. I would just take out the 'and' after meal and start a new sentence.


I thought so myself but I wasn't sure, or sure of where to make the break...that sounds like a good idea though.


quote:
The stern voice. Since this is a fantasy, I think the voice needs a stronger indication if it's his or another presence. As it sits we only know the voice is stern and he waves it away. That's too ambiguous for me. The thought of what the voice is disturbs the opening's flow. If your intent is to be ambiguous, then it succeeds.


It is his, and it's not ment to be ambigious. Internal dialogue seems to be an area where people almost always have different ideas about what works and what doesnt...I'm not totally happy with it anyway, so suggestions for a clearer presentation would be apreciated.


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Owasm
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Why don't you just take out the 'stern'?

'...yourself, his mind told him' or simply '...yourself,his mind said'

The dialogue carries the flavor of the character chiding himself well enough.


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skadder
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I think there is some telling here that could be eliminated for a better read.

-It surprised him, since he’d had no visitors since he’d taken up residence in the small cottage outside the village. That was to his liking though.

I think telling is more noticable when it is about the protag's emotions. An example of how to eliminate this telling might be:

-He frowned at the sound--he’d had no visitors since he’d taken up residence in the small cottage outside the village. Why was someone disturbing his peace now?

I agree with the comment about the voice. You need to identify if it is his own voice or another's.


[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 17, 2009).]


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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
I think telling is more noticable when it is about the protag's emotions


Its funny you mention this. We are always told "show don't tell." But it seems to me based on comments I've recieved that many people, including the editor of BCS, seems to WANT telling when it comes to emotions. His last rejection to me complained of my "showing emotion through movie like actions"

heres a direct quote from the email

quote:
phrases like he "shook his head and sighed," trying to show his feelings through movie-style actions rather than taking me inside his head and making me feel his feelings.


Now maybe I'm misinterpreting and what your saying and what he's saying are unrelated, but to me the other way to portray feelings is by stating them either in dialogue or narrative. I'm not saying I dislike your suggestion, but I've recieved comments from critiquers as well that to me at least indicate that they want to be told what the character is feeling rather than shown through actions or dialogue.


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skadder
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I think you are missing the point in this instance (not that I want to get embroiled in a big discussion regarding this!).

-It surprised him

-That was to his liking

-He shook his head and sighed.

-He frowned.

The first two on this list are observations made by the narrator and don't (IMO) constitute or meet the criteria of 'making me feel his emotions. There is something obvious between the reader and the character--the narrator.

There is a narrator in the other examples, but it is less obvious.

The the third one is fine; people do shake their heads and sigh, and it DOES mean something with regard their emotional reaction. Shaking you head and sighing can be over-used and often is. Rising slowly to your feet with your heart hammering in your chest when you hear the moan of approaching zombies. Then reaching with a shaky hand for your rifle by the fire. Kicking awake your friends and whispering with a dry mouth for them to move real quietly... conveys emotion.

The fourth one is similar to the third one. People frown, they know they are frowning (most of the time) and don't need to see it in a mirror to know they are doing it. People frown for a reason. It prompts the reader, if combined with a physical experience it can root the reader into the protag's experience.

Your interpretation of the advice has sent you backwards rather than forwards (IMO). The odd movies style emotional prod is fine as long as you convey your protag's experience fairly directly so that readers get into your character's head.

In your other intro you underline that the distance between the reader and your character is what you are looking for, but there is a price to be paid for that which is that the reader may have difficulty plunging into the protag's head when you want them to and it will feel fake.

This how I feel regarding this.


[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 17, 2009).]


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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
The the third one is fine; people do shake their heads and sigh, and it DOES mean something with regard their emotional reaction. Shaking you head and sighing can be over-used and often is. Rising slowly to your feet with your heart hammering in your chest when you hear the moan of approaching zombies. Then reaching with a shaky hand for your rifle by the fire. Kicking awake your friends and whispering with a dry mouth for them to move real quietly... conveys emotion.


Ohh, I agree with you, personally. What I'm saying is, my impression of a string of comments and feedback from this particular editor (and some other folks as well both editors and critiquers) indicates to me that he/they do NOT agree that the sort of thing your talking about sufficiently conveys emotion, and what I'm trying to do is then figure out what he/they DO feel conveys it. Of course I realize I may or may not be fully understanding whats meant by those comments.

quote:
Your interpretation of the advice has sent you backwards rather than forwards (IMO). The odd movies style emotional prod is fine as long as you convey your protag's experience fairly directly so that readers get into your character's head.


I'm not sure I understand the difference, or exactly what your getting at. My interpretation of the comments is that this person does not want to be shown emotions through action. The other means of expressing it that springs to my mind is to state the emotion. If there are other options (and I dont doubt there may be), I'm not positive what they are.

My personal concept of "in the characters head" is direct writing of there specific thoughts, generally italicised but at least in the narrative, stating (aka "telling") the characters thoughts/feelings. That however seems to also be a point of debate on various levels.

quote:
In your other intro you underline that the distance between the reader and your character is what you are looking for, but there is a price to be paid for that which is that the reader may have difficulty plunging into the protag's head when you want them to and it will feel fake.


That applied to that story, not this one. As I mentioned in the "Harmony" thread, the distance is an aspect of a particular sub set of my stories wherein alienation and distancing are themes. As I mention in this thread, with this story I am working to better understand other people's ideas of character immersion etc.

[This message has been edited by Merlion-Emrys (edited March 17, 2009).]


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skadder
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Ignore advice that is poor and don't go backwards. You state that you personally agree with me--I reckon if you started a thread on this, 99% of Hatrack would agree with us.

Ignore the editor. Anyone can start a magazine and become an editor, it just takes some money and some friends. I bet I could rustle up some co-editors if I was willing to fund a magazine just by advertising on Hatrack and Liberty hall etc.

Besides, BSC is a new market. Do you know if the guy has ANY experience? Is he a published author...well published?

I am not trying to put him down...trust your instinct.


BTW:

quote:
That applied to that story, not this one. As I mentioned in the "Harmony" thread, the distance is an aspect of a particular sub set of my stories wherein alienation and distancing are themes. As I mention in this thread, with this story I am working to better understand other people's ideas of character immersion etc.

My comment applied to the response you got from the editor and not to this intro. Obviously I don't know what you sent him ...

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 17, 2009).]


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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
Ignore advice that is poor and don't go backwards. You state that you personally agree with me--I reckon if you started a thread on this, 99% of Hatrack would agree with us.


Maybe. But a large percentage of Hatrack also has the opinion, erroneous based on my experience, that all editors are the same and that there are magical "good writing" formulas that always work, with which I disagree.

Remember, I see all of this as subjective, not definitely right/wrong good/bad except within specific context.


quote:
Ignore the editor. Anyone can start a magazine and become an editor, it just takes some money and some friends. I bet I could rustle up some co-editors if I was willing to fund a magazine just by advertising on Hatrack and Liberty hall etc.


Well, at least one person I know each on Hatrack and Liberty Hall have published stories on BCS and think highly of it...it pays pro rates and at least some seem to feel it will be added to the SFWA list once it meets the required year of existence.

quote:
Besides, BSC is a new market. Do you know if the guy has ANY experience? Is he a published author...well published?


I don't know a whole lot about him, I believe he is a writer. Of course your idea of "well published" and mine are probably vastly different.

quote:
I am not trying to put him down...trust your instinct.

This is rather funny since usually people here tell me to write to match what editors want (or supposedly want) rather than going with my natural inclinations :-)

I have a desire to sell a story to BCS if for no other reason than I want to try and figure out what it is he wants and see if I can't write to suit it. He isn't the only one, either, whose expressed to me things that make me think they feel the "show don't tell" "rule" is reversed for emotion.

I have only a very limited belief in the concept of better/worse when it comes to this. I write in mind of a mixture of writing what I want to write while some times trying to do it in a way that will appeal to a certain editor or publication (since contrary to what some people here seem to think, all editors like all other people have different preferences.)

Also I should clarify...I agree with you, but with the realization that people percieve things differently (and I myself often can percieve one thing in multiple ways) so that therefore if I am trying to sell a story to a specific person whose preferences are somewhat known to me, I may try to move the writing more in that direction.


That being said, maybe I can get some additional feedback on these concepts, and this story in general, as time goes on.


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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
My comment applied to the response you got from the editor and not to this intro. Obviously I don't know what you sent him ...


Ohh ok. Now I'm totally confused...I didn't say anything about wanting distance from the reader in this thread, I didn't think...so I assumed you were talking about Harmony.


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mommiller
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Critting the second version.

This is what has me scratching my head..

quote:
Don’t deceive yourself, his mind told him, You came to get away from the whispers and the stares. You came hoping you would finally find a way to let go of the memories and the guilt.

Are these his thoughts? Or does he keep a brain in a jar on his desk? If it is the former, a simple, "he thought," should suffice...

Either way, you seem to be telling this story from outside Naronin's POV rather than within it. Is that your intention?


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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
Are these his thoughts? Or does he keep a brain in a jar on his desk? If it is the former, a simple, "he thought," should suffice...


Ahh me. More proof that no matter how you do it, its not going to work for everyone.

Owasin didn't like the original version as you see above.

Every time I put "he thought" in these situations, people say its unecessary. But when I just use italics and assume people will realize that means its the characters thoughts, people ask me if its meant to be thoughts.


So, what do I do?

quote:
Either way, you seem to be telling this story from outside Naronin's POV rather than within it. Is that your intention?


Its third person close from Naronin's point of view. At least according to what I'm told about point of view is correct. Apparently either your definition of it or mine are wrong, or as I suspect there really is no absolute definition of it.
Edit: The thought-bits are him talking/thinking to himself in third person...something I thought was pretty common and straightforward...


[This message has been edited by Merlion-Emrys (edited March 17, 2009).]


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BenM
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First impressions of your first version:

- The first sentence does seem unwieldy.
Breaking it up into four things:
Naronin (1)had just finished his afternoon meal (2)and he was about to sit down (3)with one of his lore-books (4)when there was a knock at the door

Is (1) important? I notice you kept it in your 2nd version. As a first sentence I'm not sure I care enough about whether someone just ate for it to grab me.

I wonder if the 'action' (4) should occur first, perhaps startling him out of (2), with the promise of (3) sitting on the table, tempting him. If (1) is important, perhaps it can be shown (dirty dishes, a burp, a smell, whatever) rather than told, (had just finished his afternoon meal).

- In
You came hoping you would finally find a way
I believe finally is, to my mind, redundant. By definition, if he's looking to find a way to let go of the memories, it must be finally.


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Bycin
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Merlion,

I really don't think this is an instance of not being able to please everyone, regardless of what you try. Sometimes it just boils down to weak writing on the part of the author, and not the fickleness of the audience. We are all guilty of it. It's the main reason we post here for advice.

quote:
a stern voice in his mind told him

quote:
his mind told him

I think we are just dealing with an instance where neither of these particular attempts are very strong. Personally, I think it would work better to have the thoughts italicized, followed by a sentence on how they made him feel. Something like:

quote:
Don’t deceive yourself. You came to get away from the whispers and the stares. You came hoping you would finally find a way to let go of the memories and the guilt. The unwelcome thoughts soured his stomach and caused him to pause on his way to the door.

To me, this also demonstrates what the editor of BCS is getting at. You are showing his emotions without movie style directions. The thoughts are upsetting to him. That comes through clearly.

Now, of course, this advice is subjective. It's already been said a million times and a million ways. Take it as you will, but see it for what it is. A friendly attempt to help you improve.


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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
Take it as you will, but see it for what it is. A friendly attempt to help you improve


Of course...I never said nor indicated that anything on this thread was anything else. However...

quote:
really don't think this is an instance of not being able to please everyone, regardless of what you try. Sometimes it just boils down to weak writing on the part of the author, and not the fickleness of the audience. We are all guilty of it. It's the main reason we post here for advice.


Yeah, of course. But what happens when you get 5 different sets of advice from 5 different people or whatever? Which one is right? which one is the "strong" way of writing it?

The answer is usually, to some extent both none and all...which goes back to what you said about it being subjective...which leads back to what I said about how its not really possible to please everyone. Everyone isn't going to like every story or every part of every story. "good" and "bad" are almost totally subjective in this kind of thing and even "better" and "worse" are largely a matter of taste.

quote:
To me, this also demonstrates what the editor of BCS is getting at. You are showing his emotions without movie style directions. The thoughts are upsetting to him. That comes through clearly.


Perhaps that is what he means. But what do you want to bet some would still consider it to "telling?"


Although you are probably somewhat right about more internal physical reactions versus external ones.

On a side note, the whole show/tell dichotomy is odd to me because all writing is telling. To me what people mean when they talk about "showing" is, in written form, still telling...just in more detail, or in some cases "telling" something different, like that it sours him stomach as a roundabout potentially ambigious way of "telling" the reader his possible emotional state.


All that aside, I'm curious...I was under the impression this was 3rd person close...am I in fact wrong?

[This message has been edited by Merlion-Emrys (edited March 17, 2009).]


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AmieeRock
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You know, I've only posted one item for critique here on hatrack. When I did, I got alot of different advice. Some I took, some I didn't. Some of the advice, I tried to work into my piece, and if I felt it improved the piece, I used it, if it didn't, I discarded that advice. The one thing I did not do was tell my critiquers how horribly wrong I felt they were, and why I knew better than they. After all, they were only trying to help. And I wanted them to be willing to critque my future work and to give consideration to any small advice I may one day offer them.

Write stories you want to read. Take or leave our advice and that of editors as you see fit. If you try to please or "hook" everyone, you will end up with nothing much to show for your hard work. But above all, please, please stop being so darn defensive. We are just trying to help.


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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
The one thing I did not do was tell my critiquers how horribly wrong I felt they were, and why I knew better than they.


Nor have I, in any way shape or form. I was responding specfically to this statement of Bycin's

quote:
really don't think this is an instance of not being able to please everyone, regardless of what you try. Sometimes it just boils down to weak writing on the part of the author, and not the fickleness of the audience. We are all guilty of it. It's the main reason we post here for advice.


Which was in response to this statement of mine


Ahh me. More proof that no matter how you do it, its not going to work for everyone.

Owasin didn't like the original version as you see above.

Every time I put "he thought" in these situations, people say its unecessary. But when I just use italics and assume people will realize that means its the characters thoughts, people ask me if its meant to be thoughts.

Which was basically just me being half exasperated, half amused at the way that you do get so many opinions on a single thing...despitethe fact that at least in my perception here on Hatrack often some folks act as if theres a definite right and wrong way to do things and tend to speak very objectively and absolutely about things.


quote:
If you try to please or "hook" everyone, you will end up with nothing much to show for your hard work.


See this is exactly the thing...this that you just said is in fact my own point. But there seems to be a concensus or at least an idea here that informs many peoples critiquing that you CAN please everyone, or at least a majority of editors, but writing the "right" way. And there are certain things, certain technical concepts that do...or I thought did...have more or less universal definitions, such as the 3rd person close point of view...which I thought I was using, but some people think not, and so I'm left not really knowing for sure....which leads to...

quote:
But above all, please, please stop being so darn defensive.


I'm not. Theres a difference between being defensive and disagreeing with someones opinion, and an even bigger difference between being defensive and trying to figure something out via discussion.


Also note that when I take exception to someone speaking of "weak" writing or talking about right and wrong ways of doing things or making blanket statements about readers or editors, it has nothing to do with being personally defensive of my own writing. It has to do with my taking umbridge to those things and ideas, in any context.


quote:
We are just trying to help.


Yep. And for me discussion is far more helpful than comments in a vacuum, especially in the instance of comments that conflict with each other or that I simply don't fully follow. Now I realize some people consider it some sort of imposition to ask someone to discuss and clarify their critique or heaven forbid to disagree with something they say...but like I said, comments in a vacuum are rarely all that helpful to me and anyone that does not have or wish to spend the time discussing their comments can very simply not respond to my responses. No biggy.

[This message has been edited by Merlion-Emrys (edited March 18, 2009).]


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BenM
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I personally find both giving and taking criticism hard, even when I'm trying to be really, really good.

Last year I stumbled upon the following thread on another site, of which the point in the link below was personally very helpful.

http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/node/3046632?page=1#comment-3377896

(Actually, the whole thread was immensely helpful since it eventually prompted me to join here)


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AmieeRock
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I'm sorry. I was wrong.
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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
I personally find both giving and taking criticism hard, even when I'm trying to be really, really good.


Criticism isn't in itself a problem for me. Objective statements about subjective things, in various forms, are.


Trying to untangle what little objectivity there is in writing fiction from the subjective aspects is also rather hard. I'm trying to better understand point of view, for instance, but everyone has their own ideas about the definitions.


Likewise getting people to understand that I often speak about general, interconnected principles rather than single specific things, and that I am often simply musing or commenting upon things, not necessarily complaining about them, attacking them, defending them or asking them to be changed has also proved an obstacle


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skadder
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I think one of the problems is that we don't all write for the same reasons.

Personally I write with the unrealistic intention of quitting my day job and becoming a commercial success. Yup, I know--it's never gonna happen, but that's my aim.

Other people write for other reasons...perhaps for the art of it, I don't know.

A point to note is we don't all have the same books on our bookshelves...but most of us have read some of the same books-- Stephen King for example, or OSC.

These are people who have honed their skills so that they appeal to a large proportion of people and that is my wish too.

So when I write an intro/story and 95% of people who can be arsed to comment say it doesn't hook them or they didn't like it (never mind the nit-picks) then there is something fundementally wrong with it. If 95% say they are hooked or enjoyed it, then I am doing something right (for western readers of the year 2008--may not hold the same in 20 years time).

My feeling is that the right writing, the right plot etc, etc all make up the totality of your product. They are all subjective, but if the mix is right then a significant proportion of people will like it.

I think you split hairs too much. When I read your intros I usually don't experience a hook...it feels bland. I can explain that all I want, but really it's irrelevant. It doesn't mean you won't sell just because I don't experience a hook from you, but if 95% of people don't get a hook then you may have trouble selling it.

An objective measure of an authors success is sales. If you want to sell to a lot of people then you have to appeal to a many people, but you can't sit down with each reader and discuss the merits of 'show don't tell' or 'internal dialogue variations' or 'reader-protag emotional distance'. It either works or doesn't. When I read someone's intro or story, I am first and foremost a reader. If it is fantastic my internal editor will never get started because I will get dragged through the story. If it is less than fantastic then I will see problems within it. The problems I see are merely symptoms that the story/intro isn't working for me.

I would recommend you stop questionning (in an argumentative way) with everyone who comments on your stories and either act on their advice or don't, but in the end write a better version (you're the writer and the better version is what counts) and engage with more people. Asking for honest clarification of something someone wrote because you didn't understand what they meant is fine, as long as you aren't trying undermine their comments in the same breath.e.g.

quote:
Ahh me. More proof that no matter how you do it, its not going to work for everyone.

Owasin didn't like the original version as you see above.

Every time I put "he thought" in these situations, people say its unecessary. But when I just use italics and assume people will realize that means its the characters thoughts, people ask me if its meant to be thoughts.


So, what do I do?


In answer to your question: work it out--you're the writer.

I think your current strategy is not going to help you. It's a go nowhere strategy (Who to listen to? How do I know if its right?) and experiment. If more people seem to like it...then it's probably a (subjective, of course) better version.

That said, the latest version is much better. I am not sure about the conversation with himself--reads a like a version of 'as you know, Bob' with himself. But I think you could tidy that up fairly easily.

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 18, 2009).]


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Bycin
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Merlion,

You wrote:

quote:
Yeah, of course. But what happens when you get 5 different sets of advice from 5 different people or whatever? Which one is right? which one is the "strong" way of writing it?

Why does there have to be a "right" answer? If that is your target, you're never going to find it. You preach all the time about how opinions are not valid because they are subjective. It seems contradictory to expect that one person will have the answers you are looking for. My advice is to take each persons suggestions as just that: suggestions. See if they work in your story, with your voice, with your plot. If not, don't use them and move on with what you feel is best. It is your story in the end, write it your way. You seem to have a rather strong feeling that your writing is different from that of everyone else, and you don't want to be bound by the current trends. That is great, but hold strong to that belief. Don't cater your work for specific editors (BCS), or anyone else, if it goes against your artistic spirit.

Skadder had it correct when he said that we all write for different reasons. Having read through your comments in the Big 3 vs. Online thread, as well as here, it seems to me that you don't have a clear idea of why you write. If it is to be artistically expressive and different from the norm (i.e. no hook, telling vs. showing) that is great. Write for yourself and don't worry about editors and audiences. If your goal is to get published, though, your work is going to need mass appeal. It is a balance, but it seems to me that you want it both ways and that isn't necessarily realistic. You want to be completely individual and want to have publishing success. A great thing for all of us to aspire to, but odds are it won't happen.


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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
An objective measure of an authors success is sales. If you want to sell to a lot of people then you have to appeal to a many people, but you can't sit down with each reader and discuss the merits of 'show don't tell' or 'internal dialogue variations' or 'reader-protag emotional distance'.


Nope, I can't. But, I can potentially do that with the people here...that, I thought, was part of the point. And if, as I said earlier, a given person doesn't want to partake of more in depth conversation about something and just wants to leave whatever their initial comments are, theres nothing compelling them to do more.

quote:
In answer to your question: work it out--you're the writer.


I guess expressing a moments frustration/bemusement was a mistake on my part. I keep figuring that other writers might relate to those experiences or feelings, but for whatever reason they don't seem to. Its something I'll try to avoid in the future.

quote:
Why does there have to be a "right" answer?


Ok, lets back up here a little bit...apparently I'm expressing myself really badly because whether on my end or yours everything I've said/typed here and elsewhere seems to have given you a lot of incorrect impressions.

You said this:

quote:
Sometimes it just boils down to weak writing on the part of the author,


Indicating that all the versions, including those altered by people's comments were "weakly" written. I responded to my perception of your assertion that there is a definitely "weak" and "strong" way to write it by saying:

quote:
Yeah, of course. But what happens when you get 5 different sets of advice from 5 different people or whatever? Which one is right? which one is the "strong" way of writing it?


So, I was under the impression that you felt there was a "right answer." Apparently I was mistaken.


quote:
You preach all the time about how opinions are not valid because they are subjective


Nope, I have never said opinions are not valid...I've only said that they are subjective. Therefore I do dislike it when people assert their opinions as universal facts...although I do realize that some times people come across that way without meaning too.

quote:
You seem to have a rather strong feeling that your writing is different from that of everyone else


Everyone's writing is different from everyone elses. I have stated that some of what I write does not follow along with the current most popular trends (or at least the majority of people on Hatrack's ideas about what the most popular trends are...since I haven't sat down and read a majority of whats out there right now I can't make a definitive statement about what the trends are) for various reasons. However "Twilight Meetings" is not such a story anyway. I don't "fly in the face of convention" for the heck of it or anything. Certain of the stories I have in my mind just wish to be written in different ways.

quote:
Don't cater your work for specific editors (BCS), or anyone else, if it goes against your artistic spirit.


I have more than one artistic spirit. I write more than one kind of story, in more than one style. When writing a story of a type that can be fit into the current trends without violating its nature (like Twilight Meetings) I try to do so as best I can.


quote:
Having read through your comments in the Big 3 vs. Online thread, as well as here, it seems to me that you don't have a clear idea of why you write.


To me why someone writes and the goals they wish to reach with their writing are not necessarily the same thing. Another thing...in discussions and debates I will often "play devil's advocate" and/or present certain things as examples to illustrate larger points. Part of the problem in the Big 3 Thread was several people continued to insist that I was in fact advocating certain things when I was mostly using them as examples to make a point (which in that case was that there may actually be more than one equally effective "submissions strategy).

Why I write: Because now I don't have much choice. The stories in my mind want to be told.

My goal in writing: To take it as far as I can.

quote:
If it is to be artistically expressive and different from the norm (i.e. no hook, telling vs. showing) that is great.


So have I given you the impression that I intentionally try to avoid "hooks" and that I want to tell instead of show? If so let me clarify.

A good begining is a good thing, but I dont worry as much as some about "hooks" because of that subjectivity thing again. As I said in my Harmony thread, theres a lot of professionally published stuff that I enjoy that people here would most likely say was "hookless" and therefore unpublishable.


I do believe that the "show don't tell" rule is some times over emphasized, and I am also aware of the fact that technically, all writing is telling. However in the context of this thread what I was getting at is, several people (the editor of BCS being just one and the most prominent) have made comments to me that tend to make me think (and I could be wrong in that) that they prefer emotions to be expressed in ways that, by my understanding, seem to be "telling."

quote:
If your goal is to get published, though, your work is going to need mass appeal.


Well that depends. There are levels of publication...I am concious of the fact as well that some of what I write is somewhat less likely to get a great deal of high profile "mainstream" publication, and I'm fine with that.

Also, I do believe to an extent that in the end, getting published has less to do with mass appeal and more to do with simply finding an editor that it does appeal to. I think at the end of the day a lot of editors basically publish what they want to publish. It has a lot to do with their personal tastes.


So I agree with you to a point, and trying to understand that mass (or at least mass editor) appeal is a part of what we're here to do...although I think the Hatrack population some times gets a little to caught up in it and the idea that there are "magic bullets" of writing method that constitute that "mass appeal"


quote:
It is a balance, but it seems to me that you want it both ways and that isn't necessarily realistic. You want to be completely individual and want to have publishing success. A great thing for all of us to aspire to, but odds are it won't happen.


Again, try to remember that I dont always write the same stuff or with the same goals. There are pieces, like "Harmony" that have some specific things to say and their style is somewhat dictated by that, and I realize that may reduce their appeal somewhat but I do it anyway.

On the other hand, pieces like "Twilight Meetings" are a little more open, and when writing them I do try to incorporate stylistic elements that are currently more "in". Besides which, I also enjoy the challenge of learning new techniques, and of doing things like trying to write to the tastes of specific editors.


Back to the whole "right way/wrong way" issue, there are certain technical aspects of writing that do have widely accepted parameters...but I don't always know them all, and often in these discussions I'm searching for more information. For example in this thread mommiller says I'm not writing in Naronin's point of view, when as far as I knew I was writing in 3rd person close from his point of view...so if anyone can clarify that I'd apreciate it...


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skadder
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I think you do have problems expressing yourself, Merlion. This is evidenced by the fact you seem to get embroiled in arguments continually. I think you are able to express yourself clearly (a little too much like a laywer defending himself--which doesn't help you), but you seem to struggle to engage with others (not everyone!) in a positive way. I think it is how you express yourself that is the problem, and when you do it.

I don't doubt your desire to grow as a writer, and I guess you must feel that you benefit in someway from posting on a place like Hatrack or you wouldn't do it...but...

I get positive stuff from Hatrack and I generally do so without putting people's noses out of joint.

For example:

quote:
In answer to your question: work it out--you're the writer.


quote:
I guess expressing a moments frustration/bemusement was a mistake on my part. I keep figuring that other writers might relate to those experiences or feelings, but for whatever reason they don't seem to. It's something I'll try to avoid in the future.


I certainly relate to what you are saying--we have all had conflicting advice. Expressing your frustration AT THEM when someone has spent time trying to provide you with GOOD advice (in their opinion) smacks a little of being ungrateful, though. Nobody has to read your stuff o take the time to comment--it's done in good faith.

Your response in this instance seemed...petulant.

Certainly express your frustration on another thread, and generally (not targeted to a specific person), but your habit of quoting people and responding point by point (especially the way you do sometimes respond as above) feels very directed. It encourages people to respond to you in a similar confrontational format resulting in yet another argument/discussion.

I will illustrate the point for you:

a: Where is the bank?

b: Down the road to the lights, turn left and left again. Drive about a hundred yards and you'll see it on the left.

a: What? That's not what the guy I asked earlier said. Why are you saying this? It really annoys me when I get conflicting directions. Why can't you both agree?

b: errr....

a: Besides what is 'left' anyway; it all depends on your perspective. Who are you anyway and what is your qualification to tell me where to go--are you a cartographer?

b: &£@*^^ off.


However this resides on the premise that that you have no wish to argue. I may be wrong and perhaps you enjoy it.


[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 18, 2009).]


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Bycin
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I wish you well with your writing, Merlion. There really isn't much more I can contribute to this thread, so I will leave it where it is.

As far as POV goes, I'm not really sure what the distinctions are, other than the generalities. Honestly, I have no desire to have a deeper understanding of the variations. It would only make me focus on things other than what I am writing. I write the story that comes to me, in the way that I feel tells it best. I think we sometimes get bogged down in the details and lose sight of the outcomes.


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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
I certainly relate to what you are saying--we have all had conflicting advice. Expressing your frustration AT THEM when someone has spent time trying to provide you with GOOD advice (in their opinion) smacks a little of being ungrateful, though. Nobody has to read your stuff o take the time to comment--it's done in good faith.


Perhaps although 1) like I said we all get frustrated at times and react based on that and 2) when I come into an ongoing discussion and go to comment on something that several opinions have already been offered on, I try to...integrate those ideas into my comments...I think because to me that avoids the chance of it sounding as if I'm disagreeing with the ideas that have been presented before.

I got I believe three successive comments on the same thing and numbers 2 and 3 didn't build on the ones before, which is what leads to that frustration of well everyones opinion is valid but which one actually works best? This is especially true when the specific thing being discussed is a more technical/objective issue (like how to properly present internal thoughts.)

quote:
I think you do have problems expressing yourself, Merlion. This is evidenced by the fact you seem to get embroiled in arguments continually.


Well I do think that part of that...part mind you...is because many people here (and in general) basically stop partcipating in a given discussion as soon as they sense it becoming what they consider an "argument". A lot of people are very, very averse to anything that resembles conflict...I actually am that way within certain contexts. Writing isn't one of them though.


And while your probably right bout some of the expressing difficulties you mentioned, I was refering more to things like people getting the idea that all my writing is meant to be avant garde or experimental because I've mentioned that specific pieces include stylstic elements that somewhat buck current trends. Or people thinking I think opinions are invalid because I state that they are subjective and should be presented as such.

I honestly don't know if those things happen because I'm unclear or because people mispercieve...probably some of both.

quote:
However this resides on the premise that that you have no wish to argue. I may be wrong and perhaps you enjoy it.

I don't have an aversion to it. Discussing issues is helpful to me, and I follow the discussion where it leads, while trying to maintain at least basic courtesy unless I'm given a good reason to do otherwise (and admitedly those lines can blur a bit when two people are disagreeing.)

quote:
As far as POV goes, I'm not really sure what the distinctions are, other than the generalities. Honestly, I have no desire to have a deeper understanding of the variations. It would only make me focus on things other than what I am writing. I write the story that comes to me, in the way that I feel tells it best. I think we sometimes get bogged down in the details and lose sight of the outcomes.

Now, I am not trying to invalidate what your saying...I actually agree to a certain extent but I feel the need to comment.

It strikes me a bit strange for someone to say something like that here, with the general emphasis being what it is (or seems to me to be) around here.

You metioned "weak" writing and also the need for mass appeal i you want to be published (what I'm about to say mostly applies if you do in fact wish to be published, I don't know how much emphasis you place on that.)

The impression I get is that close POVs are what has that mass appeal right now and that chosing and maintaining a POV are important aspects of "strong" writing.

I am interested in understanding these things more fully because I do want to be published (more) and because I wish to have as many technical writing tools available as I can.


That said, several people who do have a good deal of knowledge on the subject have said in various threads that POV can operate in something of a sliding scale manner.


[This message has been edited by Merlion-Emrys (edited March 18, 2009).]


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skadder
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3rd person limited POV can be split into 3 sections:

1) 3rd person limited cinematic--this is a purely what is visible to the eye with no attached 'attitude' as OSC says. The narrator IS neutral.

2) 3rd person limited , deep penetration. Also called 'Hot'. Thoughts aren't tagged because it is so evident that you are inside the characters head it isn't required. The characters attitude/voice is more evident in the prose/narrator.

3) 3rd Person limited, light penetration. Thoughts are generally tagged. The narrator's voice is more neutral than in 'hot' penetration.

Examples:

1) When Peter arrived, Nora wasn't there. He sighed and immediately sat down to wait. Fifteen minutes later Nora turned up. She was wearing a vivid blue dress and she turned around once, showing it off. "Do you like it?"
Pete looked at the dress for the moment without expression. Then he gave a weak smile. "Terrific."

2) Pete wasn't suprised that Nora was fifteen minutes late, and of course she showed up wearing a new dress. A blue dress. No, not just blue. Vivid blue. Like neon woven into cloth.
"Do you like it?" asked Nora.
Pete forced himself to smile. "Terrific."

3) Pete waited fifteen minutes before Nora showed up wearing a vivid blue dress that Pete had never seen before. "Do you like it?" asked Nora.
It looks outrageous, thought Pete, like neon woven into cloth. "Terrific."

Apparently is is possible to drift between the three types, but this should be done with skill. The use of deep penetration constantly can be wearing for a reader.


This and more is explained in 'Characters and Viewpoints' by OSC, available from any good bookshop.


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Merlion-Emrys
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Ahhh...thanks that was exactly what I was looking for.

It seems number 2 teeters very close to the brink of being 1st person (I think.)


I believe I'm mostly going for number 3...perhaps a relatively deep version thereof.

The thought tagging thing has always bugged me. It seems like, for me at least, there are some thoughts that want to be part of the narrative and some that want to be italicised...and I really don't know what it is that makes one one way and another the other.


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snapper
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Hey Merlion,

As far as that BCS editors comments and critique, it is consistent with two other ones I saw he made to two other stories (one mine, another from a friend).

What I believe he is asking for is a deeper POV into your MC. Seeing the same theme being preached to three different authors confirms that for me. It could be that he wants to experience what your MC is going through, not necessarily being told what he is going through.


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