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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Sally's House

   
Author Topic: Sally's House
Lord of Sane Misfits
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A short 3000 word story about the impact of Nazism and its legacy today.
I'm looking for someone willing to read through the whole thing and give some feedback. I'm not sure if it makes any sense, since I'm trying something new with it.

Children run around on a field of green, kicking a soccer ball around. They do not know it, but the teams have already been chosen, and they are not red and blue. One boy scores, and the whole group converges into a huddle of excitement. But the faint traces of dividing lines are being drawn through the group. There are the fair-skinned white boys on one side and the black children on the other. Two Arab boys stand grinning; a Hispanic girl and her two brothers cheer from the center of the crowd. A small, willowy boy, his smiling features delicate and effeminate, feels a warm rush as he wraps his arms around his friends.
They donít see any of this yet. They donít know that the roots of the grass they stand upon reach far, far into the ground, and that they are stained red with the blood of the past and the


And it gets cut off there.

[ December 11, 2013, 10:25 AM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Denevius
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The author's voice intrusion in the piece seems so heavy that I'm left with a feeling that the story will be preachy. Personally, I'm not a fan of fiction like that, but I'm sure there's an audience for it. Sometimes people want whatever beliefs they hold to be reinforced though an external POV, and preachy prose does just that.

Other than that, this beginning is a bit slow, and may be longer than the traditional 13 lines that's expected when you post a piece here. I read your two lines, stopped there, and came back about twenty minutes later and read the rest. But my concern with the first lines is my concern with the writing overall: too many words.

That first line would be so much cleaner if it was just, "Children kick a ball across a green field." The second line is that author intrusion I mentioned, which made me balk.You have a non-descriptive third line, as I'm not sure what's exciting in the huddle. No images are created, just this kind of vague reaction to a goal scored. The fourth line is author intrusion again, and the fifth, sixth, and seventh are obviously setting up political dynamics.

So you know, this may very well be a good story. Most openings are warmup writing that can be cut, and I see that so far in these lines posted here.

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wetwilly
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I was going to say something similar to Denevius, so I'll keep mine short and sweet; too much theme, not enough story for my taste.. You're explaining what the story is going to be about; I want to know what happens.

Doesn't mean the story is no good, just that this opening doesn't grab me for that reason.

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extrinsic
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The premble aside, these opening lines imply a loss of innocence story type, specifically, gender stratification. Gender in social science terms is a gamut of appearance-based identity markers, ethnicity among them, not solely sexual identity.

Though the first paragraph attempts to show a routine before innocence lost and is partially scene development, overt narrator mediation tells the meaning of the scene. The second paragraph tells more of what the scene features of the first paragraph mean.

For that matter, though the writer-narrator is overt and subjective, no either pro or con position is clearly and strongly implied about gender stratification.

Overt mediating narrator lecturing summary and explanation does not constitute a prose narrative. A few scenic if fictive features leavened into a lecture generally is more of another composition metagenre type, like a problem inquiry and solution or satisfaction composition (inquiry and answer). That's a scholastic genre composition, not a creative performance genre composition.

Developing substantive scene features distinguishes performance compositions (prose) from scholastic compositions (orartory-like written-word lectures). Also, objective narrators, implied writers, and real writers's roles portray performance genre dramatic action. What subjectivity takes place in contemporary prose is character based. This opening is pure subjective real writer voice narration, and of a strongly political bias foundation.

A bit of rhetorical misdrection in the form of prose's creative drama is I believe called for. In other words more show and less tell.

Portraying one central character with a problem of, say, emerging social aculturation, imposed bigotry, portrayed in scenes experiencing the problems and wants thereof without overt subjective narrator mediation; events, settings, and other characters antagonizing the central character's transformations, perhaps how a particular child becomes bigoted and fascist, perhaps then inspirationally enlightened at great personal cost due to loss of innocence, would suit the drama bill. Message-driven narratives persuade by using drama's rhetorical features.

[ December 09, 2013, 03:52 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Denevius
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quote:
Overt mediating narrator lecturing summary and explanation does not constitute a prose narrative.
Yeah, I think you're right in that it reads like the beginning of a lecture on some world event/dynamic, and not really a story. In lectures there can be elements of story telling, but they are two different beasts.
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Lord of Sane Misfits
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Thanks. I see what you guys mean. The story isn't meant to be regular fiction, and I purposely wrote it as more of a "narrator's lecture" or whatever you want to call it, and it get a bit clearer later on. But I guess I did go a bit overboard. It kind of skims over different moments in certain people's lives, so it is kind of vague. I'll look into it, though.
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extrinsic
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I respect the intent to experiment with one form of writing genre in another genre. I don't understand the intent though. I've read, enjoyed, and am more open to experimental prose than average readers generally. I just cannot see this as prose as it is now.

The closest to this I've read are picaresque, nonlinear, or modular narratives, even of short lengths. Yet they are deeply, intensely personal narratives. This one seems to me too impersonal yet subjective for accessibility ease.

On the other hand, William Faulkner infamously said, "Mine is the standard which has to be met," meaning what he aspired for from his writing. Faulkner rigidly believed he must not write for audience sensibilities and appeals.

I've read this kind of opening, though, for lengthy novels of an earlier historic literary era--early Romanticism period works like William Thackeray Makepeace's Vanity Fair. One contemporary, lengthy novel I've read somewhat reprises this voice's mannerisms; that is, Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell, 2004.

[ December 09, 2013, 03:46 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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pidream
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I really don't have much to add, other than I would like to read it. In a way, and I don't mean this flippantly, it reminded me of Peter Gabriel's song, Games without frontiers.
Send it on if you care to.

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