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Author Topic: Odd POV story
Smiley
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Have I mentioned, sir, that Iím a fair, qualified Airship pilot? Just because Iím sixteen doesnít mean itís not so. I am, truly. I heard you was hiring. You may have heard of me, sir. The nameís Winston Judge, me friends call me Judge, from up near Haltenbury By Way.
Me first month on the road I learned how to pilot an airship. Me first month, mind you. A very exciting time, too. Stowed away on the great ship, ĎKing Oberonís Crowní. Now donít take it like that, sir, please. Just wanted to see the world, like every spirited lad with air in his lungs wants to do. Nothing wrong with that. Besides, I was only ten. Didnít know no better.

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Smiley
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Oh, this is from a short I wrote about 20 years ago that I found in a storage box. Can this be interesting in this POV fashion? It isn't finished (around 5000 words) but it was interesting to me. Any thoughts?
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Denevius
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I think you would have problems holding most modern day readers interests with a story written in this fashion. Besides the fact that right now there doesn't seem to be a plot. Actually, this is all backstory. It's done in the voice of the character, but it's still backstory and exposition. No real forward progression of the narrative.

This would probably work better as dialog.

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extrinsic
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Though close to dramatic monologue, without scene features this fragment comes across as summary and explanation lecture tell. Sensations build scenes: visual, aural, tactile, olfactory, gustatory, and, prose's most essential sensation, emotional feeling.

The aural sensation of one-sided spoken word is the fragment, though that's all sensation-wise.

Written word requires sesnsations that a cinema camera otherwise provides, sights and sounds in particular. Tactile, olfactory, and gustatory, though a camera cannot record and project them, come through the other sensations: touch with the eyes or ears or both, smell and taste with the eyes and ears. And emotional feeling is a matter of attitude and mood through use of robust verbs and, as needed, adjectives and adverbs and similar modifier phrases.

The premise of a young man airship pilot has strong adventure potentials. Judge does express a want with inherent problem opposition; that is, wants to hire on to an airship crew: that's a dramatic complication introduction adequate for the moment and with further development later.

In other words, some strengths, some shortfalls: what works and doesn't work for me. The physical reality of the place this dramatic monologue takes place and the persons present could benefit from development. As is, the fragment comes from a disembodied mind in a no-place void. Yet Judge expresses a dramatic complication want, a noteworthy strength.

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Smiley
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Yes, strengths and shortfalls. You're right, D. This backstory is Judge's pitch to get hired on. I can't see where this would work anywhere else but as a sort of resume. As I reread through the story it did seem void of place in the beginning but it does fill in as the story progresses. I don't remember why I wrote it this way but it may have been a remembered dreamscape I was trying to capture.
I'll rework it in 'normal' fashion to fill in the gaps of place and feel.
Thanks guys for your feedback. Much appreciated.

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babooher
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I was intrigued. My hope would be that this would be a 1st person tale where Judge tells his story in an effort to get the job. I liked the voice. Part of it seemed oddly structured (I would think you'd mention your name before asking if you had mentioned that you were a great pilot, for example) but I would read on.
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TaleSpinner
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Well I read to the end, and for me Winston, his voice and his story is something of a hook.
For me this is a second person narrative, because "you" is me, the reader, and I find second person hard to willingly suspend disbelief for; in this case I found myself thinking

"No, I am not hiring"

"No I have not heard of you, nor do I care that I haven't. Why should I?"

"How can you be 'on the road' in the air?"

"You're too young and headstrong to be given responsibility for an expensive airship and the lives of its passengers"

"Nobody teaches him- or herself to be a pilot without an experienced mentor"

"A short while flying will not teach you how to handle all weathers"

"A pilot with sympathy for and arguments in favour of stow-aways? - and he wants a job in a commercial ship?" Yes I assumed we're a commercial airline, for if I were running it that is what it would be.

Unfortunately for Winston, my management interview style is brisk, and he's already lost the job, and my attention, with his opening. I expect interviewees to tell me why I should hire them, not give me reasons not to do so.
(I think this is a common problem for 2nd person. the writer does not know the reader and must make assumptions, some of which will be wrong and spoil immersion for the reader)
Winston's story sounds interesting, to me as an SF&F reader who loves the romance of airships, but not interesting to me as a busy manager recruiting for pilots.

I suspect this kind of story comes over better as a diary, or a yarn in a bar, with other characters expressing interest in Winston and drawing the reader in, like Spider Robinson does with his stories set in Calahan's bar.

hope this helps,
Pat

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Smiley
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Interesting analysis, TaleSpinner. As with all first 13's, we never get the full story. I hadn't considered the modern approach to management viewpoint. The story takes place in the 1860/1880 era where successful adventurers were often taken more seriously. At least in Sci/Fi. I might have to rethink that. Thanks.
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TaleSpinner
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Smiley, I'm not proud of my impatience with strangers and perhaps wish I could make more time for others, but I don't think you need necessarily rethink for Sci Fi which is a huge and flexible genre, but you might need to rethink some when you address the reader.

I've read that 2nd person is hard to pull off.
Pat

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extrinsic
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Second person narrative point of view is a manifold voice. One core feature is a sentence subject is a second person pronoun: you, your, you're, you-all, you'ins, yous-guys. I got you gifts isn't second person. You is the sentence object there. You took a picture is second person, the second person pronoun the sentence subject. Likewise, a common or proper noun sentence subject may be second person. Laney, buy us Cokes, pretty-please.

Second person has subcategories too: imperative, imperative implied, impersonal, and reflexive. Imperative is commands. Imperative implied is directions, manuals, instructions, recipes, and the like. Impersonal second person usage is more common in informal and performance composition than imperative cases. Impersonal second person assumes an audience receives a discourse, an implied audience, maybe is conditional or subjective discourse, as well, may be implied plural or use of a plural idiom like you-all. If you would, please send money to the J. Steen Arthur Memorial Monument Society. You-all brung the bestest deviled eggs.

However, reflexive second person is the usual case for prose of the sort, especially literary fiction of the Postmodern aesthetic. Reflexive second person addresses the self of an otherwise first-person narrator, usually as thought, or soliloquy or dramatic monologue posed as soliloquy. Speech instead of thought, because thought doesn't translate into film or stage play perfomances without cinematic or theatrical devices. Implied second person, direct imperative, as well as impersonal are used for reflexive second person expression.

Reflexive second person prose is an imitation of how some people, maybe most if not all, privately address themselves in real life. You just had to show up late for work again, didn't you? You deserved to be suspended. Now what are you going to do for rent money? Reflexive usually entails more symbolic or metaphoric meaning than direct implication, unlike the former example. You narrate your life as if you're a news anchor person. Today, the brutes take you to your surprise birthday party, which was no surprise. You knew they'd ignore your aversion to startling events.

Second person sentence subjects or implied second person sentence subjects mark second person. Fourth person, as if second person weren't unseemly enough for more readers than not, and an odd remnant of proto-languages, also uses second person subjects so that individuals who are addressed know they are. I, you, a water gourd bring here. Actually, interpersonal discourse generally implies sentence subjects that would otherwise be expressed in fourth person. Bring a water gourd here, please.

First-person narrative point of view rhetorical questions seen many times in fantasy fiction are often implied second person. Could have thought otherwise? The auxilliary verb before the implied second-person pronoun shapes the question case. A stream-of-conscisousness technique leaves out sentence subjects, especially self-addressed pronouns.

For fantastical fiction purposes and, not too coincidentally, voices of English second language speakers, fourth person's structural syntax is a useful and artful method for showing unfamiliarity with English: name person speaking, name person addressed, name object of the predicate, express predicate, and, if indicated, express predicate complement. Another first position subject may precede the person speaking's name, if that subject has a higher place in the culture's hierarchy, a god or monarch or such, for example. By Odin's name, for King Red Hand, I, you swear to an oath of loyalty.

[ December 24, 2014, 12:22 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Josephine Kait
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I immediately liked the character, and I like what you are trying to do. I would certainly keep reading.

That said, I found the "voice" a little hard to hear at first, I couldn't pin the dialect and that was distracting. The first sentence had me fully in a western/sci-fi much like Firefly, but the second threw me off. "Just because Iím sixteen doesnít mean itís not so." I think it would fit better as, "Just 'cause Iím sixteen donít mean it ain't so."

Other than that second sentence there are six words that I would remove, as I think the voice you are going for wouldn't include them, especially when talking rapidly.

The words I would remove:
1st paragraph, 4th sentence - "I"
1st paragraph, 6th sentence - "The"
2nd paragraph, 1st sentence - "Me" & "how"
2nd paragraph, 3rd sentence - "A" & "too"

Try taking them out, then reading through. What do you think?

-Lady Tiger

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Smiley
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Repost with suggested corrections:

Have I mentioned, sir, Iím a fair, qualified Airship pilot? Just 'cause Iím sixteen donít mean it ain't so. I am, truly. Heard you was hiring, Mr. Fellini. You might o' heard of me, sir. Nameís Winston Judge. Me friends just call me Judge. Pleased to meet ya.
Mind if I sit? Thanks.
First month on the road I learned to pilot an airship. Me first month, mind you. Very exciting time. Stowed away on the great ship, ĎKing Oberonís Crowní. Now, donít take it like that, sir, please. Just wanted to see the world, like every spirited lad with air in his lungs wants to do. Nothin' wrong with that. Besides, I was only ten. Didnít know no better.


Hmm. I like it. Thanks, Josephine Kait. I also didn't like 'from up near Haltenbury By Way'. Useless information as it never comes up agian. Also added the name of the company man for clarity. I am still reworking the whole story as I don't remember where it was going.

Critiques? Suggestions? Opinions?

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Grumpy old guy
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As an exercise in writing, I find this interesting. However, it doesnít quite hit the mark for me as it is right now. Because of the disembodied voice of the narrator I lack context: is it one side of a conversation or internal monologue? For instance, is he talking to someone on the phone or is he practicing internally for a job interview?

This is one reason why it is never a good idea to open a story with dialogue--lack of context at the outset.

Having said that, it can be somewhat ameliorated with proper formatting. If it is one side of a conversation then the use of quotation marks and paragraph formatting will make that perfectly clear almost in an instant. The same can be said for internal monologue. Given the current formatting, I am of the opinion it is internal monologue, but I still have the strong feeling it is a two-way conversation. Such confusion is something youíd want to try and avoid.

The other problem with the disembodied narrator, or opening with dialogue, is in developing character quickly. The only option available is speech patterns: dialect, metre, rhythm, and speech ticks. In this area I think youíre off to a promising start, but it is a very delicate thing to balance between farcical dialogue mannerisms and character defining ones.

Iíll be interested to see where this goes.

Phil.

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Smiley
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Thank you, Phil. The whole story is, indeed, a one-sided dialogue. All other character dialogues are implied.


From one grumpy old guy to another. [Big Grin]

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Josephine Kait
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[Smile] I like it.

Depending on how long the whole piece is, I'd be up for a crit.

(I figure, as long as I don't take on more than one at a time, I won't overload myself [Wink] )

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extrinsic
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Consider event and setting incorporation of the scene. Does the monologue take place in a ticket office, an owner's office, at the foot of an airship boarding ramp, aboard an airship? Challenging to incorporate event and setting details into speech. Yet possible.

Like if an airship lines office: Pardon me, sir. The office door sign said to come in straightaway. Setting and event detail right there.

More detail: Am I interrupting your file review? Hey, that's my file on top. Do the papers say I stowed away on King Oberon's Crown? They made me work my passage. Galley drudge, engine oil wiper, topside watch, helm keeper. Eager I was for it. Learned airship pilot duties too.

That sort of event, setting, and character detail works in monologue.

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Smiley
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Thank you, Josephine Kait. I have put it aside until after the end of the holiday schedule. I also have a sickly father in law in hospital that I may leave to care for. That may be up to three months. There are other options but that's up in the air right now.

Yes, extrinsic, I see your point. I had toyed with a few lines of ordering beer for the two as the scene does take place in a local pub. Most of the character's 'business' takes place in such localities.

As for how Judge learned to pilot, well that gets explained further on in the story. I'll keep working on it. Thank you all.

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TaleSpinner
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a pub? at 16? definitely fantasy, maybe YA?

good luck with the story, and with your father in law.

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Smiley
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Thanks. Turns out my sister-in-law just got laid off from her welding gig for the next three months, so guess who has the time to spend on her father. Yup, she does. Yay!
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