I never liked fightin' much. Stayed clear of the rest of them boys that liked to wrestle. Rubbed 'em in the dirt when I did though. Two things I do like: throwing knives with my uncle Pat and piloting androids. I am good at both those things to. Can't forge knives yet like uncle Pat but I can throw them dead on and dad says I am the best proxy in the whole installation. Even though I have to use the droids to break up fights out on the frontier towns and fringes mostly, which I hate, them droids are so strong there isn't much too it. Shoot, they can pick up an old car, maybe even one of them old dead tanks. Mom says I don't like to fight because I am good at it. She taught me Wing Chun since I was little. She is good at it too. Dad says she can handle herself as good on the frontier as she does
Personally, I don't like first person POV; but that's just my taste. Apart from that, I agree with Denevius that this reads like stream of consciousness internal monologue. I wouldn't read on past the fourth sentence.
I think the writing itself is good, even if it isn't a narrator's voice that particularly thrills *me*.
It's hard for me to say more, because stream-of-consciouness isn't really my cup of tea. I assume that's what this is. If it isn't, then I'd say you're piling way too much information on us all at once by jumping from thought to barely related thought. Trying to give the reader exposition without making it sound like exposition by burying it in a first-person voice. But I understand that could work for stream-of-consciouness.
I guess, now that I'm trying to think hard about it, the main thing that bothered me was the jump into "Mom says I don't like to fight…" without a paragraph break there. While that sentence (and what follows) connects logically to the start of the paragraph, it doesn't follow directly from the line that precedes it, and that made a real bump in the text for me.
But again, I know very little about stream-of-consciousness or how it should be done. Overall, I do like the writing, which I reckon is the most important thing. I doubt I'd read on, but that's more due to my own preferences rather than anything you've done that has set me off.
Posts: 27 | Registered: Feb 2014
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I see an apostrophe: a direct address to a person or persons, real or imagined, not present. In this case, the persons addressed are implied readers. I don't see stream-of-consciousness techniques as an interior discourse process, rather as secondary or more, perhaps quaternary, to the apostrophe.
The flow of the fragment is smooth enough for me; however, the narrator-agonist's voice is childlike and implies a young teenager, which contrasts with what appears to be a job requiring a more mature person: peace keeping on the frontier, albeit through robotic proxies.
For a short story start, I don't see particularly engaging content, perhaps a mite of curiosity about, I don't know, why this frontier uses robots controlled by a boy proxy to keep the peace.
The title, "A Boy and Five Bamboo Dragon's" implies a fantasy narrative rather than a science fiction narrative. Perhaps the bamboo dragons are ninja-like or maybe opposing proxy robots wielding bamboo weapons or are bamboo.
Anyway, the fragment summarizes a backstory that develops how a boy became skilled at martial arts and, to me, delays complication development. At once both a rushed backstory and a slow dramatic start.
The summary and explanation nature of the details I feel would appeal more if more specific and in scene mode rather than tell mode. Show, for example, the boy's reluctance to fight though aptitude for it, and knife throwing, and proxy control of peace-keeping robots, and aptitude for Wing Chun and Mom's aptitude for it.
Because proxy control of peace-keeping robots seems to be the immediate now moment of the fragment, that to me is when and where this narrative begins. The backstory could then be leavened in as warranted when it matters to the boy at the moment of the unfolding action, by recollection perhaps, or flashback. Maybe the boy controls a robot's defensive actions through Wing Chun maneuvers and that evokes a memory of Mom teaching him the method. Also, that could then open up into the other backstory details.
If the robots and the boy proxy are superior fighters, can a dramatic action unfold? If the bamboo dragons are ninja-like and able to easily defeat the robot-boy combination, that might be the surface drama. The intangible drama then might be the boy coming to terms with, what, sloth? wrath? Maybe pride? The fragment suggests pride is a focal vice, the boy's pride for his fighting abilities. Sloth then that he can't be bothered to fight because fighting holds no challenges for him, further reinforced by his robot proxy control. And wrath invoked by, what, his pride injured by five bamboo dragons who easily defeat his first efforts?
I think, for drama's sake, the bamboo dragons need to be introduced soon, if not immediately. Plus, the boy's pride in his fighting abilities shown, though he knows not, that he is less skilled than he believes he is. A fight scene with a comparatively matched brawler before a clash with the bamboo dragons' could show that latter.
Reading an essay now about the challenges of showing deficiency when a character believes, even knows certainly, she or he has no such deficiencies and guidances for how to manage the challenges. Exquisite.
Strangely enough, I actually tried to work some awkwardness into this intro. Initially this began as exploratory writing for a portion of the novel in which the story is a constituent. I wrote a draft in first and this eleven year old is really super intelligent and a bit nerdy as far as things go related to this post apocalyptic world. Essentially the entire draft was a bit flat to me. I realized quickly that it really just lacked a little bit of the character, I knew was inside and interesting, but wasn't coming out. So i looked back to all the stories like this that I loved, Tom Sawyer, Call of the wild type tales and recognized that a way I wanted to give some of what I recognize as boyish truth. No matter how intelligent or otherwise serious any boy begins a story is a bit nervous, hands in pockets, eyes down, fidgeting, etc… And they all try to impress or demonstrate a little bravado quickly even if it seems to be subtle. So this was my third major revision to make it seem a little more awkward. Very soon the story comes more to present and his serious side and his softer side really comes to the forefront, especially when talking about his mother and the way they interact together and his passion for the dolphins and his intelligence, but my goals here were to display that. I feel it ties together quickly and is also vital to the theme. I believe it helps put a bow on the ending also so I am trying to weigh the consensus vote. If it will get through a slush pile is all I am too concerned about. I kinda feel boy stories cater strongly to men and are a bit trickier to get the attention of women readers so I knew I was up against that. I hope it hits the target demographic. We will see, I suppose.
Thanks everyone so far for the opinions
Posts: 1864 | Registered: Jan 2008
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This feels like info dump to me. There is some plot as it's obvious that the MC will be fighting before the end. I think character needs need to be developed rather than just character attributes; for example, since the character doesn't like to fight or wrestle, but wrestles anyway, I need to know what compels the behavior or I will lose touch with the character. Why does the MC need to wrestle? Why not just walk away?
Because of telling rather than showing, I don't feel involved in the story. I need sensory input to feel immersed in what I'm reading.
Treatment: The MC has a unique voice that I like. However, she/he sounds rustic, so I wonder if so many compound sentences are appropriate to the narrative. I grew up in rural Colorado. Native ranchers relate stories in a clipped manner. One short sentence at a time. The southerners I've listened to maintain the same structure even though clauses are more tightly related. Complete clauses can be separated into individual sentences.
Characterization: I'd like to know the MC's gender. My Midwest US gender role scenarios and "the rest of them boys" are telling me male, but "Wing Chun" taught by mother tells me oriental and female. Also, I get the feeling that this character can handle any fighting situation. I would be concerned that the character is initially too strong for the story if there will eventually be a fight. If my basketball team is winning by fifty points at the end of the first quarter, I'm going to watch golf.
I liked this. To me the voice seemed natural, authentic. I got that it was teenage boy. I'd like to know more about the world you are describing. So I would read more.
Whether I would tire of the voice or not, as some have suggested. I can't say. I expect that first person might be hard to pull off in action scenes, etc. because the narrator needs to be present for the POV to be maintained. Of course you might switch the POV with scenes. To another character is 1st person. Or to 3rd person, then return later to 1st person MC in a later scene.