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Author Topic: Nuts (working title) Genre: not sure
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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If all you have is the one idea, you need to come up with something else. One idea is rarely enough to sustain even a short story.

May I suggest that you try some random idea generators? If you have a dictionary around, you could pick it up and fan the pages and then open it to a page (without looking) and put your finger down somewhere on the page. Look at the word or definition you've put your finger on, write it down, and then go through the whole process again several times.

Once you have about ten different words, from ten different places in the dictionary, ponder them and see if anything resonates with the one idea you already have.

Figure out how at least one of those words can be incorporated into the story you want to write, not as part of the text, but as an additional idea.

With the right combination of two or three ideas, a story may almost write itself.

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Will Blathe
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Jack, extrinsic, Kathleen, you're all annoying me with your sensible criticisms. You're actually making me rethink the story and my process altogether. You have some nerve.


I'll let it settle in my head and try something tomorrow.

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Jack Albany
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Kathleen, Will already has an idea which could serve as a whole story: A man decides to use his wife’s allergies against her to kill her. A fine idea to explore. Not one that I would try, I see too many hurdles and pitfalls. Will’s problem is, as I see it, he has taken that nebulous idea, run with it like a toddler with a pair of scissors and proceeded to write a scene based on that idea without knowing where in his story such a scene might live--if it deserves to live at all.

A single idea does not a plot make, nor a single scene a story.

Actually, it might. I’m currently working on a short story--a single scene in three acts. So the above is me waxing poetic rather than literal. I think it gets the point across, however.

I think the question Will should be asking right now is: “How do I turn this idea into a story?” I wonder what forum that might fit into?

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extrinsic
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A common misunderstanding and shortfall for any and all narratives in early stages is a moral crisis contest subtext lack. Each writer who's also published theory texts that I've noted speaks to moral context and texture to some degree. Jack Albany noted greed is on point for this fragment's tableau.

Greed's usual counter is charity, though not limited to that. Other counters: diligence (sloth's usual counter), kindness (envy), patience (wrath), humility (pride), temperance (gluttony), probably not chastity (lust), though lust for wealth is an attendant vice. Also, greed can be a mixed vice-virtue if greed serves a common good; for example, an accumulation of wealth donates to charities, and wealth used to develop or improve overall human and otherwise quality of life.

At least one counteractive vice-virtue crisis-contest subtext dramatic movement is wanted for a short story, in order for an energeic (energetic drama) narrative to discover a moral truth, a focal agonist's self-discovery. If more than one agonist contends, those do not want, per se, for moral truth discovery, though some degree of their discovery or utter refusal enriches any narrative. Or maybe a main agonist strives against vice temptation and succeeds, yet an anti-agonist instead discovers or refuses a moral truth, in part or whole due to the main agonist's moral fortitude.

Otherwise, a main agonist who contends with vice itself is an anti-hero, or rogue, type contestant. Picaresque: episodic adventures of a roguish protagonist in vice- and folly-ridden social setting situations, times, and places. Noir: a hard-boiled cynic operant in bleak, vice- and folly-ridden social setting situations, times, and places.

Though common to crime drama, tragedy, comedy, and tragic-comedy, the rogue satire form is not exclusive of those. "Satire, 1: a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn 2: trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly" (Webster's 11th).

The opus of literature and across each genre canon is satire. Satire shortfalls generally relegate a narrative to short-lived ephemera status, mediocrity at best. Literary history is littered with forgotten satire-lean narratives. Standout narratives are satire rich. Nor need satire necessarily be of a humorous mien. Sober-serious satire is far more common, though of a more subtly subversive moral-social reform design. Practical irony, in particular, populates serious and farcical satire; that is, an agonist self-discovers a moral truth, and who had previously overlooked, ignored, refused, or short-shrifted the received wisdom of the ages.

Even Naturalism's pessimism, nihilism, and poetic injustice conventions contrarily, satirically exhort social reform, through situational and dramatic irony facets. Situational irony: outsider-observed incongruity between a subject's intent and actual result. Dramatic irony: one or more entities are in-the-know and one or more entities are oblivious, at first, maybe, or utter oblivion for the start to end duration.

Examples: situational irony: a worker carries a bulky ladder through a crowd to a destination in order to facilitate a lightbulb change. The bulky ladder impedes worker and crowd movement. Some frustrations transpire. Dramatic irony: an astute observer notes the incongruity of that former scenario. No one else does. Observer amusement obtained from the misfortunes of others: schadenfreude.

This is literature's true social function: persuade moral maturation through emotionally charged satiric entertainments.

So how does a severe allergy and a homicidal design become satire? A first cause of a vice and folly final straw, abrupt betrayal, or both? That's setup incitement. Delay, escalate, and amplify next? Skip past all the misgivings, plans, preparations, meditative contemplations, decision-making. Get right down to the homicide already in early-stages progress. This is when best to have second thoughts.

Last, final, last effect, payoff, delivery, resolution, satisfaction, closure, denouement act outcome? Moral maturation or moral setback? Moral truth discovery or not? Though do readers observe a moral truth discovery or refusal? Does the homicidal deed or not? Or cosmic irony, sets out to do the deed and a fatal cosmic influence intervenes? Though not a deus ex machina (a contrived, late-timed "god in the machine" coincidence). The allergic spouse unwittingly, early on, encounters a fatal cross-allergen and turns away before fatal exposure, at first? Or agonist is, instead, or also, hoisted on the agonist's own petard (blasts off to disastrous self-perfidy and calumny on the agonist's own ignited, explosive flatulence)? Start, middle, end. Again, near-infinite possible options, unfortunately.

[ January 11, 2018, 05:21 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Will Blathe
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Jack says, “How do I turn this idea into a story?”

Yeah. That's a big issue for me. Like everyone, I've got ideas out the wazoo.

extrinsic,you always stuff so much in your posts, it takes a while for me to parse. I think your reference to conflict or contention between virtue and vice is something that could be very powerful. It may reset my story a bit.

Now, here's another try. In this version, I gave Mary the POV. I want to better explore their (the characters') differing goals in the story. Maybe I can suss out what the story really is.

BTW- you'll see the I've changed up the setting. I figure that'll help me get away from repeating my self as much from draft to draft.
_______


The same brown landscape rolls by for the past whatever many hours. My husband's driving. My stomach complains, so I grab the blue lunch bag from behind the seat. My bag’s full of snacks he kindly packed. I grab a sandwich wrapped in brown wax paper sealed with a heart sticker. Fake peanut butter and cheese. I unwrap it like a present and bite. God it’s good. Something’s wrong by the second bite in. “Hon," I say. "we need to stop.” My body feels itchy --it's my imagination, right? “I think this is one of your sandwiches.”

“I don’t think so, dear.” Why’s he being smug about it?

The nausea hits too soon. Maybe it’s all in my head. Is my tongue itching? “I’m gonna feel sick. Stop the car.” He doesn’t stop. “Stop the car, goddammit!” He laughs.

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Will Blathe
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You know what? Using Mary's POV means that she's going to want to know what's going on. Forces me to answer the question.
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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by Will Blathe:
extrinsic,you always stuff so much in your posts, it takes a while for me to parse. I think your reference to conflict or contention between virtue and vice is something that could be very powerful. It may reset my story a bit.

Think you have "ideas out the wazoo"? Welcome to my world: overextended idea horizons. Okay for an editor or writer mentor, maybe; a blessed curse for a writer.

Explorations of other agonists' motivations, stakes, and contests is a productive method for story enhancement, often recommended at least for exercise, though little might cross over into final drafts.

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Will Blathe
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I reread my last one. It's just not a satisfying read. However, the writing of it was satisfying.

I may rewrite with the first line as Mary demanding the car stop. She asks why this is happening. He unloads.

[ January 11, 2018, 11:40 PM: Message edited by: Will Blathe ]

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extrinsic
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Not a satisfying read, seconded.

Consider what's essential for setup. Setup is a first segment of every unit length of a narrative. The start, the incitement from which the rest afterward flows and follows, setup per sentence, maybe clause level, per paragraph, per section, per chapter, per whole story or book or novel or X-ology.

What incites spouse and Mary to a homicidal contest? The homicide nitty-gritty is the outcome, of whatever outcome end intended. The middle is the contest itself. The start is what incites the contest in the first place. What, Mary nags? Does spouse nag back in his own way? Whatever that is, it is each's dysfunctional way to assert control and ownership over the other. It is objectification of persons as objects, among other dysfunctions. Each believes the other is lesser than him or herself.

Those, though are abstractions, intangibles, around which readers might not wrap their imaginations. Hence, a material, tangible, concrete object to bicker about and jockey for superior position and possession of is wanted. If they argue about some thing, their marital dysfunction shines forth from subtext's immaterial, abstract, intangible background to the foreground. Readers can figure it out; we see it every day in our routine alpha lives and know it for what it is without a program to tell us.

What material object might Mary and spouse bicker about such that one, or both, next contemplates homicide? The EpiPens stand out as something for that, that sets up a first incitement, or something else and the pens are related.

They can bicker about whatever, indoors, outdoors, in a car, plane, train, bus, boat, canoe, tandem bicycle on a long or short trip, at home, wherever, though might wherever and whatever relate to the object of contention and their marital discord? They could also physically, dramatically, urgently rush for the object, to beat the other to it. A safe deposit box? An antique sale at a flea market? A slot machine? A salvage yard item? [sic] salvage their unsalvageable marriage? Nope, though a possible setting for a main event contest? A parkland campsite? A luxury resort? A low-cost Carnival weekend "cruise to nowhere"? [sic, again] A church picnic? An adult daycare for one or the other's parent?

The fragments thus far skimp setup incitement and escalation delay and jump for the payoff, which isn't earned because of dramatic event, setting, and persona setup and delay shortfalls.

[ January 12, 2018, 03:32 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Jack Albany
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I give up.
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Will Blathe
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Don't give up, Jack! If I gave up every time my thick head didn't "get it," I'd be much poorer for it.

It may take me until my deathbed to do it right, but at least I'll die trying.

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Will Blathe
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BTW- even if my story fizzles, there's so much material in this thread to make it worthwhile for anyone whose story is similarly afflicted or who's having the same issues I'm having.

I'll be reading through this long after it's over.

[ January 13, 2018, 12:26 AM: Message edited by: Will Blathe ]

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Will Blathe
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This time, I'm not looking for a pay off. Just thinking about the characters. Who are they? Why are they doing what they're doing right now?
_____

My eyes hurt from playing count the tumbleweed for the past I-don't-know-how-long. I say, “this is boring.” The car accelerates a little. My old man’s pulled his lips thin. Is he pouting? I say, “we should’ve gone to Lassen.” The car accelerates. “Dear,” I say, “we don’t want to get a ticket.” I’m such an ass.

“Why are we even going?” he says. No, growls is the better term. “I thought you liked camping. No, don’t even say it.” He takes a deep breath and the car slows. I can almost see his brain spinning in circles trying to find the right words. “When are you going to find a job?” This again.

“I’m looking.” I really am, but the pain is too much. I know he doesn’t believe it.

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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by Will Blathe:
BTW- even if my story fizzles, there's so much material in this thread to make it worthwhile for anyone whose story is similarly afflicted or whose having the same issues I'm having.

I'll be reading through this long after it's over.

All that and more are my motivations. Not that a story fizzles, though. Note also that critique accrues composition and edit skills enhancement as much to critiquers as writers, if not more. Does per moi.

The latest fragment advances event, setting, and persona dramatic development a substantial degree. More comments to come, after the six hours of today's editor work queue is done.

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Will Blathe
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I'm rereading the thread. I've been writing down details that jump out at me. I've got two pages of notes. There's a lot I've barely parsed.

My takeaways so far:

Be aware of conflict and motivation

Setting without advancing plot isn't a good idea

It doesn't matter how spiffy the writing is if there's nothing underneath (actual story)

A shopping list and a chronicle of events is not a story.

In a short story, it's probably a good idea to start near the inciting incident.

Setting can be important, but that's a question of context.

Be aware of reality when writing the story. Readers know more than me. That can throw them out of the story.

If I don't have a story, my writing's not going to be very interesting.

There are things that help: having a story helps. exercises help (e.g., cut the first part of what I've written and continue on.) outside tools help (idea generator).


There's enough here for a writer's self-help book.

[ January 13, 2018, 02:27 PM: Message edited by: Will Blathe ]

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extrinsic
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Much of the thread's contents are interpretations from a galaxy of writer's self-help books. Even the complication-antagonism-motivation facet comes from writer self-help texts' interpretations; that is, The Poetics of Aristotle, circa 350 BCE, and Gustav Freytag, Technique of the Drama, 1863. Notwithstood, though, self-help books' usual intent is of a therapeutic design. Personal growth attends writing growth.

Another work flurry delays me from comment about the latest fragment.

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extrinsic
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Two individuals squabble on a car ride.

Strengths: in-scene mode (inside perceives outside and inside stimuli), a few minor viewpoint glitches; fair to good language suited to the scene and the personas' natures, perhaps too similar of the several personas, though; dramatic contention squabbles shown mostly, a few told; a bridge complication setup before a main complication introduced; dramatic scene event of two personas squabble; fair setting introduction implications, possibly event-related; consistent persona introductions, first-person narrator-agonist and observed subject co-agonist; shown the interpersonal relationship is strained and based on self-importance promotion at the other's demotion expense, and money a source of spouse's contention, none given for Mary.

Shortfalls: no clear conflict introduction yet (polar opposite dramatic forces in contention, what, acceptance and rejection, maybe); no introduction or implication yet of what the overall narrative is truly about (homicidal designs); several unnecessary tense shifts; sameness of Mary and spouse's speech (personal language, idiolect), unnecessary wordiness; one glaring viewpoint glitch tell; missed opportunities for symbolic implication; solely squabble dialogue; unnecessary punctuation; causation inversion, illogical syntax; clumsy syntax generally; several fused sentences; several unnecessary extra lens filters; almost-like mistake, actually is or actually isn't mistake; a few dialogue format glitches. Overall, less unnecessary writer tell than previous versions, yet still tell glitches.

This stands out most of the tells: "I’m such an ass." Writer tells narrator to tell agonist to tell readers information writer wants readers to know.

By the way, before the recent Hatrack site upgrades, words and word parts like "ass" were by default replaced with asterisks!? "I am such an ***." Ms. Dalton Woodbury? I am ambivalent about a loosening of the restraint: pro, so that objectionable word limitations for impressionable youth sensibilities are somewhat relaxed to reflect true current social norms; however, opposed, due to word limitations foster imaginative and probably more artful alternatives.

Anyway, that above tell tells readers a detail we are best practice left to infer for ourselves. The fragment as is does show so already. A Mary thought comment is wanted, yes, something else that leaves inference to readers' discretion. The intensifier "such" signals an inferrable, if liminal, irony implication. Like //I am such a better driver.// That latter comment is about the paragraph's specific topic at hand, too, spouse's driving. An Oh yeah? of a desirable type. Mary believes she drives better than spouse. Oh yeah? Does she? Maybe later readers infer she does or doesn't drive better. The irony type is an overstatement (hyperbole) that implies the opposite might be true, and neither yet confirmed. Left for later revelation, artfully.

For gendered language study, see changingminds.org "Women's language," a summary of Robin Lakoff's signal Language and Woman's Place, 1975, 2004. And see "Gender language differences." changingminds is a trove of other prose-related persuasion topics, too. One caveat of note, language is not distinct between female and male, rather is characteristic of feminine and masculine expression parameters. Feminine and masculine, yes, not female and male. Also, gender spans identity, includes age, status, station, ethnicity, etc., not solely biological sex.

One facet of the fragment that stands out is it is in scene mode mostly. A subtle facet of which is the drama unfolds naturally in the now moment to the next now moment, and so on. Some mystery is evoked, evokes curiosity about what happens here, and left for timely, judicious later revelation. Readers can infer the narrative has a dramatic destination, for now, curious mystery what the destination will be -- or, doesn't telegraph the plot nor the outcome from the get-go. Meantime, the squabble is almost dramatic incitement and movement enough for now.

Types of dialogue include echo, non sequitur, colloquy, question and answer, call and response, squabble -- flirtatious and contentious. The fragment entails some minor non sequitur and question and answer overlaps of solely squabble, aptly so.

This squabble scene's texture (what, why, how) is what Donald Maass labels a bridging conflict (Writing the Breakout Novel, Maass Literary Agency, New York City). Maass devotees interpret that concept to mean all narratives should start from a bridge conflict. Maass suggests, in an absence of a main conflict at the start, a bridging conflict will serve instead.

The label is inapt, though. "Bridge" is already noun-adjective enough, without the unnecessary and nuisance gerund participle -ing suffix. A close read of the text, too, shows a lack of narrative theory application. Conflict and complication intertwine though are distinct from each other. Nor does Maass define or explain conflict at all, let alone even a mention of complication. Hence, the true label for what Maass demonstrates is bridge complication.

The fragment introduces a bridge complication though not much by way of related dramatic conflict. Time and word count enough soon and later for that development.

I would much prefer to illustrate all the above through an overall rewrite. Hatrack rules proscribe full rewrites, especially, except for limited-excerpt demonstration purposes that retain the full essence of an original. Critiquer rewrites usurp writer creative vision ownership, steal creative vision ownership, imposes critiquer's creative vision upon writer's. One of the worse no-nos of workshop.

With writer permission, though, may I? Otherwise, due to this fragment's realization degree warrants a medium-intensity copyeditor evaluation, individual worth-notes could run to several thousand more words. Don't ask for a heavy-intensity copyeditor evaluation. I save that tedious onus for my works and private assessments and rewrites of extant, published works.

Anyway, the latest fragment leaves me somewhat more inclined to read on, due in the main to depicted in scene mode and little overall tell slips, theater-like program notes, or writer summary and explanation tells. This one is much closer to full realization than those before.

[ January 13, 2018, 10:15 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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extrinsic, I believe there are only 3 "four-letter words" and any declensions thereof which are replaced by the asterisks.
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Will Blathe
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quote:
With writer permission, though, may I?
You have my full consent to do what you will, extrinsic. I'm curious as a cat at death's door to see what you make of it.

Now, I'm going to reread your latest post. I've got some parsing to do.

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Will Blathe
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extrinsic's post forced me to revisit the most recent version.
I tried making it more direct. It's got a lot more 'telling.' But, I think it was easier to push forward with the conflict. (I'm very curious about what extrinsic does).

Dang. It's too long because it's dialogue heavy. Here's the best I can do:


My eyes hurt from playing count the tumbleweed for the past who-knows-how-long. My old man’s been pulling his lips in for the last hour --his “something’s under my skin” face. “What’s on your mind, hon?” I say.

“Nothing interesting.”

“You’re such a liar.”

“When are you going to find a job?”

“I’m looking.” He doesn’t believe it. “It’ll get better come tax time.”

“You can get other work now,” he says. “There’s that distribution warehouse ten

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extrinsic
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The fragment that follows was adjusted from its writer's original version, to retain original contents, revised to up-fit drama, yet fit in the allotted space, with writer Will Blathe's assent. Thank you for permission!

Count tumbleweeds for I don't know how long. Hurts my eyes. "This is stupid," I say. My old man Mark's lips thin. He pouts. His midlife-crisis Mustang finds a second wind. "We should go to Lassen Volcano." The crusty hobbyhorse unwinds. "Dear, you'll kill us." I am such a better driver.

"Why are we even going anywhere?" Mark says, growls, really. "You can bother me at home." Tumbleweed mummies pile on a lonesome picket fence. He breathes deep, exhales. "You loved camping when we married." His beige-primed horsey slows to a sensible speed. "Mary, don't you dare say it." What, cheapskate? His gerbil-cage mind tries for the words. "When do you go back to work?"

That again. "I did look, still look for a job." I really do. The pains are too much. He won't believe me.

[ January 14, 2018, 03:36 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Will Blathe
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extrinsic, your version is intense. It feels tightly coupled to the POV like my first attempt, only less confused. There are things that show where I made mistakes in the post you based your version on. For instance, I intended the car's speed changes to indicate the emotional state of the driver. His driving becomes erratic as he gets angry and frustrated. I take that back. It's in the story you posted too. Maybe I need to rethink that emotional 'signal' if I'm having trouble interpreting it.

I'm still a little uncomfortable with the stronger imagery. It feels strange to me as a writer, but it works for me as a reader. If I did this 3rd person, then it wouldn't bother me so much.

The car becomes a character in your version. That's downright fun. It leads me to think about how the car can be more important to the story.

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Will Blathe
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quote:
His gerbil-cage mind tries for the words.
This is almost too descriptive. I love it. Now that I think about it, it does reflect Mary's sense of her old man.
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extrinsic
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First-person stream of consciousness self-narrates external sensations that anchor readers in a narrative's reality, often given in third person so that writer-narrator unnecessary extra lens filters and tells stay out of a motion-picture portrait's viewers sight, hearing, etc. Third person then is a natural auxiliary of first person. Those features also become imagery when they're visual, or aural, etc., stimuli and dramatic impetus and they have representational substance.

Tumbleweeds, for instance, are an iconic Western motif that signify desolate, dry, vacant, humorless places, and by extension, as setting "telling details," best practice signify emotional ambience and personified substance, abstract though, metaphor-like.

Telling details' meanings are usually at a liminal threshold of reader awareness. Imagery is a loosely used term for any sensation that does any or all the above, visual as well as other sensations. Symbolism is more general, and more apropos for other sensations: aural, tactile, olfactoral, gustatoral, emotional, nocicptal (pain sensation), etc. One challenge for imagery, etc., is to signal deeper than superficial substance so that readers are more aware of their significance and memorableness yet not distracted if they call overmuch undue attention to them.

One effective method is repetition, substitution, and amplification, the rhetorical figures thereof. Hence, counts tumbleweeds hurts eyes, personified as mummies; a car "personified" as a horse, a child's hobbyhorse, a girl's horsey; picket fence as lonesome; a mind as a gerbil cage.

Picket fence is an iconic motif of domestic bliss. Oddly, personally, described as a lonesome tumbleweed catcher, stands that motif on edge to reflect a barren, humorless marriage. Once, representation-, substance-, and emphasis-less, calls little, if any, due attention to a symbolic motif. Twice, three times do, now, soon again, and later. Once might be an off-the-cuff coincidence, twice is a deliberate lambada, thrice is a party -- or a riot or both.

I struggled to find a word or words that creates inferrable representational substance for "Lassen." "Volcano" is incomplete. Chalet now comes to mind and time enough soon again and later to fill in meaning gaps, like the continuation of the antagonism-driven argument after the first page's thirteen lines' limitations.

Yes, thus, every facet described of a setting detail becomes an actor character with which personas interact and reflect and which influences personas lives. And every word does double and more work, and readers can follow, and can infer intent and meaning.

Note, too, that motifs like Lassen Volcano (chalet) and Mary and spouse's speech also express complication and conflict, symbolic as well, more than solely tone. Mary wants to vacation at a resort; spouse wants to go to a campsite on the cheap; problem, they disagree. Problem, spouse treats their household income as if it's his sole possession, includes Mary's now-absent contribution. A now-moment stakes conflict of riches and rags. The line "Dear, you'll kill us." is now-moment relevant though signals perhaps for later a strong and clear stakes conflict of life and death.

"Dear, you'll kill us." sets up for an end which is to the effect of spouse kills Mary and she then cannot save him from death. Due to his homicidal deed, sets up a possible end line. "I killed us." That's a Chekhov's gun motif repetition, substitution, and amplification, expressed in an earlier act and goes off full-cocked in a later act.

Middle act, spouse has second thoughts, tells Mary he mixed up the peanut-free and peanut gorps. Thrusts the safe bag toward her and grabs the fatal bag. Implies his intents to readers, though Mary is unaware. Mary and spouse observe a tattered snake skin. Snakes terrify Mary. She insists they leave. Spouse's guilt-minded persistence soothes her concerns, though raises readers'. Squirrels devour pine cones in the campsite tree canopy above. Pine cone cores and scales drop and pine nut dust filters down. Mary suffers a mild allergic reaction, takes Benadryl, lays down with her medicine bag in the tent for a nap, assured she has her medicines at hand.

Last act, later that evening, Mary wakes. By spouse's actions and inactions, Mary suffers a fatal allergy attack from concentrated pine nut dust. She cannot find EpiPens she knew she had in her bag. Spouse smiles from a prone position opposite her. "You did this!?" Mary says, aghast a juvenile snake is visible near or on him. Keeps quite about it, though. He turns away from her. She sees him likewise poisoned, by snakebite venom from the young western diamondback rattlesnake that crawled in with him. His just comeuppance lover! He thrashes in his sleeping bag, turns back to Mary, says, "Yes, dear, I killed us." Fade to black. The end. Roll credits.

Cosmic irony there. Surprise cosmic irony twist ends readers thrill to for their tragically beautiful [inevitable, irrevocable, unequivocal (added)] surprise nature. And an end which leaves doubt of outcome open until the very last bittersweet end. Bitter for Mary and spouse; sweet poetic justice outcome for readers. A congruent-opposite cosmic irony comes to mind: O Henry's "The Gift of the Magi," (Project Gutenberg).

Also note, "Mark" as well can mean the target of a confidence scheme. Does Mary see spouse as a mark? And he her, also? Names, too, hold iconic significance.

Other stakes conflicts now-moment implied are acceptance and rejection and success and failure. Time enough soon and later to clarify which the story is truly about, in fact, a subtle setup and delayed tension relief feature that liminally arouses and engages reader curiosity at least, that soon and later the dramatic movement relieves, earns, satisfies, pays off, delivers.

One other subtle feature of the original and the rewrite is short simple sentences. Short sentences create a breathless effect, signal a tense situation, parallel to spouse's lead foot when antagonised. More sentence length and syntax variety is wanted, though. Best practice, longer sentences and varied syntax -- complex, compound, and complex-compound -- used in interludes before, between, and after dialogue lines and that attribute dialogue and thought to speakers and thinkers without too many, if any, he says, I think, I say, he said, she thought attribution tags.

Soon enough time to do revisions for publication submission purposes, too, that expand and contract a start fragment and narrative after thirteen lines' limitations no longer restrain content.

Motivation complication-wise, stakes conflict, and tone, ample development of want-problem antagonism, stakes risked, and attitude for now and more to oscillate and escalate soon and later.

So the essential three features for best reader effect well in progress in the original, natural, authentic, and smooth, somewhat more so in the reader rewrite, even if I do say so: motivations, stakes, and tone (emotional attitude toward a subject or topic, of a moment as well as parts and wholes). My rewrite a mere reflection of the original's content that is the writer's creative vision designs interpreted from a reader perspective, with adjustments for dramatic content this reader's imagination excised, reorganized, or filled in.

[ January 16, 2018, 07:47 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Will Blathe
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quote:
every facet described of a setting detail becomes an actor character with which personas interact and reflect and which influences personas lives. And every word does double and more work, and readers can follow, and can infer intent and meaning.
"double and more" is something I've tried to drum into my own head for quite some time. It's only partly stuck.

But, imbuing a "thing" with persona is something I haven't even attempted. I'm never sure how to do it, but your post suggests a way forward.


The cosmic irony is too delicious.


What I find interesting is how far you could extrapolate the "story" into a full blown story. The aforementioned cosmic irony is uncomfortably funny in a way. Also, I did not have the same surface tensions in mind (e.g., camping vs. resort). I think your sense of the story brings the characters forward in a way I hadn't imagined doing.

I appreciate the work you put into this. It's helping me immeasurably.

[ January 16, 2018, 01:00 PM: Message edited by: Will Blathe ]

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Will Blathe
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As an exercise, I wrote a couple of escalating arguments without setting or sense of character motivation. No, that last part's not true. The character motivations were already in my brain from previous work. What I mean to say is, I let the characters argue so I could suss out who they were. The results were enlightening and disturbing.

From this exercise and thread, I've learned that both characters are unsavory. They want to get something out of the relationship without much interest in the other's well being, and they are willing to hurt each other.

Now, I need to illustrate their mutually assisted plunge into their own little hell.

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extrinsic
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Those above are exquisite springboards to further story development. With one in the publication pipeline, too, and several skills enhancements therefrom, these processes' challenges ease somewhat, more ease each effort.

I though to expand rationales for the rewrite adjustments and the projected storyline; however, too much of my creative vision impositions already, to be used or not as writer sees fit. One I will assert that's broad scope, too many narratives entail flat, lengthy description that does little, if any, of narrative's drama work. Dramatic description works, more than bald eyeball and eardrum notice, more than emotionally charged. Vivid and lively description entails "imagery's" now-moment sensation description, dramatic incitement, movement, and momentum, and representational substance. Otherwise, readers skim description, skip ahead to the "juicy" parts, or stop altogether, if ever engaged in the first place.

Many thanks to all for this thread's fragment and process discussion. Special thanks to Will Blathe for open-mindedness and patience, for posted fragments, responses to responses, and persistence, courtesy, grace, and courage, too. Instincts reduced to written word, liminal thoughts lifted to consciousness, provide me a strong, farther foot forward on the Poet's Journey. Thanks again! Thank you, Will Blathe.

[ January 16, 2018, 08:12 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Jack Albany
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Will, extrapolating a story from your idea isn't such a task. I took your original idea: a husband uses his wife's allergies to kill her and, as an intellectual exercise, created my own story where the premise isn't greed and the character's aren't such loathsome creatures. It even has philosophical dimensions and readers will weep in the aisles at the end for both the murderous husband and the deceased wife.

To do such a thing as extrinsic and myself have done, all you need to do is learn what a story is and how it is constructed.

The two most recommended texts for this are Aristotle's Poetics; a half hour read and a lifetime of interpretation, and Gustav Freytag's Techniques of the Drama; a much longer read and a weightier tome, but worth every word.

Hope this points you in a helpful direction.

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Will Blathe
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extrinsic, it's been a great (if difficult) experience. I'm glad this has been worthwhile for everyone.

Jack, the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know (I stole that from someone, I'm sure).

I'm taking all the different bits you've all posted and putting them toward an engrossing story --hopefully, many such stories.

[ January 17, 2018, 12:49 PM: Message edited by: Will Blathe ]

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