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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Chapter 14 - Lineage

   
Author Topic: Chapter 14 - Lineage
Denevius
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Revised below.

[ January 20, 2014, 09:05 PM: Message edited by: Denevius ]

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Denevius
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Thanks in advance for any comments!
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wetwilly
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I like the level of detail about what he loves about his granddaughter. I think the details you have included quickly make her an interesting and sympathetic character.

A minor nit: when you drop her name in the second paragraph, it's slightly jarring to me. I had to stop for a second and figure out if it was the same person. Maybe if you drop her name in the first paragraph, even the first line, to get it out of the way quickly. Something like, "his granddaughter, Won Min Seo." Then you can just say "she" in the second paragraph, and I think the sentence would flow more smoothly.

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Denevius
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Hey, thanks!

Yeah, it's a little confusing. Won Min Seo isn't his granddaughter, it's an associate. His granddaughter's name is Kang Kyung He. I didn't put her name in there because I figured two foreign names were already confusing enough.

Thanks again!

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wetwilly
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Ah. Then the name is just confusing because it's unclear who it is attached to.

Looks like you're making good progress on this book!

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extrinsic
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Repetition in and of itself lacking accessible emphasis intentions just feels redundant and raw.

In one sense, the granddaughter in each paragraph could be two different persons. The one whose "youth, all nineteen years of it" seems as though Shi Hyeon has known her that long. The one whom he only recently met, the other.

I feel the context and texture of who is who are underdeveloped. Also, the repetition would be stronger and clearer if substitution and amplification context and texture developed the pattern and sequence.

The second paragraph of the excerpt is a run-on sentence cludged together with prepositions and conjunctions. See the Wikipedia article on the 100 most common English words. Many of them are prepositions and conjunctions, some are both, as well as many are three or more parts of speech in contextual usage. Hence why many of the most common English words are most common.

"So," for example, can be an adverb, adjective, conjunction, or pronoun. Words like "so" that may be one of two or more parts of speech tend to be confusing and weak, unless used exactingly denotatively. Discerning consideration for every word, especially common words subject to overuse, misuse, and abuse, is a way mechanical style can influence appeal, voice, and craft development and revision.

"Useless" feels awkward to me, and not awkward in an artfully slanted way as a character voice feature--as an estanging metaphor. The metaphor-like metonymy of the community college personified stretches meaning to an unstable degree with a "useless" agency, where uselessness is a tool feature, as in a useless hammer, sometimes extended as a metaphor and idiom for a person as a useless tool. How can a community college be useless, its physical, unchanging, influenceless building impact on education? In other words, metonymy, metaphor upon metaphor, and an everyday idiom on top of it all, too complex for reading and comprehension ease in the moment. I believe another adjective is called for.

Vague pronoun antecedent glitches in the second paragraph too. Who are the "them"? Shi Hyeon, Min Seo, and one or two granddaughters? Or only two people? Also, who is the "he" staring blankly? Shi Hyeon or Min Seo?

[ January 20, 2014, 11:21 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Denevius
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As always, thanks! I'll look at word choice changes in a rewrite.

quote:
Repetition in and of itself lacking accessible emphasis intentions just feels redundant and raw.
Yeah, I know it can be a bit frustrating with a lot of questions unanswered. I'll just respond to one if anyone else who decides to comment is confused.

quote:
Also, who is the "he" staring blankly? Shi Hyeon or Min Seo?
Shi Hyeon is male, Min Seo is female. They show up before this in the novel, but yeah, as taken alone, I know neither name designates a particular sex to Western ears.

quote:
Looks like you're making good progress on this book!
I'm about three-fourths finished, which is cool. To be honest, I would probably be done by now, but I've been excising info dumps from particular sections and creating fresh chapters around them to make sure the story remains fast paced with an active, aggressive narrative. This has an effect, though, of a destination that seems to grow further away the closer you get to it.
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Denevius
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Come to think of it, though, the reader will already know from the previous chapter that he just met her.

quote:
Shi Hyeon loved his granddaughter, so when Won Min Seo threatened to flee Jeju and the Natural Police gunning for them, he could only stare blankly at her.

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Denevius
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quote:
Bak Shi Hyeon loved his granddaughter. He loved her youth, all nineteen years of it. He loved how she raised her voice when she greeted customers at a local 7-Eleven in Pyoseon, how she made sure to hand them their change with two hands. He loved her naiveté, how she didn’t realize the community college she attended would never get her out of the life of poverty she’d been born into. He loved the carefree expression she wore on her flat face, her disarming smile, her honest way of expressing herself.

Shi Hyeon loved his granddaughter, so when Won Min Seo threatened to flee Jeju and the Natural Police gunning for them, he could only stare blankly at her.Taking the risk to search for the family the Gwanlyo had stolen from him had been her idea, and now that he’d found them, she simply wanted him to pretend they didn’t exist, and run.


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extrinsic
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Mistakenly assuming readers will recall all they've read so far is one reason for making every dramatic unit as self-contained and standalone as practical and possible. Readers learning, knowing, and remembering any character's identity markers, for example, like sex, age, and so on, is a lot to expect from an average novel reader. Memorableness due to empathy and curiosity aid learning and recalling event, character, and setting features.

Occasional if not frequent artful reminders are called for in new chapter exposition (introduction) segments. The same can be said of other kernel features, like events, characters, settings, dramatic complications, and voice characteristics.

Those areas are especially pertinent for thirteen lines excerpts, where auditors have only what's in the post from which to draw meaning. Therein is one of the main incentives and functions of thirteen lines excerpt exercises.

Thirteen lines is a limited real estate in which to portray much meaning. For openings' sakes, appreciating what development is essential, introductions and transitions mostly, whether beginning, middle, or ending portions, are in my estimation most crucial for openings.

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Denevius
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quote:
Mistakenly assuming readers will recall all they've read so far is one reason for making every dramatic unit as self-contained and standalone as practical and possible.
I agree, particularly with the episodic nature of this novel. I try to monitor the level of confusion readers have when critiquing chapters taken "out of time", so to speak, in order to see what to add and the best way to add it without making the addition seem like an explanation. The foreign names don't help, but I've attempted to make each character memorable by focusing on strong endings that kick. Again, though, the question becomes, as a whole, how does the novel read.

Anywho, thanks for the feedback!

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extrinsic
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I have extensive appreciation of "episodic nature" as a feature of picaresque: a dramatic portrayal of a roguish protagonist's episodic adventures. William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy are two masters of the form.
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kmsf
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Very good. It flows well, and the narrative voice has been consistent, growing more engaging and polished.

Item 1: The "gunning for them" phrase is a drag on the sentence.

Item 2: One POV thing that struck me is that Shi Hyeon would not likely see his grand-daughter as having a flat face. We are seeing through his eyes at this point. It's like this. My mom always called me her little toe head. She would say my hair was white only in a detached context. By the same token, the first time I saw a picture of my great-grandmother, who was visibly mixed race, my eyes were drawn to her features which were different from mine. And I saw them in their clinical properties. The more I look at her picture, however, the less I see, and that is because of my affection for her and my own mother.

Item 3: That last sentence seems to long. It fatigues, saps some strength from the ideas it contains. Maybe, think about the emotional beats you want to hit, and break it up accordingly.

[ January 21, 2014, 07:18 PM: Message edited by: kmsf ]

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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by kmsf:
My mom always called me her little toe head.

I understand the expression is towhead, for the towboat bow bumper head made of traditional touseled linen (flax) yarns.
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Denevius
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quote:
One POV thing that struck me is that Shi Hyeon would not likely see his grand-daughter as having a flat face.
Interesting comment. As with much about a different region of the world, it requires a lot of explanation.

When I moved there four years ago, there was a Japanese girl from Hawaii in my group. Koreans often complimented her on how beautiful she was because she had a small head. I know that sounds bizarre, but different strokes for different folks. Westerners make fun of the ex-President of North Korea who died two years ago because of the huge glasses he wore, but they don't realize that that style exists in Korea to make their heads look smaller.

They'll be exceptionally attractive girls walking around wearing these huge non-prescription glasses, and I'll just be like, "Argh!"

Koreas are very conscious of physical attributes (which explains the popularity of plastic surgery), and comment upon the looks of others often. They also tend to have two distinct appearances. Some of them are smaller of statue with paler skin and round heads, and some of them are stouter of statue with tannish skin and "flat faces". Or Mongolian faces/lineage, as one of the Khans conquered Korea at some point, and there's a lot of Mongolian blood in them. Another way to distinguish the Mongolian bloodline is a bluish/purplish birthmark that's common on many of their butts.

Since Korea was occupied by either China or Japan, you see features of both races in them, from what I mentioned to severe bowlegs in Korean women that you find in a lot of Japanese women.

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kmsf
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Well, if a Korean would use the term "flat face" then I stand corrected on that point. Now, if a westerner who does not have that same understanding is jarred by the expression, do the words do what you want them to do for your audience? From what I've read of the work so far, I don't know that you will have the opportunity to explain these historical and cultural differences. Perhaps providing an association between flat faces and beauty using simile, metaphor, etc in a Korean context would get at what you are after without the jarring effect, assuming that is your intent. I hope my comments are helpful.
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extrinsic
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"Flat face" works for me, in large part because of the dual meaning, the tangible one describing a physical attribute, an intangible but stable one describing the Western sense of oriental inscrutibility associated with emotionally unreadable faces. I felt the latter reason makes "flat face" a beautiful expression.

Perhaps the context and texture of a flat face could do with a tiny bit more development, though, for general readers. A single modifier parallel to the intended meaning of flat faces as attractive, for example.

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Denevius
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quote:
Now, if a westerner who does not have that same understanding is jarred by the expression, do the words do what you want them to do for your audience?
This is a good point, and I'll definitely think it over. If it gives enough people pause, I'll consider a substitute word.

Thanks again for the comments!

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Craig
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For me, flat face just stops me. I understand the difference in physical appearance, but flat face made me think of someone with no features at all. I would have kept reading though.
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