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Author Topic: Ash McFire SF
Michelle M.
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Hi guys, it's been a little while. I had a sudden inspiration and started a new story about a boy named Ash McFire who has pyrokinetic abilities. It is definitely young adult science fiction. Let me know what you think.


My name is Ash McFire, and I have a temper problem.

Yes, I am as cool as my name suggests. Yes, Iím sitting in front of the principalís office. Itís nothing new to me. Other kids pick on me or my friends, and things justÖ happen. It has gotten worse since Iíve hit the lovely stage of puberty. People get hurt, and inevitably, I catch something on fire.

No, Iím not a pyromaniac. I can make things catch on fire just by thinking about it. Pyrokinesis is what Iíve heard it called. But itís not all itís cracked up to be. If I let my thoughts get away from me, the hair of the most beautiful girl in school catches on fire, and I single handedly shake the high school hierarchy. May or may not of happened.

Okay, it did happen, but in my defense I hadnít had much sleep last night because I had eaten pizza the night before and--

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extrinsic
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An individual recaps -- summary and explanation tell -- an incendiary backstory.

The literal-figurative association between a metaphysical fire starter, pyrokinesis, and emotional charge is an artful metaphor, one explored at great length and to good effect in Stephen King's Firestarter, 1980, plus sundry comic book and graphic novel media.

Those works' metaphoric connections between fire and emotion, though, are less direct, more subtextual, though inferable, than the above fragment's. To me, the fragment's metaphoric connections are too pat, too easy, and too early, for the audience, a point that could be McFire best practice discovers later for reader expectation confirmation.

Some degree of intellectual effort expended on readers' part engages readers, their imaginations and, ergo, emotions, the ultimate end goal. Little or no effort to expend disengages readers altogether. This engagement criteria accrues from a common human condition known as confirmation bias: decision to, say, take a gander at a narrative, confirmation bias urges readers to see it through to the end -- because the decision cannot be wrong, right?

This natural human bias, too, also parallels Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "willing suspension of disbelief" principle. Readers approach a narrative with a natural, skeptical disbelief suspension. An artful start, therefore, does not jeopardize that natural disbelief suspension. Also, this phenomena relates to one of our host Orson Scott Card's three natural questions readers bring to reading, the Oh yeah? I should believe this? question, the other two, related, So what, why should I care? and Huh, what the everloving junk and stuff is going on here?

The Card question on point herein: Can I believe this fantastic tale? Nope, I'm told a declared static state of being scenario right up front, that prompts no intellectual, imaginative, nor emotional expense effort, This is the way I, McFire, am, believe it or not. Not.

Ah, but all is not lost -- rather, the overt shortfall, what doesn't work for me and I project won't work for readers overall, is the summary and explanation tell mannerism of the fragment. It says, This is me, the way I am now and will be throughout. Where's the latitude for transformative discovery and reversal? Change influences, as it were, due to being a firestarter?

Little dramatic transformation movement latitude, except for taming the wild emotions and at some point using the ability for good and evil. Those, aspects, though are later development potentials. At the start, aside from other opening criteria, first, further invest readers into willing suspension of disbelief.

How? Show McFire's firestarter emergence as it just this immediate now moment unfolds. Show the beautiful girl's hair catch fire, imply McFire did it, though he knows it not at the moment, show why he does and show he doesn't know, for example.

To me, the fragment rushes past adequate dramatic preparation development in order to get to some random satisfaction segment, misses preparation and suspension segments. One of dramatic tension's fundamental and subtle strengths is what readers know, or at least expect, beforehand that evokes anticipation. Preparation development evokes anticipation. Nextmost, suspension timely prolongs anticipation. Thirdmost, satisfaction confirms and rewards reader expectations. And so a narrative cycles and oscillates through timely and judicious dramatic movement segments.

This fragment skips all that sequencing, recursively summarizes and explains an entire ab ovo, from the egg, backstory, though attempts at the same time an in medias res start -- reflections of how this came to pass, outside the principal's office. Another Oh yeah? there, too. Is this the apt or worst correction of an incendiary misbehavior? Would not the authority response be suited to the conduct? A police response at least. Or more. Definitely more.

School milieus are part of young adult genre, middle grade's mainstay, though as secondary to settings where teenagers are more independent of adult guardianship. School grounds in young adult genre are more apt when those are at school locations away from close adult supervision -- how young adults behave when they are free of close supervision. The fragment as is leaves me confused between middle grade and young adult genre. Because school-age readers read up in age, and because the fragment is a summary backstory and in adult-supervised settings, I feel the fragment falls firmly in middle grade.

"Ash McFire, and I have" unnecessary comma and conjunction-spliced run-on sentence. That way blunts emphasis; this way enhances emphasis: //My name is Ash McFire. I have a temper problem.// A period signals a stronger, not necessarily longer, than a comma pause.

A confessional novel? Like an Alcoholics Anonymous presentation? That is a promising consideration. Young Adult Anger Management Anonymous? That would get me to stand up and take notice, hopelessly "hook" me. That too could be an artful deflection of the summary tell, an in medias res in the now moment start that would defuse any willing suspension of disbelief challenges, and -- huzzah! -- fit and fulfill young adult appeal criteria.

"Yes, Iím sitting" Unnecessary tense change from prior sentence's simple present tense to present participle tense, plus, unnecessary to be and -ing word predicate construction. //Yes, I sit//

"Itís nothing new to me." Maybe an unnecessary "it's", probably a vague pronoun-subject antecedent, a stream-of-consciousness expression consideration, another unnecessary -ing, a preposition error. //Not new for me.//

"and things justÖ happen." Ellipsis points signal elided, omitted though inferable content. A dash is warranted instead, plus, due to the campy everyday conversational aesthetic of the prior content, "Yes, I'm," twice, a discourse marker word is indicated. //and things just -- well, (or you know, yeah, okay, etc.) happen.//

"People get hurt, and inevitably," Punctuation error. Adverb "inevitably" used in an emotional charge texture, interjection-like, and a nonessential clause modifier adverb, dependent, takes the antecedent comma, not the conjunction "and." //People get hurt and, inevitably,//

"But itís not" Unnecessary contradiction conjunction, another unnecessary "it's" vague subject antecedent-pronoun-is verb construction. The negation statement contradicts as is.

"not all itís cracked up to be" Dead tired clichť.

"If I let my thoughts get away from me" unnecessarily wordy -- for stream of consciousness, anyway, and an unnecessary extra lens filter "I let". //If my thoughts get away from me"

"single[-]handedly" (adverb) takes a hyphen.

"May or may not _of_ happened" The colloquial substitution of "of" for have, though common, attends a dialect different from the fragment's. That use is common to an illiterate idiolect.

"did happen, but in my defense" Another unnecessary contradiction conjunction. "in my defense" is ample contradiction.

"sleep last night _because_" Unnecessary causation conjunction. The "because" tips off that the content to follow is an explanation, less so an actual cause. Connective words, overall, in prose, defuse and spoil movement, preparation, suspension, satisfaction sequences, and surprise. The surprise potential of that as-is sentence appears on the surface as an explanation, is, in fact, a self-justification for errant behavior. The emphasis is stronger, more artful for that design without the artless join.

And what a confused time representation of the overall sentence, plu-pluperfect past tense, unnecessary, and a huh? what? wordy speed bump stumble.

"_hadnít_ _had_ much sleep last night because I _had_"

//hadnít slept well last night. I ate too much pizza. [Nightmares awoke me]//

The title, too, gives away too much pat meaning for me. Though the agonist's name, the name says right up front and without any doubt or reading effort what the metaphoric fiery emotion scenario of the novel is, doesn't at all show that fiery temperament in the fragment either.

The use of metaphoric fire and emotional connections stands largest in promise herein -- that young adults are problematized by difficult emotions, fear and consequent anger most prominent, and yet they know it not, stands out for me. If the actual opening setting of the novel were an anger management group scenario, which allows for dramatic event, setting, and character interaction and dramatic movement that navel-contemplation interior reflections do not. Also, that anger management group scenario, even in a school behavioralist facilitated setting, a classroom or a lounge room -- I would be hopelessly engaged. However, I cannot at this time read on as an engaged reader, due most to the artless backstory tell, narrator told to get readers up to speed, of the fragment.

[ March 24, 2017, 03:59 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Michelle M.
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Hi, extrinsic! Thank you so much for your comments. The last part of that fragment I intended as "word vomit," essentially. Something the character wants the reader to know but doesn't really go with what is going on at the time, so they want to sum it up quickly. How would I be able to make it sounds more like a teen is just letting words fall out of his mouth?
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extrinsic
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A dramatic monologue to a present audience is a closer narrative distance method than a thought soliloquy, the fragment as is. Closer yet would be a small group that interacts with McFire's dialogue. That event setting closes narrative distance by depicting other persons interactions, apt setting details, and unfolding events. The interactions develop McFire's characterization, too, the time, place, and situation of present now events, and other characters.

Drama's strength is at the least contention, if not clash contests between personas. A fiery temperament is ripe for conflagration, right?

Human social interaction schematic:
Codetermination: mutual efforts for mutual outcomes
Cooperation: shared efforts for shared outcomes
Coordination: reciprocal efforts for reciprocal outcomes
Contention: disputed efforts for disputed outcomes
Confliction: open dissented efforts for dissented outcomes
Confrontation: direct opposition efforts for opposed outcomes
Conflagration: fiery, even violent efforts for fiery, even violent outcomes

For example, if the dramatic monologue were in a classroom, lounge, or similar, McFire could express contentious thought and coy speech attitude about other persons, the place, and, notably, who he has enmity toward. That would also prompt then McFire's fiery temperament to emerge, his pyrokinesis.

The words could fall out, improvisational-like, when he is called on in his turn to speak his confessional piece.

By the way, school behavioralist groups are common anymore. For problem children of whatever behavioral issue condition, The middle majority student populace, least problematic, most conformist, though, are unexposed to otherwise confidential behavioral adjustment sessions. These sessions are for the "one percenters" who have recognized and clinician-diagnosed behavioral issues, probably medicated, too, for behavioral adjustments to fit notions of conformity.

That in-school behavioral "therapy" practice is a stigma that student recipients loathe, and other as yet unexposed students have an indistinct fear of for its unknowns.

Anyway, some interactive performance space is warranted. The school day foyer of a principal's office, in my experiences, is always a crowded and contentious time, place, situation, and event. At the least, it is similar to a prison, inmates ask what are you in for? or the like. What did you do to wind up here? Some brag, some gloat, some are tight-lipped, some lie, all minimalize self-responsibility and assign exterior blame. She made me do it! I didn't do it! Yada. The school scrounge, the sharp dealer, the prankster, the bully, the cutup class clown, the gossips and rabble-rousers and backsassers and general delinquents, on occasion the one kid no one thinks is trouble at all, who abruptly lets loose on a wild hair tear, a cadre of stock archetypes who spend more time in the limbo outside a principal's office then they do in class. Plenty of opportunity for dialogue, attitude, and social contention, if not confliction and conflagration, outside a principal's office.

Plus, such a setting affords setting and milieu development. What is this place? An afterthought? Like what used to be a hallway for separation from the main office hubbub, now has mismatched uncomfortable chairs, coat hooks that instead hang unexpected leftover junk no one is ready to throw away yet, concrete block wall painted so many times the grout joints are smooth as the blocks, an air vent's dust and cobwebs disturbed when the air conditioner blows hot air and makes the foyer hotter than the overheated bodies make it. And so on: setting details and personas and events McFire could comment on in a negative attitude that appeals to young adults -- sarcasm's mockery and ridicule, yet ironically reflects that McFire's real attitude is fear and anger, a fiery temperament because he is lost and bewildered by the complexity of adulthood onset and feels left out. Seated next to McFire and crowds his elbows, the pretty girl no one thinks could do wrong caught in a roundup of girl's bathroom smokers, wrongfully included and gripes no one believes her. McFire feels strong antipathy for her miserable-weak mewls. Flame on!

And the perennial challenge: how to accomplish dramatic movement in only thirteen lines? Focus on the immediate now moment action, introduce immediately essential developments: event, setting, and characters that upset emotional equilibrium for McFire and, ergo, readers and engage curiosity and emotional response. This narrative is ripe for a problem introduction that naturally implies a want. McFire's possible overt problem is he's about to be expelled, he suspects, for an ordinary malicious act.

He was caught making an incendiary compound in chemistry class? Simple gunpowder: saltpeter, flour of sulfur, and bone charcoal? Zero tolerance, expulsion mandatory, though only on the principal's assent. Rather than a summary and explanation backstory tell recap, McFire could evasively answer a fellow detainee he accidentally mixed some random chemicals, for that he was sent to this Hell's gateway setting, for what, he doesn't know. Then he could think of what he intended to use the gunpowder for, to blow up a lawnmower engine at home. The pretty girl gets on his nerves. Flame on! Lavish attention on the details, though.

[ March 26, 2017, 03:56 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Michelle M.
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Thanks, Extrinsic. You've given me some really good ideas I might build on. I really like your idea of the school therapy sessions. I may have to incorporate something like that. I can see potential for some conflagration.
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Grumpy old guy
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I would not read past the first word.

Phil.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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You have a problem with "My", Phil?
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Grumpy old guy
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It is indicative of a first person narrative. The vast majority of writers are as adept using this 'person' as an elementary school student's "What I did on my holidays." submission.

Phil.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Ah! Okay. Thanks for the clarification. Much better in helping the writer understand your feedback.
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Grumpy old guy
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If a writer can demonstrate through superior prose they are up to the task, I'll read further. However, this requires they NOT start with My, I, We, etc..

Phil.

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Jay Greenstein
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As presented, a talking head lectures the reader. Talking heads are deadly dull.

Ask yourself which is more exciting to read:

a) A voice whose tone we can't hear telling us that the voice's owner can set a fire with their thoughts.

b) Being with that character as the event takes place that makes them know they have that power, and the reaction that knowledge causesóand how that effects their life.

My point?

1. Stories happen, they're not talked about. To entertain the reader you have to involve them, not explain things.

2. Although first person POV has the protagonist present the story, it should happen in the moment the protagonist calls now. It matters not at all that the protagonist and the narrator are the same person because they live at different times and cannot appear on stage together.

So every time your narrator talks about the story they kill all sense of realism.

Here's one method of providing a strong viewpoint that will pull the reader into the scene. It's worth chewing on till it makes sense.

Hang in there, and keep on writing.

Jay Greenstein

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extrinsic
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The "my, I, me, my, mine," even "moi," consideration Grumpy old guy raises I second, though I'm less spontaneous in my decline of the pronouns. Sure, first word pronouns, agonist name first, and dialogue or thought discourse first as well, signal possible downstream shortfalls -- character development most, and event melodrama.

However, for me, the instance on point, the "My name is Ash McFire . . ." emulates the confessional nature of behavioral therapy and support groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous and its offspring, and Anger Management, and Codependency theories. My imagination fills in event and setting blanks, projects from what is given, as it were, maybe other than intended.

By the time the small piece of setting development emerges, third sentence, I anticipate a confessional setting, but neck whiplashed that, lo, this is a navel rumination outside a principal's office, not any way a public, if restricted to private confidences, confessional setting. The actual setting substituted for the former setting implication disappointed my anticipation, rather than at least partially satisfy the preparation and suspension segments that came beforehand, that this is, indeed, a confessional setting.

Alas, yes, for me, the setup that begins with "My" disappoints, and exposes a few of first person's challenges and common shortfalls: event, setting, and character introduction shortcuts and bumpy dramatic sequences.

An adjustment for consideration: interleaven in the now immediate moment event, setting, and character introductions, that sequence priority or contemporaneous. Simple sentence syntax offers cues how. Sentence subject -- setting sensation; sentence predicate -- event description; sentence object -- name drop a character or characters.

Illustration:
Detention lounge stiff-back chairs racked Stony Jackson high school problem children away from student sight, bother, and mind, stacked as if tinder for a bonfire.

Setting, event, characters. Lavish time and words to establish the now event, the now setting of the event, and the now dramatic situation of the now players of the event, before introducing the "I." And consider at the start if the "I" is or feels victimized when introduced, is acted upon, ergo, is placed in sentence object position.

School boss holes loaded me into the furnace, too.

This above derives from a social and language principle, that a serial list of named persons respectfully, selflessly, names the self last. Jill and Mike, the sophomore prank bandits, and me sat down together on the red couch. The obverse signals self-absorption -- Me and Mike and Jill, the sophomore prank bandits, sat down together on the red sofa. Great, if such of the self (de se, oblivious to what self-prioritization signals about the self) characterization is intended, context supported, and suits the dramatic action, is a setup segment to soon be confirmed by a partial satisfaction segment; like a self-absorbed "Me" persona signaled, who encounters stiff social pushback, shunning, for excess selfishness: Either mend your ways or be outcast, a true, if subtextual, dramatic action of such a scenario.

Anyway, several of many considerations.

[ March 27, 2017, 12:52 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Michelle M.
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Thanks all! I've never written a middle grade type book before, so I need to get in a different mindset. I think I have a way to incorporate much of what was said, but I have to sit down and apply it now.
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Michelle M.
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Alright, I've done a bit of a rewrite. I know this probably still won't work for Grumpy Old Guy, but here it is anyway. [Smile]


My name is Ash McFire. I have a temper problem.

Yes, I am as cool as my name suggests. Yes, Iím sitting in a circle in the school gym, surrounded by other kids whose problems are nowhere near as bad as mine. Yes, I blame Billy Werkin. I canít help it. He was picking on the class wallflower, Sara Green, and things just, you know, happened. It has gotten worse since my voice started cracking. People get hurt and, inevitably, I catch something on fire.

ďHi, Iím Amy. I get upset easily,Ē one of the girls in the circle said. She sounded like she was about to cry.

As I waited impatiently for my turn. I didnít want to be there.

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extrinsic
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The present sense impression of the second fragment is a mite clearer, though the setting for the confessional remains in McFire's disembodied mind.

Consider a look, at least at the start, into Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman, (Project Gutenberg), an enormous joke at readers' expense, for how unentertaining, unengaging a disembodied-mind lecture narrative is. The novel is a notorious, if infamous, slow start, if ever starts at all. The languor of overwrought prose to no meaningful end is the joke, which, in turn, implies, and intends readers to realize their lives and opinions are no different, why the novel appeals, if it does to whom it does.

These fragments, though, do the opposite; they rush toward an action yet miss essential setup details, why McFire is included in this cattle call to the gym, for one.

"Yes, Iím sitting in" Same unnecessary simple present to present participle tense shift as before.

"I canít help it." Vague subject-pronoun antecedent "it."

"He was picking" Tense shift again. Well, the tense wanders from simple present to present participle, to past, to present perfect, and back and forth throughout.

"It has gotten" Present perfect tense, unnecessary tense shift. Vague subject-pronoun antecedent "It."

"People get hurt" and "I get upset" Third instance in short succession of to get verbs used as substitutes for to be verbs. //It has become//, //People are hurt//, and //I become upset//. Static voice. More robust verbs warranted and different syntax. //My temper worsened when my voice changed from alto to tenor.// //People hurt people// //Simple bothers easily upset me.// Or similar yet other.

"She sounded like she was about to cry." Unnecessary extra lens filter "She sounded like". That observation as given is an indicative mood statement masqueraded as subjunctive mood. The first-person expression method for subjective observations is either the straight indicative -- and readers judge whether valid or not -- or the subjunctive by itself. Indicative, //She was about to cry.// or subjunctive //She would soon cry, if I was any judge.//

"As I waited impatiently for my turn. I didnít want to be there." Inverted causation. McFire doesn't want to be there, ergo, he is impatient, cause before effect. Unnecessary conjunction words, like "as," connect and often misconstrue causation, signal misconstrued causation ripe for revision.

Nor is "as" a coordination conjunction. "As" is a correlation conjunction. For example, inverted, //I didnít want to be there, as I waited impatiently for my turn.// correlates and coordinates the two clauses. Stronger and clearer yet, correlation only, //I didnít want to be there as, impatiently, I waited for my turn.// Or absent the conjunction splice, stronger and clearer yet, //I didnít want to be there -- impatiently waited for my turn.// Still summary and explanation tell, though; this part and much of the fragment could instead show the event, setting, and characters, albeit a greater word count, probably ten times more words.

And why "there"? Is this an after-the-fact report from another place other than when and where the action unfolded? The fragment's inconsistent tenses do not clear that up. Present sense impression would express //here// not "there." Or earlier establish the narrator's now as opposed to the account's now.

More grammar considerations I could comment about; however, the larger picture to consider is possible total rewrites so that the reality of the situation is more up front, so the narrative reads less like make-believe summary and more like an authentic account. How? Emotionally charged sensory descriptions of the events, times, places, situations, and persons of the now moments.

The gym, for example, how does the place reflect McFire's situation? Well, I attended sixteen different schools for my education years; each gym was as different from another as winter night and spring day. Each expressed different moods. Where does he sit, anyway? On the basketball court floor? On a bleacher bench? Courtside or in the peanut gallery nose bleeds? Which gym and seat "telling details" reflect McFire's situation?

Plus, story movement asks for dramatic movement, ongoing transformation, if not physical change, then antagonal, causal, tensional, emotional change. Would a start begin then from proctors and minders crowd the detainee mob through the gym doors? They burst apart inside? Minders group them together again, herd them to, say, sit within the away team free-throw circle arc? What might that express or imply about the present and to-come action? Away team? Already "othered" away to shunned from society? Such are sensory descriptions' strengths -- concrete and tangible sensory perceptions that entail subtext's intangibles and abstracts as well.

[ March 28, 2017, 11:13 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Michelle M.
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Oops! The "as" was a typo! Sorry! Thanks again for the feedback!
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Jay Greenstein
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The second version changes the words, but the methodology, that of a voice that contains not a shred of emotion explaining events the reader has not been made to want to know about.

Story is not a series of events explained by a dispassionate external voice. That informs, but is no more entertaining than any other report or history. You're trying to compensate by making the speaker's manner of speech interesting. But that can only work if the audience can experience the performance. Have your computer read this to you and you'll hear what a reader gets. I'm pretty certain it's not what you hear in your head as you read it.

Remember all the reports and essays you had to write in school? Remember how few stories you were assigned to write? That was because they needed you to perfect the writing skills that employers prize. And employers need nonfiction skills (except for stockholders reports I suppose)

My point is that our schooling taught us to write as a means of informing a reader. But fiction readers expect to be entertained, which requires a very different approach, one our teachers never mentioned as existing.

So it's not a matter of good/bad writing, or talent. It's that our medium is very different from film, stage, and verbal storytelling. The definition of what a scene is changes, as do the elements that make it up. If you're not aware of the function of the scene-goal, and how to manege it, will you provide one? If you're not aware of how to introduce and manage tension, and why that says that most scenes will end in disaster for the protagonistóif you don't know what the publishers think of as a good sceneówill you provide one?

My point is that it's not a failing in you, or something that can be fixed by a simple "Do this instead of that," explanation. It's that if you hope to write like a pro you need to know what a pro knows. So spending a bit of time, and perhaps a few dollars on our writers education makes a lot of sense. Right? After all, why not build on success? It beats hell out of trying to reinvent the wheel.

For why telling the reader a story as an external reporter may cause unintended confusion, this article may clarify.

Hang in there. It doesn't get easier, but with enough work we can become confused on a higher level.

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Michelle M.
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"...Become confused on a high level." I love that phrase. Thank you Jay. I know I have a lot of work to do. I'm hoping once I figure out what I am doing well, I can build on that. I'd like some feedback on that sometime rather than "this doesn't work", "that doesn't work", etc...
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extrinsic
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What works for a reader, readers, as the case may be, challenges commenters, professional critics as much as informal responders. Workshopped compositions rely, unfortunately, on the principle easier to find fault externally than of the self. Plus, what works and what doesn't work are often tied together, the what does inextricable from what doesn't such that the latter takes precedence, this human condition . . .

The mannerisms and language of these fragments, for example, includes first person narrative point of view and a degree of writer surrogacy, suit younger readers' wheelhouse. That's a strength inextricable from a challengable shortfall. Middle grade prose, though, more so than early adult, screeners demand a language and craft skill more conscious than the off-the-cuff everyday informal conversation of young persons -- those ages are still learners, though as if learning ever ends, and, ergo, scrutinize grammar and content and organization craft more than per se expression and appeals. Screeners insist that a language facility be apt such that readers' convenient casual expression habits are not glorified nor reinforced.

A writer who writes the language of those ages appeals, though, to those ages, part out of rebellion against the rigid strictures of grammatical expectations, part out of rapport. Such is the life of writing -- a paradox.

If a composition, though, contains both only a flavor of the common language shortfalls of youth and a rhetorical function, say a subtext that comments upon these language phenomena, that is, "ironically cool", the cynical sarcasm of youth responsive to authoritarian grammarians, due in large part to bewilderment and struggles in the coming of age wilderness, that would pass muster. Such is satire, both of two congruent-opposite irony contenders and more, the dominion of prose.

Fantastic fiction holds a unique property in these satire regards; that is, non one-to-one correspondence between literal and figurative aspects. More literary readers expect close correspondence between literal and figurative expression, for comprehension ease. In these fragments' case, the relation between a metaphysical firestarter and an individual with anger management issues suits the bill, the target audience, and a potentially much wider audience.

The correspondence between pyrokinesis and anger issues benefits from anger is a primordial emotion which all find relatable and one of if not the most common tangible, least abstract emotions. That is an inspired strength that stands out. Management of its and prose's, generally, challenges, though, asks for a full realization of Realism's reality imitation forte, and, in this case, an artful management of first person narrative point of view.

The arts of in medias res suit the bill: in the middle of things. The fragments do start in the middle of things though struggle with timing and reality imitation. This first-person narrator narrates overtly, instead of is a mere pass-through of the received sensory and emotional reality sensations of the agonist. The fragments "tell" second and thirdhand what happens firsthand, as if the narrator stands separate and apart from the first-person self. Is outside looks in, even if in a present sense impression that is of a past time.

Well enough if the two personas are distinct -- narrator and agonist -- though then the narrator's separate identity best practice is established up front. The other huge challenge of first person, any person, really, is narrative authentication. That is matters of setting "telling details" that are concrete though imply abstract notions, plus events and characters likewise, that are emotionally charged -- latitude for youth's ironically cool, sarcastic commentary about anything and everything, which is the opportunity for subtext of three threads.

The first thread of which is self-reflective emotions; second, the short fuse that signals fear and bewilderment of adulthood onset -- Peter Pan and Pinocchio syndromes in other contexts; and third, that the self is most angered at the self.

Ah but how, alas, to thirteen-lines only start such a tableau? The Outsiders (Amazon Kindle preview) written by S. E. Hinton when she was a teen manages well-enough both first-person and start challenges. The attention lavished on "telling details," both literal and figurative meaning, and a language aptitude suited to the age range speak more than meet the eye.

The first sentence is somewhat clunky, though: "When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home." The language is dated, "movie house"; the pop culture allusion to Paul Newman is also dated. However, those two motifs speak loud to when this narrative takes place and begin character introduction development. An adorer of Paul Newman and weekend daytime matinees. The past perfect tense, too, establishes that the account is of a prior occasion, narrative point of view firmly introduced.

The interplay of lighting conditions is also sublime, a reality imitation feature, from darkness to light -- a foreshadowing of the action to come, a promise that, despite all the edgy darkness to come, the novel could end on an inspirational note. The first sentence establishes the whole action and the outcome without giving away the plot or the outcome. Artful enough. I would, of course, though, write a more "cultured" dramatic scenario and language, not first person, for starters, which I reserve for creative nonfiction prose.

[ March 31, 2017, 03:05 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Michelle M.
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Thank you extrinsic! Your comments help a lot. I like being able to see my strengths vs. where I can improve. Sometimes I have a hard time finding my strengths myself. We are our own worst critic, after all.
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