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Author Topic: A War of Tea and Flowers (SF/Adventure)
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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One of the problems, though, is making the character sympathetic enough that the readers will stay for the maturation.

There are little things you can do to "soften" a character that starts out unsympathetic in most ways. For example, you can show the character being kind to animals, or small children, or old people.

Something to consider, at least.

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Will Blathe
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I've hit a bit of a wall trying to express the moral themes of the story in the first 13.

Ugh.


extrinsic: I think I will have to shift the intro to something different, because the ones I've tried hardly relate to the central themes or plots of the story.


Kathleen: I took Garoux from a number of models. The old fellow from UP, Han Solo, & Rick Blain (Casablanca) are dominant in my mind right now. I want a somewhat kindly miscreant with a world-weariness and a hard edge. Later, Watership Down's Hazel will emerge as a model.

I like the "Is Kind to Puppies®" brand character-softener you suggested.

[ May 24, 2017, 12:13 PM: Message edited by: Will Blathe ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Remember the old fellow from UP had a solid (and very sympathetic) back story before the audience got to the actual adventure.

Rick in Casablanca also had a back story, but it was revealed as the story progressed.

Han Solo didn't actually have that much back story, and what there was of it wasn't particularly sympathetic. He was portrayed by a talented and charming actor though - something you don't have going for you in a book.

Glad you like the character softener suggestion.

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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by Will Blathe:
I've hit a bit of a wall trying to express the moral themes of the story in the first 13.

Ugh.


extrinsic: I think I will have to shift the intro to something different, because the ones I've tried hardly relate to the central themes or plots of the story.

Declare, express, or imply, or two or all three, is how the masters manage theme development, less attention to theme expended by genre fiction writers. For those, though, common, general themes are part and parcel of a genre classification's conventions. "Hard" science fiction's common themes, for example, are an individual and technology or science, if fantastical; "Soft" science fiction, an individual and fantastical social science; dystopia, for instance.

Symbolism entails all of those features: "the art or practice of using symbols especially by investing things with symbolic meaning or by expressing the invisible or intangible by means of visible or sensuous representations: as a : artistic imitation or invention that is a method of revealing or suggesting immaterial, ideal, or otherwise intangible truth or states b : the use of conventional or traditional signs in the representation of divine beings or spirits" (Webster's), or other such notions, like faceless, indifferent government or tyrannical corporations, actually, a post Kierkegaard God is dead individual and the gods theme.

Likewise, imagery, subtext, metaphor, rhetoric overall, T.S. Elliot's "objective correlatives," (see the Glossary), and other figurative expression techniques.

An audio essay by Maud Casey, "It's a Wooden Leg First: Paying Narrative Attention to the Literal Story" (January 2008)

"About her story 'Good Country People,' in which a Bible salesman steals a woman’s leg, Flannery O’Connor wrote, 'If you want to say that the wooden leg is a symbol, you can say that. But it is a wooden leg first.' Similarly, Maud Casey warns against symbol-hunting and symbol-planting; she argues, instead, for the resonant power of lavishing attention on the literal level, and turns for examples to O’Connor’s story as well as to fiction by James Baldwin, Tim O’Brien, Deborah Eisenberg and Chris Abani." (Warren Wilson College MFA Writers Program Fiction Digital Lecture Series.)

Lavish attention on the literal story and the figurative will follow: that's how to develop theme. Also, from the Glossary, "smart subconscious plants." These are a writer's subconscious influences that ask for notice though are below, initially, the awareness threshold. Once realized, those become a driving force for a narrative's content, structure, organization, and drama.

For example, O'Connor's "Good Country People" (PDF), in the collection A Good Man Is Hard to Find, the wooden leg's symbolism is about both a physical and emotional crutch. The theme of the short story overall is about unhealthy emotional dependence on artificial life supports. [An individual and technology theme.] The first thirteen lines of the story introduce the implied theme and do not complete its emergence nor the dramatic action until the end, as an artful dramatic sequence is wont to be. The story, however, is more anecdote than drama emphasis, dramatic event emphasis, somewhat character, archetypes with built-in reader relatability, actually, somewhat milieu's culture representations, less so setting emphasis.

Anyway, this is a clear and strong rationale to just draft the whole literal thing, set it aside for a time, come back to it fresh and new and reinvigorated, prospect for smart subconscious plants for its nonconcsiously intended, true, if figurative, meaning, then adjust accordingly.

To productively start the raw draft, though, start with motivation to satisfy a problem-want complication. Give Garoux a want and problematize its satisfaction, as if all the cosmos refuses Garoux. For empathy or sympathy worthiness, rapport worthiness at least, yes, show Garoux as an empathetic individual, compassion toward puppies and kittens, widows and orphans, underdogs, whatever, combine the two features: complication and a circumstance worthy of his empathy. Say, the pirate's mission for which the skiffs pursue him and Syiy is valuable objects stolen from a tyrant planet to be fenced at a discount to an underdog planet. Some profit, real compassion, otherwise, Garoux would not engage in it. His amoral conscience would not allow it. Then the matter is of both private and public appeal. This won't all fit into thirteen lines, though, unless deftly crafted -- which doesn't happen in a raw draft.

[ May 24, 2017, 08:03 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Will Blathe
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The old fellow from UP provides a lovable curmudgeonliness. Rick provides hard won wisdom. Han provides selfishness. Hazel provides caring leadership (that comes later).

I just realized I have no backstory for Garoux other than snippets in my head. At least I have a simple backstory for Garoux's relationship with Syiy.

I'm going to revisit the person of Garoux for a day or so before I try my hand at another first 13.

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Will Blathe
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quote:
Give Garoux a want and problematize its satisfaction, as if all the cosmos refuses Garoux.
. . . percolating in my head right now.
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Jay Greenstein
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quote:
I've hit a bit of a wall trying to express the moral themes of the story in the first 13.
That make sense. It wouldn’t be much of a story if you could. And knowing the theme, why would a someone want to go on reading for what is no more than an expansion on what’s said in the first paragraphs?.

Your opening, as with any scene opening, must address what matters to this protagonist in this scene.

As an example, look at the opening to a short story I just cranked out the other day:

quote:
Zack Martin woke, cursing, to the proximity alert’s warble. An unauthorized craft was maneuvering in near-Earth orbit, close enough to the transfer station that they posed a potential threat.
It has absolutely nothing to do with the theme of the story (which is the discovery of who Santa Claus really is). But in two sentences we learn:
• Who we are.
• Where we are.
• What’s going on.
• That we’re the kind of person who reacts with displeasure to such an emergency, not fear—which gives character development and a sense that he feels he can handle whatever comes.

Knowing what’s going on, our own perceptions have been calibrated to our avatar’s and we’re ready to see what’s in store for us in the next paragraph.
quote:
Releasing the sleepnet’s security latches, he pushed off for the control station, calling, “What’s going on, Zelda? Do we have an ID?”
So now, as him, we learn that he’s been sleeping in a zero-G environment, and learned it by how he moves from bed to the control station, not by being told. And since we’re, naturally, wondering what the problem is, Zack asks someone named Zelda, which makes us wonder who he’s talking to, thus propelling the reader to the next paragraph.
quote:
“Negative, Zack,” the computer’s voice called. “I detect an object, massing approximately 500 kilograms, about 100 kilometers in-planet from us, both closing the gap and losing speed. It’s presently tumbling, slowly, and will pass in about thirty minutes, outbound.”
We learn that the voice is that of a computer, advanced enough to give conversational responses. It appears that our protagonist is alone on the station. And the reader learns it indirectly, while focusing on that matters to Zack, in the moment he calls now. In line with that, we/he learn the nature of the problem, nonthreatening, and a bit of a mystery. We know where it came from, in general, and enough about it to make us curious to want to know more—just as he is. And we’re only nine lines into the story.

What do we want to know next? Isn’t this where Captain Kirk says, “On screen.”? So:
quote:
“Pictures?” he asked, as he settled into the control station.
And naturally that leads to
quote:
“None useable yet. The craft is backlit by solar reflections from the Atlantic Ocean, and the side facing us is in shadow, making it hard to define.”
Enter a bit of frustration, that will, hopefully, pique a reader’s interest. But that’s what the computer says. What will we do in response, to finish out the thirteen lines?
quote:
Frustrated, he chewed on his knuckles before saying, “Trajectory…origin? Give me some data, baby. Is it a threat to the station?”
So we express our frustration. But now, thirteen lines—148 words, into the story—we could write a report:

My name is Zack, and I’m stationed on board a transfer station in orbit around Earth. I’m alone here, with only a talkative computer for company—a computer that just woke me to warn of a potential danger, at some time in the near future. An unexpected, and unknown craft seems to be out of control and coming toward the station. Because of where it is, reflections from the planet’s ocean keep me from making out details of the craft in the glare, but that’s temporary. It will soon be a lot closer, and no longer between the planetary glare and the station .

So for now, this thing has my undivided attention. I’ll be taking steps to try to contact the crew, or at least find out what’s going on. If you’d like to watch, grab hold of something to keep you from drifting around the cabin, and watch.


That’s basically the same thing, presented as exposition. And it uses about the same number of words. In fact, it’s probably how many hopeful writers would begin such a story.

Either way, the reader is now oriented in time and space. They know whose skin they’re wearing. And, they know what’s going on. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide which method would be more likely entice them to read on.

Hope this clarifies.

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Will Blathe
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Jay Greenstein:

quote:
Your opening, as with any scene opening, must address what matters to this protagonist in this scene.
I see your point. Your example is engrossing with just the right amount of detail.

extrinsic is encouraging me to pull up some deeper resonances to bolster the readers emotional response.

You're reminding me that the character's now is now.

Kathleen Dalton Woodbury reminded me of backstory, which I'm processing at the moment. The backstory, as I'm working on it, is already suggesting more possible first 13s.

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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by Jay Greenstein:
quote:
Zack Martin woke, cursing, to the proximity alert’s warble. An unauthorized craft was maneuvering in near-Earth orbit, close enough to the transfer station that they posed a potential threat.
It has absolutely nothing to do with the theme of the story (which is the discovery of who Santa Claus really is).

Those illustration sentences do express a theme of an individual and technology, plus introduce complication's problem feature[, and is of a moral nature: diligence and sloth to duty]. As to who Santa Claus really is as a theme, its thematic relevance to an individual and technology, inferable, if ambiguous or vague, is left for later timely realization as indicated. It's a plot pivot, too, a motif more so than a theme, though not a whole plot.

Discovery of who Santa Claus really is isn't a theme, though. Such aspects are what a story's surface features [a story's focal subject] are about. Like observation H.G. Wells' The Time Machine is about a time traveler. That's the crux of story, not theme, likewise, an individual and technology, though really about an individual and society, nor part of other dramatic matters, like the dramatic structure and the razor Edges of an Idea.

Edges of an Idea relates to theme. Santa Claus is So-and-so. So what? Rather, Santa Claus's true nature now known at some point by one individual or all and sundry, represents what transformative adjustment to the focal individual's true nature and through that individual to readers? How does knowledge of who Santa Claus really is meaningfully change the individual? How does the individual and whatever theme-related contest reshape the individual's true nature? That is a whole plot and answers our host Orson Scott Card's So what? Why readers should and will, do care.

Edited to add:

Generic themes which want for Edges of an Idea focus, common across the literary opus and fantastical fictions' canons: An individual and nature, society, the gods, technology, science, culture, vocation, subsistence, fellowship, association, shelter, private relationships, government, commerce, initiation, maturation, time, age, illness, death, and alienation.

And Edges of Ideas as such is at the crux of the "I" of our host's M.I.C.E. emphasis quotient and the narrative shapes thereof: Milieu, Idea, Character, Event, respectively.

[ May 26, 2017, 06:21 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by Will Blathe:
extrinsic is encouraging me to pull up some deeper resonances to bolster the readers emotional response.

This, yes. Exactly.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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The old fellow in UP is lovable in his curmudgeonliness (is that a word? if not, it is now) because we know his back story. Without the back story, he is just curmudgeonly.

Consider the mean old neighbor lady in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Until Atticus explains her back story, she is just someone to avoid (and maybe play tricks on because she's so mean).

Glad I could be of assistance regarding back story.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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By the way, did anyone else notice that Jay Greenstein's 13-line example starts with a character waking up? [Smile]
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extrinsic
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Yes, though I left it alone and other don't work for me because the fragment doesn't seem offered for commentary.
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Grumpy old guy
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I was more cognisant of Jay 'telling' me that Jack Martin was cursing, instead of showing him doing it.

Phil.

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Will Blathe
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Jay Greenstein's 13 does show how you can pack a lot of information in when you can work with the audience's background knowledge and genre expectations.
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Jay Greenstein
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quote:
By the way, did anyone else notice that Jay Greenstein's 13-line example starts with a character waking up?
No, it starts with him being woke by something unusual that must be responded to, not beginning his day. In fact, it's the alarm that matters, so it could have interrupted his dinner, or taking a leak. It's the fact of interruption that matters to the plot.
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Jay Greenstein
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quote:
I was more cognisant of Jay 'telling' me that Jack Martin was cursing, instead of showing him doing it.
You're right, but the telling wasn't the problem, it was that I placed the cursing out of order, he reacted by cursing before he heard the alarm—a break in POV. I noticed it later (the piece was just finished yesterday, and had had only a cursory editing), too late to correct.

But as noted, it was posted as an example of how to answer the reader's three questions and provide context, not as a polished opening submitted for comment.

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extrinsic
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For whatever worth this late in the discussion -- how much I've learned from givens and responses thereto! Mine included. Starts, for example, not how much can be shoehorned in, rather, what's essential at the now moment and occasioned for continued development, like how a main theme somewhat introduced early is incomplete until an end, once and only once a complication outcome completes. Huh -- keep even close, active, attentive, savvy readers in suspense until a bittersweet end!? Go figure.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Jay Greenstein, my question wasn't intended to say there was a problem with the waking part of your 13-line example. In fact, I thought you handled a generally problematic way of opening a story very well.

When something works, people often don't notice that it's one of those things writers are warned not to do.

A "rule" can be broken any time you can make it work, or any time you can distract the readers so they don't notice that you've broken the "rule."

As I've said, I think you did that pretty well.

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Jay Greenstein
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Not trying to start and argument, Kathleen, or be snarky. I was just trying to point out the difference between beginning a story with something mundane, like getting up and get dressed, and responding to some motivating force.
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extrinsic
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Why then is the wake up necessary? It could be left out and not alter the start's motivation incitement an iota. Or it could be a platform to introduce the Christmas circumstances that later become ever more relevant. This entails dramatic irony's tension incitement and how theme and motifs unify a narrative's whole.

Dramatic irony, in this scenario, readers suspect and await timely affirmation this is a Christmastime event; Jack Martin doesn't know-know at the time. Readers feel smarter than the narrative and engaged deeper therefrom. Through unity of natural and authentic symbols, too, is a whole made one.

If Jack Martin observes the time is Christmas, not overt, a motif or two he offhand observes and offhand reacts to and which imply the holiday season, though is at first offhand indifferent to these motifs, and readers infer this is Christmas, readers then hold bated breath for affirmation.

What readers know or at least suspect beforehand is a powerful tension engine. One essential, though, is that the individual be a degree, suited to the dramatic situation at the now moment and later, emotionally impacted by and reactive to such motifs, in other words, interactive.

Might Martin's preoccupation before the alarm interrupts portray a Christmas motif such that he's prestaged for the time of year and such that an ominous foreshadowed cue in-clues readers for the later relevance and revelation of who Santa Claus really is? Ominous need not be frightful, can be the other way: pleasant, joyous, dear, etc., if unexpected inevitable surprise.

[ May 26, 2017, 12:12 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Will Blathe
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Jay, the "cursing out of order" thing didn't bother me in the least. I read it as an effect of the alarm.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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And I was attempting to point out the difference as well, Jay.
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Will Blathe
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extrinsic noted that genre fiction tends to come prepackaged with themes. In my story’s case, the genre and themes are punk adjacent. The characters live outside accepted power structures and norms. They have to work the cracks among institutions and societies. They make a living through grey and black markets. They have to choose whether or not to fight unjust power.

If I concentrate on this in my first 13, will I provide promises I can fulfill in the story? I think so. Also, I’m realizing that a story about the ends vs the means fits well into the above.

I’ll keep this in mind and try again. I think it will help me.

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extrinsic
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Punk conventions are twofold. One, more so a tangible aspect than per se an intangible aesthetic, punk affects a novice or amateur overlap or blend with an experienced or professional projection. Steam and cyberpunk, for example, merge kludged together "garage" inventions and off-the-shelf manufactured equipment in an anachronic duet. Godmother of punk rock Patty Smith's fashion and art punk mannerisms merged thrift shop castaways and Fifth Avenue fashions and garage band naivete and concert-arena polished cover songs, respectively.

The other punk convention is an aesthetic sensibility closely related and is theme in all its glory. Webster's : punk rock : "rock music marked by extreme and often deliberately offensive expressions of alienation and social discontent". Or an individual and alienation and society themes.

An individual and society:
"a. Society and a person's inner nature are always at war.
b. Social influences determine a person's final destiny.
c. Social influences can only complete inclinations formed by Nature.
d. A person's identity is determined by place in society.
e. In spite of the pressure to be among people, an individual is essentially alone and frightened."

An individual and alienation:
"a. An individual is isolated from fellow human beings and foolishly tries to bridge the gaps.
b. Through alienation comes self-knowledge.
c. Modern culture is defective because it doesn't provide group ties which in primitive cultures make alienation virtually impossible." (Patten PDF)

The "offensive" feature is what is often alluded to in mass popular culture as "ironically cool," sarcastic, often toxic expression of alienation and social discontent. Say, that So-and-so wears breeches' waistband well below the waistline, shows the backside, so to speak, not to mention that is a social breach. Smith, for example, popularized tasteful lingerie as outer apparel worn in public.

This punk thing then is expressed sarcastic alienation and social discontent, and is a hallmark of the X-generation's social and artistic identity. The Y-generation, or Millennials, follow suit, not yet of a distinct identity of their own. Different so far, though, a departure from their prior generation's cool-culture star forebears, in regard to technology-driven social coordination and mutual interaction.

[ May 26, 2017, 04:58 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Will Blathe
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Happy 5,000th post, extrinsic!
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Will Blathe
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extrinsic: I'm thinking about the alienation themes you described. I think these are implicit in my story even though I didn't realize it.

I'm going to chew on it.

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extrinsic
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Smart subconscious plants!? Wonderful. Bring those forward for most reader effect appeal.
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Jay Greenstein
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quote:
Why then is the wake up necessary?
The wake up isn't necessary. The interruption of whatever he was doing is the motivation for him to ask what’s wrong, which places the reader into his viewpoint and kicks off the action. I chose having him wake because his releasing the straps on his sleepnet and pushing off for the control station, demonstrates that he's in a zero-G environment, without the usual magically induced gravity, and gives a bit of ambiance.

quote:
Dramatic irony, in this scenario, readers suspect and await timely affirmation this is a Christmastime event;
Only were this a literary piece. In this, the protagonist, and by extension the reader, are unaware of any connection of the event to the holiday, so in his viewpoint the holiday is irrelevant until the situation, in and of itself, triggers the realization, of who the visitor is. Yes, I could have included a line about him wishing he was home for Christmas, but that’s irrelevant to the action taking place, as he views it. And since it is his story…
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Jay Greenstein
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quote:
Jay, the "cursing out of order" thing didn't bother me in the least. I read it as an effect of the alarm.
It’s not a major issue, but the only one who can mention effect before cause is the author, because it’s only a story to them. But for the one living it, cause always precedes effect. Mentioning it backward, like saying, “Susan smiled when Frank came through the doorway,” doesn’t make for a major POV break, but it can detract, so why take the chance?

That’s why the line now reads, that he “woke to the proximity alert’s warble, muttering curses.” Since the plan was to submit the story to The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy, I take no chances. And now, I count off ninety days or less to the rejection [Wink]

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Will Blathe
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Jay: Okay. I think I see your reasoning.

extrinsic: That smart subconscious plant's having me chase my tail.

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extrinsic
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Smart subconscious plants are the figurative meaning of a narrative from the nonconscious mind that rise to the subconscious mind level onto the page -- from subliminal to liminal. The conscious mind becomes aware of those, that's superliminal. A writer is best advised to be conscious of those though not make those such that readers are aware of them. They call undue attention to themselves.

The Maud Casey and Flannery O'Connor guidance is to neither symbol hunt nor symbol plant. That method forces unnatural and rushed figurative meaning. Instead, the advice is to lavish attention on the literal, the natural and necessary behavior of the agonists' contests for contest destination outcome. What is Garoux's natural and necessary destination? (see the Glossary).

Tangible objects with tangible relevance are best destinations for their vivid, substantial sensual properties, objects as well with predetermined reader relatability for their built in relevance for readers. Other such subconscious plants may be in names. What does Garoux mean? for example. Patently French provincial, from loup-garou, a French folk custom about beastly werewolves. The surname Garoux is most common in the Rhone-Alpes region.

Likewise, the voice pipe, what symbolism does that represent? However, extended objective correlatives are destination motivators. What object does Garoux want that is a substantial problem to reach its destination point?

A look at pirate lore from Captain Charles Johnson's A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates * might note that pirates sought wealth. Valid enough, though a closer look might reveal the whole sorry lot wanted more so liberation from conventional social stratification expectations imposed upon them by the accidents of birth, likewise werewolves and witches.

Pirates stand apart from other folk traditions and do so on their own representations. Werewolf lore, though, is a representation of folk fear of ex-military persons at loose ends after their services are no longer wanted, turned highwaymen to perpetuate their wartime bloodlust, pillage, and bacchanalia careers. Many pirates, not all, started out patriotic privateers for king and country. After they were redundant warriors, their kings and countries no longer at war, they took up the highwaymen werewolves of the sea career.

* The 1724 hardcover edition in digital image format.

[ May 30, 2017, 04:37 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Will Blathe
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Here's an attempt at using motivations and reactions (off an online resource that one person here suggested I look at (thank you person)).

I don't know if it does a good job of expressing the internal bits of the POV character. I think I'm too close to the story to tell.

I think that some thematic elements and promises are brought out in the this first 13.

This was the most fun to write of the bunch.

***


Syiy’s feet dug at the ground to spite her calloused toes. One hand kept the dust out of her mouth while the other kept the sun at bay. The crack of gunfire pushed her against a plaster wall. She waited. She leaned around the corner. A line of blue uniforms stood between her and the town square. In the square, a mass of millworkers raised their hands in the air and chanted in defiance of the rifles pointed at their chests.

She stepped on a brick and looked over the uniformed heads. The millworkers’ faces, all sun-worn brown, none were Garoux. Relief washed over her. She smiled in spite of the electric charge coming off the adversaries.

The shouting stopped. Syiy’s heartbeat filled the silence. The soldiers’ filled it with their hundred blasting rifles. Syiy’s

[ May 31, 2017, 12:40 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Will Blathe
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extrinsic: I love that book about pirates!

By the way: the name Garoux was inspired partly by Lupin III (the Miyazaki version), but the characters don't resemble one another very much at this point. That being said, I think I might like to read the French stories.

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Jay Greenstein
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quote:
Syiy’s feet dug at the ground to spite her calloused toes.
I like the line, but given that I don’t know why she wanted to do that, and how it did “spite them,” I expected an expansion of that, but you abandoned her poor toes.
quote:
One hand kept the dust out of her mouth while the other kept the sun at bay.
Evocative description, yes. But where’s the motivation for that response?
quote:
The crack of gunfire pushed her against a plaster wall.
That’s the instinctive response. We know what she did, but not how the rest of her response went. There’s an entire story there. Is she concerned for her life or just keeping out of the line of fire. Here’s where you make the reader view the scene as her instead of just following her as she does things. For example. She might think, Damn, Garoux, you idiot, you better not be in that mess. She might consider slipping back the way she came. She might wonder what was going on. Each of those would give a different feel to the scene by calibrating the reader’s response to hers. So it matters.
quote:
In the square, a mass of millworkers raised their hands in the air and chanted in defiance of the rifles pointed at their chests.
Too much like a report. It’s a summation. How about, “In the square, a mass of millworkers, hands raised in deference to the rifles pointed at them, shouted defiance.” I presented it in the order she noticed it: First the millworkers and how they appeared, then their response (kind of a mini M/R). I also changed chanted to shouted because it’s only been a few seconds, so the workers will still be reacting to the rifles as individuals.
quote:
She stepped on a brick and looked over the uniformed heads
Umm…that’s a very tall brick. Even stood on end the ones in my house wouldn’t do that.
quote:
The millworkers’ faces, all sun-worn brown, none were Garoux.
Needs an edit.
quote:
in spite of the electric charge coming off the adversaries.
I’d favor “tension in the square.” You might say “electricity in the air,” but that’s too easy for a reader to misunderstand as being literal.
quote:

The shouting stopped. Syiy’s heartbeat filled the silence.

Needs more. You’re having her react as if she knows something we don’t. But she’s our viewpoint character. So if she knows why it stops we should, too. And if she doesn’t she would look. You’re getting the idea of motivation/response, but it’s a bitch to make yourself react as her because your existing writing reflexes are shouting, “No, this is how it should go!” Worse yet, they will keep reaching for the controls for a while.

Minor point: Unless she’s right there, it would take time for the smoke cloud to reach her. And I think the word you’re seeking is acrid, not acid.

But that being said, you are going toward a deeper character viewpoint.

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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by Will Blathe:
Here's an attempt at using motivations and reactions (off an online resource that one person here suggested I look at (thank you person)).

Dwight Swain's motivation/reaction unit theory comprises the basics of oscillatory causation. The simple formula and its more complex inclusions of nonvolition and volition and thought, speech, and action, or, in other words, thought, word, and deed, are the sum's substance.

Swain doesn't include the next degree of causal complexity, that is, motivation, delay, and reaction, or L. Rust Hills' Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular preparation, suspension, and resolution segment sequence. Substitute satisfaction for "resolution" and the Swain/Hills' combined formulas are less of a challenge to appreciate full and natural causal sequence realization at starts, middles, ends, and any point between the covers.

Plus, replace "suspension" with "delay," or delayed satisfaction. Plus, though reaction sequences end on somewhat satisfactions, at least of initial motivations and partial satisfactions, their full satisfactions are best left for ends. Plus, first cause A best cause effect B, cause A and effect B cause effect C, cause A and effects B and C cause effect D, and so on until a final effect X does not naturally nor necessarily cause any further causes or effects. A structural formula that does not appear formulaic is a best practice.

For that end, Swain and Hills combined is 2 times 2 times 3 times 3 equals 36 structural possibilities for authentic, natural causation variety's sake. Next are complication's antagonal want-problem criteria, as much motivation effect as motivation cause reactive to problem causes if victimism's external done-to. Proactivism's want-to-do is often internal want motivation effect reactive to internal cause. Problem-want and external-internal causality adds more variables to the equation: 36 times 2 times 2 equals 144. Certainly, 144 causation variables are enough for any narrative length.

[ May 31, 2017, 02:47 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Will Blathe
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I hear "acrid" all the time. I want a different descriptor. Maybe "clawing" or some other anthropomorphic description.
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Will Blathe
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extrinsic: more reading for me, then!
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Will Blathe
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Here's another try:


Syiy’s left hand kept the sun at bay while the right held her coat tight around her. A crack of gunfire pushed her against the wall. She leaned around the corner to find puffs of fresh gunsmoke over a line of blue uniforms at attention. She clambered atop a wine barrel to get a better view. “Garoux,” she said. “if I find you, I’ll kill you.”

In the town square that lay past the soldiers, nearly a hundred millworkers regrouped, shouting. Syiy cast her eyes about the far reaches of the square for Garoux’s familiar mutton chops among their sun-worn faces. She only saw strangers. Relief washed over her.

The shouting stopped. Syiy’s heartbeat filled the silence. She stood up on her toes to see why the change. “Hands off! Hands

[ May 31, 2017, 12:39 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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extrinsic
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These latest two versions do close distance closer to the viewpoint persona's received sensations and responses to those: Syiy. The narrator's viewpoint nonetheless stands detached from Syiy's. Typically, visual sensations of the self are impossible and challenge willing suspension of disbelief by calling undue attention to the unreality of a circumstance.

The two latest fragments mix sentence by sentence viewpoint from narrator external looks in to Syiy external looks out to Syiy internal looks in. Third person limited, close narrative point of view entails the latter two. The former one entails a detached narrator third person point of view.

Novels often entail a blend of detached narrator and limited, close third person. And which of a several persona viewpoint is one at a time, smooth, seamless transitions between viewpoints, often signaled by white space: paragraph breaks, section, chapter, "book" breaks etc. This narrative point of view is selective omniscience. Limited, close, is narrator omniscient access to one character's external sensory perceptions, and internal thoughts and emotional feelings. Selective omniscient entails limited, close access to one persona at a time per paragraph or section, etc., with suitable transitions into other persona viewpoints.

This novel's so far given three viewpoint personas are the narrator, Syiy, and Garoux. The narrator, though, is more present than best practice for selective omniscient from the narrator's detached insertions into Syiy and Garoux perspective content. Detached means remote from viewpoint persona perceptions, thoughts, and emotions. A detached narrator can express an emotional attitude about subjects, then is the focal viewpoint due to strongest attitude held. This novel, though, so far, leans toward limited, close character viewpoint emphasis.

For example, this is narrator viewpoint: "Syiy’s left hand kept the sun at bay while the right held her coat tight around her." Syiy herself cannot see those visual stimuli. Also, those are volitional actions and sensations. Humans do not think of the self and body awareness in those terms. Plus, though specific in terms of handedness, the sensory stimuli are vague and detached. Syiy holds her hand up to ward the bright sunlight and clenches her coat? The sun is in her eyes, at about eye height. Sunset or sunrise? Why does she clench her coat? How might those be more artfully, dramatically expressed from inside looks out? That as well bring in further apt setting detail? And nonetheless be emotionally charged?

Describe the sun's position relative to Syiy and the town square's setting, plus how Syiy feels about the sun in her eyes. Does she rue that she came upon the square from a disadvantageous viewpoint? Does she wish she'd more carefully chosen her approach? Does she want to re-position? Though cannot because the situation emerged faster than of which she could keep abreast? Does she lament her carelessness? The physical matters are less important than how and why they cause her to emotionally respond. Those details make a scene real for readers.

This latter above, too, speaks to whether "acid" or "acrid" gun smoke is apt description. No, it is detached description, summary description of a narrator's observation from a remote distance. Instead, the personal sensory perception influences upon Syiy are apt. What personal sensations does she observe and feel about the smoke? Black powder rifles billow smoke and thump the air. Smokeless gunpowder rifles puff gray smoke wisps and snap the air, for example. How those smell different, too. The hellfire brimstone of black powder, the bitter salt of smokeless powder.

A larger consideration than narrative point of view is why two focal viewpoint personas. The matter is who's the observer, who's the subject observed, and who influences the dramatic action, overall and per scene.

These latest fragments, Syiy is the observer, or objective character. Garoux stands in the wings ready to emerge as the subject observed, the subjective character. The scene's influence character or characters are the townspeople and the militia. The influence characters best practice directly and immediately endanger, at least influence the objective and subjective characters. The gunfire, for example, could spall the masonry near Syiy and spatter her with masonry shrapnel. Or wood, metal, glass, pottery, etc. Touch, or tactile, sensation description and emotional reaction thereto is a strong appeal method from its personal immediacy.

Instead of Garoux not being present, his presence is required, at least implied if not seen by Syiy. And he must be under the influence of the townspeople and the militia. What is the scene anyway? Has a riot erupted due to Garoux's actions? Syiy can suspect this is Garoux's handiwork. He stirs up trouble in his wake, right?

Consider Dr. Watson as objective character, Sherlock Holmes as subjective character, and whatever criminal mastermind they seek to defuse as influence character. So who is the central character subject observed? Garoux? Then Syiy is the observer. Or vice versa. The latest versions place Syiy in observer status. That way, Garoux's exploits, for good and ill, selfish and selfless, idealized and efficacious and folly and error, are ripe for Syiy's observations, which Garoux cannot be fully aware of nor should he be until later. Plus, more artful and more appeal if someone else sings the self's praises and condemns the self's vices, errors, and follies.

The latest versions have complication and conflict well in hand, plus emotional disequilibrium setup, though those take action bridge positions rather than main action onset.

Bridge action is okay for long prose, less so for short prose. A main action start at the outset, though, appeals more. Reasons for bridge action starts include introductions of other criteria than the main action start, like theme, milieu, idea, setting, character emotional-moral texture and context, etc., setup apart from the main event setup.

Overall, the latest versions compass more dramatic movement and attention lavished on the literal dramatic movement, notably delayed full satisfaction yet fuller realization of the viewpoint persona's contest crisis movement.

I'm more inclined to read on as a somewhat engaged reader than for prior versions.

[ May 31, 2017, 04:18 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Will Blathe
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Jay Greenstein: I think I'm doing a better job of expressing the inner POV of the character, but it's still hard to do.

extrinsic: I'm not sure I'm internalizing what you're saying (yet). I get it, but I don't get it.

I think I'm on the right track simply because this scene is the most fun I've had in a while. There's something about it that makes me want to write it many times over.

I'm going to give this version of the first 13 at least one more go.

[ May 31, 2017, 06:48 PM: Message edited by: Will Blathe ]

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extrinsic
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Right track indeed. Narrative point of view appears simple on its face though is one of the harder method mischiefs to tame.
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Will Blathe
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I’m trying all sorts of first 13s. While they seem different, they all have the basic “Oh, s**t. This is a problem” theme. Whether the MCs are being chased or committing theft or otherwise engaged in questionable actions, they’re always on the edge of bolting. That’s the feeling I want to get across.

I’m working on a variant of the town square violence open. We’ll see how that turns out.

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Will Blathe
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Here's a version that's less "in the action." I'm trying to get a little more inside Syiy's head. To me it feels different from the previous version.

***

Garoux the Idiot. Garoux the Bull-headed. Garoux, Dumb-as-Rocks. Syiy hated him nearly as much as she hated this godforsaken sun-baked world. Give her the coast and its sea-swept rocks where she could at least drown quickly. Here, she’d take a week choking on the akali dust.

She walked a narrow alley, her eyes unseeing (her thoughts on savory tortures to inflict on Garoux). She turned the corner of a mudbrick house into the town square. A line of blue uniforms faced her, bayonets forward. She inhaled her yelp and scrambled back around the corner. She stuck her head back in the square. The uniforms were on one side, a mob of discontents in overalls on the other.

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Will Blathe
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extrinsic posted a link on a thread about WotF2017 results : Why You Only Got Honorable Mention .


Especially relevant to me (from the link):
quote:
Still other authors have no internal dialog, so that you never know what their character is thinking or feeling. Instead, the author writes in a cinematic style that keeps the reader at a distance. In such tales, the reader might as well be watching a poorly made movie.
Lots of other things relevant, but the above hit closest to home.
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Jay Greenstein
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Okay, what do we learn?

• Gender
• Mood
• Character
• Location/setting/ambiance
• Problem

We have a who, what, and where, plus a hook.

Well done.

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Will Blathe
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Jay Greenstein: Thanks!

I appreciate your, extrinsic's, Grumpy old guy's, Kathleen Woodbury's, Disgruntled Peony's, and tesknota's input and advice. There's really too much in this thread (let alone other threads) for me to go over any time soon. The external links and references alone have been taking a great deal of my thinking time (Scene/Sequal & MRUs especially).

I still want to massage the first 13 a few more times to see what happens. But, I think I've started on my way to internalizing the various ideas you've all been throwing at me.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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You can massage your first 13 lines forever, you know. It's one way to procrastinate writing the whole story.

I'd recommend that you let it go for now and apply what you've been learning to getting as much of the first draft down on paper (or screen) as you can.

Then go back and see if you don't have a much clearer idea of where and how to actually start the story.

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Will Blathe
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Kathleen, you're way to sensible.

I do have a better idea of the story already. The protagonists run from a series of self-inflicted catastrophes until they grow up and sacrifice themselves in a great conflagration to save a litter of space puppies.

The puppies will probably not be actual puppies, but the conflagration will be a conflagration. That is, unless I change my mind.

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H Reinhold
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Will, I'm sorry I haven't yet contributed to this thread. I'd just like to say that your perseverance is inspiring. I don't think I've come across another thread where the original poster reworked their fragment so many times to try to get closer to an enticing opening. You're definitely making good progress.

I'd agree with Kathleen about taking a bit of time to focus on the main story now. Working through the story as a whole will let you practice all the things you're learning, especially if you're focusing on Scene/Sequel and MRUs. It's probably hard to figure some out of these techniques properly in just 13 lines.

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