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» The Ornery American Forum » Ornery Writers Workshop » "Fate" by Canadian

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Author Topic: "Fate" by Canadian
Richard Dey
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This is a charming vignette that says as much about fate as Rowe's Rule: “the odds are five to six that the light at the end of the tunnel is the headlight of an oncoming train.” In this case
something else [Wink] .

It’s length is perfect, in this case ‘less is more’. The colloquial language is at first distracting -- and perhaps a brief rationale could be slipped in early that explains this. It’s not just on a wintry Canadian slope but in a venue with a dialect and demography. Just how to explicate this in so short a time is a task; perhaps reference to something in a the view from the hill? A farm? A building?

A school came to my mind. The younger brother of a classmate of mine was sledding on my primary-school’s little hill. It was icy. One of those old-fashioned sleds without loop runners came down and the rear runner went into his eye and he died. A gruesome fate indeed.

Knowing me, I would look for a little dialog to put the dialect on the stage (so to speak). To inflate the sense of impending tragedy, I would enliven the victim a bit.

Throughout: there’s a courtesy comma missing at almost every switch in compound sentences,
i.e.: “Then I almost hit a rock [comma] and I had to roll off real quick.

as you could see = colloquialism?
supposed to and SR supposed to, and
on account of = colloquialism? (what account, whose account, an account of what?)
John and me SR John and I --> (throughout) (is this colloquialism serving a useful purpose?)
so it SR so that it
kill and SR kill, and
time and yanked SR time, and yanked
Another nice little piece.

[ April 19, 2005, 02:52 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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RickyB
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I liked the story. You're very good with the "raw childhood" stuff. It was very effective - what Richard called the "less is more" principle.

I'm not sure I got the punchline, though. Was he destined to be a great hockey player because he was such a good skater as to go under the truck and avoid the crankshaft?

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halfhaggis
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Great story. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

I disagree with Richard on a few things. I didn't find the colloquial language distracting. I felt that it enhanced the emotion of the piece. I felt like I was the protagonist in your tale, 11 years old and a little rebellious.

I also think the 'John and me' colloquialism is important. A 11 year old knows there are cases where "I" is used or "me" is used - but, from his point of view, does it really matter? Sometimes he gets it right, other times he doesn't and writing the piece that way makes sense to me.

I found the opening line (tale of John's fate) and the closing line about the hockey unnecessary. The story is better without them there.

I also found the ending a bit abrupt. Perhaps you need to build more tension around the scene where the truck pulls out, or add a little after that to create more of a resolution.

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Richard Dey
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I'm not at all opposed to the dialect; I just wanted it 'fixed' in space as well as time. I've never heard it before, that's why it was distracting. I was obliged to pay attention to it as if it were important, and it turned out not to be important.
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canadian
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half,

I see what you're saying. In the original draft, I had the John's character becoming a great soccer player, and I still think that it works better than the hockey phrase. there is no correlation intended between the sleds and skates, etc (RickyB) but I see now that there could be confusion.

Or...just excise the line. Something to chew on, for sure.


Richard:

Good suggestions. A little more expository information might help to "place" the reader much more effectively.

As for the commas...I'm still not sure what to do. Likely, your suggestions are more appropriate than what I have...I guess I'm having trouble with maintaining that breathless, almost run-on fashion kids have of telling their stories.

It is told by the narrator as an adult, but I wanted to preserve that crazy ADHD way pre-pubescent boys have of talking.


And I see what you're saying about building tension. It's difficult. I originally watned to get this piece down to one page, and I almost begrudge any extra word, sentence or comma!

But I will defintiely be going back to look at it.

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Daruma28
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Canadian, I liked it...but I did not even try to correlate the incident with the fate - I thought you were going for more of a humorous ending that really had nothing to do with the story. With your intro, you EXPECT the entire narrative to lead up to his fate, and I expected that fate to be smashed into the side of the truck (that little bit of remembering the smell to this day was BRILIANT, it definitely imparts the sense of impending tragedy), only to have you give us the "GOTCHA" ending.

To me, this story works no matter WHAT you put as his "fate," You could have put "transsexual insurance claims adjuster" with no real difference - because the effect would still be effective, i.e. leading the reader to believe that John was about to become a sewage truck pancake.

Two Thumbs up!

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