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Author Topic: OWW Critiques & Discussion ***
KnightEnder
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OWW Critiques & Discussion

I'm starting this thread as a place for the Ornery Writers Workshop members to critique and discuss each others work. I realize that this thread will sink off the front page because we won't be posting to it as often as most threads, so we will have to search for it when a new story is ready to be discussed. I think that is a better idea than starting a new thread for every story. That would get confusing and clog up the board. This way we are only using one thread. I've sent my story to a few members and I'm reading the work of one and will be critiquing it in the next few days.

OWW is open to everybody so if you want to read and/or critique member's work, email me and I will forward you copies. Likewise, if you have work you wish critiqued email it to me and I will pass it along.

Knightender@gmail.com

KE

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KnightEnder
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Canadian's story “Blood Matters”

Canadian,

I think I should start off by saying that I honestly liked the story. It was interesting and well written. I only have a few small criticisms.

As for the story itself there are only two things that I wish you would have explored more.

First, my biggest wish is that you had explained more about why Phil was like he was.

Second, I would have liked there to have been some way for us to see what happened when the boys were left alone with the bound Phil. I think that would have been a real interesting scene.

Now for the nitpicking.

1.) At the beginning the protagonist is in his car and it is 36 degrees, then the flashback to the fight, then the next “real time view of him” he's back in his car and it is hot. “The sun is bright. Hot.” I'm confused?

2.) Just a suggestion. In brackets.

“I had the heater cranked to full. I had to, it was thirty-six degrees out today! At the speed I was pushing my little Tercel the engine would have seized long ago. As it was, the heater bled off enough heat to keep the needle just barely on the left side of red.”
I realize you are writing in short didactic sentences and though sometimes I find that hard to follow, you do a good job of it, except in this one little part. And, since it is the opening paragraph introducing us to the protagonist, I think you should change those last two sentences so you don't lose the reader due to the confusion. If you do confuse them that early I'm afraid they might think “I can't follow this”, and give up before the story grabs them. Something like:
“At the speed I was pushing my little Tercel [if it hadn't been for the cold] the engine [change would to should] would have seized long ago.” Or combine the last two sentences to: “At the speed I was pushing my little Tercel the engine would have seized long ago, but, as it was, the heater bled off enough heat to keep the needle just barely on the left side of red.”
Just my opinion.

3.) Not that you shouldn't use it, just FYI, the “thumbs down” thing in Roman times is wrong. A product of the movies.

4.) “I rammed his head again, noting how the cheap plywood gave a little.”
“Noting” seems out of place, too detached. Unless that was what you were going for, in which case you should probably point that out, something like: “I rammed his head into it again. Even in the middle of the fight, I noticed how the cheap plywood gave a little every time I rammed his head into it.”

5.) I think -- Who's banging on the walls? -- should probably be in quotations as it is being spoken by the teacher.

6.) “He's punching them. Chasing them. Knocking them down.”
You lost me there. How old are these kids he is punching? Are they the protagonists twins or just scouts? Seems to nonchalant either way. Unless he is punching them playfully or something? Which doesn't seem to be the case given what happens later. Why would the hero stand there and watch a grown man punch and knock down children under his care?

7.) Same observation as #5. Hey! Jason you eat? -- I think you should be putting quotation marks around spoken words to differentiate them from his unspoken monologue. Like when he says –Jason, it's all right.-- I at first thought he was thinking again. Just a small thing and my opinion, but I think adding quotation marks to the spoken words would help a lot.

That's all I've got. I liked the story and I hope my thoughts help.

KE

[ March 23, 2005, 09:49 AM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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KnightEnder
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This is the first story of an OWW member that I've read, and the first time I've critiqued anybody else's work, so if any of you OA members know anything about proper technique or etiquette when it comes to critiquing, I would really appreciate it.

And if you wish to read the story "Blood Matters" let me know and I will email a copy to you.

KE

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KnightEnder
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OSC advice on Phobos.
quote:
But Card adds, “It doesn’t even take confidence to write. It only takes confidence to mail out what you’ve written. In any event, confidence is something one has to come up with on one’s own. There will always be better writers than me and I have always been better at some things than at others. If a writer can’t live with the fact that whatever he’s written is not the best thing ever written and is not perfect in every way, then he’ll never survive. You have to reconcile yourself to imperfection. “The writers I like to help are the ones who have the initiative to write and the confidence to mail things off to publishers.
KE
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Richard Dey
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A Comment on Writing

The bang of the postdrop is a bit like the kerplunk of a newborn. It's no longer 'mine'; it's the world's -- and when an editor or a teacher gets through with it, it ain't mine no way anymore anyhow [Wink] .

Show me! Don't tell me! (and all those old fishwives' tales), but:--

Back in the 60s, a Harvard student had written a MS and had dropped it off at Little, Brown & Co. (then up on Beacon Hill). Apparently, the publisher had some interest in it, and the author agreed to have it go to editing.

One day I'm walking along Beacon Street, and I see the author storm out of Little, Brown, down the steps -- tying his MS up rather unnecessarily as it turned out. Then he storms across Beacon Street, and hurls his MS over the iron fence and onto the Common. (Nice figurative touch, that.)

I look up, and of course many faces are peering out from the bowfront window watching this self-emulating tour de farce.

Patter of little feet, and the editor and the secretaries and some other author and for all I know the vicepresident for discovering starving poets come ripping out of Little, Brown, down the granite steps, patter across Beacon Street, run all round the fence, and down the Abolition Steps to the Common and SAVE the MS. Editors' notes and all, I suppose ... [Big Grin] .

Since I could see that the tempestuous author was looking back as he stormed down Beacon Hill, I would have picked up the trash and thrown it into the waste can. A mother who can't stand a kid's crying or a teacher reprimanding her kid shouldn't be having children yet. I don't know if the MS ever got published, but I wouldn't have read it anyway.

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KnightEnder
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RD,

I watch that Project Greenlight on Bravo where they take unknown writers and make movies out of their screenplays, and that inevitably comes up. You have to trust the people editing your work. But, I believe it is a necessity. Like I said before, I become so involved in my stories that I can't be objective about them. I can't decide what should stay and what should go, as I can with any other story I read, because I can't edit the knowledge in my head of the scenes I've already written. I can't imagine the story without those scenes because they are always going to be in my mind. Unless of course I wait so long that I forget what I wrote. But that would seem to be counterproductive.

Do you have another email addy? The one listed isn't working. If not, how do you want to receive the manuscripts?

KE

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RickyB
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Ornery Writers Workshop? Where?
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Dave at Work
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KE is starting it up in this thread. He explored the idea in the Miscellaneous Chat thread and the Unique Idea thread and has apparently decided to try his hand at starting it in this thread. I'm even considering brushing off my writing skills. I spent about 3 hours last night brainstorming story ideas and I think that I have found one that I like and will start developing. I see some potential in some others that might be devloped further with more brainstorming. If I actually manage to apply the disipline to sit down and write the story I may even participate, either here of in another workshop.
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RickyB
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No, but I see he refers to a story by canadian. I don't see it here.
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Dave at Work
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I believe that any stories themselves are not being placed on the forum but rather sent by email to other interested members of OWW so that if later the author wants to publish a story critiqued in the Workshop they don't have to worry about claims of it having been "published" elsewhere first. See the first post with KE's email address.
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KnightEnder
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Exactly, and we encourage everyone to join. Hopefully to submit work, but if not, at least to critique and help others.

Ricky, Dave, and anybody else that wants to participate, just say the word, here, or email me at knightender@gmail.com and I will email you copies of the stories currently being discussed and reviewed.

Note: Anybody that does not have their email available through OA, or that wants to use another email and does not wish it released publicly, I will email you the stories and refrain from disseminating your address. Just let me know. Also, if there are any other special circumstances please inform me and I'll be happy to work with you.

For example: if someone wanted to submit a story to the group, but didn't want it known that he was the author, I think that would be acceptable, and I would take his name off the story before I sent it to the group for review. (Of course, I think it would be unethical for the author to critique his own work, but I, and only I would know, and I will make sure that doesn't happen.) That is just one situation that came to mind and I only use it as an example. I'm sure there are situations which I am unable to imagine, but the point is I will be happy to work with you as long as we maintain the same integrity and respect for each other that we do in other areas of interaction on OA.

knightender@gmail.com

KE

[ March 23, 2005, 06:34 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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RickyB
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I don't write short stories much...will y'all read chapters from a novel?

And yes. Put me on the list. Thanks.

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KnightEnder
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Ricky,

Okay it's on its way.

And yes I think we should consider any type of writing, be it novel chapters, screenplays, short stories, or whatever.

Of course, some of us are going to be better able to comment on some things, for example I couldn't comment on poetry. And length of the work, reading preference, time constraints, and other things may effect the number of members commenting on a work, but I will submit everything to the group.

I am open to suggestions, and hearing objections to the system thus far.

KE

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Richard Dey
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Thanks, KE, received on my AoL line.

Review of BLOOD MATTERS

It makes for a very awkward start, I must say, to have a winner in the first round. No-one will believe that our reviews will lead inevitably to the mass suicide of promising young writers who cannot handle the toughest critics on the net [Wink] .

I'm almost embarrassed to find so little out of kilter with it; I'm slipping; so I offer my roughest criticism first: I don't think the title is quite right. I know it's a flat statement appealing to those who already know it, but honestly I think the author adds a dimension to the accepted fact that entirely modifies why it matters. I would prefer a more tentative, querulous, or suggestive phrasing of the fact. I'd prefer a title that captures less of the flatness of the delivery and leads into what is actually a suspense thriller.

Ditzies (mostly consistency problems):

seized = seized up? (dialectical?)
school-yard (sic) as compound modifier
Tough talk, and (sic)
was slouching, braced (sic)
thumbs down (inaccurate classical allusion?)
very unique (impossible, unless it's the girls' language -- where one hears it all the time)
always grew moustaches (not always; they were more often banned)
Ashley’s and my marriage ... Ashley (After our marriage, she ... . Ashley ... ? A colloquial awkwardness?)

I know we’re time traveling here in a kind of reflective timelessness, but I did find the artful placement of inner dialogs (no problem) a bit confusing when played against the chronology of the text (in this case the chronology of the actual read). I wouldn't modify the former, but ... It was 27? years later but the Tercel was 17? but a new Tercel is unaffordable. Perhaps one could just leave out the numbers and abandon the chronology to the readers' imaginations.

Overall: I picked up on the dread, I did I did, pretty quickly. And the suspense -- whether it was going to wimp out by the side of the road or go over the cliff -- made it all spellbinding. Not having a death at the end, in fact, would have been a great disappointment [Wink] . I’d definitely call this a success.

"Slit Your Throat" would be a bit tough, but then again it might attract one reader and distract another.

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Richard Dey
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KE, I am glad that the first story was so good so that I wasn't publishing a critique to the whole world where the story and author are not public -- thus giving all away [Eek!] . Is this not a bit awkward, or am I imagining it?
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KnightEnder
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I like "Spilling Blood" as a title for this story, because I like when he mentions "spill too much of it, and you die" at the begining.

RD,

What does (sic) mean? Might as well get my ignorance out of the way now.

KE

[ April 08, 2005, 08:53 AM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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canadian
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Wow!

I'm so glad to have such speedy feedback. This is the first short story I ever wrote and almost no one has read it so I've been agonizing over my decision to send it out to you guys. My fingernails are gnawed down to the quick.


I like your suggestions...it's so good to have other points of view, and looking at them, I agree...you're right!

KnightEnder's critique:

1.) At the beginning the protagonist is in his car and it is 36 degrees, then the flashback to the fight, then the next “real time view of him” he's back in his car and it is hot. “The sun is bright. Hot.” I'm confused?

One thing I guess I should point out is that 36 degrees CELSIUS is actually pretty hot! (lol) I think it works out to about 97 FAHRENHEIT.

3.) Not that you shouldn't use it, just FYI, the “thumbs down” thing in Roman times is wrong. A product of the movies.

Thank you...I actually wondered about that while writing and forgot to check on it. Another reason why this is such a great idea...

First, my biggest wish is that you had explained more about why Phil was like he was.

How much backstory did you have in mind? A paragraph..more? I can give it a try...I guess I'm concerned about my own strengths as a writer. Will I dilute the thread of the story too much? I'll think about this and give it a run in the next couple days.

Second, I would have liked there to have been some way for us to see what happened when the boys were left alone with the bound Phil. I think that would have been a real interesting scene.

I started writing this scene..in fact I was about three paragraphs in when I found it too hard to continue. I kind of wimped out. I was also concerned about falling into cliches...again the worry about being able to pull a scene like that off. It seems to me that it demands a subtlety and honesty that might take more chops than I've got. But I'll try. That's why we're here, right?

“At the speed I was pushing my little Tercel the engine would have seized long ago, but, as it was, the heater bled off enough heat to keep the needle just barely on the left side of red.”

Much better. In fact, much, much better.

Your suggestions are all pretty good, and in fact the passage where Phil is punching the boys, you are right...in my mind it is playful punching being taken just a bit further (farther?) than 'play'. I'll work on that.

About the quotation marks...this is a place where I had a lot of trouble...wondering whether to include them or not. I still would prefer not to, but I need to find a way to make the fact that someone is 'speaking' more clear to the reader.


RichardDey's critique:

First of all, how sad is it that I don't know what (sic) means? Pretty sad...

Ashley’s and my marriage ... Ashley (After our marriage, she ... . Ashley ... ? A colloquial awkwardness?)

Very true. A bit too awkward, isn't it? As for the moustaches...for some reason, they run rampant up here in Canada (at least in Alberta, BC, and Saskatchewan) and I did ask one of my RCMP friends about it,an old ex-fireman, and my brother (military). That's where I got the gas mask info. Maybe I should talk to a few more 'uniforms'...

It was 27? years later but the Tercel was 17? but a new Tercel is unaffordable. Perhaps one could just leave out the numbers and abandon the chronology to the readers' imaginations.

Good idea. I wanted to convey the unreliability of the car, plus some of the reality of living in a rural setting, but I can see how the numbers can get distracting...not really essential to the storyline...

I picked up on the dread, I did I did, pretty quickly.

This was my number one concern. Thanks so much, Richard.

----------

Well! Thank you for the initial responses! It's seems a natural fit that this group should be starting this up, what with all the brains floating around the joint.

KnightEnder, I'll read your story tonight and start making notes...any new stories that you receive and/or write, send 'em along too!

edited to add:

Spilling Blood...hmmm getting my brain going (it takes time)...any other suggestions?

[ March 23, 2005, 08:25 PM: Message edited by: canadian ]

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Adam Lassek
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(sic) means there's a spelling or grammatical mistake in something you are quoting that was present in the original.
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Richard Dey
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Another masterpiece! I've read KE's Second Coming (as I call it) and it is as tragi-comic as Canadian's story is tragic. It's just begging for a 5-act screen play. Both of these stories have great suspense, they're real page turners if that means anything to cyberpsyches, and bango finales.

These are both true short stories, well defined, well wrought, and (one short, one long) beautifully paced -- one thing I find godaudably lacking in the best short stories today.

I do have the caveat with KE's, however, that I think he learned punctuation from aliens [Eek!] . He has taken that theory of breath lines and applied it to paragraphs. The result is that the punctuation is actually interruptive -- if nowhere destructive. My assassination of his punctuation will be shocking -- but, good news, hardly anything else would have to be changed. My questions had to do with locis.

As I remember the Pentagon, it was like a spider's web and had many 'courtyards'; I just do not remember a central one. Maybe it does have one -- where the sacred time bomb is kept or something. Likewise, there's a final scene in the so-called Oval Office that I'm sure would have been held in a briefing room or someplace else.

Otherwise, all KE's SS needs to my taste are dramatic but actually inconsequential punctuation modifications, most of them for consistency's sake. And there are breakaway paragraph that need to be tucked in. Otherwise, the considerable dialog reads beautifully, logically, and indeed artfully. You're a good dialog writer, KE! Had some practice at Ornery, have you [Wink] .

The length of my 'critique' is short, another A+; but my commentaria on punctuation go on for pages and pages. Oh well, nude-beach criticism here goes.

SR, BTW, means "ought to read"; while MR means "might read" or "must read". I suspect a lot of missing double-quotes were lost in transmission, and possibly those are single-quotes within doubles and just didn't show as such.

Joint Chiefs of Staff (sic)
Zippo, and (that unnecessary ‘extra’ serial comma, again, or did he suck on his Zippo???)
well-known SR well known (not a compound adjective as well is an adverb)
just over a year ago (if text is in the past and pluperfect, requires something like ‘just a year
previous’)
its’ SR its
virtue NOW peppered (tense switch from past perfect to present)
on his feelings SR with his feelings (feelings are thinks and he’s speaking out on abortion, etc.,
not feelings
advisor, the (sic)
snorted, (expressing) his skepticism (sic)
fraud, (you’re 10 words into a preposition phrase so nobody will quibble with wasted comma!!)
asked, flicking (sic)
near by SR nearby or near-by
won and earned (interesting distinction!)
query: dictated that they wear them to the situation briefing (because?) the President’s presence
‘called for’ full dress? Clarify, or am I missing something? I see, ‘protocol’ called for this, in
which case this is a run-on sentence -- not that that isn’t exactly the way the military talks!!!
Maybe you should leave as ememplary!
chairman said, checking his watch (sic)
[I’m laughing too hard to critique seriously.]
president or President pick one or we’ll have two, one articulated and one not.
at the president (or President)’s left should be possessive
science advisor, Mrs Curry, (sic)
nation,” the President SR nation.” The President (or president)
In my opinion,” said Billy Lee, ... trademark, a slow ... drawl
... claims to be.”
you you SR you, you
their attention SR his attention or his and her attention
“... Revelations!” (I am laughing so hard that I can hardly proof.)
“... miracle!”
“looked on it.” If ever upon was called for, this is the miracle!
Revelations: “ (would be good)
that is what you would see,” he
“ship” SR ‘ship’
in front of him, and held aloft
Mark! SR Mark!”
propheses. SR propheses.”
Albeit SR “Albeit
the last I heard, SR no comma. One could even remove the next comma unless he using this as a
restrictive clause in which case precede by ‘that’
“No sir,” the (maybe these commas are missing in the transfer?)
moment allowing ... SR moment, allowing ...
chairman, “Matthew ...
again, single quotes in double quotes
non-believer (UK) nonbeliever (US); Americans don’t hyphenate non-words ( [Smile] )
I had to go get a drink for this [Wink] .
roll SR role
what we saw yesterday, the way SR what we saw yesterday as the way ... then this sentence just
runs on. Maybe:

“... in his visions,” Billy Lee said, warming to the subject; he was falling into his role as preacher,
and talking of the glory of God. “Revelations says that ‘Every eye shall see him’.”
“. SR .”
Verse 8. SR Verse 8.”
again. (No paragraph)
presidents SR president’s
Mrs. Curry.” SR Mrs. Curry ....” asked the
conjectured. SR conjecture.
faster than light doorway. SR faster-than-light doorway.”
out. “Faith, is SR out, “faith is
events, or SR events or
“Bull****!” the SR “Bull****!” The
advisor. (No paragraph) “Mrs. Curry?”
dealing with we SR dealing with, we
this, alien, is not SR this alien is not OR not then
special effects!” affects?????
Mr. Chairman.” The president said evenly. I’ sure SR Mr Chairman,” the president said evenly.
“I’m sure
“Good, the SR “Good,” the
“Thank you, sir,” the SR “Thank you, sir.” The
patronize SR patronized
as I said there SR as I said, there
Paragraph “With all due respect SR “With all due respect, Mr. President,” Chairman Malin said,
“if someone expects us to turn over control of this country on the basis of some far-out claim, I
would say ...”
general” the SR general,” the
our lord and savior, Jesus Christ. SR no comma
, but, SR , but
with, or been in contact with most SR in this case: win, or been in contact with,
leaders, needless. SR leaders. Needless OR leaders, needless to say, and they are not happy.
as the Son of God. SR as the Son of God.”
that”. SR that.”
planet, it SR planet it OR and, if ... planet, (the whole prepositional phrase)
tersely, “is exactly ...?” Are you saying “what is it exactly that ...?” ???
forgone SR foregone
to varied SR too varied
“Fine ...” SR “Fine ...,”
conscious SR consciousness or conscience . Is there a true paragraph here or is he speaking for
the Joint Chiefs from it?
scowled at him and SR scowled at him, and (the reason for those is sequencing. he didn’t do both
at the same time did he?) Also, just slip “ He hurriedly continued. “ into one paragraph with
above and below.
steeped = steepled?
Again, don’t confuse the reader by switching paragraphs but not switching speakers.
dead, that SR dead. That
Or, perhaps SR Or perhaps
do, that SR do that
body, he SR body. He or body; he could (I don’t think we speak in semicolons, but you know
bureaucrats!!!)
self-replicating, molecular-sized robots, into (chuck the commas)
system. SR system.”
When Mrs. Curry is describing the nanotechnological research, she speaks in three difference
paragraphs and interjects herself!!! (Just link.) Also chuck most all of the commas.
himself! SR himself!”
, and in soul!” SR , and I (feel?) it in my soul!”
say, “you’ve heard his voice”, SR say ‘you’ve heard his voice’,
nothing knew SR nothing new
called, prayer, SR called prayer,
arrived? SR arrived?”
said sitting SR said, sitting
part, however SR part; however,
just to SR just
KE! I like that single man’s mind (but not a married man’s mind [Big Grin] )
said shuffling SR said, shuffling
constitution SR Constitution
“reign for the next thousand years.” SR single quotes
the president went on ... interruption. SR the president said, ignoring the general’s interruption, “I
father’s SR fathers
situation, but ... SR situation but, ...
Eclipse the SR Eclipse, the
warns us “that SR warns us ‘that ... (confusing) just get rid of the internal quotes I think. The
semi is totally confusing. To paraphrase you wouldn’t any internal quotes at all.
retorted bristling SR retorted, bristling
study and I SR study, and I
president cut SR president said, cutting
their judgment. (i.e., influencing their judgment or the president’s?)
policies. SR policies.”
you, and the Joint Chiefs, are SR you and the Joint chiefs are
for if, I determine MR if I should determine (?)
Chairman? SR Chairman?”
claim, is SR claim. Is
Again, a new paragraph is not called for if the set-up is for that speaker (always Mrs Curry, or
that just a coincidence [Wink] .
Secret Service agents OR secret-service agents
The press isn’t allowed en masse in the Oval Office. The Press Room perhaps?
Christ’s arrival. SR Christ arrived.
and asked them SR and had asked them
he asked SR he’d asked
, and the people’s faith in him, (chuck the commas)
talking heads and SR talking heads, and
No paragraph: However, the situation
Yes, move this to the press briefing room.
They’d made SR They had made (you’re in the omniscient voice)
He said he would want to confer SR He had said that he would want to confer
time, and the chairman had not seen MR time; and the chairman had not seen
Chiefs SR chiefs (or revise).
there, had gathered SR there had gathered
entered and a hush SR entered, and a hush
throat and took SR throat, and took
fellow American’s: the president voice was clear SR fellow Americans,” the president said. His
voice was clear
And, no matter how long the president, speaks without interruption, it is one paragraph. (That old
trick of leaving off the ‘unnecessary close quote’ don’t work in short stories, buddy [Wink] .
congress SR Congress throughout
Nation SR nation
Jerusalem, here SR Jerusalem here
Malin finger SR Malin’s finger
All quotes within quotes single.
says “And SR says, ‘And
Here, is SR Here is
earth, God SR earth. God
fell swoop (is this right? is it felt swoop? can’t remember)
secret-service agent or Secret Service agent.
left shattering SR read left, shattering
balance and SR balance, and
quickly moving SR quickly, moving
side, and for an agonizing moment it SR side and, for an agonizing moment (if you wish),
light and zeal of MR the light and zeal of (?)
instance SR instant
agent’s SR agents
back (backwards ???) and skip the next backwards?
matter, the SR matter; the
shot’s SR shots
president tackling (are they tackling the president?, then:) president, tackling him (the president)
responded rising SR responded, rising
president and rounded the desk and MR president, rounded the desk, and
cameras and SR cameras, and

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Richard Dey
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KE: Yes, I like "Spilling Blood"; it's got a hint of the action in the story and, I think, would just add to the suspense.

Remember guys, it's the publishers who get to pick the titles -- assholes [Mad] .

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Richard Dey
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Can-Can: I quite forgot you were Canadian! So that explains the things I didn't get.

As to what happens to Phil, I didn't have nearly the problem with this that KE did. Actually, I just attached the all-too-brief image of him to my father (who was the town bully). OTOH, KE is probably right that his character should be given a little pump-up at the gym.

Modifying a little gem is not easy. As to having him killed off, like over cliff, that didn't bother me at all. You might want instead to develop the boys' characters a bit -- though honestly, I didn't have any reservations when I read it. Good pacing covers lots of defects, and the style you chose, was good for allowing threader to fill in the blanks. One of those blanks, of course, is 17 years long, and that's a pivotal fact now that I think of removing it!

Two good jobs, now who's going to write the complete and total failure? [Wink] We need some balance here.

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Paladine
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KE-

Excellent idea! Count me in, neutraiity@aol.com

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Sancselfieme
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If anyone is wondering the guest essay on this site called "Just War Theory and the War on [T]error" is mine.
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KnightEnder
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Paladine, will do. I'll email you the stories we have so far.

San, I haven't checked out the essays in a while, but I will now. Thanks for giving us the heads up.

RD, thanks for the help, I will begin trying to institute the changes you suggest. However, you make a mistake when you call into question where I learned punctuation. I think I've made it painfully obvious that I never learned punctuation. [Smile] SB, cperry, KL, Paladine and others having been trying to educate me on the MC thread, but I really appreciate your in-depth instruction. I am aware it is my biggest weakness, and I look forward to learning from your post and strengthening that aspect of my writing. Thanks.

KE

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Richard Dey
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KE: Well, you certainly learnt dialog! It was like Dr Strangelove [Big Grin] it was so real.

SS: I read your Just War Theory essay last year I think. 'Just War' is like 'Civil War', and there is nothing short of war that frightens me more than the name AQUINAS (a swear word of mine). BUT, if I remember rightly, the term was left to be redefined by future events. What do the names in this biz have to say about 'torture'?

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KnightEnder
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Point of order concerning OWW. I want to make it clear that I am merely administrating a few aspects of the group such as the story distribution process. Anybody and everybody is welcome and encouraged to join regardless of any differences of opinion I might have with them elsewhere. OWW is completely seperate from any of that, and everyone will be treated equally by me. I think we should, and can, leave all our baggage outside of OWW.

KE

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Richard Dey
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KE: Forgot. As a famous author now, you don't have to do that. Your editor does that. After all, he has to earn the huge sum he'll make on your book. There are editors who make more than their writers! agents who make more than both! and publishers who go broke [Big Grin] . And beware: I won't be your only critic.
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Sancselfieme
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Well, Michael Waltzer, Pufendorf and Vattel are really the only guys to mention torture much, and Waltzer seems to be the only guy to really evaluate it. His analysis is that torture is counter-productive. It never yields good info. because the torturee will not tell the truth for fear the torturer wouldn't believe it because it would be too simple or complex. Coupled with that, the torturee may make up a story anyway and use the fact that it was secured under extreme duress to help the torturers believe the story.

Also, if a state is known to use torture tactics then its enemies probably won't surrender and will either suicide or die fighting to the last, causing much worse damage than if they knew they could surrender with limited human rights intact. Also, nations that torture will be viewed negatively by others, and could eventually cost alliances and create enemies. Torture has absolutely no benefits.

[ March 24, 2005, 12:55 AM: Message edited by: Sancselfieme ]

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Adam Lassek
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Quick note regarding The Parable of the Fig Tree--it's Revalation, not Revalations.
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Richard Dey
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TY.

SS: I'll try to remember all that when I'm being tortured! Perhaps a cc to the Pentagon, just as a little reminder? It was inevitable that we would be exposed on that issue. We're a rought-and-tumble country.

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KnightEnder
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Adam, is it RevAlation or RevElation? Now I have to find my Bible.

Do y'all think I was fair to the religious side of the argument? I tried to be, but it was hard for me.

KE

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Sancselfieme
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Richard Dey, I'd almost think you were joking if you really thought your memo would reach the Office of Special Plans, but now that we've got the intelligence agencies communicating it might make it! [Wink]
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Adam Lassek
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Oops, Revelation.

Great story, KE. I think you were pretty fair. That dig you made at the Catholic church was pretty funny. [Big Grin]

There were a number of spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors and inconsistancies, although I think Richard covered most of them already.

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Adam Lassek
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Canadian --

I loved the narrative style of Blood Matters. Very stream of consciousness; it reminded me of Fight Club.

I agree with Richard about the boys' characters needing some further development.

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KnightEnder
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RD,

Just got through making the changes to the punctuation you suggest and I now realize exactly how much work you put into your critique. I sincerely want to thank you for that. I am deeply in your debt. [Smile]

I am begining to be able to see how and why the punctuation should be as you say. If I can get the reason for it straight in my head, I can start to do it right the first time. In fact, that is pretty much my philosophy in everything. I realize I'm going to make mistakes, but I try not to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again once I've been shown the error of my ways. That philosophy has served me well in the job world and in playing ball, we shall see see how well I can apply it to writing.

I am considering the change in the location of the final address to the nation from the Oval Office. But are you sure that wouldn't be the location for such an historic speech? I have kind of fallen in love with the idea of the general comparing President Kincaid to the pictures of Lincoln and Washington hanging on the walls of the Oval Office. And that ties into his battle with himself that ultimate leads to his hesitation. See what I mean?

Another question. In a lot of the books I read, once a person has began speaking, they leave the quotation mark off the end of the paragraph if the next paragraph is still the same speaker. You seem to disagree with this. Is this just a matter of style or is there a hard-and-fast rule?

Last question: Does anyone have any advice on paragraph length? Is there a handy rule for paragraph length? How about when content dictates begining a new paragraph? I'm not really sure of either of those aspects, and so far I have been playing it by ear. So, if anybody has any advice, it will be appreciated.

Once again, thanks everybody.

KE

[ March 24, 2005, 01:57 AM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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KnightEnder
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Thanks Adam. I tried to be fair in my insults and characterization of the other side from both men's pov's.

I too very much enjoyed Canadian's stream of conscious style of writing. With the noted small exception of finding it slightly difficult to make the change in my head from them thinking to talking.

KE

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Adam Lassek
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quote:
Another question. In a lot of the books I read, once a person has began speaking, they leave the quotation mark off the end of the paragraph if the next paragraph is still the same speaker. You seem to disagree with this. Is this just a matter of style or is there a hard-and-fast rule?
I've never seen it done any other way, especially in fiction.
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KnightEnder
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RD,

Okay, I see about the single quotes, the quotes at each paragraph, and the roll thing was a funny confusion of words.

KE

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Richard Dey
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KE: "Do y'all think I was fair to the religious side of the argument? I tried to be, but it was hard for me." The tension kept me on the edge of my seat; I had no idea which side this confrontation was going to fall -- and it wound up a third way anyway [Big Grin] . It was just fine. Don't go fugging with the tension and suspense. Just the consistencies.

Did I get the 'speech' wrong? I thought the president was giving a 'press conference'. If I remember rightly, "the press" was all crowding into the Oval Office. Well, that's hundreds of people. It's all fine and well for him to give a speech to the nation in the Oval Office because he's only got a technician or two; maybe have the press in the briefing room watching on tv like the rest of the world? Is the press invited to ask questions; that's the key to that setting. Any way, see where I went wrong.

As to drop-off quotes, they are fine when quoting a very long speech out of dialog. Queen's Christmas Message is quoted in full, say .... In dialog it's confusing so in novels it is almost never done; in short stories I can't remember ever seeing it done. I'd rather have it broken up with

," he said, looking the camera in the eye. "...," he said, farting voluminously, "and ...."

When the eye wraps in dialog, he expects a new speaker.

Much the same happens when that serial comma gets in a misleading place in a series of concomitant but discrete actions. "She beat the eggs and butter, added milk, and had an orgasm." There ought to be a sequence or a balance of discrete items or actions in any such series or it's jarring; if jarring is what you want, then jarr away! but I didn't see where you had that intent. In my example, knowing women, these could all link along in lovely fashion [Wink] ; but a male can hardly comprehend it.

"Male writers have a fixation with competition and death, female writers with love and illness. I can't by that general rule assume that women are more optimistic than men, but this story ..."
-Mullin, reviewing something in TGR, and illustrating some notable exceptions -- like Shirley Jackson's 'Lottery'-

As to somebody's argument in FAVOR of the 'optional' last serial comma in a series (to be redundant? is serial the modifying form of series? guess it is), I am FOR it that option if only to play it safe.

Good example is a baby food story. Don't remember the name of the baby-food company, so I'll call it Urp Inc.

Snooty Urp Inc. mgt orders from unionized mfg floor "1M css of pureed: apples, bananas and spinach". [The period is not quoted in this case.]

How many cases of pure'e did they get? 2 or 3?

Mgt got from mfg 2M cases, not 3: 1M css of pureed apples and 1M css of pureed bananas and spinach.

Mgt, outraged, fires mfg mgr; mgr sues Gernut for the works.

Actually mfg won out. It was not the obligation of mfg to "check with" mgt over something that "should obviously appear ambivalent". It was mgt's obligation to write clear and concise orders -- "or," as the judge commented, "why else was manufacturing expected to take orders from management?" It was not manufacturing's job to interpret management's 'intent'. There it was in plain English: an option to throw pureed bananas and spinach in management's arrogant faces [Big Grin] .

So yes, it's discretionary -- but I do try to use it. I might wind up at the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Conference sucking my Zippo! [Big Grin] .

The only reason a writer even needs to be aware of conventional punctuation is to prevent his editor (not his reading public) from misinterpreting his intent. The editor is responsible for the final product, the writer for the initial product.

English uses a lot of commas because, unlike, say, Latin -- where the function of a word and its relation to all other words in a sentence is fixed by suffix -- or in German, say, where word order is in goose step, English really has no absolute rules and regulations except by conventions which are just sitting ducks for creative writers. The issue is only consistency:-- not for its own sake but to further the text. I overpunctuate overelaborate overwrought overdrafts (cf per supra); but, then, I'm not trying to get published [Wink] and often seek ambiguity, [see that comma? it goes there because I'm changing direction slightly:] and you and Canadian should be using punctuation to further your own ends. I just didn't think you were! Your confrontational dialog simply doesn't need any unusual or inconsistent punctuation to further it; it's fine as it is.

Afterthought, having slept betwixt, I am simply amazed that two so-different tales wind up having so much in common using two such different styles, language, characters, and social strata.

I read is it *American Short Stories and *Best American Short Stories every year; well, to be absolutely honest -- and why not, they're on the bedstand and everybody thinks I do. Gawds, some of them are so bloody fugging TEDIOUS! The male writers are typically constipated (or so 'corrected' by machofeminist editors) that it is a strain just paying attention to their 'correctioned' texts; the female writers, just as typically, have explosive diarrhea getting out their F-E-E-L-I-N-G-S.

The SS (and I hope we do have some essays to discuss) is a tight-rope walk. It's like a haiku. It really has to be taut for the reader to get more than 'a slice of life' or, as I write, just take-offs on manners or spin-offs on politics, or religion, (really begs for that comma because what I'm saying next is a cop-out!) or whatever.

In short, in art, the comma should be used artfully rather than technically -- but to affect the effect. Good art is always some balance between the feminine and the masculine (Mozart has no trouble with the former, and Beethoven none with the latter), a balance between the familiar and the unfamiliar, "naughty versus nice" as Mullin used to put it. That's life.

The tension in the two SS I've read so far was as tight as a tight-rope, beginning to end in KE's -- a little slack in Canadian's at the beginning, but his very act of tightening it as I read it was fascinating (and ominous) to watch. It was like a new trapeze trick. (I read a story once where the words, sentences, and paragraphs got shorter and shorter and shorter until he uttered the one-word paragraph: "Bang!" It was just mechanical, and that ain't ahht. Mozart would have been nothing but the best of the Mannheim school if he hadn't been more artful than that!

Another thought: I don't think readers much enjoy the sensations that they're being left out, that something is being withheld from them, or, obviously, that they are being manipulated. They do prefer the sensation of watching things unfurl, unravel, or unwind. I think the use of the past and pluperfect tenses obviate that. The present tense just obviates what little control the reader has over plot. Deus ex machina sux -- which is very much a reason why I like the Greek myths and don't like the Hebrew myths.

In KE's 'parable' we have almost a double entendre for it is a parable within a parable; it's deliciously complex, twisted, and sick. It perfectly reflects the intersection between politics and religion. I loved it.

If you have any anal retentiveness over 'paragraph length', read Joyce with a monoparagraphic parabollock on the juvenile penis erectus (by a woman, if I remember correctly [Eek!] ) or Proust who uses a multi-page paragraph to turn a fugging doorknob. Don't obsess over it. One long paragraph in a brilliant short story will NOT turn off a reader. An occasional long paragraph is here a sign of strength, not pedantry.

That's why, I think, the confusing punctuation stood out so baldly. It was at odds with the a sermon writer and a man who, if he didn't write his own speeches, corrected them. Also, just a note, the old Bible version quoted here is not a good source for modern usage -- and contrasting its punctuation with modern might just underlying another point about the meaning, if any, of the written word.

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KnightEnder
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"Also, just a note, the old Bible version quoted here is not a good source for modern usage"

RD, could you clarify this point for me? I'm not sure what you mean. I have four Bibles, a lot of peole love me and keep giving them to me, so I can use another one if the one I'm using is "old"? Thanks.

KE

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