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garza
September 24th, 2010, 05:06 PM
This is the revised version based on the comments made about the original. I hope it's an improvement.

Whenever Ralph came home Papa hid the whiskey and whatever was worth anything before Ralph got to it and sold it to buy drugs. Papa never got angry. He just tried to keep what little we had in the house safe for a while longer.

'Damage control', he called it.

Ralph was my older brother. He died the year I turned 13 and I cried all night when we got the news. Ralph was a drunk, a drug addict, a thief and I don't know what else. I loved him more than anything or anyone in the world. He was 19 when he died. Another druggie shot him in a fight. Papa had been saying for a long time was bound to happen. Ralph got into trouble about ten minutes after he learned to walk and he never got out.

Ralph would have liked where I live today. It's a loft over a pizza shop. It’s a very small pizza shop, but a good one. My bedroom reminds me of the cabin at the deer camp where Papa used to take Ralph and I during Christmas holidays.

That was before Ralph got so wild that Papa wouldn't take him anywhere. Ralph and I loved that cabin, him more than I, I think. We would all go to sleep as soon as the woods were full dark, and wake up well before daylight, freezing cold until Ralph got a fire going in the little wood-burning stove. Papa had taught Ralph how to use the stove when Ralph was about eight years old and he and Papa were still friends. Papa would lie in his bunk and watch a big old Coca-Cola thermometer that hung on the wall. When it got up to 60 degrees he would get up and make breakfast.

Ralph used to say he wanted to live at the camp all year.

'I could catch fish and hunt rabbits and squirrels and just live right here', he would say.
‘I wouldn’t be scared of being here by myself.’

‘I know you would not be scared,’ Papa would say, ‘but you’d get tired of eating leaves and grass. You are too soft-hearted to kill anything.’

I could,’ Ralph would say, ‘if I were hungry enough.’

Sometimes Ralph and I would go down in the woods with an old single shot 22 Ralph bought at a pawn shop. Ralph had tied a rope to a limb and we would hang tin cans at the end of the rope. One of us would swing the rope and the other would try to shoot the can. I usually missed, but Ralph usually hit. He said shooting at a target that held still was no fun.

Ralph never hunted anything. He hated the idea of killing anything. Sometimes I would go with Papa to hunt squirrels or rabbits, but Ralph never came with us. Papa had a 410 shotgun loaded with number six shot, and Ralph said using a shotgun, even a little 410, was not fair.

'So bring your 22 and show us the right way,' Papa would say. But Ralph never did.

By the time he was 12 or 13, about the time I was old enough to remember all that they said, I think Ralph would have gone to that cabin and lived if Papa had let him. And if Papa had let him, Ralph might be alive today.

I still get up an hour before sunrise, and I still remember Ralph grumbling about having to be the one to get up in the cold and make the fire. If Papa offered to make me do it, Ralph would insist that, like it or not, it was his job and he would do it.

When Ralph was Ralph, he was a good kid, your best friend. He'd do anything for you. The last couple of years though, after Ralph got heavy into drugs and moved out, he wasn't Ralph any more. When he died it wasn't the 19-year-old stranger I cried for. It was the real Ralph. My brother Ralph. But when that 19-year-old stranger died, all hope of seeing the real Ralph died with him.

Sometimes in the Winter the temperature in my loft will drop to near 50 degrees, and I'm as cold as I was in that deer camp with the temperature around 20. Ralph, the real Ralph, would find that funny because as a kid I was always the one who could stand the cold the best.

A McRae County deputy came to the house about ten o'clock one night to tell us Ralph was dead. He didn't say it that way. What he said to Papa was, 'We need you to come identify your son's body'. Papa didn't say anything. He put on his shoes, got in the patrol car, and they drove away. Right about midnight the deputy brought Papa home.

'I've made all the arrangements,' he said.*That's all he ever said. I never saw him or Mama cry, though I know they did. They never saw me cry, though they knew I did.

That night for the first time I wrote something that wasn't part of a school exercise. I wrote everything I could think of about Ralph. Every memory. I didn't want to grow up and not be able to remember what Ralph did and said, the good and the bad. I cried and I wrote and I cried and I wrote till near daylight, then I got in bed and cried and slept. Pa woke me up when he heard the school bus up the hill at the Harrisons.'

'You don't intend for me to go to school today, do you?' I said.

'Yes, I do,’ Papa said. ‘Get dressed.'

So I pulled on my clothes and ran for the bus.

If Ralph were alive today and could see my loft he'd laugh.

'I see why you like this place', he'd say. 'It just suits you.'

A half wall stands between my bedroom and kitchen. Two steps lead up from the kitchen so a person standing in the bedroom can look down over the half-wall and see all over the kitchen. Everything is varnished wood, except over-head. That's corrugated zinc. There is no concrete on this level except for the floor in the shower. The toilet sits in one corner of the bedroom with the shower next to it. You can have your luxury. I like convenience.

I remember once when Ralph was in high school I went with him and some of his friends up to Red Bank in Marion County. We were supposed to go swimming, but we didn't. We parked outside a bar where Ralph made me sit in the car for two hours. Three times a pretty girl came out and gave me a Barq's root beer and the third time she brought me a burger. About the time I finished the burger Ralph and his friends came out.

That was the first time I saw Ralph drunk and the first time he told me to lie to Mama. I tried, but she didn't believe me, and finally it was Ralph himself who told her where we went. Ralph could lie to the world, lie to himself, even lie to me, but he could never lie to Mama. Toward the end that was one hope we all had, that Mama could straighten him out. But he died first.

I came home from school the day after Ralph died expecting to find out when Ralph's funeral would be. What I found out was when Ralph's funeral had been, though it wasn't a funeral at all but simply a burial. Papa had used one of his connections to get autopsy and inquest over by noon and by one o'clock Ralph was in the ground.

There was a sort of funeral the next Saturday. I walked over to the burying ground back of Bethel Baptist church and found Ralph's grave. I read parts of what I had written the night he died. I didn't pretend to believe that he could hear me. I was reading my thoughts about him to my memory of him. I said goodbye and hoped my memory of him would rest in peace.

It never has.

SevenWritez
September 24th, 2010, 06:26 PM
I enjoyed this. No nits, but I like to let others know when I feel they did a good job. So hey, good job! I'd offer you a cookie, but I'm a health nut and see no nutritional value in such chewables. Have a banana!

1242

EDIT: Well darn, the gif didn't load well.

garza
September 24th, 2010, 08:21 PM
Thank you.

Cookies made with rolled oats, raisins, and just a taste of honey aren't too unhealthy.

Edit - Your gif is shown as a jpg. Check your file.

Olly Buckle
September 24th, 2010, 08:54 PM
Some of my comments are a personal view, bear in mind I am from the other side of the Atlantic.

Ralph
Whenever Ralph came home Papa would start to lock things away. First the whiskey. Then whatever he could lay his hands on quick that was worth anything before Ralph got to it and sold it to buy some smoke. “Whatever he could lay his hands on” makes it sound like they were not his things, Quick, I think, should be quickly, “some smoke” does not ring true, “drugs” would work better.
Papa never got angry. He just tried to keep what little we had in the house safe for a while longer.

'Damage control', he called it.

Ralph was my older brother. He died the year I turned 13 and I cried all night when we got the news. Ralph was a drunk and comma in a list a drug addict and a thief and I don't know what all this may be American, I would say “What else”, and I loved him more than anything or anyone in the world. He was 19 when he died. Another druggie shot him in a fight over some drugs or money or a woman. The reason didn't matter much. Then why not finish after fight It was what Papa had been saying for a long time was bound to happen. Ralph got into trouble about ten minutes after he learned to walk and he never got out.

Ralph would have liked where I live today. It's a loft over a pizza shop. It’s a very small pizza shop, but a good one. Two of the walls in my bedroom are made of varnished wooden shutters, the horizontal horizontal kind that look like wide blinds. In the daytime I open them all the way and This would work without the following “And the breeze ...” but try “to” let the sun shine in and the breeze blow through. At night I close them and the room becomes snug and private.

My bedroom at night reminds me of the cabin at the deer camp where Papa used to take Ralph and me I am old fashioned enough to mentally go “And I”, then I feel awkward and usually change the construction to something like “Us kids” during Christmas holidays. That was before Ralph got so wild and mean that Papa wouldn't take him anywhere. Ralph and I loved that cabin, him more than me same sort of thing here I think. We would all go to sleep as soon as the woods were full dark, and wake up well before daylight, freezing cold until Ralph got a fire going in the little wood-burning stove. Papa had taught Ralph how to use the stove when Ralph was about eight years old and he and Papa were still friends. Papa would lie in his bunk and watch a big old Coca-Cola thermometer that hung on the wall. When it got up to 60 degrees he would get up and make breakfast. Ralph used to say he wanted to live at the camp all year.

'I could catch fish and hunt rabbits and squirrels and just live right here', he would say. ‘I wouldn’t be scared of being here by myself.’

‘I know you wouldn’t be scared,’ Papa would say, ‘but you’d get tired of eating leaves and grass. Soft hearted as you are, you could never This strikes me as an awkward construction, “you are too soft hearted to” seems more natural kill anything.’

‘I could too,’ Ralph would say, ‘if I was hungry enough.’

Sometimes Ralph and I would go down in the woods with an old single shot 22 Ralph bought at a pawn shop. Ralph had tied a rope to a limb and we would hang tin cans at the end of the rope. One of us would start the rope swinging, and the other would try to shoot the can. I mostly missed, but Ralph mostly hit. He said shooting at a target that held still was no fun.

Ralph never hunted anything. He hated the idea of killing anything. Sometimes I would go with Papa to hunt squirrels or rabbits, but Ralph never came with us. Papa had a 410 shotgun loaded with number six shot, and Ralph said using a shotgun, even a little 410, was not fair.

'So bring your 22 and show us the right way,' Papa would say. But Ralph never did. As mean as he got in some ways, loud, cussing, sometimes getting in fist fights, he never got to where he wanted to hurt anything or anybody. Getting into fist fights and not wanting to hurt anybody are incompatable I think he found himself in a world he never understood, and all the drinking and drugs and meaness meanness was his way of trying to break out and find his own place.

By the time he was 12 or 13, about the time I was old enough to remember all what that they said, I think Ralph would have gone to that cabin and lived if Papa had let him. And if Papa had let him, Ralph would might? be alive today. He’d be a river rat or a woods bum, like Ol’ Charley that you see sitting by the road sometimes up around dead dog curve, but he’d be alive.

I still get up an hour before sunrise, and I still remember Ralph grumbling about having to be the one to get up in the cold and make the fire. If Papa offered to make me do it, Ralph would insist that, like it or not, it was his job and he would do it. Everybody around McRae County had given up on Ralph as worthless by the time he was 14 years old, but I knew better, and so did Papa.

When Ralph was Ralph, he was a good kid, your best friend. He'd do anything for you. The last couple of years though, after Ralph got heavy into drugs and moved out, he wasn't Ralph any more. When he died it wasn't the 19-year-old stranger I cried for. It was the real Ralph. My brother Ralph. But when that 19-year-old stranger died, all hope of seeing the real Ralph died with him. Excellent

Sometimes in the dead of Winter the temperature in my loft will drop down to near 50 degrees, and I'm as cold as I was in that deer camp with the temperature around 20. I've lived in the tropics too many years now to be able to stand “For” you are standing it a Mississippi Winter. Ralph, the real Ralph, would find that funny because as a kid I was always the one who could stand the cold the best.

The bunk in my bedroom is modelled on the bunks that were in that deer camp, framed into the wall. I can go to sleep and ignore the possum rooting around in the kitchen looking for food on the nights I forget to put anything out for him. I rarely see him. He goes outside or hides when I'm awake and up, so we don't have much contact. He's not a pet. He's a wild animal and where I live just happens to be part of his territory. He's like the coons that would raid the cabin at the deer camp. There’s always something that can bring back so many memories. This sort of thing is best kept brief, “Something always brings back memories” for example.

A McRae County deputy came to the house about ten o'clock one night to tell us Ralph was dead. He didn't say it that way. What he said to Papa was, 'We need you to come identify your son's body'. Papa didn't say anything. He just mongrel word put on his shoes and you keep doing this, a comma would be good went and got in the patrol car and they drove away. Right about midnight the deputy brought Papa home.

'I done made all the 'rangements', he said.

That's all he said then or ever. I never saw him or Mama cry, though I know they did. They never saw me cry, though they knew I did. Exactly, best kept brief like this.

That night was the first time I ever redundant word don’t qualify first and weaken it wrote anything down on paper that wasn't part of a school exercise. I wrote everything I could think of about Ralph. Every memory. I didn't want to grow up and not be able to call to mind all that Ralph had done and said, the good and the bad. I cried and I wrote and I cried and I wrote till near daylight, then I got in bed and cried and slept. Pa woke me up when he heard the school bus up the hill at the Harrisons'.

'Surely you don't intend for me to go to school today,' I said.

'Surely I do,’ Papa said. ‘Get dressed.'

So I pulled on my clothes and ran for the bus.

If Ralph were alive today and could see my loft he'd laugh.

'I see why you like this place', he'd say. 'It just suits you.'

A half wall stands between my bedroom and kitchen. Two steps lead up from the kitchen so that a person standing in the bedroom can look down over the half-wall and see all over the kitchen. The steps are not there for that reason, it is merely a consequence of them being there, leave out the “That” Everything is varnished wood, except over head. I would think one word hyphenated at least That's corrugated zinc. There is no concrete on this level except for the floor in the shower. The toilet sits in one corner of the bedroom with the shower next to it. You can have your luxury. I like convenience.

I remember once when Ralph was in high school I went with him and some of his friends up to Red Bank in Marion County. We were supposed to go swimming, but we didn't. We parked outside a bar where Ralph made me sit in the car for two hours. Three times a pretty girl came out and gave me a Barq's root beer and the third time she brought me a burger. About the time I finished the burger Ralph and his friends came out.

That was the first time I saw Ralph drunk and the first time he told me to lie to Mama. I tried, but she didn't believe me, and finally it was Ralph himself who told her where we went. Ralph could lie to the world, lie to himself, even lie to me, but he could never lie to Mama. Toward the end that was one hope we all had, that Mama could straighten him out. But he died first.

I came home from school the day after Ralph died expecting to find out when Ralph's funeral would be. What I found out was when Ralph's funeral had been, though it wasn't a funeral at all but just simply? a burial. Papa had used one of his political connections It’s the sort of thing people question, if you simply say “used connections” they can’t to get autopsy and inquest over by noon and by one o'clock Ralph was in the ground.

There was a sort of funeral the next Saturday. I walked over to the burying ground back of Bethel Baptist church and found Ralph's grave. I read parts of what I had written the night he died. I didn't pretend to believe that he could hear me. I was reading my thoughts about him to my memory of him. I said goodbye and hoped my memory of him would rest in peace.

It never has.

Thank you, good read.

garza
September 24th, 2010, 10:32 PM
Olly - Thank you. You've picked up on several points I overlooked.

Much of what you mention is, I suppose an illustration of how we shouldn't write the way people talk. Almost all of this is pure rural Mississippi. With a couple of exceptions it's the speech pattern of the Lamar, Forest, and Perry counties area where I spent a good deal of time as a youngster. One exception is the expression 'soft-hearted as you are...' which is the way my maternal grandfather talked, and the kind of expression I'm apt to use in my own speech, growing up with it as I did. Also, the exchange about going to school would also be typical of a conversation with my grandfather.

The run-along sentences without commas reflect the kind of flat intonation of most of the country people in the area I mentioned, especially rural Lamar County. Throughout the piece I sought to capture the feel of that speech, and I suppose that's not a good thing to do. I've seen several posts here that say you should never write the way people actually talk, and I guess this is a good example of why not. If you say 'simply' in rural Mississippi instead of 'just', it's put down as an affectation. Same with 'I' instead of 'me' in the cases you point out here.

Getting into fistfights on Saturday nights is a common pass time in rural Mississippi. Some of the fellows get mean when they get drunk, but not killing mean, just knock-you-down mean. When they see you in church the next day they've either forgotten about it or they'll apologise and offer to buy you a beer. I've known a lot of Ralphs, frustrated by the conformity they are forced to endure, but not really so bad until they get drunk or, worse, get on drugs.

On the subject of drugs, 'to buy some smoke' is also a common expression in the area, originally referring to cigarettes but after WWII meaning marijuana, a major cash crop in Mississippi. And in the story, Papa was looking for anything of value that belonged to anybody in the family so he could hide it away and keep Ralph from finding it.

I'll have to find a way to capture the characters' personalities without imitating the way they talk. I've set up a folder, and I'm saving all the comments I get on my fiction so little by little I can get it right.

Thanks again.

garza
September 24th, 2010, 11:14 PM
Olly - I am trying to rewrite the story using all your suggestions, but I've hit a major snag. The internal contradiction of being soft-hearted but with a mean streak brought out by alcohol and drugs is central to Ralph's character and is the original idea the story is built around. It's Faulkner's 'heart in conflict with itself'. Without it do I even have a character? Do I, in fact, have a story?

I think I'll give up on fiction. I just don't understand the rules well enough and I'm too old to learn. Anyroad the storm is headed into Honduras so I need to go south to be nearer the action.

Oh, and I do thank you for taking the time to read and to comment on the piece.

The Backward OX
September 24th, 2010, 11:38 PM
I enjoyed this.

I saw (heard?) the local influence Olly missed, so for me that aspect was okay. I didn’t see the nits he found, so either it’s too early in my day or I’m getting past it all. Edit for third alternative: you can't please everyone.

But I did see this.

That word ‘that’, on which Olly commented, can, in my opinion, and in that context, be used in the identical way Olly suggested leaving it out.

Okay, compromise: place a comma after “from the kitchen”.


I thought you said you couldn’t write fiction?



Oh, and I disagree one shouldn't write the same way we talk.

Olly Buckle
September 24th, 2010, 11:44 PM
"So bring your .22 and show us how it should be done". But he never would. There was a difference between the arguments of men and plain, cussed meanness. Ralph wasn't like that; sure he would brawl, but that was the way we were, farm boys at heart, there was nothing mean spirited about it. Even later, when the drugs and alcohol got ahold of him we knew behind it all was the gentle one we had known.

I am sure you can make the vocabulary fit better than I, but you see the principle? If the conflict is your main point bring it out and explore it, then it becomes believable.
Dont give up fiction because you are getting to old for something new. When there is no more growth the decline to death becomes inevitable, whilst there are new additions and growth you are affirming life. My mother retired at my age and sterted learning a new language, by the time she was your age she was teaching a night school class in it.

garza
September 25th, 2010, 12:06 AM
But Olly, Ralph as I picture him was mean spirited 'when the drink was on him', as granfa would say. Not homicidal, but selfish mean, which I tried to show in the first paragraph. Cussing mean, loud mean, better off living in the deer camp mean. And yes his type do survive that way. I've known a few river rats in my time. They mostly stay out of town, so they mostly stay out of trouble. I'll bet you have them in England, or have all the wild places been cleared away?

When I rewrote the rest of it correcting everything, well, frankly the flavour all went out of it. It was like, flat. I wish I were young enough to go to Afghanistan and not get in the way. There I would know how to write the story.

The Backward OX
September 25th, 2010, 01:14 AM
I think I'll give up on fiction. I just don't understand the rules well enough and I'm too old to learn.
Garza - To a degree I can understand you saying this. Three years ago, when I was your age, I too was having trouble. But I didn't have anything else to do, so I stuck at it. Today, maybe I know a bit more about writing. And I'm having fun while I learn.

garza
September 25th, 2010, 01:31 AM
Ox - I'm going to give it one more try. I'm working on a complete rewrite of 'Ralph' taking out all the colloquialisms such as 'all what he said' and giving the narrator a standard English speech pattern. It sounds boring to me but apparently the Mississippi accent is seen as just a string of errors, so I'll drop it. I remember a discussion earlier about writing dialogue the way people talk, and having someone come down on me hard for advocating the use of ordinary speech, 'writing the way people talk.' When I read the story looking at it from Olly's point of view I see all the problems he pointed out and more. Natural speech won't work in fiction so I'm reworking the whole thing.

I wonder should I post it here as a continuation of this thread, or start a new thread? I want to get some comments on the rewrite.

The main problem is going to be the fact that I wanted to make Ralph a complex person, someone with enough good qualities for people to love him, but with a wild, or mean, side that shows up 'under the influence.'

The Backward OX
September 25th, 2010, 01:50 AM
garza - I can’t tell you how to rewrite Ralph but I can suggest a way to post it. What I see a few do in Workshop is remove the post, edit in words to the effect of ‘Down for repairs’, and then when it’s reworked they simply put it back in its original position. And if it’s moved too far down or even off the page in the interim, you simply bump it back up with a separate post of your own that makes some innocuous remark like ‘Here’s the new version.’

Olly on the other hand creates a new thread.

The third alternative, of posting as a continuation, to my mind doesn't attract the same degree of attention.

And I still disagree about not writing the way one talks. I believe it makes a story. I say, if it feels right to you, go with it. Someone will enjoy it.

garza
September 25th, 2010, 03:21 AM
Ox - The first suggestion sounds the best to me. I've finished the rewrite, which didn't take as long as I thought it would. I've left some of the rhythms of Mississippi speech, but I've taken out all the problem areas, I hope. That created some problems in itself, since taking out one thing leads to dropping something else, like the breeze blowing through the shutters, eliminates the sense of having the shutters since the breeze is the reason we use them in the tropics. That, in turn, led to dropping the description of the bedroom, which made no sense with the shutters gone.

I was rather viscously rounded upon by a couple of people a couple of months ago who insisted that in fiction you can never have your characters talk the way real people talk.

I'll replace the original with the rewrite. See if it's a 'new, improved, version.'

The Backward OX
September 25th, 2010, 03:28 AM
garza - They must have been a rather slimy couple.:lol:

garza
September 25th, 2010, 03:29 AM
Okay, the revised version is up. Tell me what you think.

garza
September 25th, 2010, 03:30 AM
Har Har Har. So I can't spell visshushly.

The Backward OX
September 25th, 2010, 03:45 AM
garza - Without going deeply into the story, I preferred the Mississippi accent. What you have now is dead by comparison.

Maybe I was wrong to say “replace one version with another”. This way, new readers can’t compare the accent version with the non-accent version. A way of obtaining opinions on the accent issue might be to create a new thread in Writing Discussions, with a reasonable-sized sampling of both, and ask for feedback.

That hyphen in overhead looks wrong. Make it one word.

The Backward OX
September 25th, 2010, 03:51 AM
Liverpool Overhead Railway - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liverpool_Overhead_Railway)

Overhead projector - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overhead_projector)

Overhead camshaft - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overhead_camshaft)

garza
September 25th, 2010, 04:05 AM
In my mind 'overhead' used in reference to part of a dwelling means either the ceiling or a light fixture in the ceiling. But I think you are right that I should use 'overhead' in that place.

So you don't see the revised version as an improvement?

The Backward OX
September 25th, 2010, 04:10 AM
I preferred the first version. If someone else had a chance to read both you might get a different opinion.

garza
September 25th, 2010, 04:16 AM
Well, it's of little importance. I think I'll stick to writing about organic farming. Fiction's just not for me.

For me the problem with the second version is a lack of any kind of theme or underlying reason for the story to exist at all. The Mississippi accent and speech patterns of the narrator played a big part in establishing the ambiance of the story, underpinning the theme. Some of the sentences that I spent the most time over, writing and rewriting, were the very ones Olly objected to the most. Rural people in Lamar county don't speak with carefully placed commas. They connect thought after thought with 'and' or 'but' or both, and the effect of that kind of sentence is altogether different from the proper comma-connected sentence. Read the Gospel of Mark in the original Koiné, and compare it with a nicely written English translation.

So I'll remember from now on. You can't have characters in fiction talk the way people actually talk.

The Backward OX
September 25th, 2010, 04:27 AM
Quitter!




:-\"

garza
September 25th, 2010, 04:35 AM
I was editing while you were indicting.

Oh I probably won't quit. I have a story in LM, and as soon as the judging is done I'll post the original version as I did last time and hope to get some feedback.

As it turns out I'll not be going south after all. The storm moved faster than expected and will probably be in Guatemala by tomorrow afternoon.

SevenWritez
September 25th, 2010, 07:58 AM
Because Olly found faults in the original piece does not mean the piece was wrong, Garza. It is simply a matter of opposing interpretations, and I found nothing wrong in Ralph. I nodded along to the descriptions you made of his character, as it reminded me very much of who I used to be before making a conscious effort to try and improve myself as a person. And it was a very, very hard process, one that occupied most of my time and, as I began to notice, occupied a lot of writers' times as well; note the quote in my signature.

No matter the quality of any piece there will always be those who find faults within it. This does not make them wrong; it simply puts them on a pedestal that not everyone else will stand upon. This work is great as is, and possibly more so with those who can see a part of themselves in the work, just as I did with Ralph. I liked it from the get go, as did OX. I'm sure others will like it as well, just as others will not.

If YOU felt good about the piece, and if it felt HONEST to YOU, then you are right, and so is the writing. Olly is right as well but only because it felt dishonest to him; everyone's truths are different. Stick to the original version and change only what you feel is not true to the characters as you see them. If you begin to change it due to insecurities introduced by another's criticism, then you will cause much more harm than good.

Anyway, that's my two pennies.

garza
September 25th, 2010, 10:26 AM
SevenWritez - Thanks. The piece did feel right as first written, otherwise I would never have posted it here. But there is this whole problem of not writing dialogue to sound like ordinary speech, and with first person narration it's all dialogue, the narrator speaking to the reader. In the piece as originally written the narrator has a strong Mississippi accent which shows up in several ways including sentence construction and the use of colloquial expressions. Take away that accent and the narrator loses his identity. Shift to an objective pov and the story loses the picture of Ralph as seen through the eyes of his brother.

I'm not a fiction writer so it's all a bit confusing right now. Maybe I'll learn if I keep at it. (There's a Mississippi colloquialism right there.)

The Backward OX
September 25th, 2010, 10:58 AM
garza - I’ll bet you pounds to peanuts (that’s pounds sterling not pounds avoirdupois) or, as we used to say, London to a brick, that IF you followed my suggestion of taking samples of each style of narration and made of them a post in Writing Discussions, AND THEN asked for opinions, you would find more folk in favour of the accented version.

Go on. Prove me wrong.

garza
September 25th, 2010, 11:38 AM
Ox - Would samples be enough? I put together the original piece as carefully as I could as a unified structure. I found in revising it following Olly's comments that changing almost anything changes everything. There are two, maybe three minor points in the piece that are errors that a copy editor would catch, the rest is interpretation. One error was caused by an incomplete edit in describing the bunk bed in the loft. Another was the 'that' pointed out by both you and Olly. I think there was one unintended redundancy, while others were integral components of colloquial expressions.

Take, for example, changing 'he would be alive' to 'he might be alive'. Change that one word and you change an essential ingredient in the brother's understanding of Ralph's character. And when you change that word, the following sentence 'he would be a river rat...' no longer stands. Neither does the reference to 'Charlie'. Taking out the breeze blowing through and the entire description of the bedroom collapses, and with it the whole point of the interwoven past and present narratives. Change the sentence about the 'possum triggering memories and the point is lost.

So I don't believe taking samples from the two would provide a reader with enough evidence to judge which is the better version. The story needs to be retold from an objective pov so the Mississippi accent of the narrator can be eliminated. This would necessitate the complete removal of the loft, but most of that had to be taken out anyway so it would be no great loss. So what would remain? I'm not sure.

The Backward OX
September 25th, 2010, 11:49 AM
Jeeez. And I thought I could argue. Go and write a story about the pluses and minuses of GM foods then.

garza
September 25th, 2010, 12:13 PM
Now you are on my ground. That I can do.

SilverMoon
September 28th, 2010, 07:27 PM
Don't you dare!


I think I'll give up on fiction.

This piece is exceptionally stirring. Precise words in just the right places. Smooth, straightforward language contrasting a rough tragic story line which could have easily been muddled if you had employed complex speech and/or backdrop.

Your fine use of alliteration in opening paragraph led me to believe I’d be reading “quality” work. I was not disappointed.

Your descriptions of objects brought life, a three dimensional feel to this story.
i.e.


and watch a big old Coca-Cola thermometer that hung on the wall.


Everything is varnished wood, except over-head. That's corrugated zinc. There is no concrete on this level except for the floor in the shower

I have not nits. Only wish I could have read the original. I believe dialect fleshes out our characters, therefore our stories. But it’s tricky. An art in itself.

I’m really looking forward to reading more of your work! You “are” a fiction writer. Laurie

garza
September 28th, 2010, 07:40 PM
The original is still there. Go back to the top and drop down to post number four. What's in black is what I wrote. What's in red is Olly Buckle's comments and suggestions for revision. The version you read is the revised version, so you may be disappointed in the original. The narrator speaks with a strong south-central Mississippi accent and uses many colloquial expressions and sentence constructions that Olly objected to. I'm happy you at least liked the revision.

Post #5 is my explanation of the regional speech.

SilverMoon
September 28th, 2010, 08:07 PM
I see. Certainly makes a big difference for the better, bringing in the
"grass roots".


He’d be a river rat or a woods bum, like Ol’ Charley that you see sitting by the road sometimes up around dead dog curve, but he’d be alive.



'I could catch fish and hunt rabbits and squirrels and just live right here'


I can go to sleep and ignore the possum rooting around in the kitchen looking for food on the nights I forget to put anything out for him.

Fantastic. Now, you have me in Mississippi!

Franky, I don't understand all the fuss about dialect. You were more than tame.

About post #5, Re: the "whys" of the run-along sentences (think Faulkner SOC. Perfect "Southern") and why "just" can't simply be repaced by "simply". Very good reasoning in that post.

So, it boils down to this. Great!

garza
September 28th, 2010, 11:20 PM
Thanks. You don't know how much I appreciate those comments. I'm trying to learn to write fiction, but so far without much success. Your words are encouraging, to say the least.

SilverMoon
September 29th, 2010, 12:24 AM
I'm still learning to write verse, prose. I will always be learning. So many disoveries, insights to be made and told. I question the writer who says "I've got it all down."

Thank you for appreciating my comments. Laurie