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This is Ox's idea...

Actually The Backward Ox suggested I do this in the Writing Discussion board, but I've never done anything like this in public before so I would be more than a little embarrassed. Plus it's against the rules.

Ox's suggestion was that I post excerpts from my most recent fiction piece, Ralph, along with the same excerpts as revised following suggestions made on the Fiction board. The idea is to find out which version people like the best, so please comment.

The first is from the original version and is written the way people from south central Mississippi talk. I've been told in discussions here that the way people actually talk is not suitable for fiction. Most of the Mississippi accent has been removed in the second, revised, version.

Excerpts from the original version of 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. 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 a drug addict and a thief and I don't know what all, 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. 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 horizantal kind that look like wide blinds. In the daytime I open them all the way and let the sun shine in and the breeze blow through. At night I close them and the room becomes snug and private.
---
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 put on his shoes and 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.

---------

The same excerpts from the revised version -

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.
-------------
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.

Comments

It's against the rules of the forum to post the same material in two boards, and both these bits have already been posted in Fiction.

Thank you for your comments. I like it the way I first wrote it, but there was some disagreement over that.
 
garza;bt444 said:
It's against the rules of the forum to post the same material in two boards, and both these bits have already been posted in Fiction.

I do think you’re interpreting the rule about duplicate posts incorrectly. What I had proposed was taking an extract, which is not a duplicate. In any event, Writing Discussions is for just that, whereas Fiction is simply a forum where a writer may show off and in return receive individual feedback posts. It's only natural that if one wants to discuss their writing - regardless of its genesis - that they do so in WD.
 
The first version is much better. Ever read Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison? Great book to be inspired by narrative voice and dialect.
 
Mike - Thanks for the comment. I don't think I've ever read anything by Toni Morrison. I'll look for Song of Solomon.

Ox - Should I put future fiction pieces in WD instead, since a back and forth discussion is what I'm after?
 
garza - If you can figure out what any member of this site is likely to do, apropos which forums they do or do not visit, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.*

*From Rudyard Kipling’s most famous poem, of the same name.


One thing I might say is that most people expecting to read fiction will probably only go to Writer’s Workshop or Fiction.

Like most other interaction online, it’s very much in the lap of the gods whether or not an individual can achieve what it is they seek to achieve. I made suggestions in the Nostalgia thread designed to address this anomaly. I doubt they will bear fruit.
 
Frankly I was disappointed in the number of responses to 'Ralph'. There were only three people who had any comments. And one-shot comments are really all that helpful. If someone says, 'that's not good', I want to be able to say 'here's why I did it that way' and have them say 'here's a better way to do what you want to do and why' and so on. That never happens. If they say 'that's not good' and I say 'here's why I did it that way', I never hear from them again. That bothers me. Without a back-and-forth discussion, how can there be a real learning process?
 
garza;bt451 said:
And one-shot comments are not really all that helpful. If someone says, 'that's not good', I want to be able to say 'here's why I did it that way' and have them say 'here's a better way to do what you want to do and why' and so on. That never happens. If they say 'that's not good' and I say 'here's why I did it that way', I never hear from them again. That bothers me. Without a back-and-forth discussion, how can there be a real learning process?

It's this type of thing - the back-and-forth discussion - which is at the heart of the suggestion I made about a way this site could function just like a real writer's group. But no-one will listen. They all just want to play at being writers.
 
Are there too many boards? Maybe have only two, one specified for one-shot critiques and the other for back-and-forth discussion.
 

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