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Thread: Togetherness

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony-Richard View Post
    Thank for your comments, they are very much appreciated.



    I was wondering the same thing. I used to be fascinated with earthmoving machinery when I was a kid. I knew all the names of companies who built them such as Caterpillar, Drott, Allis Chalmers etc.



    I was 50 when I wrote Togetherness. I've kept a very young mind and this helps me to write stories like it. I entered puberty much later than most of my peers, my voice didn't break fully until I was around 20 - this often resulted in much teasing as it would fluctuate between soprano and tenor in the middle of something.



    I very much doubt it as I'm not an illustrator.

    Regards,

    Anthony-Richard
    If you know an artist, you could collaborate. Just a thought.

  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack of all trades View Post
    I had less of a problem with this than you. It was clear to me that at age eight he hadn't heard of cancer -- until his dad told him his mother had it.

    Actually, since she died when he was eight, she was probably diagnosed at least a year earlier. So would a seven year old know about cancer? Not likely. Even less likely at six.

    As for the air brakes, etc, I once met a six year old who had an astounding depth of knowledge on all things related to trains. According to his parents, he was average or below average on other subjects. So an eleven year old knowing quite a bit about trucks but not knowing about fate is also believable.

    OP, I think you captured the youthful voice well. I wouldn't be surprised to learn you were still a child when you wrote this. Those comma splices/ runon sentences are common among early writers.

    I wonder if this can be turned into a picture book. Maybe leaving out the cancer part, because picture books are both short and limited to only one subject. Anyway, nice story.

    It's not actually an issue of an eight year old not having heard of cancer. I don't think I really knew what cancer was when I was eight. I can even possibly buy that he's a kid who knows trucks. Yeah, kids can be weird like that. When I was eight I knew every species of dinosaur and could anatomically describe sharks. So yeah, kids. Kids, kids, kids.

    The issue is that throughout much of the piece this seems to be written through the eye of reminiscence, which is fine, except that in the opening line he says "Mum died three years ago". This instantly puts me in the position as a reader of needing to believe that I am listening to a preteen telling the story. Being not a preteen boy myself, this forces me to try to imagine one I might have seen at the mall or park or on TV speaking these words. When I do that, certain lines and phrases definitely do strike me as believable.

    Specifically:

    "Peter Watson is our Scout Leader and we call him Skip. I introduce David to him and Skip holds out his left-hand for David to shake it. David looks puzzled until I explain that all Scouts shake with the left-hand as it’s the hand closest to the heart.
    "

    or

    "God! He’s so puny, I mean really, really puny. I could push him with my little finger and over he would go. He’s also very timid. I know how to handle myself. It comes from what dad used to tell me. “You've got to stick-up for yourself Patrick.” And I do, nobody pushes me around."

    or even

    "It wasn’t a shiver that you get on a cold day; it was one of those shivers you get when you hear certain pieces of music."

    ^ These lines are, to me, definitely things I could imagine an eleven year old say. Actually, the majority of the story is. That is why it is well written, I would suppose. The last one is a bit of a stretch because most eleven year old children are still young enough not have developed much analytical ability...but its rudimentary and primitive enough that it can work. It suggests that the boy is mature and intelligent for his age-group, which makes him more interesting and different. So it works.

    But then, ah see!, we have words, phrases lines that are extremely unlikely for an eleven year old to say. Not a ton - i don't want to over state the issue - but I think these should be looked at and possibly simplified if the OP is intent on maintaining the illusion that this is being written by a child. Phrases like this one:

    "As I looked at him, I noticed the expression on his face; it was an expression of grim determination to hold back the tears that were welling up in his eyes. He had summoned up every ounce of courage in his soul and I was willing him to win the fight."

    ^ Sorry, but the idea of an eleven year old being introspective enough to see that AND articulate enough to describe it using phrases like 'summon up every ounce of courage in his soul" is not believable in the least. It's a decent line, but it's an adult line or perhaps a late-adolescent line. It is just not something a preteen would say. Unless he/she heard it on TV. But then it would likely come out garbled.

    How about this?

    "The night of David’s investiture was the best night of my life. We had invited dad and Carol to it, as it was the custom for parents to be present whenever a boy of theirs was invested into the Scouts."

    Nope. No way. Even supposing the kid could correctly and absorb a cumbersome word like "investiture" and its meaning (perhaps its a word they use in scouts, I do not know) I cannot imagine an eleven year old outside of antiquity saying "as it was the custom for parents whenever a boy of theirs". Has anybody here actually heard a kid say anything remotely like that? Sometimes kids say funny things, but not so much boys of eleven, and certainly this doesn't feel like a "kid trying to act grownup who says something cute". It feels like its supposed to be his actual narrating voice.

    Or this...

    "His hand felt warm and from it, David exuded a warmness in me that I had never felt before."

    Again, I know of few people who can use a word like 'exuded' correctly in context and most of them are educated and also adults. Even among those, its an obscure and somewhat archaic term for what most would say 'release'. And this is from an eleven year old boy who, though intelligent does not strike me otherwise as being much beyond ordinary. "Never felt before"? The boy is eleven. Eleven year old boys seldom measure feelings according to their life's experience. The human brain does not develop that way. And yet we have an eleven year old boy by virtue of this phrase and the one about "the best time of my life" who is reflecting on 'his life' like a seventy year old in a nursing home. It doesn't work well.

    The problem for me is just in consistency. It's not a dealbreaker, it's a really good little piece, but I am not convinced the voice of an eleven year old has really been captured to full effect. I would prefer the writing remain mostly unchanged but that the character is introduced at the start as belonging to the writer and the book a memoir-style account of a childhood that has gone. This would enable total freedom in language.
    Last edited by VonBradstein; November 12th, 2017 at 04:53 AM.

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by VonBradstein View Post
    It's not actually an issue of an eight year old not having heard of cancer. I don't think I really knew what cancer was when I was eight. I can even possibly buy that he's a kid who knows trucks. Yeah, kids can be weird like that. When I was eight I knew every species of dinosaur and could anatomically describe sharks. So yeah, kids. Kids, kids, kids.

    The issue is that throughout much of the piece this seems to be written through the eye of reminiscence, which is fine, except that in the opening line he says "Mum died three years ago". This instantly puts me in the position as a reader of needing to believe that I am listening to a preteen telling the story. Being not a preteen boy myself, this forces me to try to imagine one I might have seen at the mall or park or on TV speaking these words. When I do that, certain lines and phrases definitely do strike me as believable.

    Specifically:

    "Peter Watson is our Scout Leader and we call him Skip. I introduce David to him and Skip holds out his left-hand for David to shake it. David looks puzzled until I explain that all Scouts shake with the left-hand as it’s the hand closest to the heart.
    "

    or

    "God! He’s so puny, I mean really, really puny. I could push him with my little finger and over he would go. He’s also very timid. I know how to handle myself. It comes from what dad used to tell me. “You've got to stick-up for yourself Patrick.” And I do, nobody pushes me around."

    or even

    "It wasn’t a shiver that you get on a cold day; it was one of those shivers you get when you hear certain pieces of music."

    ^ These lines are, to me, definitely things I could imagine an eleven year old say. Actually, the majority of the story is. That is why it is well written, I would suppose. The last one is a bit of a stretch because most eleven year old children are still young enough not have developed much analytical ability...but its rudimentary and primitive enough that it can work. It suggests that the boy is mature and intelligent for his age-group, which makes him more interesting and different. So it works.

    But then, ah see!, we have words, phrases lines that are extremely unlikely for an eleven year old to say. Not a ton - i don't want to over state the issue - but I think these should be looked at and possibly simplified if the OP is intent on maintaining the illusion that this is being written by a child. Phrases like this one:

    "As I looked at him, I noticed the expression on his face; it was an expression of grim determination to hold back the tears that were welling up in his eyes. He had summoned up every ounce of courage in his soul and I was willing him to win the fight."

    ^ Sorry, but the idea of an eleven year old being introspective enough to see that AND articulate enough to describe it using phrases like 'summon up every ounce of courage in his soul" is not believable in the least. It's a decent line, but it's an adult line or perhaps a late-adolescent line. It is just not something a preteen would say. Unless he/she heard it on TV. But then it would likely come out garbled.

    How about this?

    "The night of David’s investiture was the best night of my life. We had invited dad and Carol to it, as it was the custom for parents to be present whenever a boy of theirs was invested into the Scouts."

    Nope. No way. Even supposing the kid could correctly and absorb a cumbersome word like "investiture" and its meaning (perhaps its a word they use in scouts, I do not know) I cannot imagine an eleven year old outside of antiquity saying "as it was the custom for parents whenever a boy of theirs". Has anybody here actually heard a kid say anything remotely like that? Sometimes kids say funny things, but not so much boys of eleven, and certainly this doesn't feel like a "kid trying to act grownup who says something cute". It feels like its supposed to be his actual narrating voice.


    Or this...

    "His hand felt warm and from it, David exuded a warmness in me that I had never felt before."

    Again, I know of few people who can use a word like 'exuded' correctly in
    context and most of them are educated and also adults. Even among those, its an obscure and somewhat archaic term for what most would say 'release'. And this is from an eleven year old boy who, though intelligent does not strike me otherwise as being much beyond ordinary. "Never felt before"? The boy is eleven. Eleven year old boys seldom measure feelings according to their life's experience. The human brain
    does not develop that way. And yet we have an eleven year old boy by virtue of this phrase and the one about "the best time of my life" who is reflecting on 'his life' like a seventy year old in a nursing home. It doesn't work well.

    The problem for me is just in consistency. It's not a dealbreaker, it's a really good little piece, but I am not convinced the voice of an eleven year old has really been captured to full effect. I would prefer the writing remain mostly unchanged but that the character is introduced at the start as belonging to the writer and the book a memoir-style account of a childhood that has gone. This would enable total freedom in language.
    I love how you contradict yourself so often!

    As with the other piece, there's two ways to go with this. One is the way you're shoving, and change it to a memoir of an adult. But that would, in my opinion, weaken it.

    The other way is to go throught it a little more carefully and look at the word choices. This, I think, is the better option.

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack of all trades View Post
    I love how you contradict yourself so often!

    As with the other piece, there's two ways to go with this. One is the way you're shoving, and change it to a memoir of an adult. But that would, in my opinion, weaken it.

    The other way is to go throught it a little more carefully and look at the word choices. This, I think, is the better option.
    I️ am by no rational measure contradicting myself. I’m not going to trash a good piece of writing because a single aspect is problematic. I would leave that to others on this forum. I️ am going to offer bluntly expressed opinions on how to make things better but ensure I️ put them in the context of the big picture, which is that the story is good and issues with voice do not invalidate that. That is not contradiction but rational criticism.

    I️ wrote in my initial critique of this piece that there are two ways to go, so am not shoving anything. We are in vigorous agreement that a viable option is to simplify the language. I️ simply prefer reminiscence (which would not require a rewrite of anything other than the first line) because I️ would not want the writer to feel limited in his language. I️ stated that clearly also. I️ specifically said “it’s up to you of course” so your assertion that I️ am “shoving” anything is nought but a groundless mischaracterization.

  5. #15
    Don't you love when that happens? All of our lives; every minute - is fodder for our stories. People we create, we see them in our mind as long-ago friends or family. I know there are people who do not write, but I ask myself - how is that possible? Thank you for your response, Anthony-Richard.

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by VonBradstein View Post

    "As I looked at him, I noticed the expression on his face; it was an expression of grim determination to hold back the tears that were welling up in his eyes. He had summoned up every ounce of courage in his soul and I was willing him to win the fight."

    ^ Sorry, but the idea of an eleven year old being introspective enough to see that AND articulate enough to describe it using phrases like 'summon up every ounce of courage in his soul" is not believable in the least. It's a decent line, but it's an adult line or perhaps a late-adolescent line. It is just not something a preteen would say. Unless he/she heard it on TV. But then it would likely come out garbled.
    In a scene from an episode of The Waltons series 1 episode 8 the characters Jim-Bob aged 5 and his brother Ben aged 9 are in their bedroom. Jim-Bob shows Ben coins he has to the value of 20 cents, which he has hidden in a tin under his bed. Ben asks him if he got it from some loony. Jim-Bob tells Ben nobody's to know about it. Ben want's to know what's so secret about the money. Jim-Bob says he thinks it's sinful and then Ben asks him what he's going to do about it. Jim-Bob says he doesn't know as he's still struggling with his conscience.

    VonBradstein if I'd written that in a story would you have told me you find it's not believable that a five year old boy is articulate enough to say a phrase like, "I'm struggling with my conscience." Don't forget that episode was written by a professional writer.
    "Rules were written for the obedience of fools
    and guidance of wise men"

    "Goodnight John-Boy."

  7. #17
    I agree. I may be wrong A-R, but sometimes I think it isn't really necessary for dialogue or thought processes to be age-appropriate when we are describing how children convey emotion. Sometimes its simply the emotion itself that's important, and of course making sure our readers understand. For example, I have a thirteen year old granddaughter who responds to every question about her day, with the word "good." I know she is facing difficulties; I know sometimes her day has been anything but good. If I were to write about her, usng her words, it would be a pretty dull thing! LOL. it is possible that I could use phrases that she may not author herself, but still gets the point across. I'm imagine Earl Hamner might agree! I watched a lot of Walton's too
    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    No, I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.


  8. #18
    It's a matter of helping the reader, or viewer, remember that the character is a particular age. Now there are some children that use "older" words, but the word selection should be conscious on the part of the author.

    It comes across as laziness when a writer dismisses a suggestion to use more age appropriate words out of hand.

    The Waltons didn't bother me because the premise was these were stories John Boy wrote as a teen and young adult. So he might have chosen "older" words. (I am aware that many scenes that do not include John Boy were shown, but it seemed to me that he heard about the events and included them.)

    On the other hand, I don't have a problem with a certain character who likes using pretentious words.

  9. #19
    Jack, I get your point. That helps.
    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    No, I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.


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