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A Difficult Question to Ask (1 Viewer)

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TheMightyAz

Mentor
About 'Apparition'.

So ... I'm writing a 'short story' and realise in a short story certain elements that would normally be associated with a novel can slow the pace down or feel out of place. For this excerpt (that is in no way finished yet), I'd have to go back and redress the balance earlier on in the story with other longer 'thoughtful' sections. I have done that to some extent already but this is going to be a deep dive into grief and what it means. Maybe over a page long.

Unless you've actually read the whole story and have an idea of the overall pacing, you're not going to fully understand what I mean here. Other critiques are always welcome but I would like to hear from people who have read the entire story so far. I'm not really interested in whether you agree with the idea, but rather if the idea (the length of it and tone of it) fits well into the 'body of work' I've already written.

If I'm going to write this, I do not want to undersell it. It deserved a deeper dive for the subject matter. If on the other hand, you feel it's too long a section and will slow the pacing down (compared to what I've already written), then I'll have no alternative but to delete it and find a simpler alternative. As I said, I cannot compromise on this. If I do it, I have to go in with conviction.

Here's what I have so far and I think this gives a decent taster of where I'm going with this:

edit: For context: Arthur has touched the apparition and every memory/pain she experienced now exists in his head.

Selecting a piece of chalkstone from the ground, he knelt by the headstone and wrote, ‘Here lay Heather Tilley. Long may she be remembered.’ The impermanence of the words bothered him, but the gesture salved a newly installed sense of injustice. It hadn’t existed prior to the fusion and yet, here he was both griever and the grieved.

For whom should he weep? He’d always considered grief selfish, more about a loss for the mourner than the death of a loved one. A life lived had ended and tears felt like a poor farewell. Shouldn’t an expression of fond memory be the final gesture for a life interred? And yet, the smile on his face at his father’s funeral had drawn many scornful stares, and whispers at the reception.


While everyone there hugged and consoled each other, he occupied his father’s chair and leant into his shape. An elbow rested comfortably on the thinned, shiny patch of material on the right armrest, and his fingertips stroked the flat of teak wood at the end of the left armrest where his father would place his reading glasses.
 
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TheMightyAz

Mentor
I guess it was a question too difficult to ask! lol

I've managed to distil what I wanted to say into a metaphor instead, so it's no where near as long as envisaged. Problem solved!!

Now I just need to hone it.

Selecting a piece of chalkstone from the ground, he knelt by the headstone and wrote, ‘Here lay Heather Tilley. Long may she be remembered.’ The impermanence of the words bothered him, but the gesture salved a newly installed sense of injustice. It hadn’t existed prior to the fusion and yet, here he was both griever and the grieved.

For whom should he weep? He’d always considered grief selfish, more about a loss for the mourner than the death of a loved one. A life lived had ended and tears felt like a poor farewell. Shouldn’t an expression of fond memory be the final gesture for a life interred? And yet, the smile on his face at his father’s funeral had drawn many scornful stares, and whispers at the reception.

While everyone there hugged and consoled each other, he occupied his father’s chair and leant into his shape. An elbow rested comfortably on the thinned, shiny patch of material on the right armrest, and his fingertips stroked the flat of teak wood at the end of the left armrest where his father would place his reading glasses.

It was then as a mourner, he leant into Heather’s memories with fondness. There would be no tears for her celebration, no poor farewell. Instead, he smiled as she played with Charlie her puppy, lashed a spinning-top on the pavement, gave voice to the small figurines in her doll’s house, and swung daringly high on the swing at the park. Each memory brightened his eyes and broadened his smile, and each smile brought him closer to Heather, closer to any human being he’d ever met … even his father.



Later in the scene:

Even before his eyes adjusted in the gloom, he could sense Heather’s scrutiny as he approached. For a while, he just stood watching. He squatted down and slowly edged inside her. The pain of the embrace clawed at him, head pounding, but he fought it. And then he let go. All the torment, torture, agony spilled from him as he, the embodiment of Heather, grieved.
 

bazz cargo

Retired Supervisor
I'm going to take a punt at answering this.

Part of the subconscious input of a writer is tonal. How the characters act and interact. The overall effect. This depends on the writer's personality, the story's journey and any message.

So, no two writers would write the same story the same way. Too many variables. This means you have to write a story your way.

The nice thing about this Forum is that there is no agenda beyond getting some feedback. This feedback helps writers to find where their 'vision' hasn't been 'communicated' as well as they would like.

Now, you may write a story that is dense with imagery that carries a dark, menacing tone. As a reader I might find it a trial to wade through before any action starts. I give you my take on your story and you have to weigh up what you want to convey against my expectations. There is no right or wrong, only a balancing act. You can get several, contradictory feedbacks. This is just as valuable. From my experience, writing is about 90% thinking. The more you get to think about, the more you see what needs a bit of polishing.

I think you are an excellent writer, just our tastes differ. Still, I try to help where I can.
Respect
BC
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I'm going to take a punt at answering this.

Part of the subconscious input of a writer is tonal. How the characters act and interact. The overall effect. This depends on the writer's personality, the story's journey and any message.

So, no two writers would write the same story the same way. Too many variables. This means you have to write a story your way.

The nice thing about this Forum is that there is no agenda beyond getting some feedback. This feedback helps writers to find where their 'vision' hasn't been 'communicated' as well as they would like.

Now, you may write a story that is dense with imagery that carries a dark, menacing tone. As a reader I might find it a trial to wade through before any action starts. I give you my take on your story and you have to weigh up what you want to convey against my expectations. There is no right or wrong, only a balancing act. You can get several, contradictory feedbacks. This is just as valuable. From my experience, writing is about 90% thinking. The more you get to think about, the more you see what needs a bit of polishing.

I think you are an excellent writer, just our tastes differ. Still, I try to help where I can.
Respect
BC

Cheers for that, man. Much appreciated.
 

robertn51

Friends of WF
Ernest plebe here, Mighty one, also with a difficult question about "Apparition"

Or, maybe better put, it's questions about a difficult question about "Apparition" or about any member's work.

So, maybe it's a meta-question about publicly engaging others' work. And a specific question, too.

One is puzzled why there aren't more posts such as this. Aren't there other authors seeking just this sort of attention and advice upon their work? (Or is the Mighty one the One? As perhaps should be, begging pardon.)

Being plebe, one knows there are things [Hidden]. But they are temptingly marked as such. And one expects very soon those protective scales will be lifted from one's eyes and fingers and perhaps all will be revealed, making one's question foolish and moot.

And yet here, now, out in public view, is an interesting question, seemingly with no way for mere public to engage. Nothing is [Hidden] but, at the same time, nothing appears exposed and available, either. A glitch in the map?

...Unless you've actually read the whole story and have an idea of the overall pacing, you're not going to fully understand what I mean here. Other critiques are always welcome...

Agreed. And frustrated. How does one actually read the whole story?

One realizes this specific difficult question about "Apparition" has likely been since resolved and more attention is not needed, but the methodology remains a puzzle.

A public question about a non-public piece, perhaps? How does that work?

Inquiring minds want to know.

[Actually, I think this is my 10th post, so perhaps this very act of asking the question will, itself, rearrange the structure of my known universe and reveal the needed answer, no? To be determined.]

[later] ... My God, it's full of stars!
 
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TheMightyAz

Mentor
What's the question?

Well, writing a novel and writing a short are two different things. In shorts you either take small incidents and build them out or keep the writing clipped and to the point in order to get through the plot more quickly. In novels, all the restraints are off and you can broaden and deepen everything. That creates pacing and momentum.

In Apparition, I've kept the plot moving along at a particular pace. My question was related to the fact I was thinking of going into a deep dive on grief and wondered whether that would feel out of place in the broader, quicker structure. I've managed to distil it down to something much shorter but I'd still like to expand on it more. If I expand on it more, I'll have to go back through the story and slow the pacing down here and there to match that moment in the story. If I don't the overall pacing won't match that deeper dive and so feel out of place ... or would it? That's the dilemma.

The truth is, all of my short stories have plots and should actually be novellas. I sacrifice inner dialogue, depth and breadth in order to cram them into 15 - 20 pages (single spaced). I'm constantly battling to keep them contained. The Glass Tulip, MotherHUD and now Apparition, should be novellas. I've decided I'm going to NOT restrain myself with Apparition and actually make it a novella. This has thrown up a real problem. The pacing is still the pacing from me restraining it, whilst the grief scene will represent the moment I decided to make it a real novella. If that makes sense. I've got some really difficult rewriting ahead of me.
 
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EternalGreen

Senior Member
Okay, I get what your saying. I really liked the glass tulip and would have read it if it were a whole novella.

Anyway, I wouldn’t worry about putting “too much” depth into a short story. You have to watch the width but almost never the depth. IMO
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Okay, I get what your saying. I really liked the glass tulip and would have read it if it were a whole novella.

Anyway, I wouldn’t worry about putting “too much” depth into a short story. You have to watch the width but almost never the depth. IMO

I'm currently going through Apparition again and cutting it as close to the bone as I can. Then I'll go through it again and add in new details and added scene sections. That's the plan but I reckon I'm going to have to finish it as is and do that adding at a later date.
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
This is some Edgar Allen Poe-esque stuff: "My loved one has returned from the grave! Oh, it's just a grammatical error. Nevermore."

And that's why you should watch the lay, lie, lies, lays, laid, and lain. (I'm the worst at this, btw.)
 

Matchu

Senior Member
I get pretty angry about ‘lay’ and ‘lie’ but I think the tide of history & progress is against me. I spent a decade raging over the ‘how do you do.’

’I’m gud...’ [moron]

and was swept away by an overwhelming majority. Somehow I appeared fringe & whackjob?.
 
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