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Is This Too Vague And Artsy? (1 Viewer)

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TheMightyAz

Mentor
I was on something of a roll but on completing this I'm not sure I've overstepped the mark slightly. I see what I'm saying clearly but I'm not sure whether it's because I already know the intention implied. If I have to kill this though ... I'm going to be upset!

This time the lemon girl did not approach the shop with her parents, instead, she meandered around on the pavement between the car and Candy Land. Still there though, the joy Tommy had found so infectious, so endearing. She looked everywhere except towards him, the edges of her intent forming an empty Tommy shaped space. And then, as if her carefully crafted mould had fallen away, revealing the true nature of what it concealed, she looked across at him. In lieu of the ground, he jammed his hands deep into his jeans pockets, tented them with hands eager to escape, to betray him, his own eyes now borrowing the edges of intent, defocused and indiscriminate.
 
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luckyscars

WF Veterans
I'm not sure what artsy means as a pejorative in the context of an artform, which writing is. I think you possibly mean 'literary'? Yeah, it's quite literary. Out of interest what do you mean by 'overstepped the mark'? I honestly don't know what that means. Do you mean is it too purple, perhaps? Maybe at times. It doesn't come across particularly purple, more clumsy at times. Vague? Maybe in places, but overall I didn't find the vagueness the problem.

Let's see...

'This time the lemon girl did not approach the shop with her parents, instead, she meandered around on the pavement between the car and Candy Land.' < this line is pretty much perfect and does not need changed at all.

'so infectious, so endearing' -- these mean almost the same thing, however I can see how they work for emphasis.

'edges of her intent forming an empty Tommy shaped space' -- not totally sure what 'edges of intent' means. I sort of get the overall point, but yeah it's possibly verging into gibberish slightly here.

'And then, as if her carefully crafted mould had fallen away, revealing the true nature of what it concealed, she looked across at him.' -- This misses the mark for me, also. I don't know exactly what is going on in this image. So she is afraid to look at him so she's conjured a mental shape that is him, that part is great, but then this shape falls away (why?) and reveals 'the true nature of what it concealed' and that part again sounds a bit gibberish-y.

'he jammed his hands deep into his jeans pockets, tented them with hands eager to escape, to betray him' - another very good line/image.

'in lieu of the ground', doesn't add anything, 'in lieu' always sounds la de da. What's wrong with 'instead of'? Back to gibberish with 'his own eyes now borrowing the edges of intent, defocused and indiscriminate.' Borrowing from who? The lemon girl? I suppose it kind of makes sense, but I still don't know what 'edges of intent' means here, was confused about it the first time.

Overall, it's strong writing. I wouldn't worry about any of this stuff right now, it's good enough to be cleaned up easily in edit. Finish it first.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I'm not sure what artsy means as a pejorative in the context of an artform, which writing is. I think you possibly mean 'literary'? Yeah, it's quite literary. Out of interest what do you mean by 'overstepped the mark'? I honestly don't know what that means. Do you mean is it too purple, perhaps? Maybe at times. It doesn't come across particularly purple, more clumsy at times. Vague? Maybe in places, but overall I didn't find the vagueness the problem.

Let's see...

'This time the lemon girl did not approach the shop with her parents, instead, she meandered around on the pavement between the car and Candy Land.' < this line is pretty much perfect and does not need changed at all.

'so infectious, so endearing' -- these mean almost the same thing, however I can see how they work for emphasis.

'edges of her intent forming an empty Tommy shaped space' -- not totally sure what 'edges of intent' means. I sort of get the overall point, but yeah it's possibly verging into gibberish slightly here.

'And then, as if her carefully crafted mould had fallen away, revealing the true nature of what it concealed, she looked across at him.' -- This misses the mark for me, also. I don't know exactly what is going on in this image. So she is afraid to look at him so she's conjured a mental shape that is him, that part is great, but then this shape falls away (why?) and reveals 'the true nature of what it concealed' and that part again sounds a bit gibberish-y.

'he jammed his hands deep into his jeans pockets, tented them with hands eager to escape, to betray him' - another very good line/image.

'in lieu of the ground', doesn't add anything, 'in lieu' always sounds la de da. What's wrong with 'instead of'? Back to gibberish with 'his own eyes now borrowing the edges of intent, defocused and indiscriminate.' Borrowing from who? The lemon girl? I suppose it kind of makes sense, but I still don't know what 'edges of intent' means here, was confused about it the first time.

Overall, it's strong writing. I wouldn't worry about any of this stuff right now, it's good enough to be cleaned up easily in edit. Finish it first.

Yeah, it's as I thought. I saw this so clearly but knew that was simply because I was the author of it. 'edges of intent' is meant to refer to the way we often look around or talk around what we're getting at, and the true nature of what is actually being said is the ignored and obvious, which eventually forms an image of the truth. In a room of 10 people, if a person looks at everyone but one person, there's a chance it's that one person they want to look at. Think of it like this:

Rubins-vase-sometimes-referred-to-as-The-Two-Face-One-Vase-Illusion-depicts-the.png


The two faces are the lemon girl looking at everything put Tommy, and the vase is formed from her not looking.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
In lieu of the ground, he jammed his hands deep into his jeans pockets, tented them with hands eager to escape, to betray him, his own eyes now borrowing the edges of intent, defocused and indiscriminate.

This sentence confused me, but I thought the rest was effective. You might consider filling out the sentence fragment. I too use sentence fragments, but that one didn't seem to fit with the rest of the paragraph's style.

Back to the last sentence, here's what got me:
* why is jamming his hands in his pockets "in lieu of the ground'?
* I don't know about 'tenting his pockets', but I don't know why. Am I missing context from something before that paragraph?
* 'borrowing the edges of intent' didn't connect me with 'defocused and indiscriminate'
* I don't think you can get away with 'edges of intent' twice ;-)

Now, I have the capacity to miss context at times, so it could be on me, but that sentence confused me rather than drawing a picture for me. The whole thing is well written, but you might be cramming too many symbols into a small area.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
This sentence confused me, but I thought the rest was effective. You might consider filling out the sentence fragment. I too use sentence fragments, but that one didn't seem to fit with the rest of the paragraph's style.

Back to the last sentence, here's what got me:
* why is jamming his hands in his pockets "in lieu of the ground'?
* I don't know about 'tenting his pockets', but I don't know why. Am I missing context from something before that paragraph?
* 'borrowing the edges of intent' didn't connect me with 'defocused and indiscriminate'
* I don't think you can get away with 'edges of intent' twice ;-)

Now, I have the capacity to miss context at times, so it could be on me, but that sentence confused me rather than drawing a picture for me. The whole thing is well written, but you might be cramming too many symbols into a small area.

I don't think it's you missing something, I think it's me too close to the idea and not standing back far enough to consider how other people would see it. 'In lieu of the ground' would not be confusing if you'd read the whole story so far (that's not a call to arms or an accusation!) I mention the ground/pavement a lot. It's where he looks to prevent eye contact. He fought the urge this time though. Just for the lemon girl. Have you seen when people put there hands in their pockets and push out the material? That can mean nervousness sometimes, as well as shyness. I thought that was clear in this context but obviously not. I'll clarify that too in a rewrite. I think it's 'the intent' concept I need to solidify more than anything going by what's been said so far. The overall concept (I believe) is sound as a pound.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
I don't think it's you missing something, I think it's me too close to the idea and not standing back far enough to consider how other people would see it. 'In lieu of the ground' would not be confusing if you'd read the whole story so far (that's not a call to arms or an accusation!) I mention the ground/pavement a lot. It's where he looks to prevent eye contact. He fought the urge this time though. Just for the lemon girl. Have you seen when people put there hands in their pockets and push out the material? That can mean nervousness sometimes, as well as shyness. I thought that was clear in this context but obviously not. I'll clarify that too in a rewrite. I think it's 'the intent' concept I need to solidify more than anything going by what's been said so far. The overall concept (I believe) is sound as a pound.

So with the ground thing: I believe you need to mention his eyes. "Instead of automatically avoiding eye contact by staring at the ground--his constant habit--he shoved his hands in his pockets and bore her gaze." My version isn't in your style, so it isn't a suggested word by word replacement ... just meant to hold the content.

Other people could be tenting their pockets all around me. I'm not watching for that so I've never seen it. LOL
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
So with the ground thing: I believe you need to mention his eyes. "Instead of automatically avoiding eye contact by staring at the ground--his constant habit--he shoved his hands in his pockets and bore her gaze." My version isn't in your style, so it isn't a suggested word by word replacement ... just meant to hold the content.

Other people could be tenting their pockets all around me. I'm not watching for that so I've never seen it. LOL

I tend to watch everyone and everything lol. Perhaps it's best if I describe the intention of the scene and the consequent scene:

The lemon girl is shy. She's looking everywhere but at Tommy and Tommy knows it's because she actually wants to look at him. He's empowered to look because he knows she's not looking at him (normally he averts his eyes because he feels like people see into him, and he doesn't like that). Then the lemon girl looks at him. Now he plays the same game in his own way, looking at anything but the lemon girl. She also knows what Tommy is doing (she's just done it herself) and knows Tommy wants to look at her. But, following this awkward moment (the part I haven't written yet), Tommy braves a look and they both simultaneously realise how ridiculous the situation is, which makes them laugh, thus breaking the ice. Now they can both look at each other clearly, honestly.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
Yeah, it's as I thought. I saw this so clearly but knew that was simply because I was the author of it. 'edges of intent' is meant to refer to the way we often look around or talk around what we're getting at, and the true nature of what is actually being said is the ignored and obvious, which eventually forms an image of the truth. In a room of 10 people, if a person looks at everyone but one person, there's a chance it's that one person they want to look at. Think of it like this:


The two faces are the lemon girl looking at everything put Tommy, and the vase is formed from her not looking.


This could potentially be an interesting character point but, as it stands, it is completely missing the mark because 'edges of intent' is an unclear phrase. I'm not sure there's a better one, mind. I was thinking 'the shape of the void' but either way, it's not clear as it stands because it's not something there really is a word (or words) to describe.


This isn't a very common suggestion but...this is probably something worth stopping the scene to explain a bit. Not a ton, just enough, kind of like you did just explain here.


Consider:



This time the lemon girl did not approach the shop with her parents, instead, she meandered around on the pavement between the car and Candy Land. Still there though, the joy Tommy had found so infectious, so endearing. She looked everywhere except towards him, the edges of her intent forming an empty Tommy shaped space.

Edges of intent, the lemon girl thought to herself, smiling inwardly at her own neurosis, the fuzzy meaninglessness of the term, together with the obvious question that went with it. What the hell are you talking about, silly girl?

No, she wasn't sure, exactly. Only that it made sense, somehow, at least to her. It was a phrase she had coined herself to explain the way we often look around or talk around things; how the true nature of what is actually being said so often becomes both ignored and somehow obvious and the result forms an image of the truth. A word to explain how, in a room of 10 people, if a person looks at everyone but one person, there's a chance it's that one person they want to look at.

Edges of intent.

And then, as if her carefully crafted mould had fallen away, revealing the true nature of what it concealed, she looked across at him. In lieu of the ground, he jammed his hands deep into his jeans pockets, tented them with hands eager to escape, to betray him, his own eyes now betraying the edges of his intent, becoming something defocused, something indiscriminate.


I don't know if it's clear what I am trying to do ^here^ but pretty much all I did was expand your passage to include your explanation and incorporate a character's internal voice.


This is a trick I have found helpful over the years: If you find something difficult to express, chances are your character will find it difficult to express, right? So, rather than try to decipher confusion into stringent meaning, why not use it?


You worry about your writing being vague and don't know how to fix it? You can embrace the vagueness. Feelings are vague sometimes. Rather than trying to regulate everything, just go with the flow. Break the fourth wall, almost. Have the character critique themselves. People in real life do it often.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
This could potentially be an interesting character point but, as it stands, it is completely missing the mark because 'edges of intent' is an unclear phrase. I'm not sure there's a better one, mind. I was thinking 'the shape of the void' but either way, it's not clear as it stands because it's not something there really is a word (or words) to describe.


This isn't a very common suggestion but...this is probably something worth stopping the scene to explain a bit. Not a ton, just enough, kind of like you did just explain here.


Consider:






I don't know if it's clear what I am trying to do ^here^ but pretty much all I did was expand your passage to include your explanation and incorporate a character's internal voice.


This is a trick I have found helpful over the years: If you find something difficult to express, chances are your character will find it difficult to express, right? So, rather than try to decipher confusion into stringent meaning, why not use it?


You worry about your writing being vague and don't know how to fix it? You can embrace the vagueness. Feelings are vague sometimes. Rather than trying to regulate everything, just go with the flow. Break the fourth wall, almost. Have the character critique themselves. People in real life do it often.

The idea was to show the emotion though, not to directly spell it out. I want it to be a 'warm' and 'loving' moment shared by both. That unspoken love we fear to express. I feel as if the spell would be somewhat broken if I simply spell it out. It definitely needs clarity though. That is for certain.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
I don't think it's you missing something, I think it's me too close to the idea and not standing back far enough to consider how other people would see it. 'In lieu of the ground' would not be confusing if you'd read the whole story so far (that's not a call to arms or an accusation!) I mention the ground/pavement a lot. It's where he looks to prevent eye contact. He fought the urge this time though. Just for the lemon girl. Have you seen when people put there hands in their pockets and push out the material? That can mean nervousness sometimes, as well as shyness. I thought that was clear in this context but obviously not. I'll clarify that too in a rewrite. I think it's 'the intent' concept I need to solidify more than anything going by what's been said so far. The overall concept (I believe) is sound as a pound.


I loved the edges of intent and the mould and I would be really upset if you took out the “Tommy shape”. I was really with you for all of that and it was compelling.

I agree it’s the pavement that you need to make sure to specify where his eyes are at that moment since his eyes aren’t on his pockets. Actually I started getting worried about having the same experience as when I first picked up a book of Nabokov’s without having heard of the book (one of his re-writes of Lolita), okay now that is a complement. I was very into the writing and thought it was amazing until I understood all at once the sexual content. Lol. I don’t know the rest of your book so I don’t know if that will sound funny to you or if you would be like “Spot on” but I couldn’t be sure of what was going on in the pockets at all. Actually, I don’t see people tenting their pockets in nervousness but I guess it would be like turning them inside out? I don’t know... help. Should I be worried for lemon girl? Don’t answer. You got my feedback on it. I really loved all the writing with the intent. It’s somewhat abstract, I suppose, but I’m an abstract thinker and was in it and felt fascinated with those lines and concepts and the exact way that was written.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I loved the edges of intent and the mould and I would be really upset if you took out the “Tommy shape”. I was really with you for all of that and it was compelling.

I agree it’s the pavement that you need to make sure to specify where his eyes are at that moment since his eyes aren’t on his pockets. Actually I started getting worried about having the same experience as when I first picked up a book of Nabokov’s without having heard of the book (one of his re-writes of Lolita), okay now that is a complement. I was very into the writing and thought it was amazing until I understood all at once the sexual content. Lol. I don’t know the rest of your book so I don’t know if that will sound funny to you or if you would be like “Spot on” but I couldn’t be sure of what was going on in the pockets at all. Actually, I don’t see people tenting their pockets in nervousness but I guess it would be like turning them inside out? I don’t know... help. Should I be worried for lemon girl? Don’t answer. You got my feedback on it. I really loved all the writing with the intent. It’s somewhat abstract, I suppose, but I’m an abstract thinker and was in it and felt fascinated with those lines and concepts and the exact way that was written.

Ok ... interesting, so you did actually pick up on what I was describing and understood all the elements I used? As I said to Vranger, the pavement thing will definitely resonate more clearly in the context of the whole story. I don't think it would hurt just to sharpen the meaning of 'intent' but as I say, I reckon the overall concept of what I'm saying is sound. Emotion is what I want here. Pure emotion with no explanation and only the strange dance between two connected people.

Here's the full story so far if you wish to read it: https://www.writingforums.com/threads/191523-The-Glass-Tulip

I would not be insulted if you didn't.
 
I understood the "edges of intent" thing, at least in a poetic sense. I don't necessarily think that needs more explanation.

I do think this is a problem:

"In lieu of the ground, he jammed his hands deep into his jeans pockets..."

Because "jeans pockets" is paralleled to "ground," sentence-structure-wise, I read it as he's jamming his hands into his pockets instead of into the ground. It makes it sound like: his instinct is to jam his hands into the ground, but he uses his pockets instead. If you're referencing his habit of looking at the ground, maybe: "In lieu of his usual glance to the ground" or "In lieu of dropping his eyes to the ground"
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I understood the "edges of intent" thing, at least in a poetic sense. I don't necessarily think that needs more explanation.

I do think this is a problem:

"In lieu of the ground, he jammed his hands deep into his jeans pockets..."

Because "jeans pockets" is paralleled to "ground," sentence-structure-wise, I read it as he's jamming his hands into his pockets instead of into the ground. It makes it sound like: his instinct is to jam his hands into the ground, but he uses his pockets instead. If you're referencing his habit of looking at the ground, maybe: "In lieu of his usual glance to the ground" or "In lieu of dropping his eyes to the ground"

You know what, I completely overlooked that. Now I understand some of the confusion with that.

"In lieu of looking to the ground, he jammed his hands deep into his jeans pockets..."

That will do for now. I'll perhaps tighten it or reword in another rewrite. Interesting that you also understood the 'intent' idea as being everything her eyes intended to look at, but not the one thing she truly wants to look at. Although, now I've written it out like that, I may actually find another word for the rewrite. 'Distractions' would be more to the point but not fitting for the imagery.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
Pardon if I'm repeating anything anyone else has said, didn't read the whole discussion, just the OP.

This was great until the last sentence and then the wheels fell off.

"Edges of intent" worked for me the first time but in this case repeating that idea serves to weaken it.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Pardon if I'm repeating anything anyone else has said, didn't read the whole discussion, just the OP.

This was great until the last sentence and then the wheels fell off.

"Edges of intent" worked for me the first time but in this case repeating that idea serves to weaken it.

You're the second person to make that point, and I'm the third person to agree. I'll strike it out in the next draft. :)
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Is this clearer without losing the poetic intent?

This time the lemon girl did not approach the shop with her parents, instead, she meandered around on the pavement between the car and Candy Land. Still there though, the joy Tommy had found so infectious, so endearing. She looked everywhere except towards him, the edges of her diversion leaving a Tommy shaped hole. And then, as if her arbitrarily formed mould had fallen away, revealing the true nature of what it concealed, she looked across at him. In lieu of looking to the ground, he jammed his fidgety hands into his jeans pockets. They were eager to betray him, his own eyes now, defocused and indiscriminate.
 
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Llyralen

Senior Member
Is this clearer without losing the poetic intent?

This time the lemon girl did not approach the shop with her parents, instead, she meandered around on the pavement between the car and Candy Land. Still there though, the joy Tommy had found so infectious, so endearing. She looked everywhere except towards him, the edges of her diversion leaving a Tommy shaped hole. And then, as if her arbitrarily formed mould had fallen away, revealing the true nature of what it concealed, she looked across at him. In lieu of looking to the ground, he jammed his fidgety hands into his jeans pockets. They were eager to betray him, his own eyes now, defocused and indiscriminate.

What if you used “interests” instead of “intent”? It might clear it up for some without losing the poetic form at all, but I do not like this most recent pass as much as the first one as there is something that got lost about the connection between the “arbitrarily formed mould” and what she is looking for.
 
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TheMightyAz

Mentor
What if you used “interests” instead of “intent”? It might clear it up for some without losing the poetic form at all, but I do not like this most recent pass as much as the first one as there is something that got lost about the connection between the “arbitrarily formed mould” and what she is looking for.

Honestly if this is leading where I suspected then I wouldn’t want to read it. It’s the same stuff, I’ve got to say... or it feels it to me right now even if maybe I’m wrong and if I’m wrong it’s a bit laughable. But basically there isn’t really a girl here (not in what I’m reading) the same way that there really wasn’t a Lolita without Humbert. There’s really not a lemon girl without Tommy... at least from this clip and my current (perhaps wrong) instinct about it. And that makes it untrue. Humbert didn’t know it but there was a Lolita who would be damaged and who was independent of him and her own self and there is a lemon girl without a Tommy who has a real relationship with her parents and who will have to deal with damages and with herself when Tommy is gone. I might be laughably so wrong.... ugg, maybe I will peak just to see. Anyway, of course the writing is great. Ugh ugh ugh. Here I will look and maybe we will laugh and maybe I will edit this...

LOL. I don't know how you've got that from this little clip. The full version is in the workshop if you want to go through it. It's called The Glass Tulip. I promise it wan't scare you! I was worried about losing some of the musicality of it and had the same feeling you had when I finished editing. I'm no where near finished with the story yet and have plenty of passes to go. I'll make a mental note and hone right into this particular section and beat it into shape!
 
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