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The Dilemma That's Holding Me Back (1 Viewer)

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TheMightyAz

Mentor
The story of The Glass Tulip starts with out protagonist, Tommy at his lowest. The density of the text and the lack of light conversation is designed to show that. But then he meets the Lemon Girl and begins to change.

Through flashbacks we get to see a couple of key moments that gave us the Tommy at the beginning of the story, interjected into scenes of him changing. So whilst the memories are dark, the actually body of the story as it happens is lightening.

And here's the problem: To reflect that change, the tone of the writing has changed slightly. There are more lighter conversations, and Tommy is seeing life in a more positive way. Not as positive as a normal person would see it but certainly more positive than Tommy has shown so far. I feel as if this is leading me to drastically change the style of the writing too much. It's less thick (by design) and lighter (by design) but does that work?

Bare in mind that the latest updates to the thread are from first drafts. I'm trying to force myself not to constantly go back and revise.

Start:

As a child, he did not know he cast a shadow. It rested profoundly on his world, diminishing the colours, thinning them. The earth, the heavens, and everything between, left him indifferent, bereft of wonder. But Tommy did not know.

His clothes portrayed the same forlorn outlook: faded denim jeans and jacket, grey V-necked jumper, and white shirt, buttoned to the very top. Plimsolls, once white with blue edging, now only bore the green and brown scars from visits to Ashton Woods. His mousy, shoulder length hair was a shadow too, its fringe a peeper’s curtain. Atop his head a flat cap, plaid and worn, rescued from his father’s work shed at the foot of the garden. It was a tad too big and often rocked gently on his ears as he walked.

Tommy lived on the brink of Brigby Town, hidden from its rum soaked bars and choked docks. Cove Street, the spine of the community, ran straight and true, offering access and escape for locals and guests alike. On either side, terraced houses stood proud, their meek but well kept front gardens, a façade.

Thorald Street sprang perpendicular to Cove Street and borrowed a little of the pomp for the first half dozen houses, before giving up on the deceit. Tommy was fortunate enough to live where both Streets converged, one corner shop and one house in.

His father’s voice ghosted through the front room window. “Be back before five. Your mother’s making tea and you still have that homework to do.”

“Yeah, alright,” Tommy said, his reflection in the glass superimposed on the stern figure of his father. He instantly looked away and walked “See you in a bit.” He had offered the words to the pavement. It was the summer holidays and still school sniffed him out like a determined hound. Only one more year and he would be free, but he knew it would be the longest year of his life. At fifteen, he thought he had tolerated enough. The calendar disagreed.

Current:

When Tommy walked in through his back garden gate, his father was leant deep into the engine of his red Cortina, tapping and rattling. He looked the unfortunate victim of a viscous attack from a huge, blue land creature, half-bitten, all oiled up and ready for swallowing.

His mother busied herself in the kitchen, flitted from one place to the next, as if stuck for things to do but determined to find something nonetheless.

“Why’s dad messing about with the car?” Tommy asked as he sat at the table.

“He’s determined to drive the thing,” she said, still picking through a myriad of possible tasks, already done but perhaps not perfectly. “I’m not happy about it at all. I’ve told him I can drive him wherever he wants to go but no. … That man’s so stubborn sometimes. It’s enough to send you round the bend.” She resigned herself to a single spot, paused in exasperation and then sat by Tommy. “I don’t know Tommy. He won’t accept help and he won’t take no for an answer. The fools going to hurt himself trying to drive with that stupid wooden leg.”

“I’m sure he’ll be alright, mum,” Tommy said, buttering toast.

“I’m glad you think so.”

“You having some toast, mum?” He indicated the pile of cooled toast with his knife.

“I’ve eaten, son.” She sighed and placed her palms on the table resolutely as if to draw a line on the last few fraught minutes. “How’s your day been anyway?” She had not quite shelved her worry but Tommy understood he could help stack it.

“It’s been a good day, all things considered,” he said. He pulled down his mouth and tightened his chin, threw in a nod for good measure. “Yeah, a good day.”

“Glad to hear it.” She took the peak of his cap, lifted it slightly. “Why are you still wearing this tatty old thing?” She laughed. “By the time you’re big enough for it, it’ll have fallen to pieces.”

“It was dad’s.” He replied and took another bite of toast.

“And now your dad’s tatty and falling to bits,” she said. A laugh left her mouth, almost convincing. “If you want I can fix that tear on the side. It’ll stop it getting worse … and it will give me something to do.”

“OK.” Tommy removed the cap and handed it over.
 
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bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
To reflect that change, the tone of the writing has changed slightly. There are more lighter conversations, and Tommy is seeing life in a more positive way. Not as positive as a normal person would see it but certainly more positive than Tommy has shown so far. I feel as if this is leading me to drastically change the style of the writing too much. It's less thick (by design) and lighter (by design) but does that work?

For me, it absolutely works for what you're aiming to do. I can see the style in the second part is a little less risky with language, but if that fits the tone then it fits the tone. The text is not beige even there though, so I see no issues. For me, the challenge is in the way everything is lighter and easier in Tommy's life; almost too settled. I'm thinking: what are the stakes? What's the conflict at this juncture? Of course everything may go down the pan on the next page. Personally I am not a huge fan of too many flashbacks, as I end up having to change my mood too soon, and too often. I prefer to be fully embedded in with one mood and gradually, organically, change with it as the story progresses. But people do like them. If you really want to delineate the change, maybe italicise the flashbacks or put them in different chapters or something. Then again, that might end up being a bit messy if both present day and past sections are similar sizes. It could just as easily be perfectly fine as it is. There's a lot to be said for write-now-edit-later. Hard to say though without having read the whole text...
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
For me, it absolutely works for what you're aiming to do. I can see the style in the second part is a little less risky with language, but if that fits the tone then it fits the tone. The text is not beige even there though, so I see no issues. For me, the challenge is in the way everything is lighter and easier in Tommy's life; almost too settled. I'm thinking: what are the stakes? What's the conflict at this juncture? Of course everything may go down the pan on the next page. Personally I am not a huge fan of too many flashbacks, as I end up having to change my mood too soon, and too often. I prefer to be fully embedded in with one mood and gradually, organically, change with it as the story progresses. But people do like them. If you really want to delineate the change, maybe italicise the flashbacks or put them in different chapters or something. Then again, that might end up being a bit messy if both present day and past sections are similar sizes. It could just as easily be perfectly fine as it is. There's a lot to be said for write-now-edit-later. Hard to say though without having read the whole text...

I'm not too worried about the mechanic of the flashbacks. I'm satisfied with the way I've woven them into the clearing scenes. There are only two and that's it. I'm on the last part of the story, which is why I need to take heed of the style. I may need to revisit the former tone ...

When you say 'almost too settled' what do you mean. The objective of this scene is simple: to show him looking at life more positively: The car eating his father. To flesh out the mother a little. To set up a following scene. To deepen the understanding about the symbolism of the cap. I'm hoping to carry the scene, conflict wise, with the stress and worry from the mother. This scene is more or less finished and then I move into a telling > show > telling > show sequence of events. This leads into the penultimate scene and finally the end scene. Both require the style of the first half of the story. I'm glad you feel the two don't conflict too much. I value your opinion on that. Perhaps I'll nudge it to 'not at all' in the drafting.

What do you mean by 'beige' by the way? I often see it said but never stop to ask.

Thanks for taking the time with this. I really appreciate it.
 
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bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
When you say 'almost too settled' what do you mean. The objective of this scene is simple: to show him looking at life more positively: The car eating his father. To flesh out the mother a little. To set up a following scene. To deepen the understanding about the symbolism of the cap. I'm hoping to carry the scene, conflict wise, with the stress and worry from the mother. This scene is more or less finished and then I move into a telling > show > telling > show sequence of events. This leads into the penultimate scene and finally the end scene. Both require the style of the first half of the story. I'm glad you feel the two don't conflict too much. I value your opinion on that. Perhaps I'll nudge it to 'not at all' in the drafting.

By that I mean not too much tension, conflict and worry. But as you say if that is handled in the text around it, that should work.


What do you mean by 'beige' by the way? I often see it said but never stop to ask.

I just mean slightly generic text.:)
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
The objective of this scene is simple: to show him looking at life more positively

Absolutely okay. This happens in every story that doesn't end in tragedy. They're gloomy when you overcome problems, uplifting once you do. If the reader perceives the change, you've written well. :)
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Absolutely okay. This happens in every story that doesn't end in tragedy. They're gloomy when you overcome problems, uplifting once you do. If the reader perceives the change, you've written well. :)

I've put some banging techno on and have my headphones on full. It's time to go in! Cheers man, I'm more confident now. It's more about knowing when to approach things lightly and heavily and sometimes I worry they're two different styles. I don't think they really are, now you two have chipped in. :) I can't wait to start my next story. Preliminary title 'PUNK'.

[video=youtube;6Irus3d5f0E]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Irus3d5f0E&ab_channel=MinimalGroup[/video]
 
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