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Mitch

Writing Somewhere Out There: A Novella [M]

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It's only rough. I will be revising it soon. I will accept any comments. It's attached. [b] It is rated M[/b], and I forgot to add the tag once again. Hopefully just saying it here straight-out is enough (if not, asphy, I will remake the thread if it's necessary...). Why do I always have to forget the tag?

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[size=1]Well, I read 48 of 55 pages last night, and from what I've read, I'd say that it's pretty good. I actually felt depressed after reading the main character's view of the world, so that means you did a good job. While I disagree with his view of the world, he certainly has a point, that if you step away from all the religion, you'll see that we're the same as a monkey.

I'm sure there's all sorts of deep things in this book - metaphors, parallels that can be drawn between real life and the story's message, but I don't really want to go into it. I think it's just better to enjoy, rather than actively explain things.

PS: Your writing style made those 48 pages pass rather quickly. Once again, excellent job.[/size]

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If you give me an e-mail, I could perhaps send it there. My best guess as to why it's not working is either a) you have a mac b) for whatever reason, your comp can't open zip files or c) something else is happening and I have no clue. You'd have to describe what the problem is, exactly, for me to get an idea of what the problem is and how to fix it.

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[center][img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v151/madsatirist/italee19.jpg[/img]
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And now for my thoughts.

What I said in the above image pretty much sums up my reaction. Where's the plot? What's the point of the story? There are pages upon pages of...of what basically amounts to ideologic ramblings of the narrator but the story never feels like it goes anywhere.

There's this girl, Laurice. Okay. How does the relationship with Laurice reveal anything about the narrator that hasn't been established in the first...I don't know...three pages? There is [i]zero[/i] emotional growth of the narrator over the course of the story. He never changes. We constantly hear the same exact abstracted conceptualizations from him and every single time, those abstracted conceptualizations rarely make sense.

When you do have a good idea (humans as bugs)...you don't [i]do[/i] anything with it. At best, the narrator--I'm just going to say "you"--you ramble on for a little over a page on average about the metaphor, [i]telling[/i] us how it applies to people around the narrator but never actually [i]showing[/i] us. And when it all comes down to it, I think that's one of the fatal flaws of the story:

Because it's so embedded in the narrator's head, it's almost completely impossible to [i]show[/i] anything the narrator is talking about.

Humans as insects? We're never going to actually [i]see[/i] that, I surmise because the framing of the story prevents it. Every single time we hear "humans as insects," we hear it from the narrator, and the narrator never develops it further than what basically becomes "That's what they are."

There's no progression of the idea; it just stays locked at that superficial narration.

Even the so-called "love" between the narrator and Laurice doesn't mean jackshit, pardon the language. The story places such an emphasis on love...and yet the narrator just doesn't give a shit. His dialogue and discourse on love comes across as wooden and hollow; I'm not sold that he's actually into this relationship at all (even at the end of the story).

And if that's the point of that part of the story, why bother have that part of the story in the first place? Think about it for a moment. In a story where the narrator is set-up in the beginning as some burnt-out shell, the introduction of a love interest usually will change the narrator's outlook on life. That's one of the big ideas behind a love interest: that there's some type of change on the horizon for the main character.

But the main character never changes. Everyone else around him changes...but he never changes.

That makes no sense whatsoever.

I never see the narrator as some sort of prophet, revealing a great truth to those he interacts with. He's not God, he's not Christ. He's not anything. His ideologues in the story don't come across as enlightened at all. If anything, they just come across as self-indulgent and annoying. Why should anyone around him change after hearing it?

And let's just consider for a moment that Laurice actually does have precedent to "buy into" what the narrator is saying. If the narrator has already established that Laurice going to God is a sign of weakness, inferiority, "insectile" behavior, etc...how is the narrator any better than religion? It kind of relates to the idea of telling people to think for themselves. If you [i]tell[/i] someone to think for his or herself...they're not really thinking for themselves.

So if Laurice is convinced by the narrator's argument...what argument was there to begin with? I mean, it's not as if the narrator's point of view is that much healthier than organized religion.

When the woman finds the two in the graveyard, for example. Neither the woman nor the narrator is all that interesting or compelling. And honestly, if I had to choose which side I'd take, I'd tell you that sleeping in a graveyard, naked, whether or not you had sex, is just in bad taste in general.

That really should just be common sense I think, so I think that also compounds the problems that the narrator has: he tries too hard to "go against the grain," as it were, and because there's really no story to begin with if he doesn't "fight the system," he needs to fight the system (or at least criticize the system) wherever possible, regardless of how much sense an authority figure may be making. And I think the woman in the graveyard is making a lot of sense. Not so much the "OMG u r sinners an goin 2 Hell!11!!1" parts, but just the "What in the hell is wrong with you" reaction.

I think that's another thing that really hurts the story, too. All of the antagonists are drawn to the extreme whenever possible. The woman in the graveyard is a perfect example. She preaches Hellfire and Damnation, and her "sermon," when translated into l337 speek...basically becomes "OMG u r sinners an goin 2 Hell!11!" It doesn't come across as realistic at all. It's too hyperbolic for the reader to actually take it seriously, which then impairs your ability to have the narrator's reactions taken seriously.

That entire scene just degenerates into the two extremes fighting each other. And that really isn't very interesting.

So I suppose that's another fatal flaw of the story: it's all just black and white, no matter how much the narrator tries to position himself in the gray area.

So...yeah. That's what I have at 4:45 am. lol

EDIT: Now I know precisely what about the narrator annoyed me so much, and why it didn't work:

[b]You're trying to make the narrator out to be the hero, but the problem there is he simply cannot be anything better than some self-centered and self-indulgent dweeb.[/b]

In order to appear as anything remotely close to a hero, he desperately needs to be juxtaposed against the opposite extreme, so his viewpoint seems justified.

I guarantee that if you were to place a moderate viewpoint in the story and the narrator (with his extreme stance on things) "goes up against" that moderate viewpoint, if the end result is anything less than the narrator getting completely obliterated, shown-up, and his viewpoint entirely embarrassed, your readers are not going to like it, because it's completely unrealistic, both in real life and within the context of the story.

While you seem to treat Laurice as the moderate viewpoint...you have the narrator steamroll right over her (he does steamroll right over her, too; she breaks down and cries)...and it's not convincing at all. It's artificial and forced and it definitely makes things seem like this isn't a story at all, rather yet another platform for your personal views on things.

Sorry if that's insulting or whatever, but I don't see how the novella is anything other than that, given how forced everything sounds.

This is all harsh, I know, and I really do apologize for it, but you touted this novella as something amazing, but what I read was nothing. My suggestions for improving this are the following:

1) [b]Cut out all of the irrelevant and extraneous exposition[/b]. The first chapter (and chapters like it later in the piece, including horrible metaphors like "women are boogers")...we don't need it. It has absolutely no bearing, relevance--absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the story. It doesn't reveal anything about the narrator that couldn't be revealed through his relationship with Laurice. All the talk about cancer genes and all...cut it.

2) [b]Re-consider just who the narrator is, and who you want him to be[/b]. He has got to be more moderate here for the reader to take him seriously, and to take his views seriously. If you want to keep him totally anti-world, basically...you need to polish the narration and dialogue, make him sound more mature and less of a pussy, basically.

I get (and like) the idea of a cynical narrator. Or even a cynical main character. But this narrator is no Holden Caulfield or Benjamin Braddock. Holden and Ben Braddock never sounded whiny like the narrator does. Holden sounded a bit whiny now and again, but nothing like the tone in Somewhere Out There.

3) [b]The story on the whole needs to be much more even-tempered, balanced, and level-headed[/b]. It needs some structure to it, it needs an actual direction. The relationship with Laurice is the only anchor the story has, and as it stands now, it's very weak, because there is so much other crap added in, which just dilutes the story and doesn't add any depth.

All together, I really think you only have about thirty pages of story material, possibly less. There's just not enough to sustain fifty-five pages, because it seems like you're too concerned with everything other than the actual meat of the relationship. The horrible metaphors, the rambly "introduction," the "cancer gene" type of talk...it just doesn't work in this story.
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