OK, I've posted a story, now I'm ready to work on rewriting it and putting it in a larger context.
Flying in Circles (under E)
Essentially, I used that story to illustrate how my character became "savvy" to technology - she'd never flown before. The story is how her first flight affected her and why she's telling her story...how it all started that she got taken off-world where the native culture isn't familiar with the techno culture, so to speak.
But I know it doesn't read as a sci-fi story at all, it reads as something else - and I don't know why. Of course there's more coming describing the world and it's unique qualities that make it fantastic, but...how come the main character's ability to empathetically "second-guess" people and make them do what she wants them to do doesn't come across as how unusual it is?
July 20th, 2001, 12:44 AM
I actually posted a reply to your story back in March under the heading: Flying in Circles - a response, and had wondered where'd you got to! This is what I said back then:
Well, what can I say? Your story, as you stated yourself, was certainly an unusual one. But what a story it is! I found myself completely mesmurized with your narrative of one person's struggle to overcome their deep-seeded fears of mortality. I couldn't help thinking to myself, "Gee, I hope these tragic losses didn't really happen to the author!"
You certainly have a refreshing writing style and I'd really love to see that style put to use in a more Fantasy/SciFi type story, believing that, in my opinion at least, your incisive commentary could create an excellent and very readable tale!
I reiterate what I said about your style and how you could put that to work creating a tale with a more supernatural or fantasy element. I'm sure that even Flying in Circles could be easily adapted to provide a thought-provoking twist in its tail/tale; something that leaves the reader wondering; perhaps something with a definite surreal or mystical aura. The options are limited only by your own, capacious imagination! http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif
Neil www.wn.com.au/clubclad/erebus/ (http://www.wn.com.au/clubclad/erebus/)
[This message has been edited by erebus (edited July 20, 2001).]
July 20th, 2001, 01:12 AM
Okay, I've just read your story again, Franis.
***POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT!***
I must admit that on the first read all those months back, I didn't really dwell so much on the fact that your character was perhaps an empath, and maybe this is where the transition from a very well-written and descriptive narrative as mentioned above, into a more fantasy type story lies? Perhaps you should expand on her unique abilities more; make her into a seer of sorts, perhaps with telepathic or supernatural powers; the power to inflict her will on others.
Is this what you were referring to in your question about her abilities not appearing outwardly unusual? I didn't really pick up on this myself originally, as I said before, but concentrated more on your character's own fears of death and mortality in relation to her first flight, which in itself could have been a metaphor for something else. Perhaps others will draw completely different conclusions as to your tale's meaning. But this in itself is a wonderful achievement in writing: to make people think, and fill in the gaps for themselves, but without leaving them with a "what the...?" expression on their faces!
[This message has been edited by erebus (edited July 20, 2001).]
July 20th, 2001, 08:48 AM
A hard story to critique. First I want to say that the writing itself is good.
While I was reading the story, I found myself asking, what’s the point? I just couldn’t put my finger on the plot. To be honest this story reads more like a diary entry. A description of a particular event in this women’s life, though it is a very good description. This may have been your intent? Anyway, it seems very similar to many little snips I’ve written to help me develop my characters.
In answer to your question, the empathy doesn’t come across as special, because you actually go to some length to make her ability seem nothing special. Especially with this line . . .
. . . “I have learned the meanings of passing mannerisms, subtle gestures, rhythms in talking and what is behind someone's changing subject. Most of the time, I guess well enough. Some call it empathy, but it is just practice.”
This seems to state that this ability of hers is nothing more than being observant.
Hope this helps.
[This message has been edited by KATS (edited July 20, 2001).]
July 23rd, 2001, 09:22 PM
Yes, thanks erebus and KATS. Good suggestions!
erebus, your second post, yes, that *was* my question - I understand from what you two pointed out why I had trouble with bringing forward the empathic ability. I now know why - that's what people do who are very good at something, they take their talent for granted. How to communicate the "matter of fact" sense of the character from the woman's "journalistic," intimate point of view ...and still relate the extraordinary way she "gets" incidental benefit from others and also the subtle way she gets the pilot to do what she wants ...which was in this case "take me for a ride so I can get free of my history."
She's telling the story in retrospect too, so perhaps I should have her telling it to someone...
I imagine what's missing now that would add to the storyline could be the..."because". Why does she have to convince this pilot with her "empathic" ability to take her for a ride beyond just asking?
This implies that I could give her history explanation a fear of flying as in that's how her parents died...and put her previous education or experience in an environment of always being on the "ground-crew"...or some sort of racial prejudice.
Kat's reply made me think that maybe I could also develop the second character's point of view to indentify and bring out the rarity of the woman's empathic ability...or another incidental character. So that would mean that some of her "explaining her secrets" talking would be dialogue with the person who's hangar she's waiting around in, for instance, before the flight.
I wanted to avoid the obvious "hi-jack" direction that I could have taken it because then the reader would too easily be able to "know" what the story was...and yes, erebus, I love people to think!
(...but that would be a good way to get my character off-world!)
Anyway, you two got me thinking and imagining some more possibilities... I'll see what I can do with them...
July 24th, 2001, 04:52 AM
Wow! Lots of good ideas. I’d love to read the revised story. I do like your style. Just remember that although you know every inch of your characters, the readers only know what you’ve written. Editing for this was one of the hardest things for me to learn. I still make myself reread my stories a few times looking JUST for this. Sometimes setting the story aside for a few weeks before I edit helps me see what is missing. I caught numerous errors that way, including those “an” instead of “and” errors. Good luck!