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Camrick
July 10th, 2004, 01:02 PM
Hello all:

Here's a story I recently finished called, "Static is the World's Music." I think it came out okay, but who cares what I think?

What do YOU think?

http://pubweb.northwestern.edu/~ccm878/writing/jimmy.pdf

Expendable
July 10th, 2004, 03:26 PM
Hello all:

Here's a story I recently finished called, "Static is the World's Music." I think it came out okay, but who cares what I think?

What do YOU think?

http://pubweb.northwestern.edu/~ccm878/writing/jimmy.pdf

Its very Adam and Eve but at the end of time, waiting for things to start again. Its a good read, you write well.

Camrick
July 10th, 2004, 03:42 PM
thanks, expendable

that's exactly what I was going for. Its pretty obvious and unsubtle, but it was a fun story to write. I'm glad you liked it.

ironchef texmex
July 10th, 2004, 06:25 PM
I'm in a spagetti western mood. So here goes:

THE GOOD - The prose is decent. It has a kind of sleepwalking feel that went well with the first half of the story. The brightest points are the bits of creative explosion that run through the script. Caw, The Scarecrow, the carrot-colored sky. Caw, especially, was alot of fun.

THE BAD - This is almost like two seperate stories, with the letter from the parents serving as the dividing line. Before, Jimmy walks around in a malaise, everyone's gone, birds are talking, shrug. After reading the letter he comes to life emotionally. That might have been what you intended. If it is you probably should que the reader; a brief statement about some sort emotional dam breaking would do it. If it was unintentional you might think about including some emotion early on, Jimmy might feel a little fear when he realizes that everyone is gone. Also, I, for one, had a hard time visualizing Jimmy and Lila without any mention of their ages. And speaking of Lila, if she's as young as I think she is, she's awfully self assured. She seems like a kind of automation whose sole purpose is to comfort Jimmy, no baggage of her own.

THE UGLY - Stanley Schmidt listed a series of short story cliche's in an article called The Ideas that Wouldn't Die. Adam and Eve stories are number 5 on the list. I seem to remember another article by Ben Bova bashing the constant flood of '1 man and 1 woman at the End/Beginning of time' stories.

This isn't to say that they can't be good stories. Only that editors are likely to find them trite. I don't know. You might not even being trying to get it published. But if you did, the odds would be stacked. My advice, save the story, hold onto it -- maybe for years. You'll probably want to strip out the best part for use in another story. Especially Caw :D .

Camrick
July 10th, 2004, 07:34 PM
Hey, ironchef, thanks for reading.

I'm glad you liked Caw. I was smiling whenever I was writing him.

But all of your points are spot on. I've seen the thing about adam and eve stories and I agree, but I just had so much fun writing this story that I really didn't care. I haven't tried to get it published or anything, but your point is an excellent one.

And I agree about Lila too. After reading your comments, she definitely could use a bit of beefing up.

But thanks very much for reading it.

Dawnstorm
July 10th, 2004, 09:02 PM
Liked it.

Nice surreal feel. Until the end, I wasn't sure whether he's not supposed to go to sleep or wake up. It's a quantum story: both real and not.

You're strength in this story is information control. You give just enough and never too much. It could hardly be done better, I think.

A question about the style: I had the impression you kept the language purposedly simple to match the protagonist's point of view. There were a few times when I had the impression that "beautiful prose style" was trying to push through and had to be restrained (I'd go back and give examples but it's *.pdf and I'm on dial-up...). Am I close? Am I off?

Also, IIRC, the boy'n'girl are 15. The Ironchef has already commented on Lila. I find the boy a bit, um, backward for his age. Show me a fifteen year old boy with a radio and a 'puter who sees a girl dressed in towel only and worries about her making more mess than birds and I'll see to it that Santa will give him his presents in person....

Oh, and yes, Caw was great. :D


Before, Jimmy walks around in a malaise, everyone's gone, birds are talking, shrug. After reading the letter he comes to life emotionally.

Actually, I think that works and is one of the pieces' strengths. Rather than bring emotion into the first part, I'd emphasise that difference. Kind of like "a broadcast disturbing the static".

And it has been anticipated in the first Scarecrow scene.

Remember what his mother had said about the static and story right at the beginning? That sets the theme and the tone.

===

I could do detailed comments if you like. If my take on your stuff is too far off your vision that won't do much good, though.

I do think you have the makings of an interesting story, here.

Camrick
July 10th, 2004, 09:22 PM
Thank you for the generous comments, Dawnstorm. I very much appreciate your reading and you are spot on about all, I'd say.


A question about the style: I had the impression you kept the language purposedly simple to match the protagonist's point of view. There were a few times when I had the impression that "beautiful prose style" was trying to push through and had to be restrained (I'd go back and give examples but it's *.pdf and I'm on dial-up...). Am I close? Am I off?

Your on the ball, but I'm not sure if I can write "beautiful prose." But yeah, it was a conscious decision to try to keep it simple.


Also, IIRC, the boy'n'girl are 15. The Ironchef has already commented on Lila. I find the boy a bit, um, backward for his age. Show me a fifteen year old boy with a radio and a 'puter who sees a girl dressed in towel only and worries about her making more mess than birds and I'll see to it that Santa will give him his presents in person....

When i started the story, Jimmy was probably 10 or so, but as I was writing, I thought a young teen fit it better. But I also liked how this made the character kind of weird, and I liked that about him. But I do agree it maybe caused some problems...shrugs.


I could do detailed comments if you like. If my take on your stuff is too far off your vision that won't do much good, though.

If you would like to give more detailed comments, I obviously won't complain. But only if you got some time on your hands.

Like me. With all the craziness in the fantasy forum, I've made like 50 posts today. Lazy, lazy bum. :)

Dawnstorm
July 10th, 2004, 11:46 PM
When i started the story, Jimmy was probably 10 or so, but as I was writing, I thought a young teen fit it better. But I also liked how this made the character kind of weird, and I liked that about him. But I do agree it maybe caused some problems...shrugs.

Don't worry, the character does work as he is. There may be the occasional problem (and what I referred to above isn't really one).

Perhaps I'll start with the detailled comments later today (going to bed now...). Perhaps we can get others to disagree with me... :cool:

Dawnstorm
July 14th, 2004, 01:06 PM
Here you go. Better late than never (at least I hope so...).

Also, please realise, that I'm making suggestions (I may sound more convinced than I am - I need to or I get all confused and can't make a single point):

G: Grammar/Semantics
Q: Question/unclear
R: Random comment
Sp: Spelling
St: Style

Page 1:

Static was on the radio again, that song it plays when itís not playing something else.
G: something -> anything

Page 2:

Jimmy liked the dreams it gave him, so he always feel asleep to its grey rush.
Sp: feel -> fell OR G: feel -> felt

Jimmy didnít remember ever seeing it look like that.
Jimmy sat up in bed and called for his mom, but didnít
really think she was there.
St: Jimmy... Jimmy... -> Jimmy... He... (Sometimes repetitions do work; I might have missed something here).
St: "but didn't really think she was there"; sounds a bit odd to my ears, don't really know why. You could try "although" instead of "but"; or you could try "she would come" instead of "she was there"...

The floor creaked beneath the padded steps of his slippers.
St: Not in keeping with the simple style of the rest of the text: Try something like "The floor creaked under his padded slippers." Or "The floor under his padded slippers creaked."

No sign of anybody, not even grandma, who hadnít been out of her room for as long as Jimmy could remember.
Q: Jimmy poked his head into the hall; why would he expect a sign of his grandma there if she hadn't left her room for as long as he could remember? Or was the hall her room?

Growing some courage, Jimmy stepped out of his room and walked down the steps.
Q: This is really a continuation of the above. The house is a bit unclear, so far. This is the impression I get: Jimmy's room leads straight into the "hall" (which may or may not function as ganny's room), and there are steps down close by the door of his room...

Page 3:

The TV was on in the living room.
St: The TV is more important than the living room. Also, the living room would serve well as a transition inbetween paragraphs: "In the living room, the TV was on."

He almost laid down
G: "laid" -> "lay"

Instead he walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge.
St: "Instead" would work better if it came right after "decided against it". There's a sentence inbetween, though. Either get rid of the sentence (it's not essential, but it does add information...); or replace: Instead ŗ So; you might also experiment with putting the sentence before in brackets...

...so tall the stalks looked like thin trees swaying in the heat.
Q: It's a bit odd that you learn it's hot only as an afterthought on tall heat (there's a good opportunity to introduce heat by contrast with cold orange juice; it was in the fridge, right?)

Page 4

Caw smiled. It was the first smile Jimmy had seen for a long time, even if it was a bird smile, so he smiled back.
R: Hehe, how do you smile with a beak? Love it, very cartoony.

Page 5

He really only remembered little things...
St: "Really only" sounds a bit awkward; just get rid of the "reall" (you don't lose much and improve the flow); or how about "All he really remembered was little things..."

[Cutting down wheat remark: It might be a good idea to describe the first two stalks falling, or so, as their taller and the cutting down of them would be different from what the reader expects cutting down wheat to be. Also, if they're tree sized stalks, how big are the ears? I'd suspect about one or two stalks would be more than enough for bread.]

Page 18

...a soft music that Jimmy thought had came in on the wind.
Sp: "had came" -> had come or G: "had came" -> "came" (I lean towards the latter; but it really depends on what you wanted to say...)

Page 23

Jimmy sat there and shivered, watching as the moon got smothered by a dense black cloud that rolled in faster than any cloud he had ever seen. Soon, it was so dark outside that he couldnít even see himself.
R: That's one of the "beautiful prose pushing through" parts, I've been talking about. It's different in style from the rest of the text. (Unlike the slippers quote above, I think this one works, because the mood is more contemplative.)

Page 26

Jimmy stepped carefully onto the soil, careful to stay away from the scarecrow.
St: That's one "careful" too much; I'd get rid of the adverb, here.

Page 27

There was a noisy bang as they collided together.
G: Collided together? (This could be deliberate bad grammar, though.)

Page 31

Then all of the stars flared at the same time, bathing them in a white light. When it was done, Jimmy was happy Caw had made him figure it out himself.
So Lila hummed. Caw cawed. And Jimmy waved back.

R: I really like that ending. Also, Lila (with that humming - something you wrote before) appears to be something like the "personification of static" on one level; at any rate she's not the same as Jimmy, once because we get his point of view and never hers, but also because she doesn't have a "familiar", or a "spirit guardian", or whatever you might call Caw.

Working on Lila (as you said, you might do) may be tricky; there are several paths you could take: (1) make her more like a person or (2) make her more like a mixture of static and Mom and subconscious fantasies or (3) retain an ambiguity.