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 Dr. Jean's (Sally's) Story

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Whigworld
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PostSubject: Dr. Jean's (Sally's) Story   Wed Sep 24, 2008 1:40 am

Use this thread to critique Sally's story once posted on Box.net
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PostSubject: Re: Dr. Jean's (Sally's) Story   Sat Oct 11, 2008 7:30 pm

Believe it or not, it's posted on the dart board for critiques.

Now, I'll get to the rest of yours. cheers

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PostSubject: Re: Dr. Jean's (Sally's) Story   Sat Oct 11, 2008 11:59 pm

I love you Exclamation Exclamation Arrow Arrow A great way to bring the Scrooge story into the modern arena, Sally! And as told by a woman instead of a man's perspective is a nice modern touch as well.

Aside from a couple of places where you might get rid of saying the same thing twice...

Page 12 where Francine awakes from another bad dream.. We already know she has so you might take out -

"Another nightmare," she whimpered.

Page 13 where she reads the paper -

Just say "You were real" she whispered to herself.
and not say "but now you're dead" because the reader knows that already.

A beautiful tale of love, forgiveness and a way to tell the cellphoneadicts of today, to think about family and not so much about getting ahead. They'll pay for the neglect of real prioritites ( which are friends and family not jobs and deadlines) dearly.
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PostSubject: Re: Dr. Jean's (Sally's) Story   Sun Oct 12, 2008 5:40 pm

Wow, Sheri, thanks for reading this so quickly. Your tips are great ones. I'll make those changes.

In a way, I wrote this with my face to the slate. When I pulled back I wasn't sure if I created my Michelangelo or a mess. I'm very open to comments.

A little backstory on this piece:

Why I wrote this story? Hmm. I needed a 5,000 word story ... Beyond that, it took me a long time to settle on one. I started three times; each "dream segment" you see represents one of those attempts. I didn't like any of them as stand alones. Then, it hit me to write a Dickens-like tale since the target publication date is for Christmas. Voila, all three stories fit the bill.

My original theme was "hope" as I mentioned on the forum before. But that's not what I got. As I chiseled this out of the word processor, the emerging theme surprised even me. Several times I hit a wall, slept on it and re-wrote portions.

All writing comes from personal knowledge, I suppose. The "grandmother" portion originally had "mother" in its place. A lot of that felt close to home after losing my mom last year. The first section on Placidia came from a friend's history book I read on Attila the Hun. The section about Placidia intrigued me and I thought it would make a good historical fiction to write someday. You could say I played with it here. The second dream, Terror Under the Banyan, is loosely based on what's going on in Orissa, India, without the details to lend to its timelessness.

In truth, I had no idea when I started that this would be the result. As a friend told me, it's definitely like poetry.


Now, I really must get to reading the others. My tight schedule has required me to be very focused on where I spend my time.

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PostSubject: Re: Dr. Jean's (Sally's) Story   Mon Oct 13, 2008 12:36 am

Dr. Jean, my two cents ...

I liked the concept behind the story, and overall I thought it was well-written. But we're here for critiques, so here are mine.

There are a tremendous amount of sentences in the story that start with "-ing" words. In one small section on page four, you have Seeing the familiar walls, Pulling back the covers, Looking down, Running a hand through her moppy hair, Strolling into the kitchen, Feeling much better, and Climbing under the covers. I found it very distracting. Maybe it's just me.

Also, one of my biggest pet peeves in writing is the main character speaking out loud to themselves. This never happens in real life. You never sit alone in your office and say out loud, "Did I leave the iron on?" I think all the instances of this should be changed to internal thoughts. Or even just write out what the protagonist is thinking or feeling.

Another thing I feel is that the three separate dream scenarios are much too complicated and involved. I feel like because it's such a short story, there's no way to develop those other plot lines sufficiently (with the exception perhaps of the grandmother one). And that was another thing -- with the grandmother dream, I couldn't really tell that it *was* a dream. The other two dreams were so fanciful, but the last was so based in Francine's reality.

Francine's transformation, I feel, needs work. She has the first two dreams and doesn't really change at all, and then has the last one and has a complete spiritual turnaround. It needs to be more gradual.

And one last thing -- the exposition on page 9, where everything is explained in complete detail, is totally unnecessary. We smell what you're cookin'. Very Happy

I guess if I were to suggest anything, I'd say that maybe you should parallel Dickens a little more closely and have all three dreams be about Grandma. Maybe show Grandma as a young woman, about Francine's age, all wrapped up in herself at the expense of her family. Then have Grandma be a little older and wiser and more family oriented, and then have Grandma dead to really hammer home the point that Francine's got to appreciate her family now, before it's too late.

Hope that helps!
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PostSubject: Re: Dr. Jean's (Sally's) Story   Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:11 am

Thanks Trib/Steve. Your comments are good. I'll sleep on them and see where they go.

As for people not talking to themselves, I disagree. Maybe it's a woman thing though. Wink

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PostSubject: Re: Dr. Jean's (Sally's) Story   Mon Oct 13, 2008 11:02 am

All right, slept on those comments and here's what I'll do:

  1. Sheri's notes were addressed.
  2. Trib: Assessing the -ing. (The funny thing is, I know why this happened. I was avoiding one pitfall and created another. Thanks for the second "eye" on that one.
  3. Trib: I'll assess when Francine talks to herself. But when someone's afraid, sometimes even their own voice holds comfort or distracts them.
  4. Trib: I'll work on Francine's progressive transition. Good point.
  5. Trib: I'll add elements to her dream about her grandmother to make it less like real life.
  6. Trib: I really don't think I want to follow Dickens any closer. I wanted this to be Dickens-like, not a Dickens re-do.
  7. Trib: I hesitate to cut the first two dreams at this point. Maybe it's my time constraint, or maybe I don't see it yet. Whichever the case, I'll see what the others have to say on that one and continue to give it more thought.

Thanks again, Sheri and Steve.

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PostSubject: Re: Dr. Jean's (Sally's) Story   Wed Oct 15, 2008 3:12 pm

I am glad you have taken number five into account.

And I agree with you whole heartedly as to 6 and 7 of Trib's evaluation. I don't think it should be the Grandmother at all, because it would be a same-old-story on the Dicken's classic. Keep it modern and full of new ideas and I agree it will come out great!

And yes, Trib, we DO TALK OUT LOUD to ourselves! ha! At least I do! I often catch myself saying, "gees, so that's what I did wrong," or "Ha, now why didn't I think of that,"...etc....and I don't think I'm crazy...um...well, not TOO crazy for talking out loud to myself!

lol!
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PostSubject: Re: Dr. Jean's (Sally's) Story   Mon Oct 20, 2008 7:45 pm

My critique:

Well, Doc, as always I am mighty impressed with your submission. Not only did you do your Dicken's homage right, but you did it in a novel way that didn't feel hokey or staged. I think you walked the line very well between too much of Dickens and too little. I wouldn't change anything in that respect.

As for the character development, I think it was right on target. The first two dreams could be written off as weird coincidence or the subconscious churning on while she slept, but the Gramma dream would indeed be the "key" to her transformation. So well done there as well.

This almost goes without saying, because you're such a talent, but of course it was well-written, and the pace was great. Yes, Trib and everyone, women do talk to themselves. I even answer myself, and sometimes have to invent a third (fourth?) person to intercede in the argument between my two other selves (three if you count the self generating all the voices...man, that gets confusing quick!). Anyway, I think the story is great as is. It was heartfelt and heartwarming. It is really, really good.

There were a few points of grammar that got at me...pg 3: "...laughing the horridness of it off..." I think would work better as "laughing off the..." And I think "pin" and not "peg the conspiracy" would go better on page 5 as well. I will wait until later drafts to get any more nit-picky.

I really did enjoy this story. I don't care for "sappy" stuff generally, and although I might have thought this was a "sappy" one, it really didn't read that way...it was great!
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PostSubject: Re: Dr. Jean's (Sally's) Story   Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:10 pm

Quote :
and sometimes have to invent a third (fourth?) person to intercede in the argument between my two other selves (three if you count the self generating all the voices...man, that gets confusing quick!)
Laughing I'd love to be a fly on the wall and hear one of those conversations, Shranny/Holly/etc.

D.C. was great!! I've had four days off. Now, I'm back in the saddle! Yee-haw!

Thanks for the grammar pointers. This week will be "Jane Austen editing" week - cut, paste 'n replace. And read week for the rest, too.

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PostSubject: Re: Dr. Jean's (Sally's) Story   Thu Oct 23, 2008 12:13 am

Doc, I really enjoyed reading your story. The rhythm and flow were great, and the descriptions were incredibly well-written.

Characters talking to themselves used to bother me until I saw it in real life. So no complaints from me on that issue.

I didn't have much to add until I read Trib's notes. I feel like there may need to be a more personal or emotional connection between Francine and her first two dreams. For example, there didn't seem to be much at stake for Francine in the first dream because Serena takes away Francine's choice of whether to betray her. Francine doesn't object to the soldier's arrival, and the scene ends when she accidentally burns herself. Let her make a choice and let her learn from the consequences. Maybe she gets burned as she struggles to get out of a soldier's grasp to help Serena. Then the guards laugh at her for her attempt to help and the resulting burn she suffers. She regrets that she couldn't do more. (But what personal lesson does she learn from the dream? Or what issue is she trying not to face at the end of the dream but comes to terms with at the end of the story?)

The second one works well emotionally, but how does this connect to Francine personally? I think there's a subtle theme here about selfishness (saving herself in the dream and working on Christmas) and hurting people you care about as a result. This could make her regret the way she's been treating her sister ... something maybe to point out at the end of the story.

Just putting those out on the table. Overall, this story was a strong piece. Well done!
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PostSubject: Re: Dr. Jean's (Sally's) Story   Fri Oct 24, 2008 7:58 pm

Doc, sorry it took me so long to read your story. I like it, especially because I'm a huge fan of A Christmas Carol.

I agree with Trib that you should really get rid of the exposition telling us how it's just like Dickens' story. We already know she saw Grandma's face on the door knocker, so anything more is like beating us over the head with a club.

I have a question about the first dream. Is that an actual novel, or did you make it up? Because if it's real, are there going to be copyright issues?

Everything else I thought of has already been addressed. Good job!

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PostSubject: Re: Dr. Jean's (Sally's) Story   Wed Oct 29, 2008 2:27 am

That novel is completely fictitious! I made the title up.

A little background: When I read my friend's book on Attila the Hun a few years ago, he had a couple of pages on Galla Placidia. Her tragic life intrigued me so much that I made a mental note to write a story on her little-known history some day. When I brainstormed for this book, I googled Placidia and found only one novel on her ... a risquй-looking one (definitely not the route I went). So, I think I'm good. She's a real-life person, so my take on her is considered a historical fiction.


Quote :
I agree with Trib that you should really get rid of the exposition telling us how it's just like Dickens' story. We already know she saw Grandma's face on the door knocker, so anything more is like beating us over the head with a club.
:!>: Thanks, will do.

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PostSubject: Re: Dr. Jean's (Sally's) Story   Mon Nov 03, 2008 1:24 pm

I love you cheers santa Re-read it and it is so much better. Great job as always.

I never am tired of reading your work, Doc...it always just keeps getting better and better. mysterious
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PostSubject: Re: Dr. Jean's (Sally's) Story   Tue Nov 04, 2008 3:04 pm

Thanks, Sheri!!

Trying to catch up today. So much to do. And I still need to vote!

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