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Opinions Needed

So, I'm working on my story for Fiction Writing class and I'm trying to decide which story I want to workshop. I've narrowed it down to two, but I'm not sure which to submit.


The first is about two women - a 20 something office worker and her 16 year old sister. (Buffy and Dawn in my story Gotham Slayer you say? How dare you!!! But yeah... a bit.) Anyway, they have little in common and therefore not much to talk about, until one day a mysterious, gruff older man moves into their building. They begin to speculate about who and what he is. Basically, they are using the man, even though they have almost no actual interaction with him. Eventually it develops into a stalking situation as the gals need to keep “upping the ante” of their stories, trying to find out more and more about the man. Could work, but I'm not sure it'll hold my class's interest. The sisters' relationship feels awkward and strained at the beginning, which is the point, but still, it's a slow build. 

Letter Writing

The second contender is about an eighteen year old guy spending the summer between high school and college with the biological father he hasn't seen since he was 6. The father is a manly, ex military type and the son a somewhat effeminate, not-quite-openly-gay intellectual. The guy (currently named Andrew because I write way too much BTVS fic) is very earnest and emotional, and his father's nihilistic humor ends up not only rubbing off on him, but also helping him get over being dumped and outed in small town USA (the traumatic experience which led him to agree to spend the summer with the father he hardly knows in the first place.) 

Now, this one has the chance of going over really well as the dad tells a lot of awful bawdy jokes but is secretly a complete sweetheart who just wants to connect with his son who, I think, shows a lot of strength of character. Frankly, I love this story. Points against it, however, 1) it's about a homosexual character and I go to school in Idaho. I don't want my class to get so caught up talking about the OMG-GAY! that they don't get around to giving me any constructive feedback on my writing. Also, it's written in present tense (works better with the jokes) which isn't my usual style and ultimately I want to get feedback on my writing style, not just this particular story.

I'm torn.





( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 28th, 2011 10:36 pm (UTC)
Sounds like the first story might be less of a crowd-pleaser but also might get you more of the particular kind of feed-back you're looking for. If your ego can take not everybody getting engrossed in your story right off, that might be the one to go with.
Mar. 29th, 2011 03:02 pm (UTC)
Ah, asking me to rein in my ego... that's quite a tall order ;-) Though, I agree. If what I want is to actually improve my writing (and not just cherish my little angel) then number 1 it is. Thanks!

Edited at 2011-03-29 03:03 pm (UTC)
Mar. 29th, 2011 10:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you for my cute little snail! :)
Mar. 29th, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC)
It is cute, isn't it? Someone sent me one and I realized I had some to give away to. :)
Mar. 29th, 2011 12:26 am (UTC)
I'm with revdorothyl, I think the first story makes more sense for "feedback on your style" ;>

Edited at 2011-03-29 12:27 am (UTC)
Mar. 29th, 2011 03:09 pm (UTC)
I guess I needed people to point that out and kick me in the pants. Thanks :)
Mar. 29th, 2011 12:49 am (UTC)
I'm gonna third that. If you think the content of the second will be too distracting, it's probably best to go with the first one.
Mar. 29th, 2011 03:18 pm (UTC)
Yeah, unfortunately as much as I like the second story, I don't think the 19-20 year old Idaho guys are going to be able get past the fact that the character's gay. Even if it's just to insist they're “okay” with it, I worry that the whole hour will go to that. Thanks.
Mar. 29th, 2011 03:43 pm (UTC)
Oh, I get it. I'm from Texas; my own family is terrible about it. It's really grating that this stuff is still such an issue in places, but I guess a writing class isn't the best place to tackle that when you're looking to improve, not push an agenda.

Are you allowed to have advice beforehand? Is that cheating? *shifty eyes* 'Cause I was gonna say if you're worried about not holding their interest, why not open up with an attention-grabbing line? Something like: She never imagined becoming a stalker, didn't even realize her actions could be construed as such until she found herself {insert stalkery scene here}, {blah blah a little more lead-in}. It started innocently enough. And then go into the less exciting set-up. That way, your audience knows something interesting is coming; they just have to wait a bit.

I dunno. Something like that. Or not. I'm just over-helpful sometimes and I've never taken a writing class, so take that as you will. :P

Good luck with it, at any rate.
Mar. 29th, 2011 03:57 pm (UTC)
Oh, I don't mind over-help, I do it myself :) Right now my opening line is “I think he's a superhero.” Which I like, but we'll see how it works once I finish the entire story.

This is my first writing class and it's been eye opening, mostly because I have a new found respect for fanfic writers. Seriously, the average fanfic writer, with a few stories under her belt, is head and shoulders above the English majors in my class. Turns out, fanfic -is- writing. Who knew?
Mar. 29th, 2011 05:56 pm (UTC)
I think he's a superhero sounds like a pretty effective attention-grabber to me.

Haha, I know what you mean. I've found myself reading a book that's supposed to be really popular for some reason and thought I've read better fanfiction than this! My expectations are so much higher than they used to be thanks to fandom spoiling me.
Mar. 29th, 2011 08:47 pm (UTC)
It's funny, I never really thought about where all the different writing styles/challenges/prompts in fanfic came from, but taking this class has made it clear quite a few come from formal writing exercises. Our prof. will ask something like “has anyone read a story told in the 2nd person?” or “entirely in flashbacks” or “told from the P.O.V. of an object?” and the class will shake theirs heads, except all I can think is, yeah, I've read dozens of fics like that!
Mar. 29th, 2011 05:38 am (UTC)
This may be a case of "horses for courses"—courses not being exactly irrelevant, in the circumstances.

Personally, I'd be far more likely to read the second story. Oddly, from your description, I get the impression you have it better worked out in your mind. (???)

So...if that's the story you've got a better grip on, would you write it anyway? One doesn't want a good story to get in a snit because it thinks you're favouring a lesser rival. In my experience, if you keep snubbing the bunnies, they eventually hop off.
Mar. 29th, 2011 05:41 am (UTC)
I do get everyone else's point. I do. Honestly. I just think one also has to think of the story's P.O.V. It has rights, and you have obligations. (You're the one who thought of it, after all.)
Mar. 29th, 2011 05:42 am (UTC)
Then again, I live in the big city. No horrified boggle eyes.
Mar. 29th, 2011 03:33 pm (UTC)
Boise isn't -that- small, though Idaho is ridiculously conservative. The problem is that my school is fed by the outlying tiny towns that won't play so much as an Elton John song on the radio lest he “put ideas” into people's heads. Yeah.

Edited at 2011-03-29 03:33 pm (UTC)
Mar. 29th, 2011 03:26 pm (UTC)
I do feel the obligation myself. We've been workshopping people's stories the last couple of weeks and there's an been an underlying homophobia popping up in several of them (and quite a few of the discussions.) I sort of want to -make- them read a story with a full fleshed out and sympathetic gay character. I suppose that's at the heart of my dilemma. Hmm :-/
Mar. 29th, 2011 11:38 pm (UTC)
From the descriptions you gave, I would love to read the second story. And I agree with previous comments, that it's understandable why you wouldn't want people to be distracted by the content so much that you don't get con-crit you need.

I've been dealing with closed-minded people almost my whole life and sometimes I just have to remind myself, "I can't please everyone."

Still, I hope that whatever story you pick to workshop you get what you need out of it. =]

Mar. 30th, 2011 04:07 pm (UTC)
I'm leaning towards the first to workshop, 'cause I don't want the class to get caught up on debating gay rights rather than commenting on my writing.

I have to turn in a second story at the end of the term that just the prof. will read, so I might use story 2 for that. Thanks :)
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )