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“It is a general rule of fiction that characters who are presented as neither wholly admirable nor wholly despicable are much more interesting and satisfying than those whom the author presents as either perfect or appalling.” – Allan Massie, Scottish journalist and novelist (1938–)

Tuesdays With Story Writers Mail, June 10, 2010
by Jen Wilcher

Tuesday Night at the Bookstore
Eleven folk gathered at Barnes & Noble Tuesday to discuss fantasy, fiction, poetry, and dragons with English accents. . .

Jen Wilcher presented And So We Meet Again. Might need to explain just a little bit more who these characters are – why two English and one Japanese main character? Seto doesn’t act particularly Japanese. Being fan fiction, Carol said she was able to follow it pretty well, even though the characters weren’t familiar. Jack suggested fleshing out the characters a bit, make them more engaging. Holly wanted to see more action and description applied to the characters and the events around them.

Kim Simmons jumped right into the conflict of her new novel, The City of Winter, with a shipwreck. Anne suggested not using the main character’s name quite so often since she’s the only one in the scene. Jack said to set the scene with the character IN the scene, not referring back to her all the time. Describe what’s going on around her, her actions, etc. Holly wanted more back story – a reader could pick this up first, and needs some idea of who these characters are and what happened before. Terry really liked the way the scene started in the middle of the action.

Terry Hoffman read from The Journal. We wondered how would Aunt Ace refer to the owner of the house? Probably not “your mother’s house,” but “Jeannie’s house.” Create some unease in the main character – she’d react internally but not necessarily verbally to some of Aunt Ace’s comments. Anne said the dialog with Doug was a little sparse – need some emotional/physical reactions, more than just their words.

Randy Haselow submitted the beginning of his novel Hona and the Dragon. The prologue was kind of stuffy and confusing – Holly wanted more indications of who said what. The story with Hona meeting the dragon was quite fun and refreshing and well done, though the little-girl-speak should probably use “you” instead of “yo” which comes off as a bit, well, urban. . . Kim pointed out that the dragon sounded awfully British! Dan felt the all-cap dragon dialog was distracting. Can make it loud without the caps.

Jack Freiburger read his poem “Introit” (which, he explained, means beginning, or introduction). Anne didn’t like the flood/blood pairing, and Carol pointed out that the word “flood” comes up later, and it felt a little distracting. What did the last line mean? We got a sense of drowning, or a sense of “no one has spoken of this, no one should ever speak of it” and yet it was the introduction to a series of poems doing just that, so it was interesting. (more…)

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