A Conversation for The Alternative Writing Workshop

A87752082 - Citizen Spade (working title of a story to be posted in non-sequential excerpts)

Post 1

K.Bookbinder

Entry: Citizen Spade (working title of a story to be posted in non-sequential excerpts) - A87752082
Author: K.Bookbinder - U14996210

I'm currently working on a story about a character named Spade. However, I'm working on it in bits and pieces as it comes to me - much of what I have written is non-sequential. I'd appreciate any comments or suggestions. Thanks!


A87752082 - Citizen Spade (working title of a story to be posted in non-sequential excerpts)

Post 2

Dmitri Gheorgheni

Hey, I just noticed that you've joined us recently. Welcome! And you're giving us stuff to read. Even better...

This is an intriguing story. smiley - smiley I like the way you started in the middle. The backstory's fairly clear, though. It's got good space in it, and I can see it. I'm suspecting others will, too, even if they've never been to Illinois or Indiana. You mentioned rolling hills. This journey reminds me of Gene Stratton Porter's Limberlost, and made me think that you've built a future wilderness atop a vanished one:

http://www.indianamuseum.org/sites/limb.html

My small suggestions would have to do with continuity.

>>He worked and tended the fields that stretched to the tree line as far as they dare go.<<

I'm confused here. Since Spade appears to be travelling purposefully, I'm guessing you mean 'He had worked and tended the fields...' that is, sometime in the past?

>>He stopped to rest.
As he stared into the flames,<<

I'm probably not the only reader who would need you to say, 'He built a fire.' (Elaborate at will: ...out of brush, in the shelter of a rock, etc.) Otherwise, I find myself staring into flames I didn't know were there. I went back and re-read to see if the woods had caught fire.

Now, I'm still worried about that campfire. (Pyrophobia.) You say he extinguished it. Then you say 'No trace of Spade remained.' Okay, this sounds like nitpicking. But even though I'm not much of a woodsman, I'd spot the remains of a campfire, and have done so. How did he obliterate those traces? Sand? A simple phrase would probably set it right.

Like I said, small stuff. The story's really interesting. You've got us wondering about his name, about his past - where he's come from, where he's headed. I want to find out where he's going.

Thanks for the read. smiley - smiley


A87752082 - Citizen Spade (working title of a story to be posted in non-sequential excerpts)

Post 3

K.Bookbinder

Hi!

I didn't expect such a quick response. Thanks! smiley - biggrin And thanks for the suggestions.

I'd like to explain a bit about the background story here but also not give too much away. I will say that you're pretty close in your assumption about the future wilderness. I can give away now that most of the world's population is located in massive city centers (like Chicago) while most other areas are sparsely populated (the communities of "Conrgegations"). As a result, unpopulated areas are now wilderness. No one tending the fields, the fields become woods, etc. As to why this is, I haven't decided yet how to reveal that - whether the story should have a prologue that gives background on this future world or if the reader has to figure it out through Spade.

As for Spade not leaving a trace - well I don't know if I should work out the details or try to convince the reader, somehow, that he's just that good at being in the wilderness. Or course if he had a portable stove....


A87752082 - Citizen Spade (working title of a story to be posted in non-sequential excerpts)

Post 4

Dmitri Gheorgheni

Heh-heh. Just put in a phrase to indicate how he covered that fire. Though I like the camp stove idea, too. smiley - laugh

I definitely vote for making the audience figure it out. Much more satisfying, say i.

You know, this fits right in with a conversation we've been having about continuity and related issues over at the Post: A87750372. Check out Minorvogonpoet's comments in the thread at the bottom: she's going to be really interested in this discussion about backstory. smiley - biggrin


A87752082 - Citizen Spade (working title of a story to be posted in non-sequential excerpts)

Post 5

Elektragheorgheni -Please read 'The Post'

I have a little quibble with the no bird song in the morning. This strikes me as exceptionally ominous ---don't know that birds are ever quiet in the mornings unless they detect an scary raptor in the area. Just saying that makes me think that a monster something or other will emerge on the scene. So if that is not in your plot, consider changing it. I don't think that wolves count but he'd need to be careful of his food discards if there are bears, cougars or wolves in the area ---because they can smell him and food even if humans can't.

Anyway you did a good job of making the story vivid. I can't wait for further installments. Since you are writing about this area you might want to check out Gene Stratton-Porter's books on the Limberlost. They are available for free in Project Gutenberg. Her characters are strong and you can get really good ideas for describing landscapes and natural life. It is also interesting how she portrays city life in the early 1900's and farm life that might be more like that which Spade had experienced. Please don't make him a vegan.


A87752082 - Citizen Spade (working title of a story to be posted in non-sequential excerpts)

Post 6

K.Bookbinder

Thanks for the suggestions smiley - smiley

The no birds singing, I think, was meant to be more atmospheric. Set the mood. I live on a wooded lot and I've woken up and walked outside to find not a single bird singing. They're just not into it some mornings, I guess. But if it becomes an issue of being too atmospheric I might drop it - I don't want readers to be let down when nothing jumps out at him smiley - biggrin

You're the second person to recommend Limberlost. I'll have to read it now!

Don't worry, he's not a vegan. Actually, the consumption of animals is a contentious issue between the Congregations and the Citizens (that's a bit of a spoiler).


A87752082 - Citizen Spade (working title of a story to be posted in non-sequential excerpts)

Post 7

Dmitri Gheorgheni

smiley - rofl Hey, the plot thickens.


A87752082 - Citizen Spade (working title of a story to be posted in non-sequential excerpts)

Post 8

minorvogonpoet

I think this is a good beginning to a story.smiley - smiley

You've told us what we need to know: who your hero is, where he is and what he's doing. You've established that he has reasons for his journey and where he's heading.

I don't think you need more backstory at this stage. We've already worked out that something has happened to civilisation. You might want to say more later about what that something is, but I agree with Dmitri. Rather than overloading the readers with long explanations let them travel with Spade, finding out bits and pieces as they go.

One thing that struck me as a bit odd was that you say Spade loves the woods, and then that he's travelling to the city. That may be just a matter of emphasis. He loves the woods, but he knows there's no future for him there. He has to get to the city to find a way of life that makes sense to him.

I'm looking forward to discovering more. smiley - ok


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