'Miruna' by Tamago - discussion/workshop

Discussion in 'The Scribe's House' started by TirelessSeven, May 28, 2018.

  1. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Active Member

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    This was the 'Looking for something to workshop' thread but our discussion about Tamago's Miruna is ongoing and I thought it needed to be a thread of its own.

    If you have any original work you'd like to discuss, post it in the new thread.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2018
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  2. Tamago

    Tamago Lord-Commander of Anakin's Kingsguard

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    I'd take you up on that offer for the short story I'm writing for the TFF conquest. Haven't started it yet, but once the conquest is finished and the winner named etc, it would be nice if you could also give me some feedback :)
     
  3. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Active Member

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    Yes please. Look forward to it. Thanks @Tamago :)
     
  4. Tamago

    Tamago Lord-Commander of Anakin's Kingsguard

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  5. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Active Member

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    Good start. I thought the short sentences ramped-up the tension.

    I tripped over this simile. Not because it doesn't work - it does, although I had to read it twice (possibly just me). Think it's only because rage and rag look similar. If I had a suggestion, it would be: A raged man is much like a [dirty] rag, her mother used to say.
    Adding an adjective (I used dirty, but you may have a more suitable one) fixes the issue I had.
    The last sentence made me curious - nice.

    I found this passage a little difficult to follow on first read - the subject (who she is) is a little ambiguous at times. I had to come back to it after I'd read on for a while. Once I got to know the characters better, it was easy to work out.
    I think by naming Miruna first (and not Runa), you've made this difficult for yourself.

    It's not clear who's handling the flowery cup.

    I went through the paragraph and found the issue easy to address, with minimal changes. Keep in mind. This is only an example of how the ambiguity could be fixed - you may have a more suitable way of doing it.

    If you are sure you want to refer to the POV as she or her companion (I guess it does say a lot about Runa that she would refer to herself this way), that edit will be more difficult, but I'd be happy to offer an alternative if that's what you're going for.

    Hope that makes sense.

    I'll offer this, for now, anyway:

    [Runa] watched her with these thoughts in mind. [The way] she handled the flowery cup fancily, with her pinky curled up in the usual fasion. Her dress was neat; she just had her long hair trimmed. It didn’t show much difference. [Runa] would have never noticed it, [had it not] been for her mentioning the fact on an apparent whim. From their school days, only her eyes remained the same. The same clear, exasperating blue… [not that] Miruna’s eyes were kind. They sustained a certain malice that could be easily mistaken to be something else; perhaps a touch of mysteriousness or even unperturbed confidence. Which, when it came down to it, perhaps was not wrong… She was very confident in herself, if not in anything else, and she filtered the entire existence through her special glasses: she judged based on her own inclinations and experiences and, what is more, she kept in dear ridicule anything that begged to differ. Some might have wondered why they were friends. [Runa] would have answered easily: they weren’t. It was a strange bond that kept them together. And as much as she wanted to shatter it or even forget about it, she couldn’t. She did not even dare put an unmoving label on their[...]

    Also, is something missing at the end of the paragraph? If this was done on purpose (as not to put a label on their relationship), I'd suggest trailing off with an ellipsis. I actually think that runs in quite well to the following conversation.

    Again, the ambiguity issue. But I'll wait until you reply before offering further changes on that. For the reasons mentioned above.

    You convey a lot about Miruna in this scene (although you do call her Melinda at one point). Again, you capture the tension really well.

    I might stop here. Best if I get some input from you @Tamago, at this point.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
  6. Tamago

    Tamago Lord-Commander of Anakin's Kingsguard

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    Thank you so much!!!!

    First of all, the Melinda issue: it is a mistake on my part. I didn’t see it while proofreading -which I did a few times, in my defence. I don’t think I see it now either:D! Shall re-read.

    I happen to agree with your criticism. I’ve tried to have a bit of a confusing note at start, but the thing got out of control and I’ve noticed I do that in my writing quite often. I am probably very unsure on how to use pronouns better in connection with certain words and the such to convey who the real character was. But you see, I wanted to introduce Runa’s name later and, what is more, I found this aspect important for my story: that they were both called Miruna. That’s why I didn’t want to use Runa’s name at first and found it difficult to write the passage in a more clear way. I guess I handled it badly! There’s the fact of Romanian being my first language as well -that is, such a passage written in such a manner would be more clear in Romanian. Not that I translate things from Romanian to English. I don’t do that at all, and I certainly think my story in English and all that. However, I might fall into this trap often because of that particular reason -which is no excuse! :) Any idea of how I could do it without using Runa’s name?

    From that passage there’s a missing word, it ought to have been their relationship. I have no idea how I got it cut! :confused: I think I am a bit dyslexic, proofreading is very hard for me. I simply don’t see the mistakes and the more I go over the text, the less likely it is for me to find any typos and the such at all.


    Thank you SO much for this!
     
  7. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Active Member

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    No, thank you.

    It's just difficult to edit/proofread your own work - sometimes we read it as it should be and not how it is. It's not a trap we can fall into when reading the work of another.

    Yeah, I did consider this but I have a few of reasons for not mentioning it:

    1: Your story is in English, and I think on an English only forum it has to be judged as such.
    2: I didn't want patronize. Your command of written-English is excellent - no buts.
    3: Having absolutely no knowledge of any language other than English, it's not possible for me to differentiate between a language issue and a writing one with certainty. I just don't have the skills/knowledge to make the distinction.

    Your comments make sense though. The way bi/multi-lingual people have to change the way they would write to accommodate another language... it blows my mind.

    Yes, I thought this might be the case and I can see why you'd want to. Like I said, I think it can be done - it's just going to be difficult to do well. It's not that you handled it particularly badly. Yes, it's a little confusing but the real difficulty employing a technique like this is to write it without making it appear forced. I think you did that.

    Maybe...

    I'm trying to do this with as few alterations as possible. I think we're good so far.

    This line is problematic. While I think we can re-work the story so that Runa's name isn't mentioned, referring to her as her companion is just too confusing.

    I'd actually leave it out anyway. I don't think it's adding much to the story and this way Runa notices the hair without being told - even though it's not that noticable - which is more in keeping with her character and her feelings about Miruna. What do you think?

    Something about the next line bugs me. You say her eyes are exasperating, then you go on to say she wouldn't say Miruna's eyes were kind - which implies that Runa thinks her description (exasperating blue) indicates kindness. I don't think it does.

    I would either change exasperating to something else. The problem being I can't think of anything that works as well. Or - and this is the option I'd choose - change the second part of the sentence.

    I think it runs into the next line a little smoother this way too.

    The ambigutiy is an issue here again, because you're not naming Runa yet. Restructuring the next sentence seems the easiest way to fix.


    Had to make some more changes - mostly to my edits - once I put the passage back together. I think it works better now. Not naming Runa makes it a more challenging read, but that's okay. Still not 100% sure about the shift in subject (when Runa becomes she) in the last two sentences... I think it's okay. How about you?
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2018
  8. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Active Member

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    Another option would be shifting to a first person narrative. It would address the ambiguity issue and it would make withholding Runa's name much easier. Just a thought.

    I watched Miruna with these thoughts in mind. She handled the flowery cup fancily, with her pinky curled up in the usual fashion. Her dress was neat; she just had her long hair trimmed. It didn’t show much difference. I would have never noticed it, had[ it not] been for her mentioning the fact on an apparent whim. From [our] school days, only her eyes remained the same. The same clear, exasperating blue… [not t0 say Miruna’s eyes are] kind. They [hold] a certain malice that [can easily be] mistaken [for] something else; perhaps a touch of mysteriousness or even unperturbed confidence. Which, when it [comes] down to it, perhaps it [isn't] wrong… She [is] very confident in herself, if not in anything else, and she filters the entire[ty of] existence through her special glasses: she judges based on her own experiences, what is more, she [keeps] in dear ridicule anything that begs to differ. Some might [wonder why we're] friends. [The answer comes easily: we're not]. [A strange bond keeps us] together. And as much as [I want] to shatter it or even forget about it, [I can't]. I do not even dare put an unmoving label on our relationship.

    Thought I'd give it a go. It's much easier to change this way. The most difficult part is making sure to use the correct tenses. Don't know if this makes it too different from (the feeling of) the original. Maybe changing the POV alters the tone too much. My main concern would be that, in the case of Runa, it might alter her voice too much; that the act of telling the story makes her sound too assertive, as oppose to third where you had written her more of a spectator. I thought the way you captured Runa's voice (in the original) was one of the real strengths of your story - I wouldn't want to mess with that.

    I think this passage works okay in first. I just don't know if this perspective will detract from the feeling/tone as the story gets closer to the ending. Having thought about it a little, I worry it might.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
  9. Tamago

    Tamago Lord-Commander of Anakin's Kingsguard

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    This was so detailed! I’m rather overwhelmed! :D In a good way, of course.

    I actually tried to use first person narration in the beginning, but throughout the story I was shifting to the third person unknowingly and involuntarily so I had to give that up.

    Reading your critique and suggestions, I realize I won’t be able to edit it -though I will try to make some adjustments to clarify the confusion. Hm. But it would be much more easier and less stressful to start it all over and re-write the story. But that thought in itself is scary, I must admit.

    You have no idea how useful this entire process has been for me - I’ve come to see certain shortcomings I was not very aware of and that’s highly instructive and valuable. I will just have to find some power to go over the story once more -will keep you posted. I think it would be easier to just write in the first person, it would clarify things neatly. But the question is whether I am capable of doing it or not. Runa has become a real character for me -a character that hides beneath her own cloak of shyness and loneliness. She does not want to be discovered to such a degree and I feel I can never write from her perspective now. Not anymore. Because that will give her away. And she can’t talk about herself quite so openly. That’s the feeling I get from her. Or am I being too much of a writing-nerd?

    I’ll come back with other stories, if you feel like doing this again! :) I rather have one question, but there’s hardly enough material in that direction in the present short story to make it reevant. But I am immensely interested in the quality of the dialogue in my stories. I feel I lack at that quite a lot, or I don’t know, it’s boring -sort of? But, as I said, I’ll come back.

    Let’s see if I find the will to polish this one first:eek:.
     
  10. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Active Member

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    Wow, I found those comments super interesting. I almost wanted - no, that's not right. I did want to respond to everything you said point -by-point. Does that make me a writing nerd too? Yes, it definitely does. I won't though.

    What I would say is, I hope you decide to stick with this story (and however long it takes - post it here). Have a look at the edits again - the changes are minimal. Also (as I tried to say before), self-editing is so much harder than editing other people's work. We get so attached to our own words that it becomes almost impossible to see any problems - even simple spelling errors. Every book/story you've ever read (that's been professionally published) has gone through probably two or three edits before it's gone for a professional edit - only to be picked to pieces (by someone with little/no emotional attachment to it) and given back to the author to re-write and fix all the issues they missed.

    What I'm saying is, please consider spending the time with this. I'd be happy to keep workshopping it or discuss your issues with the writing/editing process as they arise. I'd also be happy to go through the rest of this story as we did with the first couple of passages (although I understand if that's not what you want). Just be aware, I am by no means an expert. My opinions are just that - opinions. We put a lot of ourselves into our stories and it can be damn difficult to even allow others to read them - never mind put them out there for criticism. Also remember, any shortcomings are with the text, not the writer.

    Me too. My initial instinct was that first preson would work well for this piece but when I read the passage back, I found the voice (Runa's voice) had lost something. I imagine this would only become more obvious as the story goes on. The way you wrote it made Runa feel like a passenger in a car which was hurtling toward a cliff. That feeling was what I loved most about it.

    I'd happily read/discuss anything you write in as much detail as you like. If you found this a bit much, I'd be happy to discuss this or anything else you write in more general terms as well.

    As above - I'll look at anything you post here. I thought the quality of the dialogue in this story was good. As you say, there's not a lot of it, but the real punch of the piece comes from Runa's introspection. I found the calm (not boring, no way) dialogue served the story well as a counterpoint to Runa's inner anguish. It's realistic. That's what we do every day in conversation. We don't tell the other person when we're dying inside, we smile and change the subject and go home and cry about it. I thought what you had here worked well.

    Hope all that makes sense. And thanks again.
     
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  11. Tamago

    Tamago Lord-Commander of Anakin's Kingsguard

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    I finally manage to reply here as well.

    I shall try to work on that story -though I will need some free time for that, and I have no idea how I'll get it. To be honest, life with a toddler doesn't leave much room for serious editing, unfortunately. But I'll see how I manage that. It's awfully hard for me to edit, but I am aware that what you said is true. Furthermore, I can't possibly want to become a writer without being able to actually edit some of my text.

    This is so true.
    It's so hard to edit. I can't give up on the words I created. I can't give up on the world so easily -it's already alive, it has already taken a certain shape and when I edit and change it, I feel like I'm stealing something from it. And this feeling is mixed with an even more horrible one. The fear that the changes I make are worse, not better, so I end up destroying the story that I wanted to make better. I have no idea how to get over this fear -other than actually facing it and editing as much as I can. And, hopefully, starting to trust myself after I see some concluding evidence. But am I capable of judging if one thing is better than the other? Well, hopefully, I am not that bad so I can't see the obvious. At least.

    How do you manage to edit? If I can ask the question.

    And yes, everything makes perfect sense. Thank you ever so much again.
     
  12. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Active Member

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    I'm taking this question to mean how do I (personally) edit, so I'll give you my take. Just be aware: I am a unique little snowflake, and my experiences/biases may not be worth your consideration.

    Editing, while it has been a big issue for me, it's been an enjoyable one. I go through my work sentence by sentence, idea by idea, over and over. I do have a couple of extenuating circumstances.

    1: When I began writing a couple of years ago, I hadn't written anything since high school (except some poetry and song lyrics), so I was very conscious (especially in the beginning) of my lack of technical knowledge. It wasn't that I was real happy about editing, I just knew it was something I'd have to do. I'm currently 2 years into writing a novel; learning as I go. Most of that time has been spent editing, mostly based on feedback from my partner. Which brings me to my second point...

    2: My partner is an English teacher (published poet, writer, editor, part time philosopher and full time know-all), and an avid reader of fantasy and sci-fi (amongst other things). So my learning curve - although steep - has been helped along by someone who posesses most of the knowledge I lack. I really can't overstate the influence/re-enforcing effect her opinions/ideas have had on my writing. I doubt very much I'd have had the self-belief required to persist with writing, had I been on my own.

    So that's my personal experience with editing/writing: they're the same thing. Or rather, two sides of the same coin.

    Understand these feelings completely. I would qualify that by saying, I think they're illogical (not that this makes them invalid in any way).

    When you edit, you always have the option of retaining the original text. So if you spend hours editing a piece, only to realise you prefered the original version, you can always scrap the edit.

    My experience has been (and I always keep the originals to compare) that I get as attached to my edits as to the original text. I'm not cheating on it, I'm making it better. By that I mean, I'm making it say what I intended it to in the beginning, but in a more succinct/stylised/direct/clever/clear (whatever), way.

    We put a lot of ourselves into the text, but at some point we have to allow it to function on its own. Personal attachment has to come second (however close) to what's best for the story. I edit my own writing as though I'm thinking about a past conversation. What could I have said to give me a certain outcome? How could I have explained myself better? That kind of thing. You get to relive the story with the benefit of hindsight - which is as powerful a tool as the initial creative process, I think.

    (This doesn't apply to me personally, but...) Some people like/need to leave a bit of time between writing and editing in order to remain objective. Something to consider.

    The two lines above could easily be more valuable to you (as a writer) than everything else in this post. The process is almost entirely personal. Although you will have to spend some time editing, this could mean thinking about your own work critically (without making physical changes), even if that's only to inform something you write in the future.

    The process of writing is personal; the result is subjective - that's why criticism (even self-criticism) exists.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
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  13. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Active Member

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    I changed the name of this thread @Tamago. Hope that's okay (let me know if you would like it changed to something else). Thought I would open a new one in case anyone else has some writing they'd like to discuss. It'll allow us to keep this thread open as long as we need, to discuss Miruna exclusively.
     
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  14. Tamago

    Tamago Lord-Commander of Anakin's Kingsguard

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    It
    It’s quite okay!

    Also, thank you very much for sharing with me the manner in which you edit. It’s been very useful -it made me think about how I can be able to edit my own texts. I don’t think I’ve figured out the answer just yet, but getting a glimpse on how you do it gave me a certain different sight/perception on the whole thing. I thought I was virtually incapable of editing my own work. But I wonder if that’s true. Perhaps I am just a bit lazy and totaly scared of messing up and losing confidence in myself. I will have to find out a certain method that works for me. I don’t think I can be objective, but getting a break/a period of time between writing and editing might do the trick. At least I might forget some aspects that were very dear to me and I can challenge my own work. I haven’t looked at it this way, so it’s thanks to you that I realize that editing is not a “waste of time”, it can actually improve one’s own writing technique. It can make you more knowledgeable about your own style/writing and help you with future work as well. So I will need to find my answer.

    Thank you!
     
  15. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Active Member

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    There's an expression I keep coming across when I research the writing/editing process. I've had to do this a couple of times myself: Killing your darlings.

    What it means is, cutting parts of your story/novel that you're attached to for the benefit of the story as a whole.

    The other thing it means is - since this is a pretty widely accepted expression - that you're not alone. We all have to learn how/when to kill our darlings, it is not easy (as the expression suggests). I can say from (limited) experience, it does get easier each time. It can be quite cathartic (for me), but I've come to view them as mercy killings because... my story comes first.

    If you've got a horse in your barn and it's in severe pain, and you can't fix it no matter what you do. It's not eating its... cornflakes(?). Anyway, it's suffering is disturbing all the other horses (in the barn?) and now they're not behaving at all as horses should (there's no milk, or whatever). Even if you love that poor, incurable old Daisy - no, especially then - you put it out of its mysery for the sake of the farm, don't you?

    Maybe you keep a picture of it above your fireplace (or on a save-file, which you can use in a short-story later?).
    What I'm saying is, you've got to edit. For the good of the farm.

    Ps: I am not a farmer.
     
  16. Keyser Sushi

    Keyser Sushi Verbal Carp

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    Hi @Tamago, I just wanted to say that I know how you feel with regard to editing. I think it requires two things, which may be one thing, I'll come back to that. Basically you have to develop the muscles for being willing to change your words. And it IS difficult, I feel that. But also, you have to have the confidence in yourself as a writer, to listen to the voice that tells you when something isn't working.

    I have that first problem sometimes because...I sit down to write something and I find an idea, or I meet a character for the first time in a particular situation, and that's my in, to getting acquainted with them and figuring out how to write them. And that moment of discovery is so precious that I hate to change it. But then I also hate getting rejected by literary agents (if I could get paid for THAT, I'd be set for life by now, lol).

    And I have that second problem because I have a bit of depression, and so I spend a lot of time telling a critical voice inside my head to shut up, because it's the bad voice that wants to make me feel bad about myself. But it's hard to differentiate between that voice, and the one that's telling me, "hey, this piece of writing would be better if you changed [x]," because I don't necessarily like to hear that, either. And therefore like you I sometimes worry that changing things might be self-sabotage.

    But that voice, that second one...is useful. Time and again Tireless here shows me something I knew, or suspected, but lacked the confidence in my inner voice to accept. And while hearing it from him helps me to recognize that hey, that voice in there isn't trying to hurt me but help me... it also isn't fair of me to always rely on others to help me see that. I have to be able to do it for myself. The struggle, as they say, is real.

    So, I don't know how much of that applies to you, but from what I can see you've got the talent and I hope you don't have the depression problem that I have, because that's a right bastard of a problem. And like Tireless says, you can save endless versions of your work, so you never really lose the bits you love, even when you take them out of the next draft. And it sounds like you're on the right track, there.

    Soneone, one of my professors I think...I'm old, it's hard to remember who...once told me that "writers make choices." And my dad, in all his leadership experience, has often pointed to the concept that leaders make decisions without always knowing what's right. It mostly requires having the courage to make the choice. Especially if you want others to follow you. In writing, you're sort of your own boss. So you must be confident and decisive even when you don't feel it. Decisiveness breeds confidence, and vice-versa. Or, as one of my ex-girlfriends used to say: don't think. Seemed like terrible advice at the time. Well. Some of the time. I retrospect I had the times flipped.

    Oh, a third thing. Sometimes I don't even see the problems, until I come back months or years later and look at what I've written and wonder what the hell I was thinking. For this reason alone, I save all my old work. So I can look back sometimes and see that I've improved, and that revising was worth it and there was value in all the agonizing. And that the agents weren't wrong. :eek: