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Nov 03, 11 at 4:51pm ^re: The Critique Corner
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I also made the change you suggested for "its own way", and took efforts to at least synonym down the number of "grins" in the piece. The rest of it I kinda left, which isn't to dismiss your criticisms, but I just feel they're minor enough to let slide as the little differences of taste all of us have. I just wanted to letcha know to show appreciation for taking the time to read my work and giving your feedback, really win of ya .
finalfight you, sir, I have so much thanks to give as well and enthusiastic responses to everything you said, but I fear my time runs shorter, and I'd hate to write half of it and get cut short, so at the moment I say thanks so much for your thoughtful feedback and I owe you an equally thoughtful reply as soon as I get a clear, unhurried chance.
Big Bad Edit
And now to give the heartfelt response I've been hopping to share !
I may repeat some things I've said before, but I think about all this stuff so much it's hard to keep track of what I've said and what I've just thought of saying, so please forgive me if I do. Starting as you did with Killer, I got the most gleeful little thrill on reading that the piece caused you to see him with a respect you didn't hold him in before, especially as it sounds like you already liked him. I really, really cannot over-emphasise my gratitude for you taking your time to tell me as much in thoughtful words - it is the thing I strive for as a writer most of all, the moneyshot, to create such a reaction in another real person. That's when I feel the work is completed, not just in my head, nor on thoughtless and non-sentient paper or servers but present in the mind of another person the way I intended it to be.
Of the piece itself, I've said this before I'm sure but Zone's driven nature, the serious and determined lengths he will go to in the right circumstances for something he deems important, is fundamental to his being, absolutely key and core to his whole character. And yet, it is a trait that could quickly become tiresome, or overshadow the rest of who he is, if emphasised and underlined time and again, which I don't want for Zone. He isn't just meant to be that, but to be cocky and playful and impish and all the rest, to be a fleshed out, feeling and thinking complete individual you could know as a friend, or could hang out with, or have a discussion about a very wide range of topics with, a real soul, as opposed to a weapon-grade willpower with only a skin-deep paintjob of personality traits for style. That's who he is, and his life is a full and varied one, not just fighting broken up by advert breaks of eating, sleeping and small talk, and bringing it out time and again, not in response to a fitting situation but in fitting a situation to show off that response, is not the way I want to write as a personal choice. It's a mechanism I see very often, do sometimes use and don't look down on or anything, you might call it framing, or spotlighting, where rather than having a situation and your character reacts to that situation, the circumstances themselves are engineered to justify the reaction you want, and sometimes it's very transparent that it's being done - the legion protagonists whose parents died for the sole purpose of creating an environment where the protagonist can interact with the scenario of their parents having died. Again I have nothing grudging against it, and it is virtually impossible not to do to an extent, but to do it more than a little, feels like cheating. I feel like I'm loading the dice if my characters only ever deal with a controlled environment, something built around their needs, so I have shelves of ideas for ways to convey aspects of my various characters, to show details and depths I think I could make quite profound by the level of thought and feeling I've put into them, that I will probably never use because if I have to constantly bend the whole world around my characters to show who they really are, instead of them being able to express themselves independently without a catered environment, it feels like I'm failing to make them real. Zone's will is always there inside him, and it's kind of like an organ, really. You can't see the heart of another human being, but you can tell with fair certainty it is there from the fact they move and breathe and act; likewise Killer is like an x-ray, sort of (I know x-rays are for seeing bones instead of organs mainly), one clear exposed look at this core element of the rodent, and having learned of its existence, the rest of the time you can tell, by his behaviour and actions and attitude, that it's there, even if you can't see it directly, you can sense it working under the surface all the time, the same way you could infer whether or not the heart of any given person is beating or not if you know how one works.
That's my great hope, at least, that people really get this aspect of Zone and, fingers crossed, like him more for it, from this piece, and for the second half, that they can look at him in other pieces, which don't put this aspect of Zone on active display, but they can look at his daring cheek, his boldly inappropriate humour, and see how it all fits together with his fierce will as a whole person, with the latter at the core of his mental physiology the same way his heart is at the core of his physical body. You haven't said that you see shall we say the pulse of his fiery will in his "normal" behaviour, but even being more interested in him as a whole because of it is a triumph to me .
On the note of Zone being in the wrong, I am touched and honoured you called it an accomplishment despite believing that he was wrong. Most people would just agree or dissent in accordance with their own dogma instead of thinking it through, and while I hold an opinion of you as more open-minded than most I still really appreciate you crediting it with such sway. I don't try to write Gospel rights or wrongs - Crysis or another of my characters would have very different views about the subject, I just try to present those views and the thoughts, feelings and reasoning behind them earnestly, as though the character honestly does believe them, because they do, even if I don't share such an outright conviction. I, personally, prefer to think of all things, instead of pick one and then fortify it to the further neglect of all others. You say that for example would Zone have reacted the same way to a deer being shot, and undeniably that it was Crysis in danger did affect him emotionally. But would you react more strongly to the life someone you love being put in danger than that of a random person you don't know? If you did, would it make it wrong for you to try to save them from their murderer? Or should you try to save both your beloved and a stranger's life, is that the right thing to do, even if in your heart you're driven more strongly in the former case? Does the hunter have the right to take the life of any innocent sentient being not in self-defence or for survival, but out of whimsical sport? I don't set out along any question to get to the first answer I find comfy enough and settle down there, I never stop exploring, and I don't write what I do in mind of a "right" destination either, so whatever answers you would give to the above questions there's no right or wrong as far as I'm concerned, even if there is with Zone, my only goal is for you to think about the question, and it sounds like you did. On a last note, I can tell you Zone's detailed explanation wasn't to reassure himself though, but was an attempt to get the hunter to understand the reason he would die, rather than a blind and seemingly meaningless execution.
Hehehe, and that's my response to your feedback on Killer . So next is Not Afraid To Cry. I can recycle some of what I said up there as it applies to this to, and to all my characters, in wanting to get across what's really important and defining about a character without massaging circumstances around them constantly, so I do these handful of focus pieces (although Not Afraid To Cry isn't one of the main set of them, but still), hoping to communicate what's really core to each of them, so that you know it's there and hopefully can sort of see it under the surface in their behaviour in more normal circumstances, so it is always there without shuffling the entire world around pointing it out time and again. I share your private distaste of angst and get what you meant about angst for the sake thereof so much - it's angst-porn, plain and simple. It is to an interest in angst what porn sites and sex with the pizza delivery boy plots are to an interest in sex. And I don't mind either, unabashed indulgence has its place, but it is tiresome when it's the only genre you can find. And at the same time, without wanting to slip down that all-too-well-lubricated slope of coming across as just that, pain, sadness and sorrow are a part of experiencing life, a part not strictly required, but if you do have a painful experience yet do not experience pain, it's absolutely lethal to the sense the character is alive and has feelings. I did try, with this piece, to avoid what angst usually is. Angst normally carries an overtone of complaining, a kind of crippled aggression, the shape but not the energy, and self-pity of some form often as well. With Crysis he isn't complaining, nor feeling sorry for himself, but as I've done my best to convey, is simply crushingly sad because he's seen so many other more or less innocent people die painfully. He's not grumbling, or whining, or any other variety of trying to tell the world at large how it's wrong, and the loss isn't his own. He just does not know how else to react to seeing such an overwhelming amount of suffering, the sort of scale that makes every happy thing he has ever known, seen or heard of combined seem like a candle in front of a tidal wave. Crysis cares, he really does, it's fundamental to him as much as Zone's will is to him, and the thing I love most of all about duels is the influence other people have upon the course of what you write, to get even a little piece of another real person's spirit in your own work, something you can never, ever do by yourself, I love and embrace that above all else in the NDL. In this case, DG gave me something, and as you said it may have been intended as a disposable shock value affair for his part, but I took it, used it and wove it together with my own words, the spirit of my own writing and characters, because it's what I love to do. This is the result, and yeah it's a little sappy, but I think sappy happens sometimes or we wouldn't know what it is, and I'm again really happy and delighted so much of it got through to you .
Moving onto Dark Enough To Dream, I have less to say in reply to your feedback, but not for lesser value, you just put it so succinctly. It and Light Enough To Float are together an intended point of character development for Crysis and Zone. The characters are actually a little more developed in my head than in the NDL, but I decided that, seeing as that development took time in real life, rather than skipping past it in the NDL, I would reflect how they have grown better, closer and from each other as an arc for them in the League, their first one. In Dark Enough To Dream, what Zone is going through is a paraphrasing of personal growth I myself went through in real life. I can't recall if you've read the rodents' Coil, but as a child, although I was nice, I had a wildly out of control temper, and could be terribly destructive and violent if I got angry. Over many years and experiences I'll save on laying out here I got more control over myself so that the caring, nice person I have always been wouldn't get drowned out by that other part of myself, and a lot of that gentle side of myself is Crysis. Go forwards yet more years in my life, and I came to think that the wild part of myself, which I had never lost, merely got control of, I came to think it wasn't just evil, simply bad or wrong, I just didn't know how to use it right. A lot of that part of me is Zone, and I realised I can do a lot of good with that wildness, if rather than allowing it to spill out into violence, I channel it into making people laugh far harder by telling outrageous jokes than I can by just being friendly, another kind of fun and happiness, for one example. It's kind of like fire, uncontrolled it will burn, but if used right it gives us warmth and comfort, things like central heating, the combustion engine, good things. With Zone, in this piece, the contrast is more extreme, since while I led a kind of wild childhood I didn't get into any battles of mid-range destruction as Zone has, such being the thrills of fiction, hehehe. But I often look at it like this - what is a weapon? A weapon is a tool designed to harm, and/or to kill. That is what they are, it is their sole and intended function, harm and killing. Is anything in this world really more purely evil, looked at like that? And yet, yet police sometimes carry guns, peace-keeping forces more or less always do, and many people often think of swords as noble. I think it's this way, at least in some cases, because weapons are tools, and a tool is not itself right or wrong, but the uses it's put to are. You can bash a person's skull in with a fire bucket, and give somebody life-saving surgery with a knife. Zone enjoys fighting, and winning, and it spurs him on further when he does than if he didn't. That ability itself is a weapon, and it's not meant to be noble or virtuous, but a tool that can be put to good or evil purpose. Gaining an understanding of that, with Crysis' help, as it's something complex and subtle and those are not Zone's fortes as much as his more sensitive friend's, is a point, a milestone really, for Zone, making him just a little stronger and a little happier for not fighting with his own impulses or fearing that he was evil. That was the intention, anyway, and I'm really delighted you picked up on how Crysis helped him better than if he was alone .
And that just leaves Light Enough To Float. It really interests me to hear you say you feel there's more to Zone, and not because I'm about to correct you, but because of how you see them both and how that has come to be your view. What seems like so long ago, I used to think it would be a problem, that Zone would overshadow Crysis as a more cool, active and exciting character. And for different reasons I can recall worrying about Zone seeming not to hold equal to Crysis in some other ways and situations. There were points where I pondered about Crysis, to focus on what you said, seeming the weaker half and tag-along to a more solid character, that it would harm the fundamental equality the two of them are meant to have as a team, in it together, side by side rather than the one behind the other, and I tried to think if maybe I should do something to buff him up, help him keep in stride with Zone and match him evenly. I came to realise though, in yet more time, the truth of it was that there was more strength, depth, and sincerity in recognising and showing who Crysis and Zone really are, rather than trying to change one or the other to fit some impersonal pattern of matching capabilities in area X or Y. Zone is more rawly exciting, and better at fighting, and since fighting is such a big component of the NDL, the environment brings his strengths to the fore, and causes him to feel more prominent, but I'm okay with that, because I know if for example I wrote an entirely socially-orientated story with Crysis and Zone in it, Zone would appear to lag behind the depth of feeling, empathy and touching thoughtfulness Crysis is capable of. There was a stage where I felt they both had to be strong, but what Crysis has is not strength but gentleness, and although the NDL often gives so much more limelight to strength, I'm confident in the depth each character has, and I'm okay with not modding them so it shines equally strongly in every situation and setting, cus I know it's there, and if I wrote a socially-driven novel where having the guts to stare down a cyborg-Nazi-demon wasn't as relevant as dealing with people's feelings, then the situation would be reversed. That's not to say I don't think it's important for them both to show through well in the NDL, or any given setting, but you seem to like Crysis, and recognise what he brings to their union, even though I haven't tried to buff him up as having the same strength as Zone in some different yet fortunately relevant way, so I'd say that's going well enough . So all in all I'm really happy about how you view both characters, seeing as they are meant to be different individuals, and in different situations or to different people one might appeal more than the other, so it might just be, and seems fairly likely, that you just like Zone more as a person, and so long as you like Crysis as well in general, even if not as much, then I can't see anything wrong with that, and honestly it makes me happy, since if you can like them both yet one more than the other, it means I'm doing a good job of showing them as individuals as well as a team.
Hehehe, and that's that! Told you you'd get enthusiastic responses .
Edit: Nov 27, 11 11:13am
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