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Astray - Commentary

Note: I'm well aware that in a journal touting conciseness, I am anything but (and could stand to be more so when writing stories). Shh. Just quietly enjoy the irony.

Although not in the vein of my character commentaries, I thought it might be a good idea for me to discuss things my stories a little more, particularly the less obvious themes - that is, after all, the main reason people are watching me and using journals to get a little bit of "author commentary" going might be fun.

Though character commentaries on Gary, for instance, might be interesting now that his own story is starting to come out into the light.

Before I begin on that, though, I want to mention that Tai's Story's supplemental materials are still in the works, and the document would be finished, except I'm not too sure about the legalities of putting names and lyrics of the tracks I wanted to have in the hypothetical soundtrack in the document.
Also, there's the short story that I wanted to release simultaneously but it's been sidetracked by other projects, namely Astray and The Soulflower Festival.

Yesterday evening, I was talking with a real life friend about various things to do with writing, and we started discussing the conservation of detail and realism (er, for one thing; I kinda talk too much). A few interesting things came up.

My friend noted that, in real life, people don't often refer to one another by name, thus it can be difficult to follow a conversation between characters with nothing but dialogue; and also how often amateur writers tend to make the mistake of having characters use names in dialogue to the point of sheer cumbersomeness.

That reminded me to discuss something I had actually been thinking about recently. Anyone here who has read Astray probably noticed that people who talk to Nick tend to use his name rather a lot - particularly his social worker who has a habit of using it every second sentence or so.

That was a deliberate choice regarding their interaction right from the start. On the other hand, Nick almost never uses titles or names at all - he choked the first time when he tried to say Gary's name, and it was a big (albeit subtle) deal when he bothered to ask what his social worker's name was.

The first part of it is that Czejak likes to use people's names to put them at ease and establish friendly, polite conversation. That's pretty simple; it's almost a cliche, a psychologist that keeps calling you by name.

The other part of it is prompting. Nick often gets lost in thought and distracted, and the saying of his name reminds him that someone is currently communicating with him.

Then there's the simple fact that the others are more comfortable with communicating with him than he is with them, usually. He's too shy (and yet too proud) to say names like that.
I actually was the same way when I was about his age. I could say "mum" or "dad" and "Mrs. Whatever" (for a teacher, usually) but there's no weight attached to those titles or names.

Calling someone "auntie" or "sir" ... that just didn't come out of my mouth. Except for the time I bullshitted that cop... *cough* That's different. No, you don't need to ask about that.
There's a difference between calling some trumped up bitch of a teacher "sir/ma'am" and calling, say, a superior officer in the military or my old instructor such a thing too.
A discussion for another day though, that is.

I don't have those hangups now. Just trying to give a little idea of how Nick would be feeling.
Like Nick, I often just resorted to not using names or titles. Particularly not if the only name I was given was actually a title loaded with connotations - sorry, but ten-year-old me was not going to say it, because it just felt awkward (shyness; it isn't normal) and demeaning (pride).

It's also worth noting that, in this country, we don't say "sir" or "ma'am" with the sort of regularity Americans do: it's a polite form of equal address in America, but not here. So it wasn't just my mouth this stuff didn't come out of.*

Nick however is American, and the way I was taken up to eleven, and won't even say "please" or "thank you." He isn't used to speaking like that, spouting names, platitudes or titles with regularity. It makes him feel awkward and submissive or demeaned.

So there you go, if you're wondering why Czejak sounds like a broken record and why Nick treats saying a name like he's agreeing to let a viper bite him on the nose.

Still on the subject of conservation of detail, I usually avoid giving too much detail in my stories. It's all well and good to give a lot of description but no more than is necessary - let the reader imagine a few things and fill in the gaps themselves, often they don't even realize they're doing it. A little bit of florid descriptive prose is just lovely and establishes a scene or character wonderfully, but too much of it and it looks like you're perpetually doing writing exercises or showing off your education.

In a recent short story I did, Warmth in the Trenches, and the human version especially, I was mostly trying to do exactly that: practice descriptive prose and get some writing done.

Yet, when I was discussing this with a reader recently, I mentioned that I tend to avoid giving too much description - and WITT was no exception. This is a habit I picked up awhile ago, firstly because I despise the tedious, prolix rambling so common in fan-fiction (dude, we don't need an entire page of your juvenile prose describing your Mary-Sue, get on with it), secondly because furries have different ideas about how characters look, and finally because I believe the readers should be allowed to use their imagination. I set the framework of a scene only as rigidly as I need to.

It's always interesting to hear how people imagine scenes and characters differently; and there are so many fetishes in the furry fandom, you can forget describing things like paws and genitals. I'm a little over it now, but for a while I used to do whatever I could to NOT describe genitals during sex scenes. Now, screw you, I'm describing them the way I like 'em, baby.

So, this reader asked for an example, and I asked him simply:

"Is it day or night in Warmth in the Trenches?"

After a few seconds where I presume he was trying to remember if I mention it at all (I don't), he goes: "Oh, it's night of course!" and proceeds to tell me why he thinks so.

.... That's freakin' great! It's exactly what I mean. He had this perfect image in his head, his own understanding of the lighting and rationale for all of it based on preconceptions and connotations. Sure, I could've spent ages describing a dull, grey twilight or the darkest smothering night, but I don't believe my vision of a scene needs to match that of every other reader.

Also, WITT was a practice in concise descriptive prose.

If I have a very specific vision for a scene, place or character, I'll let that be known. I can do that, if need be. But the wonder of writing is that it guides and enables the human imagination to go to places it might never have ventured before. I don't really want nor need to waste my reader's time with unnecessary description when their imaginations can do such a good job on their own.

Again, I'll do it if I have to. I do have a very specific, detailed image in my own head of the characters, places and actions-  and a pretty decent vocabulary to boot!- but otherwise I'd sooner leave their imaginations unfettered.

I'd love to be a visual artist, or to direct movies, where there's almost no avoiding a uniformity of vision but that's an entirely different art form with its own benefits and drawbacks.

... Am I the only one that thinks a full-color, professional comic of Tai's Story or Astray, would kick ass? Or maybe an animated film? I think that'd rock some serious ass.
Like, a professional quality comic.

... Am I? The only one? D:

Well, with the sex taken out, I suppose. Can't have that. Murder, violence and emotional abuse, all cool. But not the loving sex.

Y'see, the characters are too young for that.

* - confused the hell out of a lady when I came back from the USA and stopped her in the street to give her something she dropped, because I said "excuse me, ma'am!"
... You motherfuckers have poisoned me.
Viewed: 40 times
Added: 7 years, 2 months ago
7 years, 2 months ago
You might be able to have https://www.furaffinity.net/user/kitsuneyoukai/ are up a comic of it for ya! :D
7 years, 2 months ago
I'm kinda baffled to be honest. I don't see the big deal in saying sir and maam. Everyone recently has been making a fuse about it (in a good way). My editors in yearbook love how I address them as mam and sir even though its second nature to me. Ive had people yelling at me (vey intensely i might add) and i still address them with a polite yes ma'am. Once instance was when my yearbook adviser was yelling at me intensely in 8th grade because I had taken blurry dark photos of a dance and messed up the assignment. Her face was red with anger and I was on the verge of tears yet every insult she threw at me that rocked me to the core was only responded with a respectable yes ma'am. I will refuse to address anyone as something other than sir or maam unless I need to. I'm not gonna lie every insult and belittling was met with the polite response.  I was raised to respect people that hate my guts. It's just how I've been brought up.

 Ive realized how stereotypical I am til recently. Im a country boy stuck in the suburbs. I own several flannel shirts that are only outnumbered by my boot cut jeans (most bought second hand from salvation army). I own a pair of dark brown boots with square toes that have been through hell and back. I own one pair of sneakers that literally are falling apart. Most of the bottom is missing and the sole more wom out than an out of shape kid after running a mile. I also own a black cowboy hat that looks magnificent on me. Mostly because its the same color as my hair. Being the cheap son of a bitch I am I bought the hat a few sizes to big because I figured I'd grow into it. Still is alittle too big btw. I also have a deep texas drawl that I'm tryin to fix before college. I'm literally the spitting image of country boy. I can't think of a single stereotype I don't fit. (keep in mind country and white trash are completely different things. Also I'm a huge patriot and republican. Not the type of republican that only votes for his party or uses the bible as a way to spread hate and distrust but I simply believe in the values and idea the GOP has. Also I'm a mutt. (no I'm not a furry or anything i just don't know how else to describe it) I'm a little bit of everything that is European. Irish, Scottish, German, russian, polish, Jewish (ethno religious group but I think it's still a race) delaware Indian, well pretty think you get the point. So all i can say is im pretty much an American.
7 years, 2 months ago
"I don't see the big deal in saying sir and maam."
Well yeah, that's because you're an American. Here, saying it is outright weird and too polite for normal conversation.

"I'm not gonna lie every insult and belittling was met with the polite response."
I applaud you for being the bigger man. I would've snapped back for sure. I doubt you took bad photos on purpose. I respect folks who deserve it. If some bitch wants to chew me out and make me feel bad for something I already regret, I'll let them know when enough is enough.
... Silly bitch has no right to be screaming at a polite eighth grader over pictures of a dance.

"Im a country boy stuck in the suburbs."
Hehe, your music taste clued me in. :3
Well, I'm from the suburbs and I like country, but apparently I'm weird... I'm also weird in that:

"Also I'm a huge patriot and republican."
Funnily enough, ditto. Kind of. I'm relatively patriotic, pro-American despite not being American, and I'm apparently more right-wing than the typical furry. So I more or less know where you're coming from. If I was voting between the two, I'd be a bit of a South Park Republican: I "hate Republicans, but REALLY hate Democrats."

So that makes you a stereotype, and me pretty much the complete opposite (which is to say: I'm freakin' weird).
And yeah, country folk don't bother me at all and only idiots confuse country people for trash of any colour.
7 years, 2 months ago
Sayin yes sir and maam over here is also weird. No one else does it which bugs me alittle. So no Americans dont normally say sir or maam because they're too busy with the fuck offs and the go to hells.

as far as my old yearbook teacher her message got through to me. I'm apparently a great person to vent anger at. A verbal punching bag if you will. And while it was unnessassary the other staff members didn't do anything so she was stressed out like no other and I opened the floodgates.

Country music isn't very popular or well liked at all in my area. I don't understand I but people are gonna hate. They prefer that autotune shit while me and a few others are shunned for not listening to "real music". Biggest fail ever.

Hey i feel ya on the south park thing. Don't often watch tv but I think I know what u mean. I hate all the current GOP candidates with a passion especially Rick perry who drove Texas into the ground.

I'm glad someone knows the difference. I think were alittle more alike than different. I mean anyone who likes country is a friend of mine. Also for fucks sake stop belittling yourself. Your weird compared to what? Jackasses that don't know culture if it slapped them right across the face. You don't seem weird at all and just cause you like something that SOME people look down on doesn't make you weird. By many peoples standards me and all my friends are weird. I'm into photography and a guy. That is a weird concept to many people. I like country and blast it outta my car. That's apparently weird. I say maam and sir frequently and thats apparently weird. All this seems perfectly natural to me and that's all that matters. In this book called cath 22 it talks about how what if the insane people are actually the only sane people but because there in the minority there locked up. I mean maybe those that judge you are actually the weird ones. It's all perspective
7 years, 2 months ago
Hmm...leave it to the imagination to guide the thoughts. Sometimes it bugs me how a writer tells just exactly how big some characters shlong is, or how big a pair of knockers are. If her tits are double F's, then please at least don't make it painful to read the measurements.

I've once had the idea to measure everything in a story, to how many steps taken just to poke fun at the thought of, "Nine inches of cawk!"
7 years, 2 months ago
Funnily enough, that's a major peeve of mine.

Seriously, I do not think all porn needs to feature gigantic penises and boobs. It's bad enough in real life where it's a real person with a real schlong/rack ("Oh, wow, that IS impressive!"), but in fiction it's just embarrassing to see any mention of 16-inch dicks ("Wow, that's kinda sad...").
7 years, 2 months ago
Interesting....I was always afraid that leaving some stuff to the reader was considered to be lazy writing. Now I see that it can certainly be done in good taste. Also, just sayin, if a full color "astray" or "tai's story" comic were created, I would totally buy that.
7 years, 2 months ago
Well, y'see, one thing I never mentioned in the journal is that's possible to be aware of possible connotations/expectations that might direct a reader's imagination, and use that to your advantage. So you don't need to be specific and overly descriptive if you know how to set the readers' minds on the right track.

You can call it either laziness or effective use or writing technique. =3 It's not exactly the same as what I was talking about in the journal (which was that you should let the reader's employ their imagination a little bit and not bog them down with excessive descriptions and fluff - there's a balance to achieve) but still.

To be honest, yes, I think I could stand to be a little more descriptive and I will be trying to work on that.
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