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WANT YOUR VIEWS

Janet and I would like your opinions on something. When she read my latest story, In the Arms of an Angel, she said that she kinda wished that there’d been a scene with Simon having a press con and scenes of Jim meeting with the various units and maybe even … oops, I’d better be careful or I’ll be giving too much away before anyone has a chance to read the story that prompted this discussion (if that’s possible to do when only referring to what isn’t there, LOL!).

I found her observations interesting in that, as a writer, I’m always concerned about not replicating what I’ve written somewhere else and, given my fascination with post-TSbyBS stories, I’ve written a whole lot of resolution scenes in a lot of detail in the past, from a whole variety of various solution perspectives. And many, many other writers have done so, too. So I kinda figure that people are tired of the ‘same old, same old’ repetition of what happened in detail.

However, as a reader, Janet says, “For me I never get tired of reading the details! Each story for me stands on its own, written many ways even if going over the same ground. But all are written differently and I reread stories so many times, that reading the details again and again is no problem for me, I love it! We know going in that it's a TSbyBS fix so I expect detail.”

So, we thought we’d ask you guys for your opinions, particularly as readers. Does each story stand so much on its own that you want the details, even if you’ve pretty much read them before? Or are you content to be told in summary form what happened and have the story plotline move on?

I suspect a lot of writers feel much as I do, in not wanting to repeat themselves, but by all means, share your views, too. Both as writers and as readers.

Janet and I are looking forward to your comments and discussion.

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
rhianne
Nov. 20th, 2006 08:03 pm (UTC)
Hmm...interesting question! Personally, I'm a big fan of show-don't-tell, so I always prefer having the details than having a character just say what has happened. Yes, it might be a variation on a scene I've read a hundred times before, but the difference is that it's *your* take on the scene, and that's something I've never read.

As a reader, I find that every writer has a different perspective on the canon events, and therefore writes in a completely unique way. It might be a scene I've read before, but if the writer puts one sentence or one phrase that's new, and that really packs an emotional punch, or has something definitive to say, then that makes the whole thing a completely new experience.

Some of my favourite stories about S2, or TSbyBS, are very similar to many others, but just have one single turn of phrase or observation buried inside the story that is just a nugget of pure gold, and I'll read them again and again just to get to that one moment. It's the details that make a story truly stand on its own. :-)

Just my 2p.
caarianna
Nov. 20th, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
Hey, thanks, Rhianne! I really appreciate your detailed comments. Hmmm, I may have to go in and edit that new story I just posted. ::grins::
luicat
Nov. 20th, 2006 08:19 pm (UTC)
I have to agree with Janet and Rhianne.
I too love the details and will reread stories over and over for just one little bit that makes it so special.
caarianna
Nov. 20th, 2006 08:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks for commenting! You know, this is really interesting. I can't speak at all for other writers, but I write to entertain so these views are really important to me. I'd imagined at least one of the scenes Janet would have liked to see, but discarded the idea of writing it because it would have closely resembled a scene I did earlier this year for another story and I thought people would just shake their heads when they read it.

I know just where that scene would go in, too. Hmm, really, really thinking I'm going to have to edit this latest story! Thanks for your input!
snailbones
Nov. 20th, 2006 09:24 pm (UTC)
I agree with Janet - I love to read and re-read stories, and don't mind if an author goes back over a theme or repeats details in order to head off in a different direction - it's all part of the fun to see where a writer will go with something. A story that has a quick summary and then whizzes off with the plot leaves me scrambling to catch up a bit... but that may be down to me being a ploddy reader *g*

::wanders off to read new story smiling happily::
caarianna
Nov. 20th, 2006 09:37 pm (UTC)
There's definitely a pattern forming here, LOL! Thanks for sharing your views!

Um, could I ask after you've read the story that prompted all this, would you get back to me with an email. The 'summary' in question isn't in the beginning but fairly near the end, and I wonder if that will make a difference or if you'd still want more of what happened in the background. Though, now that I think about it, there's a sort of summary in the beginning, too! Anyway, let me know what you think as to whether the story would be stronger with some additional work. Thanks!

roslynsmuse
Nov. 20th, 2006 10:20 pm (UTC)
In summary. . .
That story was fantastic! Loved the premise and build-up as well as the tension between all the characters. As someone who has only seen the first season and read scripts as well as fanon (not to mention a wonderful arianna tutorial :), I have long depended upon repetition in stories of canon incidents, to be aware of

1. specific incidents that are being recalled in a given story to set the mood, like when Jim took off for vacation on his own and Blair followed with Simon. That incident altered the relationships among all three of them so needs explanations and reviews for newbies like myself.

2. unresolved issues such as the sacrifices being made by each party during the Ales thing and TSbBS. Those have to be reviewed to some extent as Arianna did in this story - otherwise, why would the Sister want to end Blair's pain?

Each fan appears to have different viewpoints on precisely how each event affected characters and relationships. This changes each writer's take and therefore the reader's experience. That said (is anyone still awake?), here is my take on your story from the viewpoint of a naive reader:

Some prior knowledge (minimal though) is needed for this story but that is to be expected for slash writing. For slash to be believable and well understood by a reader, I feel the gen version of canon has to be fairy well known. So, I think you set this up very well for the average slash reader of TS so that this story can stand alone for a variety of readers. The initial run throughs are not just a reminder to those of this part of the story but also which aspect is important to YOUR particular goal with this story. The sadness is what counts here and hearing about it from Simon's POV early on, Jim's throughout the nssty comments of fellow officers and Blair - trying to convince everyone of his commitment, reconcile his own losses, protect Jim from blowing the entire purpose of his sacrifice etc. You did recap it continuously, without belaboring it ad hoc as press conferences would entail or any large public gathering. The reason for keeping Jim's secrets within the group still stands after all. I don't see any organization like a PD or former military treating this on anything other than a need to know basis. And that is how you played it.

For the gen story, that may benefit from some more elaboration as newbies typically begin there and canon benefits from SEEING. rather than hearing descriptions of, those advances in the story line taking it further from the series end. So, here I might want to see Jim approach a single department head, perhaps some of the senior members etc. and deal with this. The reader then understands what happened in the other departments and what has happened to Jim through this enormous step or undertaking.

Just my take on this. Thanks Arianna for a great read,

Roslyn
caarianna
Nov. 20th, 2006 11:44 pm (UTC)
Re: In summary. . .
Roslyn, thanks so much for your detailed response, especially in terms of putting it in the context of this particular story. Given gillyp's response below, it appears to be unanimous that a bit more detail at least in a crucial area would enhance this story. I'm glad Janet raised the issue with me in her original comments and I'm really grateful that all of you have responded so quickly!
gillyp
Nov. 20th, 2006 10:34 pm (UTC)
Loathe though I am to repeat what others have said, I love the details, too. They don't have to be extensive; pages and pages of lavish description - Often it's a single line; a perfectly turned phrase, a beautifully observed and described sentiment - that makes the difference between a good story and a great one and has me reading and re-reading, over and over.

caarianna
Nov. 20th, 2006 11:45 pm (UTC)
Gillyp, well, we've certainly got a strong trend building! Thanks so much for sharing your preferences. I'm now convinced that another scene or two needs to go into this story. Much appreciated!
alyburns
Nov. 21st, 2006 02:44 am (UTC)
::taps chin thoughtfully::
Details, details, details. :) Pesky little devils. I think there are always scenes in stories where we're "told" and not shown and the question becomes when is it right to show and when does it work better to tell. Stories can get just as bogged down in detail and thus suffer, as a story that mostly 'tells' the reader instead of allowing the reader to join in the fun. In the case of Arms of an Angel, we were able to see/hear on two different occasions, snarky remarks aimed at Blair so a nice tie-in would have been to see Jim telling one unit - obviously one that included one of the snarky-remark makers! LOL! But to show more than one unit being told? Not necessary in my opinion, if you know what I mean?

You know, it's funny, but it struck me that too many 'details' might have worked against this story - the plausibility - because you gave us so much on the nun that it was immediately obvious she was the killer, thus difficult to believe Jim and Blair wouldn't tumble to her. You gave us the 'detail' of how Jim monitored her vitals but it was so obvious that she believed the victims were better off dead that she wouldn't have shown anything unusual. It might have worked more effectively if there'd been two nuns? With one of them baking the cookies and listening to the other as she councilled the victims?

I could also be talking through my hat! LOL!

Anyway, probably gave you too much blathering! :)




caarianna
Nov. 21st, 2006 03:03 am (UTC)
Re: ::taps chin thoughtfully::
Anyway, probably gave you too much blathering! :)


Not at all! You've raised good points and I've come to see that the scene you suggest is necessary. I'm also working on a couple lead-in scenes to sort out the whole strategy of disclosure.

You also raise a really good point about the nun, one I worried about while writing this story. In this case, I'm just not sure. Occasionally, the reader knows more than do the characters as a story unfolds. In this case, I've stated it's a case story with h/c, so the probability is that there is a murderer in the mix and it's not just an angsty TSbyBS story leading to resolution yet again of that situation. But I'd hoped that she was plausible enough that the question of whether it was all coincidental and accidental might be reasonable grounds for them to not seriously consider her as a suspect. And, occasionally, I like to give Simon a bone, in terms of showing that there are reasons he's the Captain ie his instincts were on the money despite how credible she was to those who had met her.

On the other hand, I understand that this may have been a less suspenceful story for the reader than it might have been if there were red-herring characters. Or at least characters to confuse the matter, like another nun. Or maybe the nun could be genuine and the real killer is someone else, like the new housekeeper in the priests' residence who also bakes cookies but then the targetting of victims would be more random. Sigh. I hope Jim and Blair didn't come across as complete idiots in this.

Not sure I want to rewrite the whole thing but your comments are thought-provoking and well taken. They'll certainly help me when I'm working out the plots of future stories. Thanks, Aly.
alyburns
Nov. 21st, 2006 06:05 am (UTC)
Re: ::taps chin thoughtfully::
Actually, I think you're onto something with the housekeeper. And no, it wouldn't be random because she could easily be around all the time to again overhear and watch your wonderful nun as she spoke with the troubled victims. I think you've nailed it, woman! :) And no, you wouldn't need to rewrite the whole thing at all. She can be there when they first arrive at the church and point out the priest, and with a couple of lines, she's always there in the background when Blair comes in.

Silly me - there I go again, blathering! LOL!
caarianna
Nov. 21st, 2006 08:33 am (UTC)
Re: ::taps chin thoughtfully::
Er, maybe. I was kinda afraid you'd love that idea! But we've ruined the mystery and suspence for any subsequent reader who also reads this journal, LOL. I'm just about finished the new scenes that needed to be inserted in terms of Jim's decision to make things better. I'll think about the rectory's new housekeeper. In terms of really not wanting to do that much amending, it's not a good sign that I already know her name is Hannah. ::grins:: Darn it anyway. I was already six pages into another whole new story when Janet raised her perspectives with me and we decided to go with this discussion for future reference!

My gosh, though, writing is fun! It feels so good to be back to a degree of prolific output, too, with my Revolution AU in beta, my Secret Santa story submitted, this story done or nearly so, and another two already underway. And this discussion has been really useful for a number of reasons. ::wanders off happily to finish polishing this story::
patk
Nov. 26th, 2006 01:37 pm (UTC)
Re: ::taps chin thoughtfully::
>>I hope Jim and Blair didn't come across as complete idiots in this.

No, in my opinion they didn't. *g* I also pegged the nun as the killer immediately, just like Aly did it and for all the same reasons, and thought that Jim and Blair should have suspected her right from the start. Well, they thought about the possibility but dismissed it, so points for them or not being complete idiots. *g*

But you put in something that made me re-think my first impression of "they should have known". The part where Jim talks to Simon about how Simon knew better because he hadn't met the nun and therefore wasn't influenced by the impression she made, by her appearance and apparent personality.

And that he, Jim, had relied too much on her calm vital signs. IIRC they never actually asked her clearly "did you do it". A direct question that might have triggered another response in their vital signs because it wouldn't have been about "was this right" but "did you *do* something". I re-read the part where they question sister Mary Frances and thought that she, in her state of mind, could answer all their questions honestly without even getting a faster heartbeat.

And I could see *this* kind of mistake, missing the one question that might have actually triggered a response in her vital signs, happen easily.

Jim was way more suspicious about her than Blair and in the light of Blair's reaction to Iris, at the end of "The Girl next Door", I could see how Blair would miss his correct judgment on sister MF. Yes, being a detective now, at least a year later than TNG, he should intellectually know better (and in other cases probably actually *does*) but I think he's more susceptible than Jim because he still has the streak of wanting to think better of people. The streak might be less strong now but I don't think it would have vanished completely at this point. It's not *this* much later than TNG to actually have changed completely.

Add to this that I also saw how he was struggling internally for a little peace and quite at this point and how he was strongly emotionally influenced by the atmosphere in the cathedral. I think, in a way he unknowingly didn't *want* to suspect sister MF at this point an in this state of mind.








patk
Nov. 26th, 2006 01:38 pm (UTC)
Re: ::taps chin thoughtfully::
Jim, OTOH, wasn't as influenced by the cathedral's atmosphere but had other things that distracted him. He was caught up in sorrow about how Blair feels and how their partnership suffered from the whole situation at the PD. And seeing how he considered her vital signs not showing anything about "guilt", plus the impression she generally made, I can see him missing the clues here. I think he was too busy with their own problems to realize that he didn't ask her the "right" questions to show up anything. They interviewed her, nothing triggered her vital signs to show an involvement and half of his head was busy with Blair and their problems anyway. So yes, their problems actually get in the way of doing their job properly, especially here. I think if all had been well with them and their situation, they might have done better with sister MF.

Plus, there were only two victims and the idea of one being a suicide and the other being an accident doesn't sound overly exaggerated as a coincidence. It wouldn't have been enough to nail sister MF in any case at all, and it would have been absolutely possible, all the more since looking into the death-rate of the hospice she worked in wouldn't have gotten them anything reasonable.

Enough that they couldn't nail sister MF legally but this wouldn't have lessened Jim's suspicions. I really think here he was ambushed by being too caught up into their own problems and therefore missed the clue that his interpretation of her vital signs was faulty because they didn't ask the right questions.

What I did somewhat miss was a warning from Jim's side to Blair not to eat or drink anything in the cathedral he hadn't brought with him because they didn't know how the victims ingested the poison. He wouldn't have given away his secret back-up by that since sister MF offered them refreshments right from the start, so Blair wouldn't necessarily know that Jim listened in on them. :-)

So, all in all, yes, they could have gotten the clue sooner, if each of them hadn't been so caught up and distracted by their own problems, but to me they didn't come across as complete idiots. *g* Yes, they made a fatal mistake but I could see how they made it, after all, they're just human too.

PatK
:-)






caarianna
Nov. 27th, 2006 04:45 am (UTC)
Re: ::taps chin thoughtfully::
Wow, Pat, what a terrific analysis of the story! I'm overwhelmed that you put so much thought into it and worked out why it works the way I hoped it would. Jim does caution Blair the morning after the cocoa and cookies about not eating or drinking anything she gives him but Blair scoffs that she's too bright to do something as stupid as kill a cop and Jim, if somewhat grudgingly, agrees with him. Neither has slept most of the night before because of the issues bothering them, so their wits weren't sharp enough to really stop and think about the fact that, if she was crazy, being smart wouldn't stop her.

I really am touched that you did such a thorough analysis. Thank you!
patk
Nov. 27th, 2006 08:05 am (UTC)
Re: ::taps chin thoughtfully::
>>Jim does caution Blair the morning after the cocoa and cookies about not eating or drinking anything she gives him but Blair scoffs that she's too bright to do something as stupid as kill a cop<<

Ah, darn! I *knew* I should have gone and verify this impression before typing it up, sorry. I had forgotten about this one, it's been a few days since I read it, I'm sincerely sorry about that and therefore take back this sentence. Apparently I also didn't get enough sleep lately. *g* Again, my mistake, sorry. :-)

PatK
:-)

caarianna
Nov. 27th, 2006 09:42 am (UTC)
Re: ::taps chin thoughtfully::
::grins:: Hey, no problem. It was a very quick exchange between the two of them. And if this is the depth of analysis you do when you're suffering lack of sleep, then I truly am in awe! Thanks, again, Pat, for your very thoughtful and indepth response.
earth2skye
Nov. 22nd, 2006 07:38 am (UTC)
I'm posting this comment without having read the others yet...

My 2c on "we've seen that before"-stories:

I figure almost everything a fanfic writer introduces into her/his stories has most likely been done before somewhere. It's the combination of things, the unique touch/way of presenting things of the writer and the fact that, as the reader, you still can't know if the story will really end the way you've seen it elsewhere, that makes stories interesting for the reader.

I figure the "unique touch of the writer" lies very much in the details she/he likes to share and their presentation. It's amazing how those can change things around. So yeah I'm all in favor of details.

Skye
caarianna
Nov. 22nd, 2006 07:43 am (UTC)
Thanks, Skye. I appreciate your commentary. It's unanimous, at least so far. So I've been modifying the story to insert the scenes Janet suggested and a bit more besides. Aly also made interesting comments about revealing too much information, and Roslyn sent me an email with an idea about to strengthen the scenario of the story. This has been a very useful, enlightening and helpful discussion for me.
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