Monday, March 02, 2009

Orem's not so bad when you give it a chance...

"Your family moved here so that you would date Mormon boys?"

"Essentially. When I told my parents I didn't believe in God and didn't want to go to church anymore, Dad completely flipped out. He blamed it on the kids at school being a bad influence on me. But apparently he's not opposed to peer pressure per se as long as it works in a good direction and not a bad direction. He said that if I'd grown up in Utah like he did this never would have happened since I'd be surrounded by good Mormon kids who would teach me that it's cool to go to church instead of being rebellious. Same for my younger brother and sister -- he wanted to be sure to get them into a good environment before the same thing happened to them. So Mom and Dad both quit their jobs in New Jersey and found new jobs in Utah. Naturally Dad is hugely proud of himself seeing me go on a date with an Eagle Scout. Back at my old high school in Princeton I doubt that there was a single Eagle Scout in the whole school."

"I didn't really want to go for Eagle Scout, actually. Read the rest of the story ->


Christopher Smith said...

Hey, Chanson! Great writing, as usual. I think an Eagle Scout would probably know if there were frogs in Utah. When I was in Royal Rangers as a kid we got a real kick out of hunting up frogs on our camping trips. Little boys love slimy things that pee on their hands when they pick them up.

On your male character's internal voice: I'm not sure a guy even in his private thoughts would frame his feelings using the phrase "so in love." It's sort of sappy, so if a guy did happen to think that particular phrase, he might sort of joke to himself about it or laugh it off in order to preserve his sense of masculinity. "I love her" is acceptable male thought-speech, but "I am in love with her" is... well, the sort of romantic notion that appeals more to women than men. It may seem like too subtle a distinction, but it made me stop and scratch my head for a second, so I figured it was probably worth a mention. I've done a little writing myself, so I know how damn hard it can be to crawl inside the head of a member of the opposite sex! You're doing a pretty good job of it, for the most part.

Anyway, always a pleasure to read your work. Good luck and keep typing,


C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks Chris!!!

And thanks for the critique! I have had guys read this and give me an overall positive review, but very few have given such specific suggestions. Those are excellent points -- I'll go back and edit the chapter when I get some time tomorrow. I know it's already in print, but I'm planning a new edition at the end of the summer (getting a real ISBN, etc.), and I'd like to have it in tip-top shape before then.

By the way, if you have time to do some more reading/critique, I'd really appreciate it. Perhaps you could read the rest of "Orem High" before I post it to the world? If so, please email me chanson dot exmormon at gmail dot com. And if you have any of your own work that you need a beta-reader for, I'd be happy to help!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for indirectly recommending some movies-- I haven't seen any of them, but they look fun!

Chris may be right about the average male internal voice, but I don't see much of a distinction between the two phrasings. (Obviously because I'm so un-average. ;)

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks IvanM!!!

BTW, the same offer goes to you, if you're interested in doing an advance reading and giving feedback. :D

And, yes, those are all good films! I picked some items that would have been on the shelf of a VHS video rental place a little more than a decade ago.

C. L. Hanson said...

Okay, so I've gone back and fixed the frog dialog here.

My original idea was that Jared is not interested in outdoorsy stuff (and, like many LDS boys, didn't voluntarily choose to participate in scouting), kind of like how his older brother and friend weren't interested in hunting -- even if hunting is very popular in Utah, that doesn't mean that everybody likes it. The idea is that Rex wasn't a willing participant in scouting and didn't make it to eagle, so their mom resolved to ensure that her other son earned his Eagle rank (whether he wanted to or not).

But, you're right that if he was in scouting, he obviously would have been in situations where other boys around him were catching frogs. I think this minor change is definitely an improvement in the dialog.

Regarding your second point (Chris), I'm kind of holding off since opinion is divided. ;^)

The main reason I wrote it with that phrasing is this: I wanted Jared to be justifying to himself why it's okay (in this exceptional case!) for him to be fighting his friend Joe over Andrea (as opposed to deciding that guys shouldn't let a girl come between them).

Anyway, see what you think once you've read the whole thing. Even if the phrasing isn't typical for a sixteen-year-old boy, keep in mind that there's a lot of variety within each gender. There exist sixteen-year-old boys who write love poetry. ;^) I think in Jared's case, it seems incongruous for him to say that because he's not particularly sentimental. Yet, he's a little bit sentimental, as you can see from the story as a whole, including his relationships with his family. So, let's just say the jury's still out for the moment. :D

Christopher Smith said...

>>There exist sixteen-year-old boys who write love poetry.

Horror of horrors!!! :-D

As an amusing sidenote, the "word verification" box for the present comment says "duche".

C. L. Hanson said...

lol! :D