Help I'm sinking

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  • #91834
    Kayla Skywriter
    @kayla-skywriter

    Oh, sorry I didn’t see you there @myclipboardismyviolin

    Yes, I will gladly take all the help I can get. Feel free to use one of the links I’ve already shared on this page.

    How we chose to fight is just as important as what we fight for

    #91885
    MyClipboardIsMyViolin
    @myclipboardismyviolin

    @kayla-skywriter My apologies, I should have tagged you, heh. With that in view, I did leave some comments on your Google Doc, so if you want to look at those, that may help. I do feel the need to address some points that line-item Google Doc criticism really doesn’t cover, so here we go.

    First, this is story is really dark, so I’m sorry if it is in any way autobiographical or about someone you knew. One of my friends has been through the foster care system and tells horror stories about it, and this story strikes me as an honest portrayal. That’s almost a theme of its own kind, about how the foster care system isn’t exactly bright and friendly and people can be jerks. The constant shipping around from place to place is war on your sanity. The story needs to be told, and I admire you for venturing into this extreme darkness to tell it.

    The reason I’m saying this is that the details of the foster care system you’re telling seem accurate. If it’s not from experience or account, it’s well researched.

    Not only that, but this story has two other theme topics already, and that’s not a bad thing, as stories can have multiple themes. But a theme is more than a topic, it’s a statement about that topic. For example: “the foster care system isn’t a friendly place to live” is a theme – “the foster care system” is just a topic.

    Identity – First, we have the main character’s lack of identity – she doesn’t know who her parents are, she doesn’t even have a name, she “erases” her identity with the exception of her faith when she gets to a new place.  But even if she retains her “faith” identity, we also have the identities that the world around her wants her to assume, particularly her legion of foster parents. Does Jane’s assumption of different identities help her? Hurt her? Does concealing who she is from everyone around her have negative repercussions and possibly explain why she has “struck out” of 40 foster homes? Does it have negative spiritual impact on others around her? (Usually it does – lying doesn’t end well.)

    Emotional Pain – Jane tends to suppress and numb the emotional pain that others give her, and even take it on to help others. This is NOT a good plan and will likely backfire in emotional breakdowns at some point as the suppressed memories and emotions “leak” when other people bring them out. Being unable to process her emotions is bad, and suppressing them to “survive” will only work for so long.

    Suppressing your identity and your emotions means that you are lying to yourself about who you are and what you feel, and God doesn’t usually go along with that because he is the God of Truth, not lies. You may think that lying to yourself is not as bad as lying to someone else, but the Bible doesn’t specify who you are lying to when it says that God hates a lying tongue.

    Proverbs 6:16-19
    16 There are six things which the Lord hates,
    Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
    17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
    And hands that shed innocent blood,
    18 A heart that devises wicked plans,
    Feet that run rapidly to evil,
    19 A false witness who utters lies,
    And one who spreads strife among brothers.

    Proverbs 26:28
    A lying tongue hates those it crushes,
    And a flattering mouth works ruin.

    Psalm 120:2
    Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips,
    From a deceitful tongue.

    It’s also a form of self-injury that leads to failure because you’re purposefully ignoring reality, and reality does include who you are.

    Think about it this way: unbelievers don’t believe they are sinners. That’s a lie to themselves about who they are: I’m not a sinner. The consequences are eternal. Ouch. Obviously Jane isn’t lying to herself about that, but she probably has portions of herself that she suppresses herself or are being suppressed by the situation. That’s what I see in here, and if you bring that out, it would be a good theme.

    ——————————————————————-

    The other thing I’m going to say may be somewhat controversial, but I think this story’s main weakness is not theme, it’s plot. The themes are already there – I just pointed them out above, I think – and you have a lot of emotionally intense scenes in here with a lot of power to bring them out, but there’s no stakes to make the theme matter to the reader.

    I think this story needs a stronger antagonist.

    “But, but, this story is already dark, and you’re suggesting introducing MORE CONFLICT?!”

    Deep breath, please. More conflict does not mean darker. In fact, the best antagonist for this story would probably be a humorous jokester character or someone otherwise laid back. Now if we do that too much it takes away from the somber tone of this story so far, but we need someone who isn’t surviving emotionally and who enjoys life a little more. That’s the kind of person who will make this protagonist squirm. And probably her foster brother and sisters too. How insensitive!

    The reason why is that an antagonist kinda needs a contrast with the protagonist. There are some antagonist candidates in here – the foster care system itself, Jane’s parents, and Corinder – but none quite fits the bill. Let me explain:

    The Foster Care System and Jane’s Parents – The problem with this as an antagonist is it’s a comparable to a story with a boat in the middle of a storm on the ocean. Sure, everyone is fighting the storm trying to survive, but why are they out on the ocean in the first place? And how do you fight a storm? (You don’t.)

    Now in this case, that reason is Jane’s murderous parents, and this is out of Jane’s control, too. This is also why her parents don’t work as an antagonist. In order for the thing to be an actual antagonist, the protagonist must be able to act against the antagonist to influence the outcome, and as you have established this story so far, she can’t. Now if Jane was at an anti-abortion rally or somewhere to argue about improvements to the foster care system, I’d bite off on it as an antagonist.

    I find it ironic that this thread is entitled “Help I’m sinking”. If you’re sinking, get out of the storm and off the boat.  😛 This character is helpless to change her foster care circumstances, but what can she change?

    Corinder – (great name!) Now, there is some contrast between these two – whereas Jane’s faith has influenced her reaction to her situation in a positive way, Corinder’s is negative. I did write some notes about Jane’s faith in her situation on the Doc and how I think that could work – God is in control of Jane’s situation, so if it’s in conflict with her faith that is another story – but the problem is Corinder’s conflict with Jane has to do with her faith. Corinder is inside the storm, so to speak and is evil…but Jane just gives in. There’s nothing in Corinder to disturb Jane’s character flaws, and Jane basically just shrugs it off. Evil and darkness is old news to Jane. There’s no fight there.

    Admittedly, this backwards upside-down conflict is not how stories typically run. We usually think of our protagonists as good guys fighting the bad guys, and the emotionally light group of happy jokesters takes down the group of dark and brooding villains with hats. But in real life, folks, the good guys frequently live in darkness and gloom while the bad guys are a group of happy jokesters with candy and comic books. Not that the antagonist for this story has to be evil – he or she could just be an ignorant hufflepuff. But you get the idea.

    Also, this is just a suggestion, aka a friendly squirrel handing you a paper with “needs more conflict” on it. Annd I probably got carried away. But I hope some of this feedback was helpful. 😀

    Sarah, Miss S, Sierepica_Fuzzywalker

    #91890
    MyClipboardIsMyViolin
    @myclipboardismyviolin

    Sorry, but I feel I need to add this – for a fictional story, protagonist-antagonist conflict is important. You can skip that for non-fiction books or memoir because that’s a commentary on the real world we live in and information about it, for which the “wow, this happened in real life!” is enough to draw us in. That doesn’t work for fiction because it didn’t happen in real life, so we need a conflict between the protagonist and antagonist to explain why we should care. (Why should we care about Jane’s foster care nightmare?)

    This is a fiction book about the foster care system that is written like a memoir instead of a fiction story, heh. If you want to write memoir or biography about this, then do so, but yeah. Otherwise it almost reads like sad poetry. Which is fine: I like sad poetry, but yeah.

    Sarah, Miss S, Sierepica_Fuzzywalker

    #92345
    Kayla Skywriter
    @kayla-skywriter

    @myclipboardismyviolin Hi, sorry I didn’t get to you sooner, I was on vacation all week.

    No, this story is not based off of anyone I know. It is just something I am passionate about. And, thank you, I try to research well.

    You said my story was dark, and I agree with you. Are you saying that is a bad thing? I don’t think you are, but I’m just checking.

    I’m aware of the flaws with the way she handles the problems of both her and others. If my story ends up where I want it to she will be very clear of her flaws too.

    You say I need a stronger antagonist. Now that I’ve thought it over I agree with you. But, who are you suggesting? Is there an underdeveloped character on the sidelines that could step up, or do I need to write a whole new character?

    Thanks for you help.

    How we chose to fight is just as important as what we fight for

    #92359
    MyClipboardIsMyViolin
    @myclipboardismyviolin

    You said my story was dark, and I agree with you. Are you saying that is a bad thing? I don’t think you are, but I’m just checking.

    No. I actually admire writers who have the courage to tackle dark subjects. I tend to disagree that all Christian work must be cheery, happy, etc.

    But, who are you suggesting? Is there an underdeveloped character on the sidelines that could step up, or do I need to write a whole new character?

    I think you need to write a new character. I tried to explain myself in post #91885, though I probably got too long-winded, a problem that I sometimes have.

    the best antagonist for this story would probably be a humorous jokester character or someone otherwise laid back. Now if we do that too much it takes away from the somber tone of this story so far, but we need someone who isn’t surviving emotionally and who enjoys life a little more. That’s the kind of person who will make this protagonist squirm. And probably her foster brother and sisters too. How insensitive! The reason why is that an antagonist kinda needs a contrast with the protagonist. There are some antagonist candidates in here – the foster care system itself, Jane’s parents, and Corinder – but none quite fits the bill.

    Also, you’re welcome.  But yeah – I’m seriously impressed with the level of accuracy of the research here, and I think if you get a good antagonist in here, this one will get unsunk.

    Sarah, Miss S, Sierepica_Fuzzywalker

    #92604
    Kayla Skywriter
    @kayla-skywriter

    @myclipboardismyviolin

    Okay, thanks for clearing that up. My mind is already twisting and turning to create an antagonist, can’t wait to start.

    I rewrote the beginning like you suggested. Is it good now, or should I try again?

    Also, I wouldn’t normally ask this, but I’m hoping to fill out a guild application soon. As you likely know, one of the questions is “What aspects of storytelling do you excel at?”. I can find plenty of things that I need help with, but I don’t know if there’s any part I excel at. Now that you’ve read my work do you have any ideas?

    Thanks, I did quite a bit of research before writing, and (although this book is not based on him what so ever) by best friend was adopted as a baby. His family (not birth family) also tried to adopt some other little boys over the years that I’ve known them. But, they were all international adoptions, and several things went wrong. So now the little boys are back in the Ukraine and Latvia. It is really sad.

    How we chose to fight is just as important as what we fight for

    #92682
    Kayla Skywriter
    @kayla-skywriter

    Sorry, I have another question. You said:

    In fact, the best antagonist for this story would probably be a humorous jokester character or someone otherwise laid back. Now if we do that too much it takes away from the somber tone of this story so far, but we need someone who isn’t surviving emotionally and who enjoys life a little more. That’s the kind of person who will make this protagonist squirm. And probably her foster brother and sisters too.

    So I need to write a fun loving character who has plenty of interaction with Jane. Correct? Also, does this character need to be happy most of the time, or just love fun? Also do you think it would be more effective to have it be a kid or an adult? Does the antagonist need to interact with Jane’s foster siblings too, or just Jane?

    Sorry for loading more questions on you.

    How we chose to fight is just as important as what we fight for

    #93837
    Kayla Skywriter
    @kayla-skywriter

    @myclipboardismyviolin Where did you go? Did I ask too many questions or did you just leave for a while?

    Anyway, unless you tell me to stop asking questions, I’ve got another one. I’ve tried to move past the other questions I asked since you weren’t answering them, but I keep finding more. The antagonist I created is much more solid, emotionally. Does that mean she must be Christian or could this be an example of the fact that Christians will struggle just as much if not more than the rest of the world?

    @bama-rose @ashira @anyone else on this thread

    If you guys are still interested in helping, maybe you could give some advice on these problems?

    How we chose to fight is just as important as what we fight for

    #93917
    MyClipboardIsMyViolin
    @myclipboardismyviolin

    Where did you go? Did I ask too many questions or did you just leave for a while?

    I basically got dragged under by school and other things. It unfortunately happens. Where is everyone else? Just because I happen to show up with a long post about someone’s writing doesn’t mean that everyone else has to leave.

    Also, I wouldn’t normally ask this, but I’m hoping to fill out a guild application soon. As you likely know, one of the questions is “What aspects of storytelling do you excel at?”. I can find plenty of things that I need help with, but I don’t know if there’s any part I excel at. Now that you’ve read my work do you have any ideas?

    Research. I’m actually blown away by the perspective you bring to this story. You also have an incredible ability for developing characters and understanding their perspectives.

    So I need to write a fun loving character who has plenty of interaction with Jane. Correct?

    It was a suggestion, not an obligation. I’m not going to dictate to you how to write your story. I would suggest trying it and seeing if you like the result, and if you don’t, there may be another way to solve this problem that I’m not aware of. That’s just the solution that comes to mind.

    Also, does this character need to be happy most of the time, or just love fun?

    The latter, although them being happy most of the time wouldn’t be bad either…

    Also do you think it would be more effective to have it be a kid or an adult? Does the antagonist need to interact with Jane’s foster siblings too, or just Jane?

    Hmm. I think it would be better if they are a kid, simply because Jane is probably used to dealing with fun-loving and insensitive adults. For the second question, I don’t know – that’s up to you.

    The antagonist I created is much more solid, emotionally. Does that mean she must be Christian or could this be an example of the fact that Christians will struggle just as much if not more than the rest of the world?

    No, someone with a solid emotional foundation does not have to be a Christian. I could write another long essay on why that is true, but that probably would end up confusing you more. Basically, if an unbeliever has a supportive group of friends and family that can be their emotional foundation…unless tragedy strikes, in which case that foundation would fall, but that tragedy may never happen.

    Christians can have a strong emotional foundation in spite of emotionally ugly circumstances, unbelievers can have a strong emotional foundation in the absence of emotionally ugly circumstances.

    Does this help? I need to carve out some time to read your story again and see the revisions, and I’m sorry that I’ve seemed to abandon you. Where is everyone else?

    Sarah, Miss S, Sierepica_Fuzzywalker

    #93940
    Kayla Skywriter
    @kayla-skywriter

    @myclipboardismyviolin

    Yeah, I don’t know where everyone else went, but I’m glad you came back.

    Thanks, I try to make my fiction as true as possible. Off to make an application.

    As for the rest of what you said, thanks so much. I understand what you’re getting at and am now invigorated to start more work on it again.

     

    How we chose to fight is just as important as what we fight for

    #95028
    Kayla Skywriter
    @kayla-skywriter

    @myclipboardismyviolin

    So, you know how Jane is lying to herself and everything. Well I did know that nothing good would come of it, I planed for there to be a bit of an explosion. Like she reaches her limit of emotions she can hide, and just lets it all out. I was planing for this to happen during a lesson with the horses, but now that I have an antagonist I figured I should use her.

    Anyway, my actual question was when this should happen. Do you think I should have this happen pretty soon, or if I should continue building up to it for much longer?

    Answer when you can.

    How we chose to fight is just as important as what we fight for

    #96651
    Leon Fleming
    @w-o-holmes

    @kayla-skywriter

    I know this whole post thing is old, but do you mind if I read your story and give some advise?

    #96713
    Kayla Skywriter
    @kayla-skywriter

    @w-o-holmes

    Na, I think I’m good enough to handle it alone. I’m kidding, I need all the help I can get. Have at it.

    How we chose to fight is just as important as what we fight for

    #96737
    Leon Fleming
    @w-o-holmes

    @kayla-skywriter

    ‘Ight! I’ll get to work! 🙂

    #96796
    Katy Walker
    @katy-walker

      Hi @kayla-skywriter!’

      I sneaked a look (like I read the entire thing!) of your story, and there are things I really like. However, there are also some things I don’t. Some notes before I start on my comments:

      NOTE #1: I have not read all the replies to this, so I apologize if I repeat or even disagree with anyone else here.

      NOTE #2: My family was a foster family for over 6 years. We had children ages 4 days to nine almost ten years old. My parents also fostered 15 years ago for a couple of years as well. So foster care is not new to me from the foster parent standpoint. (I was basically the 2nd mother of the family, so I had a lot of hands-on knowledge and intel from that.)

      NOTE #3: I have not been writing for nearly as long as many of the people here. My comments on it have to do purely with the settings and people, not the story itself. So, please keep that in mind.

      Now for my actual comments.

      Firstly, I like the betrayal of the foster parents (all of them) and the social worker. They are very well done. Most of the time, I see one side of the coin, or even two sides, but people don’t always realize there are like…50 sides. No case is the same. No foster kid is the same. No foster family is the same. And no social worker is the same. There might be some similarities and patterns, but there are way more of even those than people realize. So, thumbs up for some accurate betrayals.

      Now…41 foster homes is pretty…unbelievable. We had two children who ended up in over 11 homes over a five-year time span, but that was considered extreme. Most children, especially ones who enter the system as babies, don’t end up going to more than five to ten homes in their lifetimes. Jane is only 13. Yes, she’s been in the system a long time, but frankly, 41 is excessive.

      Also, I’m pretty sure albinism is one of those things that require extra medical care, and so they might require a therapeutic foster license, which would limit the pool of foster parents. (We were therapeutic foster parents, and believe me, it’s a lot of work.) I’d have to research that though.

      I’d like to see more details that people in the foster system would know about, but maybe not everybody else — it makes it more immersive, like world-building. Like that social worker’s cars are always white, and most of the time they’re sudans. (At least the ones we saw.) They store car seats in their trunks that are grey, so they can be used for either gender. Social workers wear their name tags all the time, even on home visits. Things like that.

      But the biggest thing that struck me is that Jane is barely traumatized at all. You kind of attribute that to her faith, but be honest — where did she get it? You make no real mention of where and when she learned true faith, and how she managed to have stronger faith at times. She’s too good. Yes, she’s got issues, but you brush aside so many of the real problems foster kids have, even if they’ve been in the system for only a short time. You can’t make her an exception because of a faith that feels like it’s just been given to her by the writer. Make me believe it, and I’ll fall in love with her.

      I love Daniel. He’s great.

      Those are some of my random notes. I’d be glad to give more thoughts, but I’m a little cramped for time right now.

      ~Katy

      Marvel at His Providence

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