OPINIONS: Wherever I Am, That's Where I'm Not (WIP)

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OPINIONS: Wherever I Am, That's Where I'm Not (WIP)

Post by missy_misery » Sun Mar 25, 2007 5:52 am

Okay, here's the first product of the many millions of ideas I've had lately.

Major premise change edit on May 26th, 2007:

SUMMARY: Lisa is offered a chance to go to Italy on an exchange program, but her family's negative ties to the country leave her parents dead set against her going.

SPELLECHECKED AND EDITED VERSION POSTED JUNE 30TH
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Re: OPINIONS: Wherever I Am, That's Where I'm Not (WIP)

Post by Meghan » Sun Mar 25, 2007 7:16 pm

It sounds like a good plotline keep it up.

((I wish I can clarify more but I will once I am not so tired))
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Re: OPINIONS: Wherever I Am, That's Where I'm Not (WIP)

Post by missy_misery » Thu Mar 29, 2007 10:37 pm

Thank you!
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Re: OPINIONS: Wherever I Am, That's Where I'm Not (WIP)

Post by jenny » Sun May 20, 2007 8:07 pm

Well, it's an interesting idea - it's not hard to imagine that Lisa's ambition would lead her away from Springfield sooner rather than later - and it's not something that's really been done yet, either on the show or in fanfic.

I apologise in advance if my review sounds harsh. This is what doing endless short-story workshops will do to you.

I think you tend to overelaborate sometimes in your prose, especially with pronouns. I don't think it's necessary to refer to Lisa as "the eight-year-old girl" in the first paragraph, or Bart as "her brother" in the second, and I'm not convinced by the "wave of success washing through her being" - I think there's a plainer, better way to say it. Plus, it's in the wrong tense.

I'm not sure a boarding school would accept applications from eight-year-olds, although I do realise that without them doing so, there isn't much of a story, so I think you can have a bit of poetic license here.

I quite like the exchange between Lisa and Bart - especially all the things Lisa makes Bart swear on before he reads her application. It's the kind of thing kids do, so it's nice to see Lisa doing it. Having said this, Lisa's dialogue seems a bit off; a little too intellectual. I know she's bright but she doesn't normally talk like that. I like the way Bart is so keen to help her, and how it's implied that it's because he wants to get rid of her. I don't know where this is going, but I think it'd be good if, when she gets accepted, he begins to regret being so keen to get shot of her (I'm assuming a lot here, I know). Having said that, I'm not sure Lisa would have such a hard time getting stamps and an envelope.

"Document" and "Academy" are both spelt with one C.

I loved the line about Lisa being on the swing and "shooting closer to the sky than usual." It's a very subtle way of hinting at her heightened ambition. I'm not so sure about Francine mugging her - it hints at a reason why she wants to go to Italy but it doesn't really fit with the mood. I don't think she'd say it felt like a lucky day after that.

As I said, I'm not sure about Lisa needing Bart to get her envelopes, but I loved the way he got them. Nelson's letter to Andy Williams is great - funny and in character.

Again, I'm not really convinced about Lisa's dialouge - this time, the interior monologue she has about the academy. She's not so much of a snob to think of the other kids has having plebian existances and I don't think she'd think something like that. I'm sure she'd have similar sentiments but I think it needs to be reworded.

I think it's a good start, and I hope there's more to come.
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Re: OPINIONS: Wherever I Am, That's Where I'm Not (WIP)

Post by D.B. » Sun May 20, 2007 10:04 pm

Dang, I finally get my finger out to review something, then discover Jenny got there a couple of hours earlier! *shakes fist*

Anyway, here we go…


The negative side:

There’s a fair few spelling mistakes: doccument, recoilled, scollarship and coppied to name a few. Spell-check is your friend.

The whole "cross your heart and hope to die / stick a needle in your eye / eat a horse manure pie" feels recycled.

Thirdly, a lot of the first section is dialogue. Bart talks to Lisa, Lisa replies, Bart talks again... hell, it's almost script format. Cutting out the "cross my heart..." bit will help, and aside from that I'd say maybe a bit more movement in places? Might Lisa get up and look out the window while talking about her desire to go to Italy? Bart grabs the form off her and holds it out at arms length while he reads it?  It’s doubly tragic as when you do include some movement, like Bart’s ‘rubbery’ bobbing, it’s really good. I just want more :).

Then there's the whole stamp thingy. I'm sorry, but I'm pretty sure Lisa has it in her to locate a manila envelope and a few stamps. The Nelson story, while in character, was a little overlong for my likings and a little hard to believe (would he really happen to have that napkin handy just at that moment?). It struck me as a family guy moment.

The positive side:

Characterisation as is good as always. Nothing feels out of place, and little details like Bloat Bloat, Bart's reaction to bilingual education, and Lisa's introspection on the bus all ring true.  I especially liked the segment with her on the swing - however, I think the detail about Francine stealing her money earlier jars a little and could be removed with no real loss.

The core of the story is strong - Lisa (despite her doubts) wants to escape and Bart, in his own fumbling way, gives her a hand. I just think you get a little lost by expressing this by having him find her an envelope. Might Homer discover the application form and Bart pretend it's something to do with him without prompting? Nelson steals the envelope? There’s got to be a more credible way to set this up.



In summary, this story feels a little ‘work in progress’ to me* – needs a bit of polish in places. However, I still enjoyed it, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with it, and the concept and characterization is good throughout, so the important stuff is all there. I’ll be keeping an eye open for part II.


*EDIT: Alex has just pointed out that 'WIP' is included in the thread title - so I guess I'm accidentally pointing out the obvious here.
Last edited by D.B. on Sun May 20, 2007 10:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: OPINIONS: Wherever I Am, That's Where I'm Not (WIP)

Post by missy_misery » Tue May 22, 2007 1:02 am

Jenny and DB:

Thank you both SO MUCH for giving me some C&C on this.  Of the three fics I've posted recently, this one needs reworking the most, IMOHO, as even the idea was sort of weakly defined in my mind before I posted it.  I wish I had a steady, thorough beta, but I'm unable to hold on to one.

EDIT: 5/24/07: Editing this response and posting it here instead of bumping!

@Jenny: I think I tend to overwrite a lot, and it's probably one of my bigger flaws as an author (besides my dreaded tendancy to fall victim to tense changes, which is my biggest flaw, IMOHO).  There's a line between what's IC for Lisa to think and what's my leaning back on ornate language because Lisa has a cerebral side, and I thank you for pointing that out - I'll fix it in the next draft.

Hmm - maybe Skinner offers Lisa a place in a foreign exchange program for an extended amount of time, and Homer and Marge are reluctant to let her go for so long?  As you can see, I'm heavily rethinking the exact direction of the story; it was originally intended to be Bart and Lisa getting to understand each other a little better, with a side of Homer and Marge wondering why in the world their daughter would want to be away from them, and their reluctance due to Bart's experience in "Crepes of Wrath"; sort of an examination of the dynamics of this family.  I just sort of typed this up from an out-of-the-blue idea, and it lacks a lot of foccuss, as you can see.

Thank you so much for your encouragement (coming from you, it's a major compliment) and I hope you enjoy chapter 2 and the revision of chapter 1.

@D.B.:  I like your ideas Re: Nelson and Homer getting involved, and they're certainly stronger than what I had planned for the piece in the first place.

I'm glad you're still enthusiastic about chapter 2, despite the flaws in the piece.

I'll try editing this into something more readable and editing the OP with a new draft by Saturday.  Spellechecked.  I promise.
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Re: OPINIONS: Wherever I Am, That's Where I'm Not (WIP)

Post by missy_misery » Sun May 27, 2007 5:27 am

Okay, as of Today there's a fresh version posted at the head of the thread.  I've made some major changes to plot, hoping to solidify ideas.  Thoughts are appreciated!
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Re: OPINIONS: Wherever I Am, That's Where I'm Not (WIP)

Post by D.B. » Sat Jun 02, 2007 2:36 pm

Just a quick post to say I've had a quick read through and it already hangs together better (in particular the dialogue/description balance is better, as is thata ctual dialogue itself :) ). I would say a more thorough review will follow but every time I do that I end up inadvertantly lying, so I'll see how things pan out :P .
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Re: OPINIONS: Wherever I Am, That's Where I'm Not (WIP)

Post by missy_misery » Sun Jun 03, 2007 3:14 am

Thank you, DB!  Chapter 2'll be coming sometime within a month or so.

(I tend to guestimate about these things, myself)
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Re: OPINIONS: Wherever I Am, That's Where I'm Not (WIP)

Post by missy_misery » Sat Jun 30, 2007 9:08 pm

Part the second, in which Lisa's attempts at making amends are interrupted.
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Re: OPINIONS: Wherever I Am, That's Where I'm Not (WIP)

Post by jenny » Sun Aug 05, 2007 7:49 pm

Ok then, apologies for the lengthy delay, but here are my thoughts on what you've done so far.

I still think that you tend to overelaborate your prose a little. The first two sentences show this: Lisa Simpson scanned the blandly simple piece of paper with a long, fond gaze.  Her precise, exacting cursive had been applied to each question with flawless strokes of the pen. You've got four adjectives there in six words, and they bog down the sentences without really adding anything to them. Cutting long and exacting would do a lot to improve your opening. In general, there's just a few too many adverbs and adjectives here - they're fine for a first draft when you're trying to get the image right, but when you rewrite you should look at them critically and ask if the meanings of your sentences would change very much without them.

A look of interest brightened Bart's eyes as they noticed her eager protection of the paper on her desk is another sentence that could benefit from being rewritten - okay, I suppose it's technically accurate to say his eyes notices the paper, but it reads like Bart's eyes are acting independent of him.

I still like the exchange between Bart and Lisa. It feels natural and kidlike, and you do a good job of getting the exposition out without it feeling forced. I think the story benefits from having the whole stamp thing cut out, as well.

Replace the whole she gestured grandly as she prosaically wondered bit at the end of some dialogue with she said. Speaking is different from gesturing, and the prosaically wondered part is not only flowery, but also unsubtley telling us instead of showing us.

The family dialogue is good too - it's funny and it feels real. You seem to have a real skill for this kind of thing. It's nice to see Lurleen Lumpkin again, but I'm not sure about the Jimmy Carter thing. It's not particularly bad, but the joke is a little obvious. The dancing bit is funny though!

I don't think you need the strongest oratical tone bit. I'm a little prejudiced about it, but I really do think that simplicity is the best policy for dialogue attribution. If you get the dialogue and the context right you don't need to tell us what kind of tone people speak in... and dialouge is one of your strengths. This is something I had to learn myself: he said and she said are the only things you need to say 90% of the time.

On the subject of dialogue, Lisa's is a lot better... I remember saying that she sounded a bit too intellectual in the first drafts. There's still a few instances when she sounds a little verbose, but generally it's a lot better.

I know it's a bit of extra work for you, but I think the story could really benefit from a scene that really shows how fed up Lisa is with Springfield - I'm not really sure what would be the best thing to do that, but I'm sure you can think of something. It's not essential, because you've already shown us, and we already understand, why Lisa would want to go somewhere different, but I think a scene like this would strengthen the story a lot. It's not a major thing and the story is perfectly fine as it is, but it's maybe something to think about.

The second part is quite short, and there's not really much wrong with it - I do like the way Lisa is aware she's being unreasonable, as it's what you do when you're a kid (or even as an adult sometimes) and you've got a funk on about something that's not really anyone's fault.

I've got to say, I don't buy the whole library thing. Anne Frank's story ties in nicely (and foreshadows) Cecil coming for Lisa, but I don't like the list of other writers - it seems a little self-concious and doesn't add anything. I think you can come up with better for a library scene.

On the whole though, it's still a good piece of work and I'm keen to see how it develops. Apologies if this review has seemed overly harsh, but it's easier to write about the things that aren't right than the things that are. It's looking good though - I hope you continue with it.
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Re: OPINIONS: Wherever I Am, That's Where I'm Not (WIP)

Post by missy_misery » Thu Aug 09, 2007 6:35 pm

@Jenny: C&C is always appreciated by me, so don't feel like you're being too harsh on me - otherwise the fic'll never improve.

This fic is the least-formed in my mind at the moment, and it can use every iota of help it can get!  My prosaic adverb habit is almost as bad as my tense-change habit - sometimes I'm worried a sentance sounds too dry so I'll try to fancy it up and I go overboard.

Your idea for adding a scene showing Lisa's frustration at Springfield is a good one, and it'd actually build well into some vauge ideas I have of the action when she's stuck under Cecil's watch.

I actually picked the whole Plath/Fitzgerald thing because I've read their works, so I have a little familiarity with that and I know Lisa's read them IC.  It was basically me applying my knowledge to my knowledge of Lisa.

I'll get back to work on the drafts sometime soon, then re-post them for further concrit.  I want it to be just so before it gets posted on the archive!
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Re: OPINIONS: Wherever I Am, That's Where I'm Not (WIP)

Post by missy_misery » Fri Dec 21, 2007 4:00 am

Done a lot of clean-up work on these!  Further thoughts are much appreciated.
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Re: OPINIONS: Wherever I Am, That's Where I'm Not (WIP)

Post by c_nordlander » Sat Mar 08, 2008 8:38 pm

My computer can't open the documents (they're corrupt, apparently). You might want to repost them.
The noose draws tighter;
This is the end;
I'm a good fighter
But a bad friend;
I've played the traitor
Over and over;
I'm a good hater
But a bad lover.


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Re: OPINIONS: Wherever I Am, That's Where I'm Not (WIP)

Post by missy_misery » Sun Mar 09, 2008 4:49 am

Just resubmitted them, Chris - lemme know if they work!
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