The Pen is Mightier... by Larissa March


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Post April 09, 2009, 11:09:21 PM

The Pen is Mightier... by Larissa March

Okay, we've got a Broken Fourth Wall, not unlike the movie Stranger Than Fiction. Those stories are a bit tricky because it negates entire realms of standard storytelling. The good news is there's fewer off them, so there's still some scope to explore.

Interesting thing about webpage stories vs. books: it takes slightly more effort in a book to determine the page count, so a certain brand of purist can start a story refusing to know. The structure of the scroll bar on a webpage signals its length, which for me is harder to ingnore.

Larissa takes the Snapper approach. This means that she has one sharp idea in mind, and relies on the overall story velocity for effect. I certainly missed the ending, though it's not impossible to see if I'd read this two years ago fresh off a heavy study of O. Henry stories.

There's more to be had here, if she/someone else wants it. A longer story would have started with this ending-premise, and then careened into some more detailed harrowing experience.

There's also a Noon-In-Arizona obvious sequel here - I'm not yet sure if there's enough for a series.
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Post April 10, 2009, 02:34:57 PM

The Pen is Mightier... by Larissa March

Huh?

Sorry Tao, I couldn't follow most of your comment. Maybe it's me, I've been working 60+ hour weeks, lately.

In any case, I liked the story. Maybe Amy was a witch, and didn't know it. It's a bit of a Stephen King analog, á la Christine or The Mangler.

After all, she did have a cat.

I thought her solution to her problem was a bit harsh, and somewhat theologically suspect. Let's face it, she didn't really burn the book, she only burned her copy of it. There should be a difference. And how did Lady Marion even know she was in the book? The story made it seem she'd already read it and knew she was nothing but a fictional character.

Thought provoking, to say the least. But then again, what's fiction for if it leaves no mark upon the reader?

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Post April 10, 2009, 05:32:59 PM

Re: The Pen is Mightier... by Larissa March

Bill_Wolfe wrote:

I thought her solution to her problem was a bit harsh, and somewhat theologically suspect. Let's face it, she didn't really burn the book, she only burned her copy of it. There should be a difference. And how did Lady Marion even know she was in the book? The story made it seem she'd already read it and knew she was nothing but a fictional character.

Bill Wolfe

Hi Bill. I believe we are resonating the same themes, and I treat them neutrally as a choice of style, neither good nor bad.

"Snapper" is a term I picked up somewhere for what we would call a flash story with a specific way it resolves in a sharp, sometimes harsh, ending.

"Theologically suspect" would be dealt with in the longer form story I tried to refer to. The thing with Snapper stories is that as a reader you have to be careful and allow the author a lot of leeway for the reasons. The same applies with Lady Marion knowing she was in the book. My best analogy is that this is one episode of an old time Pulp serial, which leaves a lot of background "off the page" this time around.

By "story velocity" I mean that the very brevity that led to your questions means the sharp ending also arrives quickly, so that the whole reading experience is complete in some ten minutes.

So from my perspective, the author "did her job" in that I was not able to guess the Book-In-Stove maneuver. For me that is the basic functional effect of a Snapper story.
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Post April 11, 2009, 08:41:57 PM

Hmmm...

My impression was that Lady Marion somehow recognized her life story, not the Book itself... of course, it's been a while since I actually read the piece, so I may have that bit wrong.

Larissa, coordinate...
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Post April 13, 2009, 01:07:47 PM

The Pen is Mightier

Just a few notes:
"Her mother had always said her heart could be read from her face as easily as any of her books, and her horror and pity were easy enough to see." This sentence is confusing. It has four "her"s in it. "Her mother had always said her heart" (whose heart? - Amy's or her mother's?) "could be read from her face" (whose face? - Amy's or her mother's?) "as easily as any of her books" (whose books? - Amy's books, her mother's books - did her mother write the books?) --- Then the time tense changes into the present for the remainder of the sentence: "and her (!!!!) horror and pity were easy enough to see."
The woman, Lady Marion, seems to be from a different time - I can't image a woman reaching into her skirt (who wears a skirt today?) and pulling out a knife? Did this happen everytime the story was read by someone? - in that case, there could be a miriad of parallel worlds and conclusions.
This all smacks of "Inkheart" - the movie - which was really an amazing, well-done piece of fiction.
"The doctors don't know. None of them know, and none of them cares enough." - Cares enough to what? Perhaps it might read: "The doctors don't know, and none of them care enough to really try to find out." Paging Dr. House.
"It might be time to get a TV" - more likely, "Amy reached over, picked up the remote, and clicked on the TV - while brushing ashes off the couch beside her."
Really, I enjoyed it. I just wanted the writing to be a little more solid.

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Post April 14, 2009, 08:24:34 AM

The Pen is Mightier

I thought some about that "her" sentence. Perhaps you could have it begin, "Her father had always told her..." Then put a period instead of the last comma and add - "Now, Amy's horror and pity were easy enough to see." It's a thought.

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Post April 15, 2009, 07:41:51 PM

Amy almost dropped HER book . . .

Perhaps Amy was Lady Marion's Folly's author. Can't recall the exact plot, but wasn't there a Twilight Zone episode in which an author's female character came to life and created some difficulty for his wife, regarding her as a rival?

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Post April 15, 2009, 08:18:59 PM

Plot Concept

I don't know, but that's a cool plot concept!

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Post April 16, 2009, 08:48:43 AM

Nice read! Interesting! And short.

I always liked someone who could think fast on his/her feet, and Amy was no exception. Tossing the book into the fire took nerve preceeded by quick thinking under stress.

I enjoyed this one! :D
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Post April 18, 2009, 01:53:26 PM

Twilight Zone

gino_ss wrote:Amy almost dropped HER book . . .

Perhaps Amy was Lady Marion's Folly's author. Can't recall the exact plot, but wasn't there a Twilight Zone episode in which an author's female character came to life and created some difficulty for his wife, regarding her as a rival?

gino


Old Series or New Series? I have a (mostly?) compleete set of the new series, but I didn't recall that particular story as I only dipped into the trove rather than strip mining it.
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Post April 21, 2009, 08:42:20 AM

Twilight Zone - The Pen is

I found a site with all the Twilight Zone plots - old and new - and the closest I could come to this story was in a show on June 17th, 1960: "A playwright has the power to create what he describes on his answering machine". That sounds like a good recipe for getting in trouble with your wife.
I enclose the address for that site:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Th ... .931960.29
Or just search: Twilight zone plots.

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Post April 21, 2009, 11:06:49 AM

"A World of His Own." That's the one. Thank you, bottomdweller I'd forgotten the final scene where the playwright tosses the "Rod Serling" tape in the fireplace and Rod begins to fade away.

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Post April 25, 2009, 02:11:07 PM

Re: Twilight Zone - The Pen is

bottomdweller wrote: : "A playwright has the power to create what he describes on his answering machine". .


Did he have to call himself to leave a message on his answering machine? (which I don't beleive even existed in 1960)

If memory serves, it was a tape recorder or dictaphone. His 'writing' was just him speaking out the words for someone else to type up. You know, women's work.

Decent episode, though not one of the best.

Larissa's story is better.

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Post April 25, 2009, 08:37:27 PM

More literary relatives of this story

(Sound of palm smacking forehead)

Nobody has mentioned the "Inkheart" books by Cornelia Funke (the basis for the recent movie starring Brendan Fraser). In them, certain people have the ability to cause objects and people from stories to materialize...

And, of course, in Jasper Ffolkes's Thursday Next books, certain people have the natural ability to materialize characters or objects from books, OR to read themselves INTO books. (Some others are able to do this with the aid of might-as-well-be-magic technology.)

Amy might be an untrained Reader... which raises the possibility of sequels to this story. After all, how long can someone who has rejected television in favor of books be satisfied with "Samoan Idol", "So You Think You Can Play the Spoons", and the umpteenth spin-offs of "Lawn and Garden" ("Lawn and Garden: Ceramic Gnome Unit") and "CSE-I-E-I-O"? Sooner or later, she might backslide and pick up some novel with Fabio (or his successors) on the cover, or a vampire, or Fabio AS a vampire). Or she might get so caught up in a storyline that she causes real-world versions of her favorite characters to appear...

The mind boggles.
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