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Discussing: Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice

Winter solstice has been declined in review. In the spirit of the discussion we held in Chris’ forum, I would like to share some of the remarks I found useful, insightful or puzzling. I appreciate any comments, or any new input, on how to improve the quality of the story.

I am not currently thinking about submitting it again, so I am more interested in ways to improve it as a vignette than ideas to help get it through review.

There were a few grammar questions, which I have now fixed, and whoever spotted the umlaut over the “a” instead of the "e" in fëa – thanks! I have undoubtedly been doing that in all my stories - a true blind spot! (I had an old rule stuck somewhere in the back of my head that a dieresis goes over the second of two vowels)

I had the usual spread of good/bad writing that we all find so confusing. I got a nice comment on my grammar, which made me smile, so maybe I am learning something here after all.

You might want to break up the long paragraphs into two more easily manageable ones

This made me laugh, because Chris is always telling me I break my paragraphs up too much. Any comments? I am sure I could manage to divide them!

The interspersed images of Elrond undressing I found distracting and incongruous, too leisurely and comfortable a preoccupation for this sort of reflection. Perhaps he could be brooding in his library or some such.

Is this jarring? It is sort of the point to me – stripping down to his heart, but also to the embroidered standard on his “undershirt.” I am not sure I can change it in the context of the story, but I would like to know how badly it fails. Personally, I do my best brooding when I am getting ready for bed.

"...they unhesitatingly stood up for each other - uncomfortably at first, but fervent" - is this movieverse? I thought it was, but then you mentioned Boromir's blowing his horn…

This thought is my own, but I feel support for it in the text. (admittedly, we don’t see concrete examples of it till later, but we are missing 2 months) Is it too AU to think they would bond? Should I pick one image or the other? I did not mean them to be one movie and one book reference.

"Sometimes a man was strongest stripped back to his feä and his face" and "He himself was now stripped back to his basic hope for their quest; his desire to see the feä of Arda continue to burn bright" - these sentences, although linking to each other well (perhaps the first should have been nearer the beginning of the fic), just don't ring right - especially since Elrond has been progressively undressing. And the latter seems a bit obvious

I worried myself that “stripped back to his basic hope” was too obvious. I could purge that, I suppose. I am not sure where I could move “stripped back to his fëa and his face” and have it maintain its reason. I am not sure I understand why they don’t go with undressing – that is actually the obvious part I was worried about.

I liked the mention of Elrond as Gil-galad's standard-bearer, although I was a bit baffled as to exactly *where* he wore Gil-galad's crest and was getting an extremely odd image of a tattoo.

This was meant to be more than a mention. Did it come through for anyone? Or does it seem like an unconnected moment that comes out of nowhere? Alternatively, is it too obvious?

I didn't think the central image of the standard-bearer was sufficiently well-developed to pull the piece together; it was introduced relatively late, and in a slightly contrived way

Comments? I can’t deny, it is contrived and it does appear late in the story. Did any of the story leading up to it prepare the path for it? Any suggestions on how to improve the lead up?

A couple of the story's ideas were also expressed in a somewhat muzzy fashion, e.g. 'stripped back to his basic hope'.

I am confused about what this means. I know the word muzzy as the haze you get from drinking – can someone help me?

I admit also to being slightly influenced by the title not being capitalized

I do this all the time, without thinking. Obviously, I should pay more attention, but I just don’t notice it. How jarring is it?

Any input welcomed!! Thanks to my reviewers for making real comments that give me issues I can look at and try to address.

 

 

Re: Winter Solstice

"Sometimes a man was strongest stripped back to his feä and his face" and "He himself was now stripped back to his basic hope for their quest; his desire to see the feä of Arda continue to burn bright" - these sentences, although linking to each other well (perhaps the first should have been nearer the beginning of the fic), just don't ring right - especially since Elrond has been progressively undressing. And the latter seems a bit obvious

I worried myself that “stripped back to his basic hope” was too obvious. I could purge that, I suppose. I am not sure where I could move “stripped back to his fëa and his face” and have it maintain its reason. I am not sure I understand why they don’t go with undressing – that is actually the obvious part I was worried about.
******
I like the connection and comparisons of those two lines. I think the concept of Elrond undressing and the stripping of the quest to its basic purpose are fine. After all, Elrond is pretty much the engineer of this whole thing.

your title not being capitalized is no big deal. Something easily changed and hardly a reason for decline. People need to get a grip about these things.

Anyway -- good fic, don't go tooling with it so much it becomes something comepletely different.

Lindorien

 

 

Re: Winter Solstice

A couple of the story's ideas were also expressed in a somewhat muzzy fashion, e.g. 'stripped back to his basic hope'.

I am confused about what this means. I know the word muzzy as the haze you get from drinking – can someone help me?


Apologies for the idiosyncratic wording . Unclear, blurry - so 'haze' was the right association. Those phrases, 'stripped back...hope', 'stripped back...fëa' are unclear because they're not concrete metaphors. The image of undressing is being used to cover things that it doesn't cover. When I tried to pick those phrases apart, to get down to the exact meaning, it was elusive, because the key words didn't connect with each other. The idea being conveyed was understandable enough, but it wasn't concretely expressed - it was 'reaching' without quite finding clear sense. Is that any more helpful?

your title not being capitalized is no big deal. Something easily changed and hardly a reason for decline. People need to get a grip about these things.

Sorry, but I object to this. Decline comments are not 'under review' here, and characterizing someone's honest reaction to something as a need to 'get a grip' is unfair. We all have different viewpoints and are sensitive to different irregularities. Yes, that was my comment, and no, it wouldn't have been a reason for decline in isolation. But the title did stand out within the story listings, and gave something of an air of placeholder/draft, as opposed to completion/polish.

Gemma

 

 

Re: Winter Solstice

Unclear, blurry - so 'haze' was the right association. Those phrases, 'stripped back...hope', 'stripped back...fëa' are unclear because they're not concrete metaphors. The image of undressing is being used to cover things that it doesn't cover. When I tried to pick those phrases apart, to get down to the exact meaning, it was elusive, because the key words didn't connect with each other. The idea being conveyed was understandable enough, but it wasn't concretely expressed - it was 'reaching' without quite finding clear sense. Is that any more helpful?

Yes and no, and thank you again for taking the time to respond.

Yes, because now I understand what you mean.

No, because I obviously don't make myself clear in the story, and I am not sure how I would change it. (not your job!)

I don't mean those two instances of "stripped back" to be metaphors. They do not stand for something else, they stand for themselves - and I think that's why when you examine them you don't find anything else.

I am using the visual of undressing and the process of examination as parallel images. Elrond is removing layers, physical and mental, one at a time. I wanted to show the similarity of process, and that at the deepest level lies the "cause" of the cause and effect.

I overreach all the time, and this may simply be one of those stories that doesn't work outside my own head.


But the title did stand out within the story listings, and gave something of an air of placeholder/draft, as opposed to completion/polish.

This is obviously something I need to make myself more aware of. Avon finds missing capitals in my stories all the time.

I think it comes from the "graphics" side of my brain, and I need to remember to link it back to the "language" side. I get sidetracked all the time by print as visual. I like the look of letters in certain fonts and sizes. Like the grammar mavens who can "see" a misplaced mark, I see x-height and kerning and the lovely languid look of a descender. I will make it part of my final checklist to look at my letters as words.

 

 

Re: Winter Solstice

I don't mean those two instances of "stripped back" to be metaphors. They do not stand for something else, they stand for themselves - and I think that's why when you examine them you don't find anything else.

Perhaps 'metaphor' was a poor choice of word. What I was trying to say was that the 'stripping' was figurative/metaphorical, but it was hard to see an actual, non-figurative parallel underpinning the image. I mean, at the literal level, where the 'basic hope' was physically perceived to be and what had to be 'stripped' in order to expose it. The image didn't seem to bear that literal meaning (unlike e.g. the common 'stripped to the skin'), but it needs to (IMO) in order to make the figurative usage work for the reader.

Or to cite one of Ezra Pound's innumerable dicta, it confuses by mixing the abstract (hope) with the concrete (stripping).

I appreciate the symbolism of Elrond undressing, and thought it was generally effective; I think the flaw in the ending was making a mental leap from that imagery to an abstract idea. Does Elrond's thought need to be stated so overtly at this point, or might it be expressed through a continuation of the imagery? Ending perhaps with Elrond in his skimpy-yet-heraldic underthings, sitting by a single bright lamp as the night grows overcast? Not great, I know (well, you're the author!), but I think that a solid 'thing' could convey the sense of the conclusion more effectively than the 'stripping' line.

Gemma

 

 

Re: Winter Solstice

Does Elrond's thought need to be stated so overtly at this point, or might it be expressed through a continuation of the imagery?

Chris (as Beta) and I discussed this too; I thought it was the end of the penultimate paragraph that might be too obvious. I will certainly think about this before I get to the revision stage. Thanks!!

 

 

Re: Winter Solstice

Or to cite one of Ezra Pound's innumerable dicta, it confuses by mixing the abstract (hope) with the concrete (stripping).

I have been thinking about this ever since you posted it here, and I don't understand it at all...

I am unfamiliar with this dicta, but I do know that Pound said "An 'Image' is that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time." And I know that he used super-position, or two ideas overlaid, to express a surge of ideas and feelings in as few words as possible.

This seems perfectly suited to the vignette to me.

My personal world view is formed around the love of mythology - what is symbol if not the combination of abstract and concrete? How could we have myth (or poetry, or religion, or metaphor... or any symbols at all) without it. I live in a flood of symbol, even in my everyday life. (Just ask Chris, who has to watch me watch a movie or order dinner)

So, if this is an accepted rule, it seems to be one I personally will not only have to reject, but reject utterly.

 

 

Re: Winter Solstice

I am unfamiliar with this dicta, but I do know that Pound said "An 'Image' is that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time."

It's from the same article as the 'Image' thing, 'A Few Don'ts by an Imagiste' (Poetry, March 1913):
Don't use such an expression as "dim lands of peace". It dulls the image. It mixes an abstraction with the concrete. It comes from the writer's not realizing that the natural object is always the adequate symbol.

So, the specific issue here (maybe I should have quoted it in context in the first place) isn't the rightness of 'super-imposing' images, or of employing symbolism - in which I completely agree with you. It's blending abstract and concrete within a single image. Super-imposition would involve juxtaposing two equally concrete images (as in haiku), symbolism using a concrete image to represent a more abstract idea. The 'stripped' line involves a literal action being performed on an abstract noun. It doesn't... compute, as it were. That's why it didn't seem effective to me.

I know you didn't need any definition of those things, btw! It just helped to make the comparison clearer.

I don't seem able to explain my criticisms well, do I? Maybe that's a bit better, though of course you don't have to agree with them at all

Gemma


 

 

Re: Winter Solstice

I think your explanations are fine, Gemma. I just think the concept is foreign to my brain.

I think people are often “stripped” in an emotional sense. And I probably visualize many other things in a way that would violate that dicta. (How did I miss it?)

Well, I have never been a great follower of the rules. I tend to believe in learning them so you know what it is you are transgressing.

Chris, my amazing “slash and burn” beta says this to me all the time during the final process: “ I am not asking you to change this — I am asking you to defend it to me, so you think about it again and we both know you are saying what you really mean.”

This is just one of those places where I have to decide based on my own heart. For me, action as emotion is the very heart of mythology and spirit. So, this is a place I am going to consciously choose not to “repair.”

Thanks so much for the input. Made me think.

 

 

Re: Winter Solstice

Wow, I am so out of my depth in this particular conversation. I have been unable to understand most of what Gemma and Tay are talking about.

I thought the story was fairly straight forward. As Elrond undresses, preparing for bed, he thinks about the events of the day. His thoughts begin with all of his worry and despair. As he undresses he sheds not only his clothes but his worries and doubts as well. A perfectly clear parallel.

Does Elrond's thought need to be stated so overtly at this point, or might it be expressed through a continuation of the imagery? Ending perhaps with Elrond in his skimpy-yet-heraldic underthings, sitting by a single bright lamp as the night grows overcast?

This comment confuses me. "Sitting by a bright lamp as the night becomes overcast," seems as if it is exactly the opposite image of what the story is trying to say.

Elrond stripped physically to his skivvies, where he wore Gil-galad's standard over his heart. He stripped emotionally to the bright hope that the Fellowship would suceed, despite all of the potential for failure.

Chris - run over by the literary techno-jargon bus...


 

 

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