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Discussing: The Boatbuilder

The Boatbuilder

Well, here's my experiment: The Boatbuilder.  Let me know what you think of it.  Warning! It's an explicit self-insertion, though I'm not sure it's a Mary-Sue.

 

 

Re: The Boatbuilder

Well, I found it enjoyable. Not every modern day story is a problem, nor 'inserting' ourselves into it--it just has to be handled carefully and I didn't feel jarred at any point.

What did you consider experimental, here? The intercutting of Cirdan and Anna? I thought it worked, Cirdan's perspective showing us the closed world inside the boat and the boatbuilder, Anna's always pulling us back outside to what always only appears to be the case. I liked the double uncertainty--her momentary thought that they might be speaking an 'imaginary' language and then the 'correct' spelling on the boat's prow suggesting she's imagining things, though we know better.

Dwim

 

 

Re: The Boatbuilder

Thanks, Dwim!

You wrote:
What did you consider experimental, here?

The POV shifts (1st - 3rd person) and the flashbacks in the "Elf" bits, not to mention the self-insertion ("Anna" is myself, "Jack" is my S.O., etc).  Also, I've read some modern-day fics that didn't work, or required too high a setting on my Suspension of Disbelief Facilitator (tm).  I'd hoped that wasn't the case w/ this one.

This is a new type of fic for me, so I really don't know what to think of it.  It's what the muse handed me, though...

Also, is it just too coy to say "the boatbuilder"?  Maybe I should name Cirdan clearly.

I did want to leave it absolutely ambiguous for Anna, though.  She'll never know that Cirdan is sending dilatory Eldar off to Valinor through the Golden Gate.

I'm glad you enjoyed it!

DrummerWench

 

 

Re: The Boatbuilder

The POV shifts (1st - 3rd person) and the flashbacks in the "Elf" bits, not to mention the self-insertion ("Anna" is myself, "Jack" is my S.O., etc).

I think the key to POV shifts, especially if you do it in a single chapter, is to make sure they are fairly self-contained and don't happen for no reason. When they wander, and you have trouble telling who is who (unless that's the point) or why the shift occurs, it becomes a problem. These are easily set off from each other, and the style and voice in each section is distinct, so it takes very little effort for the reader to just follow along. The purpose is also clear, in that between the two POVs, the two sides of the story are unfolded.

Also, is it just too coy to say "the boatbuilder"? Maybe I should name Cirdan clearly.

I'm in favor of a little coyness. On the other hand, I have been known to write stories where one character is "the lad," "the Ranger," or "the other" for nearly the entirety of the story before getting a name. Other than that, however, "the boatbuilder" is clearly what Anna sees--and it's what we see with her initially. If you start off with Cirdan explicitly named, I think you lose something for Anna's POV. Even if the suspense is slight because we can guess, it's still satisfying to get the confirmation when we switch to 'Dan's' POV.

Dwim

 

 

Re: The Boatbuilder

Also, is it just too coy to say "the boatbuilder"?  Maybe I should name Cirdan clearly.

No, no. This works fine! Keep her  POV pure!

Lovely story! 

Gwynnyd 

 

 

Re: The Boatbuilder

Thank you, guys.

I find writing, writing anything - even this little note - to be difficult and time-consuming.  When my subconscious blandly served up the above fic and said, "what's not to like?", I was pretty dubious.  I don't have much trust, so far, in my abilities other than spelling and grammar (that's the easy part).

If you-all are ok with it, I won't fret about it any more.

Re: naming Cirdan explicitly Dwim wrote: I'm in favor of a little coyness. On the other hand, I have been known to write stories where one character is "the lad," "the Ranger," or "the other" for nearly the entirety of the story before getting a name. Other than that, however, "the boatbuilder" is clearly what Anna sees--and it's what we see with her initially. If you start off with Cirdan explicitly named, I think you lose something for Anna's POV. Even if the suspense is slight because we can guess, it's still satisfying to get the confirmation when we switch to 'Dan's' POV.

Gwynnyd wrote: No, no. This works fine! Keep her  POV pure!

Well, actually I meant in Cirdan's POV, while he's interacting with the Elves in the italicized bits.  From Anna's POV, it would always be "Dan/boatbuilder".  Though I suppose since I didn't name the Elves, either, it's ok to leave him unnamed...

Thank you both so much for your thoughts!

DrummerWench

 

 

Re: The Boatbuilder

Hi, DW!

I love this little story! As far as your questions go, the POV shifts work for me. The italicized parts are beyond Anna's personal knowledge, is how I read it. And it is left a bit ambiguous how much she really "gets," beyond recognizing the Elvish. Perhaps the couple are really intense Tolkien fans, or fanatical members of SCA. The reader knows better. Is this what you mean to do?

Anyway, the effect for me is a successful leap from RL to fantasy. And there is an added bonus: a tale of Middle-earth set in my home town!

G.A.

 

 

Re: The Boatbuilder

Well, actually I meant in Cirdan's POV, while he's interacting with the Elves in the italicized bits.

D'oh!

Ok, revise: I didn't find it difficult to accept continuing to call him 'Dan.' But I am an Aragorn Fangurl, I like my men to have many many many names, all of which they answer to. ;-)

If it troubles you, though, perhaps you could use 'Dan' once in quote marks, nd then shift everything to "he"? Anna is, of course, using "I," not "Anna" so there'd be a pleasing parallel there in pronoun-induced anonymity. So long as no one else directly addresses Cirdan who knows his real name, then there'd be no conflict, the name 'Dan' would be signaled as a pseudonymn, and I've found that avoiding a name can give an interesting atmosphere of familiarity and distance at the same time.

Dwim

 

 

Re: The Boatbuilder

Thanks, G.A.

I'm so glad you like it!  As I mentioned above, it combined so many elements I hadn't tried that I just got kinda nervous about it.  Y'know, you get so close to something, and then can't step back to see the whole.

And it is left a bit ambiguous how much she really "gets," beyond recognizing the Elvish. Perhaps the couple are really intense Tolkien fans, or fanatical members of SCA. The reader knows better. Is this what you mean to do?

Exactly.

And there is an added bonus: a tale of Middle-earth set in my home town!

Write what you know...

I may go back and add details, say, the smell of creosote and brine, the slap of line on the masts, like that.  My natural tendency is towards minimalism, so I wind up having to consciously add details:

Once upon a time there was a girl.
She had an adventure.
The End.

Not enough?  OK, how 'bout this:

Once upon a time there was a girl.
She had an adventure.
Then she went home.
The End.

... and so on.

Suppose I should mention the AU elements, too (Narya and the palantír).

DrummerWench

 

 

Re: The Boatbuilder

Thanks, Dwim!

Actually, since it didn't bother you to the point of not noticing it, (<--- hopes that makes sense) I think I'll leave it as is.  The sense of "familiarity and distance at the same time" is a positive thing, in my book!

*looks up Cirdan at Encyclopedia of Arda, which reminds me the literal meaning is: shipwright ---> "boatbuilder"* So that's all right!

DW

 

 

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