LNH: Onion Lad #7

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Fri May 5 09:26:00 PDT 2006

martinphipps2 at yahoo.com wrote:
> cabbagewielder at yahoo.com wrote:

> > 	"The egg rolls are to die for."
> > 	"That good?" he said.
> > 	"No... they'll just kill you," she said.
> > 	"The Great Foods Company must have a bad reputation," she said.
> > 	"Oh... their reputation is rock solid," he said.  "Botulism
> > cells love them."
> Jesse, if you are writing a story and including jokes then the jokes
> shouldn't sound like jokes.

Actually, these jokes were my favourite parts. :-)

Not so much the "Icup" one, but the other two are great.

"Icup" is fairly lame-- almost as lame as its sister joke, the "pen 15
club"-- for some reason, schoolyard jokes lose their luster after a
while.  Which brings up something else: how old are these jokes,
anyway?  Do some of our older writers-- those old fogeys who are in
their mid-thirties :-) -- remember hearing these same jokes and their
ilk during their school days?  I wonder how it gets passed down,
generation to generation.

Man.  It's almost epic. :-)


Some thoughts on ONION LAD # 7, as well as KILLFILE WARS # 1...

I know I was pretty hard on Willey for his LNH vol. 2 # 13, "Villains
Untied" (aka the baby-football story).  In his defense, I'll say that
OL # 7 & KW # 1 were much more accessible.  Some potential confusing
details-- Martin already mentioned Seductress's pregnancy, for
example-- were pretty minor in the long run.

I don't think it's so much exposition in the form of back-story recap
that Jesse's stories need-- I think it's just a matter of clarity and
structure.  We have to understand why something is going on, and what
the heroes have at stake.  With OL # 7, we clearly understand that
there is murder afoot, and that the heroes are investigating it.  With
KW # 1, things are a little less clear, but the newbie reader gets a
general sense that Lazlo and Delilah are bad guys, they hate the LNH,
and that there's badness going on.

My major complaint with these stories, and much of Jesse's work, again,
would be a matter of dramatic weight.  When Delilah murders one of the
Ninja (Ninja being the plural form of Ninja, oddly enough), it's very
sudden.  And I suspect it's supposed to be: it's a shock scene.  But
then the narrative moves right along to the next scene, speeding
towards its arbitrary psuedo-cliffhanger.

It wouldn't make the story that much longer if it slowed down for a
moment and gave the Ninja's death some emphasis, some perspective, some
emotional "oomph!"  I think if these major, important moments were
given their proper dramatic weight, it would help the storytelling
immensely, it would increase their impact, and it would help throw
thematic concerns into sharp relief.

Jesse, your stories are already fairly decompressed: the plot moves
along incrementally, through subplots, until it reaches a conclusion.
Now, I don't consider most of your endings to be satisfying
conclusions, and this is as much for structural reasons as it is the
actual endings, and for the numerous loose ends.  But that's me.  For
the sake of my argument, I'll say that your subplots all come together
in the last act.  That it all pays off in the end.  That, you are, to
use a phrase in modern fandom parlance, writing for the trade.

The thing is, if you're going to write decompressed-- then *don't* rush
through your big moments-- don't *hyper-compress* it.

Personally, I prefer "old school" storytelling-- self-contained stories
told with joy, sometimes with some thematic oomph, and story arcs in
which each episode also holds it own.  (Which is apparently making a
comeback and to which I say, hurray!)  I think, for example, that the
origin of Spider-Man recounted in AMAZING FANTASY # 15 is far superior
to the one recounted in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN # 1-5.  I think the
original is not only tighter and more compelling, but it's also richer
in character and theme.

But if you're going to write decompressed, sub-plot heavy stories, then
write them that way, pace them correctly.  Give emphasis, give
downtime, give us some substance.  Don't be afraid to talk about your
themes directly: while subtlety is nice, I think it's better to err on
the side of didactic clarity than on the side of inexorable obfusion.

But those are just my thoughts; please, tell us yours.  And I'm not
just talking to Jesse Willey: I'm asking everybody who cares to to
weigh in on issues of storytelling, style, pacing, structure-- the
whole kittenkaboodle.  What works for you as a writer, what doesn't?
What works for you as a reader?  Give us your thoughts on genre while
you're at it.  On characters.

Let's have a discussion about writing-- I think we'll all be better
writers for it.

--Tom, who seems to remember Dvandom having written a great essay on
story structure, but for the life of him, he cannot locate it on
google, eyrie, or Dave's website.

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