What is the one thing that you missed in this book?

Discuss the October 2017 Book of the Month, Strong Heart by Charlie Sheldon.

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Charlie Sheldon
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Re: What is the one thing that you missed in this book?

Post by Charlie Sheldon » 06 Oct 2017, 08:43

It is always a challenge when telling a tale to say enough but not too much. The truth is earlier drafts of this tale - the first draft, which was 155,000 words long, twice the final version - had much more description of the landscape and more backstory on the characters, and I heard loud and clear from readers that such descriptions got in the way of the flow and pace, and so also for the backstories. I was once even accused of writing a "Sierra Club screed" in some sections. As one of you said, my style is to try to write just enough to give the overall outline and let you the reader fill in the blanks as you will. Obviously that doesn't work with those of you wanting more description or back story, but it seems to work very well with many others. As reader I loathe too much description because it gets in the way of my imagination if that makes any sense.
As regards the pace and urgency of the story, it is interesting to hear that some of you feel the tale is too slow or measured in pace while others say once they got into it they could not put it down. As an author, that is the highest praise one can ask for - not being able to put the book down (and the second highest praise is having readers turn to other sources to follow up on information in the book, as for example looking up the Olympic mountains, or ancient human origins theory) I intended to start this story slowly,normally, just a tale of an ornery girl and a grandfather she never knew, with the inciting incident being Sarah's arrival, then another being her fall in the stream, then seeing the bear, then the disappearance - rising steps of action over a period of time before the real magic and quest begins. This is a Ninteeenth Century approach of course, but some of you will argue I am nearly a 19th century man myself, being in my 71st year. Today everything is fast and sudden and must grab attention instantly, and this is not such a story (and as such surely a percentage of readers who start this book, maybe 10 to 20 percent, never finish it). This isn't the same type of frame but I always liked Conrad's frame for I think it was Heart of Darkness whereby the frame was a bunch of people sitting in a pilot boat waiting for the tide to turn to make a ship, and one of them tells this story. Given that I wanted to work with how stories made us human, and the act of story telling is the vehicle for culture, I wanted to write a story made up of stories, and stories have a flow and rhythm of rising action (I believe) and I tried to follow this.
Once I get the next tale in this series out, next year, Adrift, I can explain more about the frame and story structure and how that tale links to this one here, but that's a good while away....

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Post by meteku4 » 06 Oct 2017, 09:01

The poor background development of the characters was a problem for me too. Then, when Sarah began to tell her story which covered several chapters, I thought I would read some interjections from her listeners. This made the story a bit artificial.

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Post by Amozone » 06 Oct 2017, 09:07

I found the book interesting, but there is a line of missup in the edicting. It should be check properly before moving into the market.

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Post by BoyLazy » 06 Oct 2017, 09:21

Charlie Sheldon wrote:It is always a challenge when telling a tale to say enough but not too much. The truth is earlier drafts of this tale - the first draft, which was 155,000 words long, twice the final version - had much more description of the landscape and more backstory on the characters, and I heard loud and clear from readers that such descriptions got in the way of the flow and pace, and so also for the backstories. I was once even accused of writing a "Sierra Club screed" in some sections. As one of you said, my style is to try to write just enough to give the overall outline and let you the reader fill in the blanks as you will. Obviously that doesn't work with those of you wanting more description or back story, but it seems to work very well with many others. As reader I loathe too much description because it gets in the way of my imagination if that makes any sense.
As regards the pace and urgency of the story, it is interesting to hear that some of you feel the tale is too slow or measured in pace while others say once they got into it they could not put it down. As an author, that is the highest praise one can ask for - not being able to put the book down (and the second highest praise is having readers turn to other sources to follow up on information in the book, as for example looking up the Olympic mountains, or ancient human origins theory) I intended to start this story slowly,normally, just a tale of an ornery girl and a grandfather she never knew, with the inciting incident being Sarah's arrival, then another being her fall in the stream, then seeing the bear, then the disappearance - rising steps of action over a period of time before the real magic and quest begins. This is a Ninteeenth Century approach of course, but some of you will argue I am nearly a 19th century man myself, being in my 71st year. Today everything is fast and sudden and must grab attention instantly, and this is not such a story (and as such surely a percentage of readers who start this book, maybe 10 to 20 percent, never finish it). This isn't the same type of frame but I always liked Conrad's frame for I think it was Heart of Darkness whereby the frame was a bunch of people sitting in a pilot boat waiting for the tide to turn to make a ship, and one of them tells this story. Given that I wanted to work with how stories made us human, and the act of story telling is the vehicle for culture, I wanted to write a story made up of stories, and stories have a flow and rhythm of rising action (I believe) and I tried to follow this.
Once I get the next tale in this series out, next year, Adrift, I can explain more about the frame and story structure and how that tale links to this one here, but that's a good while away....
I knew that the character development was intentionally shortened. Thanks for the reply sir. I feel better about the book now :)
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Post by Amagine » 06 Oct 2017, 11:43

Amozone wrote:I found the book interesting, but there is a line of missup in the edicting. It should be check properly before moving into the market.
I didn't see too many editing problems.
"Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude." -A.A Milne

"I am grateful for all the books that sparked my imagination." -Unknown

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Post by BoyLazy » 06 Oct 2017, 11:50

Amozone wrote:I found the book interesting, but there is a line of missup in the edicting. It should be check properly before moving into the market.
Can you share your findings if you have time..
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Post by Charlie Sheldon » 06 Oct 2017, 11:59

It's true the version Scott is sending to folks for rrading is a pdf of the final draft which subsequently was further proofed and made correct before the pubished version. So there are a few errors here and there

-- 06 Oct 2017, 12:00 --

my apologies to all....

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Post by BoyLazy » 06 Oct 2017, 12:25

Charlie Sheldon wrote:It's true the version Scott is sending to folks for rrading is a pdf of the final draft which subsequently was further proofed and made correct before the pubished version. So there are a few errors here and there

-- 06 Oct 2017, 12:00 --

my apologies to all....
I didn't notice any issues.. need to work on my grammar ☺️
Thanks Charlie for sharing this info.
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Post by Charlie Sheldon » 06 Oct 2017, 12:33

well for what it's worth the highest I ever scored on a grammar test, ever in my life, was 47 out of 100......I was passed into the 9th grade because even knowing zero grammar I could write a sentence or two....

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Post by jonaya » 06 Oct 2017, 12:39

this book did not shade more light on the behaviors and life standards of Sarah's parents as to whom she matched with her strong heart character. And it did not also specify the cause of their early deaths

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Post by BoyLazy » 06 Oct 2017, 12:56

Charlie Sheldon wrote:well for what it's worth the highest I ever scored on a grammar test, ever in my life, was 47 out of 100......I was passed into the 9th grade because even knowing zero grammar I could write a sentence or two....
Inspiring to know this. I thought I was weak at grammar and could never become a writer.. Thanks for sharing. I want to become a writer is there any suggestion for me?
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Post by Charlie Sheldon » 06 Oct 2017, 13:27

write. write about what you know about, write for the fun of writing, find a class or group where you can critique work without it becoming an emotional nightmare (this is very hrd by the way to find), enjoy yourself, and write some more. Keep a journal. Write letters. Expect a lifetime of humiliation, frustration, rejection, dismissal, and slights punctuated by rare moments of euphoria and joy. I would generally say those who write must be driven to do it because most of the time it is painful.

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Post by BoyLazy » 06 Oct 2017, 13:30

Charlie Sheldon wrote:write. write about what you know about, write for the fun of writing, find a class or group where you can critique work without it becoming an emotional nightmare (this is very hrd by the way to find), enjoy yourself, and write some more. Keep a journal. Write letters. Expect a lifetime of humiliation, frustration, rejection, dismissal, and slights punctuated by rare moments of euphoria and joy. I would generally say those who write must be driven to do it because most of the time it is painful.
Lovely.. "critique work without it becoming an emotional nightmare " - really hard to find.. I hope to find it on this forum.. trying to get along with friends who read a lot.. thank you sir. I hope I can follow these hints and start writing. You are an inspiration ☺️

-- 06 Oct 2017, 15:10 --
jonaya wrote:this book did not shade more light on the behaviors and life standards of Sarah's parents as to whom she matched with her strong heart character. And it did not also specify the cause of their early deaths
Good point..
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Post by Amagine » 06 Oct 2017, 17:15

Charlie Sheldon wrote:write. write about what you know about, write for the fun of writing, find a class or group where you can critique work without it becoming an emotional nightmare (this is very hrd by the way to find), enjoy yourself, and write some more. Keep a journal. Write letters. Expect a lifetime of humiliation, frustration, rejection, dismissal, and slights punctuated by rare moments of euphoria and joy. I would generally say those who write must be driven to do it because most of the time it is painful.
This is great writing advice! Thank you so much for the great advice!
"Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude." -A.A Milne

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Post by BoyLazy » 07 Oct 2017, 01:29

Amagine wrote:
Charlie Sheldon wrote:write. write about what you know about, write for the fun of writing, find a class or group where you can critique work without it becoming an emotional nightmare (this is very hrd by the way to find), enjoy yourself, and write some more. Keep a journal. Write letters. Expect a lifetime of humiliation, frustration, rejection, dismissal, and slights punctuated by rare moments of euphoria and joy. I would generally say those who write must be driven to do it because most of the time it is painful.
This is great writing advice! Thank you so much for the great advice!
Yes, we always get good advice from experienced people.

-- 07 Oct 2017, 01:30 --
jonaya wrote:this book did not shade more light on the behaviors and life standards of Sarah's parents as to whom she matched with her strong heart character. And it did not also specify the cause of their early deaths
In the process of keeping the book short, these points could not have been missed.
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