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Date: Wed, 29 Oct 1997 13:00:25 -0500
Subject: Re: GASP!: FIC: The Good Luck Song (0/5) (fwd)

Betsy-

Okay, here goes. I was really wrapped up in your story (the whole idea of the ritual was exciting, and you have a good feel for action, i.e. the reaction of the atmosphere to Giles spell) but I felt that you didn't really end the story. It just seemed to stop. I guess I was looking for more--some kind of a wrap up. Keep in mind that I read this story several days ago, and therefore I don't remember strict details. What I do remember thinking is "Is that it?" You don't necessarily have to connect Giles to Sunnydale as we know it...the story doesn't even have to go there, but I wanted to know what happened after the ritual...

If you want to resend the story to me, I will do a better reading of it and give you some more detailed comments, okay? I am sorry that I didn't respond immediatly, but I think I read the story at 1:00 AM and then just went to bed. But is was interesting enough that I recognized the title when you put it in the subject of the post. I hope that you get back to me.

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Date: Wed, 29 Oct 1997 23:56:56 -0500
Subject: Comments, GLS Part 1

Okay Betsy--

I have gone over the first two parts of this story, so let me tell you what I think so far. I wrote specific comments under specific parts of the story, part 1 of which you will find below. I will send part 2 comments seperatly, just so you can keep it all in order. First, some general comments. You said that your basic worries were plot, narration, and character individuality. There is one thing that will fix all your problems: more detail. And I mean detail about everything....that is pointed out later.

There were very few out and out editorial problems that I found...only a couple with syntax or sentence clarity. That is also pointed out below. I want to stress something very important--this story is good, with an interesting subject. There is nothing that needs to be taken out of it, but there is a lot that should be put in. You told me to be brutal, but I don't really think I needed to be...I am not correcting you ideas--they are your own and I wouldn't mess with them--I am just suggesting some solutions to the problems that you pointed out.

BTW- the title of the story sets the mood for the whole thing, and that is really good. "The Good Luck Song" has a vaguely Asian/Indian flavor to it...a mood that runs in the story very clearly, I think. You know...the whole karma thing. Also, it is a simplistic title, as is the ritual that they end up performing.

Read on....

Okay, right off the bat you need way more detail. Set the scene for the reader. What does the cafe look like? Are they outside or inside? We also need some background on Giles and John. Yes, we know what Giles looks like, but he is younger here. Exactly how much younger? Does he have more hair, is he thinner or heavier, does he wear his trademark glasses, or have a mustache or beard? John--yes, we know he is short and stocky. Is he also English? Is his hair dark or light, does he have a beard or mustache, does he speak with any kind of accent? What features distinguish him from Giles? I myself saw him as overweight, with a beard...

They went to school together. I am assuming we are talking about Oxford here. Now, how did they meet? What areas of interest did they share that made them such close friends? What degrees did they graduate with? If Giles was simply a library science major, why would he run into John, who seems like an archeologist/historian/socialogist?

You mention that John looks for books and other interesting things for Giles, because he likes a challenge. Giles is restless. I know that this was written before "Halloween," but it made me think of Giles' past all over again. He is up for a challenge...is he just looking for a puzzle to solve, or is it something deeper?

Where exactly was he? I know that you said Sumanistan, but I am not terribly familiar with it, and I would bet that readers in general aren't either. Does the place actually exist? Even if it doesn't, what general world area is it in?

Okay, he was busy. Doing what? Collecting children's books and visiting his sister? What is his career exactly? He collects children's books. Is this just a personal hobby, or does it have something to do with his career?

--A small valley in the middle of nowhere in Sumanistan is enough. You don't need the two "middles."

---The rest of part 1 is mainly dialogue. You need more attention to detail on that as well. I don't know if you remember it, but a couple of weeks ago, someone posted a fic about Buffy and Angel, and she warned us that it was just plain dialogue, with no inflection or emotion written in. The story did not work. We know Buffy and Angel, and it was still difficult to picture their emotions. Most people need a little hint as to the mood of a conversation. And we don't know John at all....and we are not entirely familiar with Giles' personality when he was a twenty-something. You need to add stuff to the dialogue like:

"A small valley in the middle of nowhere in Sumanistan," John said dramatically.

"What, the same story." There was disbelief in Giles' eyes.

Does that makes sense? I need to know how the characters are feeling when they say something, because it adds a shade of meaning to their words.

Comments continued in part 2 of GLS...

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Date: Thu, 30 Oct 1997 00:07:08 -0500
Subject: Comments: GLS Part 2

Here we go again.....

Once again, you need to set the scene. You don't need as much detail this time, since your audience is now familiar with the cafe. Giles and John are talking. Have they been sitting for a while and talking about other things, or did John just sneak up on Giles and surprise him?

---Did he visit Lower Little Newington and the towns surrounding it? Did he find the info at libraries, or did he have to search for specific items? Did he talk to any locals who might have had ancestors involved in the "lucky" nature of the town?

---The list of the herbs was complete in the local histories? In any case, what kind of herbs were they?

--Did something happen to end their lucky streak? If they had been lucky all along, what motivated them to join the other town? When they realized they weren't getting the perks anymore, why didn't they resume the ritual?

---John and Giles are obviously very close friends. I want to know more, more, more!!

BTW, I like the line about John pacing in the cafe. A nice moment of levity among all the serious conversation.

Betsy, I really hope that these comments help you out a little. There wasn't as much to say in the second part, because I think that the suggestions I gave before will help work out the kinks throughout the story. Now, I am tired and I want to go to bed. I will read the other three parts and try to get back to you tomorrow with my thoughts. If I have been too harsh, please tell me, and I will tone it down. It is just that you have something really good here, and it could be made better....

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Date: Thu, 30 Oct 1997 22:03:13 -0500
Subject: GLS Comments, Part 3

Hey Betsy V.--Let us continue with the comments. I hope that the other ones that I sent made some sense to you...the comments actually get more and more sparse as the story goes along...you'll see.

---I understand what you are saying here, and I don't necessarily think you should change it. I just have a question...If Giles isn't sure he believes in the ritual, how effective can it be when he performs it?

---How and why did they come to choose the place where they are? I know that it is Little Lower Newington, but is the area they choose of any significance? Also, maybe you should mention the kind of supplies they brought with them...not just "dried herbs." What is in the powder that they use, and if it is so exotic, how did they easily find it in a small, "unlucky" town?

---Personally, I would go with Baritone. I know that you aren't a poet (or maybe you are, but just not here) but I would like to hear a few words of the song that Giles sings.

---You have a serious tone to your story. I would excise the "yikes" and try to find something more appropriate to what we know of Giles.

--John does not feel the same way? I can understand it, if you make it clear that Giles feels all alone because he is the only speaking, and John is only throwing stuff into the fire.

---This is great. You personify the world, making it an almost human entity. That makes it even more threatening, and later on, more comforting.

--how long has it been since they decided to do the ritual? If the words are so complicated, it would take a while for Giles to memorize them, even with an excellent memory--which we all know he has.

Continued in GLS comments, Part 4

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Date: Thu, 30 Oct 1997 22:09:46 -0500
Subject: GLS Comments, Part 4

Okay, again I have to go back to the background and career of John. It has been six months since the failed ritual...they obviously must have been shaken up by it...but why did John have to leave so suddenly, and for so long? What job exactly was he doing in Sumanistan?

--Where is Giles doing his research?

----I assume that you are talking about the tune. Do you mean to say that Giles had the words correct, but his intonation was wrong? That he stressed the wrong words at the wrong times?

---Where did Giles find Mark? Did Mark contact him, or was it the other way around? When did they speak? What made Giles interested enough to want to help the guy?

--More physical description here. Is he English as well? What is his background and career that would give him an interest in "The Good Luck Song?"

Continued in GLS Comments, Part 5

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Date: Thu, 30 Oct 1997 22:17:41 -0500
Subject: GLS Comments, Part 5

----Are they in the same place that they performed the ritual before?

---John has been away for quite a while. How long has it been since Giles and Mark met in his office, what did he have to say to convince Mark that he wasn't completely crazy, and when did they contact John about the new ritual?

--Again, you might want to include some kind of song lyrics. Also, identify what makes Giles singing different this time.

---These last three paragraphs are incredible. I wouldn't change a thing of them.

General Comments about the end:

Okay, how did this all affect Giles, John, and Mark? Even though they don't live in Little Lower Newington, did any of the luch rub off on them? Was Little Lower Newington suddenly lucky again? Do they now perform the ritual every year, and is Giles a part of it? Did the natives notice the change in their luck? Did Giles pass the ritual around, or did he destroy it? It seems to me that a lot of people could use a little luck now and then...there might be people who really want that ritual.

A side note: The Harris Song Book...found by Harris's grandson...this immediatly made me think of Xander Harris. Was the connection on purpose, or were just looking for a generic name? If it was Xander, you might want to find a way to include something about him....

I hope that I helped you out. Let me know, okay?


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Page created August 1998. Original material Betsy Vera (bentley@umich.edu). Page background source: Jay Boersma. This website is for information and entertainment purposes only and is not intended to infringe on copyrights held by others.