The Beggar

Discussion in 'Critiques' started by odangutan, Dec 8, 2011.

  1.  
    odangutan

    odangutan New Member

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    OK, from disinterested third-party narrators to a POV stream of (un)consciousness, as an experiment in vernacular and self-dialogue.

    Tick - Street slang for a vagrant. Varying degrees of intent from friendly to highly offensive. Self-deprecating in this instance.
    Tin - Street slang for members of the City Militia. Refers to their helmet but also to the fact that helmet can often be quite empty... Regarded by many as the blunt instrument of an unpopular civic authority.
    The 'burglar' on the roof relates obliquely back to another character who's used as a kind of Greek chorus in the story as a wider whole.

    ----------------------------

    …knew abart no rules did i never knew never knew carnt blame me for not knowin fings I dont know if I dont know I dont know em speshly if I dont get tol I dont know em makes sense dunnit but you tryn tell it to a gang o tins and yerll get a rap on the napper for yer troubles and no mistake right darn in the gutter with yer gear all filched and no sight o gettin it back not from tins the barstards not wi them all swaggrin and hollerin like they owns the place which they damn near do at least darn ere as far as anyone cares where an ol tick jus mindin is bisness gets a whallop an more jus for walkin the street all quiet like when e dint even know e wernt sposed to be walkin it cos e dunt know no better and no buggr tol im even tho e fort inna war an got a meddle for killin ooever it was we sposed to be killin back then and dun is job wi no complaynin even when there was boms and worse flyin abart or some militry tin was carryin on and a-hollerin just cos o some jonnies boots or summat I don’t recall proper no more lotta water under the bridge yer might say lotta water aye that an more besides jus to keep the chill orf y'see which is why they never believes us when I tells em I was followin a burgler or summat up in them eeves e was but they carnt see im even when I tells em you afta kinda look outta the side o yer eye a bit and not strayt at im or yerl see nowt but they jus larfs and sez eres summink for the side o yer eye and gis me the rap like I sez an this geezers up there on the roof all shifty like an creepin alon but I gets the rap again an im darn like an ol bag o spuds and probly not worf as much for all that not that any o em gis a penny for us at the best o times least of all when a gang o tins is all abart an shakin theyr sticks like they was avin a fair ol dance wi some sweet gel an not an ol tick oo fort inna war an all that besides but I keeps tellin em even when theys layin on the ol boot that I never even seen no poster or no sine or whatever they was sayin an i was just an ol tick lookin for some place to keep outta the chill and tryna keep shifty folks orf peepls roofs when they don’t deserve no feller wandrin abart all over ther ouses even less than some ol tick deserves the rap when ee never knew abart no rools cos no bugr done never tell im abart em an you cant blame im if he never knew can ye makes sense an i never done red no poster never red it did i an i never…
  2.  
    springs

    springs Juggling life

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    Sorry, didn't get past the first line, just too much information there for my little brain.
  3.  
    odangutan

    odangutan New Member

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    First line of the excerpt or first line or my introduction...;)

    And I'm not sure why 'johnnies boots' seems to sometimes hyperlink to a shopping site. That seems to be happening automatically.
  4.  
    springs

    springs Juggling life

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    Maybe it's a stall at dyall square? No, I managed the intro! and actually the venacular and all, I like it and can read it in little bits; it's just looking at the whole thing is too much for me.

    But, I only managed about 2 pages of Finnegan's wake, too.
  5.  
    Hex

    Hex Mod in tooth and claw Staff Member

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    (I feel like I shouldn't comment since it's the kind of thing I tend to struggle with, but here we go:)

    It's very well done.

    I liked the bits about the war (though I wondered if 'just cos o some jonnies boots or summat ' might have an apostrophe -- probably because 'don't' just along from it has one (the more I look at it, the more I wonder if maybe 'don't' is the odd one out). I'd either have them or not, if you see what I mean).

    I loved the burglar on the roof and the guards' reaction when he tried to tell them.

    I will admit, though, that well-written and clever as it is, if I encountered this in a book I would probably skip most of it, and if it turned out there was vital information in it I'd be confused.

    Serves you right, you may well say (and I admit it).

    I'm bad at reading this sort of stuff. I never managed How late it was, how late, for example (and I only read Trainspotting because I had nothing else to read. I'm not good on dense information -- I struggle terribly with China Mieville too, so you may like to ignore my comments).
  6.  
    odangutan

    odangutan New Member

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    I think it's actually the 't' in 'don't' which is wrong. 'E don' fink posh see?

    Ah, but surely the story in itself tells you that ignorance is no excuse...;)

    I like Trainspotting more for how it's written than what the story says, I have to admit. And I'm English so, possibly, I'm not sure I should understand any of it. Likes.
  7.  
    Hex

    Hex Mod in tooth and claw Staff Member

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    Ah. Trainspotting.

    I liked it more because it had words I hadn't heard since school. Like raj (is that how you spell it? raag?). Anyway on apostrophes: there's a y'see in there too.
  8.  
    HareBrain

    HareBrain Lagomorphing Staff Member

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    As an experiment in stream-of-consciousness and vernacular, it's good, and gets across the character quickly and firmly. But I would only read more than about four lines of it in a book if I came across something in those four lines that made me believe the whole thing was likely to reveal information essential to the story. At the moment, it comes across as rambling and presses my skip button.

    In shorter sections, this could work very well as the mind-ramble of someone who's a Boxing Day short of a Winterval. For actual speech, you'd have to include some pauses if we're to believe he doesn't die of suffocation half way through.
  9.  
    Abernovo

    Abernovo Accident-prone, allegedly

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    A bit Joyceian, which is never a bad thing, in moderation, but a bit long to read comfortably in one go. I found my eyes crossing trying to keep track of where I was - one of the dangers with losing normal sentence structure. As HareBrain says, you need pauses - paragraphs/action?

    Other than that, it's good. I got a picture of the narrator.
  10.  
    ctg

    ctg weaver of the unseen

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    Man, that there is a big wall of text. It took me four tries to even read the first line - from the excerpt - and as I was moving to second line, I could go no more. The rules for punctuation and grammar are there for a reason, and from a reader point of view, I moved on and didn't even try to read it at the end. Maybe with a spoken word technology I could get somewhere, but with the mark one eyeball, no where.

    Sorry to break the news, but with me, you're not getting anywhere.
  11.  
    chrispenycate

    chrispenycate resident pedantissimo Staff Member

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  12.  
    odangutan

    odangutan New Member

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    I do think that, like much block-text, it's harder to read on-screen than on a piece of paper but I'm also not sure I believe that reading should necessarily be easy for the reader. Which leads me onto...

    I look at them more as conventions than rules, I have to admit, and feel that once you know the rules then you can play around with them for interesting effects. Do you follow the 'rules' of grammar when you speak? I doubt it. So why should you represent that by shoe-horning it into a rule-system to which it doesn't apply. It just seems silly and a bit self-limiting.

    Oh, and he doesn't suffocated 'cos it's thought, not speech...;)
  13.  
    springs

    springs Juggling life

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    There's a whole thread, I think on the last paragraph, but this struck me as interesting.

    I suppose it depends why you write. I'd like others to enjoy a hopefully interesting tale I came up with one day, and I think if I'm asking them to read it I should make it as easy as I can for them.

    If I'm writing for myself or a limited audience I'd write differently and to their taste.

    But, basically, I like to make it as easy as I can for the reader.
  14.  
    odangutan

    odangutan New Member

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    I don't understand how you would do that. How do you know how easy the reader wants it?

    I read 'easy' books all the time, as I have a long commute to work, but they're not memorable. Everything's laid out and described and then I put the book away and it's done. Why should I think about it again?

    Difficult books, books which make me wonder whether there's pieces of the puzzle I'm missing or which allude only hazily to other layers of narrative, are the ones that keep me thinking afterwards.

    I made a thread! - http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/534417-should-reading-be-easy.html
  15.  
    Peter Graham

    Peter Graham New Member

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    I can't speak for what CTG meant, but I would raise the same objection.

    I don't have a problem with the phonetically rendered dialogue - in fact, I think you do it rather well (the odd Dick Van Dyke-esque wobble, but nothing to worry about). However, once written down, phonetically rendered dialogue still needs to be punctuated properly. The punctuation is the responsibility of the writer, not the character.

    Put simply, the wall of text would look less daunting if you set about it with a few commas, apostrophes and dashes.

    Regards,

    Peter
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2011
  16.  
    odangutan

    odangutan New Member

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    This goes back to the 'should reading be easy' line, I think. I don't want it to look less daunting.

    I live in a part of Edinburgh where it is very likely that, when wandering around the streets, you will be accosted by someone who talks not very much differently from the wall of text above (albeit with a different twang and perhaps slightly less intelligibly). Such an encounter is daunting and, sometimes, a bit scary.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2011
  17.  
    Peter Graham

    Peter Graham New Member

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    I don't doubt it. But your drug-addled Reekie scroat is still using punctuation. He might not know it, but every little gap and inflection which he unconsciously applies to his speech is represented by a punctuation mark in written text.

    As you have rendered your potter's speech into writing, you therefore need to reflect his speech patterns with punctuation - otherwise it risks coming alive again (through the act of reading) as a flat, emotionless monotone.

    Regards,

    Peter
  18.  
    Ursa major

    Ursa major Bearly Believable Staff Member

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    As I mentioned only the other day in a post on the Chrons, spoken language isn't at all like written language. Unless one is making a point, we don't, when we speak, separate out the words. We do, however, punctuate (;)) our speech with pauses added for effect and to emphasise the meaning of what we're saying.

    So to take your own words, I'd probably say them like this**:
    The lesson I draw is that the punctuation (albeit a slightly more sophisticated version than my variable pauses) is rather more important than separating out the words. We almost always do the latter, so why not the former?


    ** - Note that spaces in this wall of characters, other than those surrounding the pauses, have been inserted by the forum software (which doesn't like long strings of non-space characters).
  19.  
    springs

    springs Juggling life

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    Also, just to say I would cross the street to avoid such an unpleasant encounter; similarly I'd put the book down, too.
  20.  
    odangutan

    odangutan New Member

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    As an exercise, I tried to re-write the text with punctuation. I didn't like it. It gives the character a greater sense of coherence than I want them to have (as this is meant to represent thought, not speech). However...

    I do have a piece which is a similar character (or possibly the same character, somewhat earlier) actually talking out loud to another person. I feel that the punctuation works here;

    -------------------------------------------------------

    What's that ye were sayin', young feller? I was thinkin' that I 'eard ye say something about the Sleepin' Cliffs, eh? Plannin'? Plannin' a what? A nexpedishun? Wassat? Y'goin' out there? Ye don' wanna go out there, young 'un. Lissen… lissen t'me! I been out there. Yeah, yeah… I been out there a good few times. Long ago, now, but I still been and I'm tellin' ye that ye don' wanna go out there on no nexpedishun!

    Drinkin'?! Sure I been drinkin'! Ye'd be drinkin' too if y'seen what I seen out on them cliffs. Wretched things…wretched. Ain't nothing for no human eyes to see… Once ye get past the Slums then it ain't no land o' man no more. Beasts is all there is. Beasts! An' worse'n beasts…

    Aye! Ye might well laugh! Daft ol' coot livin' in the gutter I be but I gots more sense than any o' ye an' I reckons that I'll live a sight longer'n ye if'n ye go on this nexpedishun.

    Yer bones'll be bleachin' in the sun afore I'm dead, boy, I tell you that straight off. Bleachin' inna sun!

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