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Syrius, anyone else; Stuck on 'A Dog's Life' 'n need input.

 
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Howellfan
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:31 am    Post subject: Syrius, anyone else; Stuck on 'A Dog's Life' 'n need input. Reply with quote

Posting in this forum rather than 'feedback' so nobody who might have input will miss it. Please bear with me - it takes a little background to explain exactly what I'm asking for! Smile

Ookay, for anybody that's taken the time to read 'A Dog's Life'...The REAL reason I've been procrastinating in my updates is that I'm stuck on where to take it; It's not a case of writer's block. It's because, reading over what I've written I increasingly wonder if the whole 'theme' I was originally looking to explore is as sensible as it seemed at the time, or if it doesn't come off as a bit awkward, or 'silly'. And I keep wondering exactly how it reads for the reader coming at it without that idea in mind. Let me explain:

There's a scene it Dean Koontz' 'Watchers' which more than anything else set me off on the 'idea' of my story, between the protagonist and a dog he finds - or rather, finds him - one day, who turns out far more intelligent than the average mutt(to say the least - why, I'll leave you to discover for yourselves. Smile ) Here's the pertinent section(Feel free to skip or at least skim; it's just for reference to what I'll say after.)

Quote:
"Whoa now. It's only a collar, boy."

The dog stared at the loop of red leather in Travisís hand and continued to growl.

"You had a bad experience with a collar, huh?....Mistreated? Travis asked. That must be it. Maybe they choked you with a
collar, twisted it and choked you, or maybe they put you on a short chain. Something like that?"

The retriever barked once, padded across the patio, and stood in the farthest
corner, looking at the collar from a distance.

"Do you trust me?" Travis asked, remaining on his knees in an unthreatening posture...."I will never mistreat you", he said solemnly, feeling not at all foolish for speaking so directly and sincerely to a mere dog. "You must know that I won't. I mean, you have good instincts about things like that, don't you? Rely on your
instincts, boy, and trust me."

The dog returned from the far end of the patio and stopped just beyond Travis's reach. It glanced once at the collar, then fixed him with that uncannily intense gaze.

"....Listen, there'll be times I'll want to take you places where you'll

need a leash. Which has to be attached to a collar, doesn't it? That's the only
reason I want you to wear a collar so I can take you everywhere with me....But if you really don't want to submit to it, I won't force you."

For a long time they faced each other as the retriever mulled over the situation. Travis continued to hold the collar out as if it represented a gift rather than a demand, and the dog continued to stare into his new masterís eyes.

At last, the retriever shook itself, sneezed once, and slowly came forward.

"That's a good boy", Travis said encouragingly.

When it reached him, the dog settled on its belly, then rolled onto its back with all four legs in the air, making itself vulnerable. It gave him a look that
was full of love, trust, and a little fear.

Crazily, Travis felt a lump form in his throat and was aware of hot tears
scalding the corners of his eyes. He swallowed hard and blinked back the tears and told himself he was being a sentimental dope. But he knew why the dog's
considered submission affected him so strongly. For the first time in three
years, Travis Cornell felt needed, felt a deep connection with another living creature. For the first time in three years, he had a reason to live.

He slipped the collar in place, buckled it, gently scratched and rubbed the retriever's exposed belly.

"Got to have a name for you," he said.

The dog scrambled to its feet, faced him, and pricked its ears as if waiting to hear what it would be called.

God in heaven, Travis thought, I'm attributing human intentions to him. He's a mutt, special maybe but still only a mutt. He may look as if he's waiting to hear what he'll be called, but he sure as hell doesn't understand English.

"Can't think of a single name that's fitting", Travis said at last. "We don't
want to rush this. It's got to be just the right name. You're no ordinary dog, fur face. I've got to think on it a while until I hit the right moniker."

Travis emptied the washtub, rinsed it out, and left it to dry. Together, he and the retriever went into the home they now shared.


Now, what I found interesting about that section - and what I set out to write a story around - was this: Set aside the context of the larger story and imagine the effect a few 'cosmetic changes' to the dog - and if you think about it, they really are minor physical changes - would have have on how the scene reads. What happens, for example, it you change the scene to read that the dog's bipedal, with thumbs?

To me, at least, the answer was that the although the dog's 'character' remains essentially unchanged - a mute, sapient Golden Retriever - it suggests a radically different set of relationships in that scene, including a few that wouldn't fit the larger story(or the book's audience! Razz) at all. Laughing

BUT, consider the relationship the do have above, and in the novel, one that we not only find easy to accept from childhood but can be pursuaded feel happy, fuzzy warm feeling about, even as adults. (Well...at least I can....) If you think about it, one sapient(the dog)is perfectly fine wearing the collar of and submitting to another sapient(human), and we take it in stride as a normal, ordinary state of affairs(withing the confines of the story).It is after all, a dog, and leaving it's appearance(and bark!)unaltered lets us chuck thoughts of otherwise serious issues(see the webcomic 'freefall', for example) and see the relationship in terms the intimacy shared between owner and pet.

And then I thought to myself, Isn't it plausible 'in real life', platonic though the relationship will be, that these different ways of relating might bump into and run into each other, creating something different again from the others? I've never read a story with that theme, and it might make interesting reading. Hence, the seed for 'A Dog's Life'.

Here's what I need to know from readers: As time goes on, I've had second thoughts about this approach, at least as I've handled it in 'A Dog's Life'. 'It seemed like a good idea at the time', but now I'm not at all sure I'm not trying to throw ideas together that just don't make good company, or sketch a relationship that 'is' and 'isn't' at the same time. If the story doesn't get the reader to follow where I'm trying, at least, to go, then much of it will look flat out silly(to be polite!), and the author maybe even a little 'off', or at least foolish. (Not true in the slightest. Really! I'm completely sane! *looks at sock puppet* Isn't that right, Hanes? Razz Laughing )

I really do wish to continue the story to a conclusion, as I like these characters and really do love some of their scenes together, but the central idea is different(odd?)enough that I just can't tell how it's translating for the reader. And it's hard to sit down and focus on continuing a story if the author's wondering if the whole thing reads as just a bit too silly.

So I need feedback, and the more the merrier, on how it - meaning the story as a whole - reads. Does the idea I had 'in mind' setting out to write 'A Dog's Life' come across on the page, in a way that makes sense? Does it make sense, but not in the way I intended(in which case I'm opening to taking the story on whatever tack it wants to go)? Or does much of it just come across as confusing, 'odd', or just a bit silly? I need a focus to move ahead. (I hope I'm not coming across as narcissistic or 'attention-w--ring for reviews with this post, but this is a unique request and I really AM stuck over this! Sad )

Thanks in advance. Smile (*Looks over his post* All of that make sense? Neutral )
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Shadu
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

is there a link for the story? If it is posted i might have read it but i've lost around 40% of my bookmarks to computer failures and i might have lost the link.
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Howellfan
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 6:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shadu, It's in Planetfurry's 'Feedback' forum, under ''A Dog's Life' reboot'. Smile
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Shadu
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 5:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Embarassed hehe thnx will check it out
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Syrius
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, I am at work so I can't reply a lot...

I guess the best help I can offer is this: "Why". Why did the wolf cross the road with the hunter? What are they traveling together for?

Are they going to fight a common foe? Is the wolf using her? Is she using the wolf? What is the core message/theme of the story? Friendship? Love? Revenge? Self-redemption? A big score? Who *IS* Grey exactly?

What do you want the reader to say when he reaches a critical point in the story? "Daaaaaaaamn!"? "I knew it!"? "Oh, no. You didn't!"? "You monster, you killed him!"? "Khaaaaaaaaaaaan!"?

Guess that's all I can offer right now.

Ta.

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Howellfan
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Why did the wolf cross the road with the hunter?


Why, to get to the other side, of course! *rimshot*

....What?....uh, guys?....eeep! *Dives for cover* Laughing
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Syrius
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I meant besides that.
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Howellfan
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laughing

Okay, on a more serious note -

Your question's really the heart of my lil' dilemma. The theme - at least, what planted the thought for the story - is shall we say, two very different meanings of the word 'master'. In a platonic and 'general audiences' relationship. Right.... Whether it works, or even makes sense, on page is what I'm having self-doubts - and looking for feedback - about.
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Howellfan
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2009 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tnanks for the encouragement in Feedback, Shadu. Smile

Anyone else? Confused
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