REZ's EDGE (Living Next To An American Indian Reservation and Dealing With Racial Prejudices) discussion

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The Beating (The mental breakdown of Dakota Charleston)

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message 1: by Brad (last edited Oct 26, 2016 11:09AM) (new)

Brad Jensen (bradjensen) | 12 comments Mod
2nd EDIT - -

(The following is an excerpt from the novel/book 'REZ's EDGE'.

The main character, Dakota Charleston, is an eighth grade boy, age 13, who was in an automobile accident with his father, a year earlier. Drunk American Indians ran into their vehicle on the highway at around midnight, causing Dakota and his father's car to spin, tumble, and land upside down in the ditch. Dakota was critically wounded. His father died.

The following takes place a year later when dakota returns to eighth grade to face the cousins of his father's killer and his own mental demons.)

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

I walk past the sinks and the stalls, and pony up to the urinals that go from chest high to the floor. They're walls of white porcelain. Damn near tubs if they were laid down flat.

I unzip my pants, dig through the cotton of my briefs, pull out my penis and piss onto the white walls of porcelain. The yellow urine races down the smooth surface and pools somewhat at the bottom before swirling down the perforated silver drain just below my feet.

I unzip my pants, dig through the cotton of my briefs and pull out my penis. Yellow urine races down the smooth surface and pools at the bottom before swirling down the perforated silver drain just below my feet.

Down the drain. Life goes down the drain. A skull split open bleeds out and goes down the drain. The sucking sound of death. The sucking sound of a drain pipe swallows a life into the sewer.

I reach my hand up and hit the silver handle. Flush.

The cool water from the sink's faucet hits my hands. I lather with the soap and rinse. The flowing cold feels good.

I cup my hands, fill them, bend over and push the coolness onto my face. Again, and again.

I look up, into the mirror. I see my face. Water dripping down my face. I see my father’s face. I see water dripping down my father’s face. I see clear water drops that cloud and turn dark red, dripping down my father’s face.

Footsteps walk into the bathroom. A body walks behind me. A figure in the mirror with long dark braided hair and brown flesh goes past, headed to the urinals.

I pivot, grab the back of his neck and drive his head against porcelain inside the piss fountain. I push his entire body into the urinal. His body curls up into a standing fetal position. Fists pound his shoulder, arm, and back.

“You killed him!,” I scream. “You f__king killed him! You drunk mother-f__kers killed him! Murderer! Murderer! MURDERER!”


message 2: by Brad (new)

Brad Jensen (bradjensen) | 12 comments Mod
Please let me know what you 'truly' think of the above excerpt. Give me your actual thoughts, impressions, critiques, whatever you feel like saying or discussing.

Thank You!
Brad Jensen


message 3: by Stefan (new)

Stefan Bennett | 2 comments Hey Brad, be careful where you add detail... I've noticed you sometime get super descriptive where it may not be contributing to the narrative. I can only relate to when I write for standup, if it's a story it get's edited down constantly to make it as short as possible but still follows comedic beats or rules. I love the premise of your book so keep going!


message 4: by Brad (new)

Brad Jensen (bradjensen) | 12 comments Mod
Stefan wrote: "Hey Brad, be careful where you add detail... I've noticed you sometime get super descriptive where it may not be contributing to the narrative. I can only relate to when I write for standup, if it'..."

Thanks for the Props, Advice, and Encouragement Steve!

Question: In the actual published novel, should I blank out the cuss words as above or spell 'em out? Please shoot me your viewpoints.

Thanks Again!


message 5: by Stefan (new)

Stefan Bennett | 2 comments it's not cusswords necessarily.... just make sure they add to the readers view of the character and how they picture them. When he's taking a leak you don't need to describe the whole process unless it add's to the description of the room or ties into him doing something -daydreaming or "the stream reminded him of..... " lol. bad example) My reaction when I read is that you are overwriting -too much description that doesn't serve the narrative. I hope that makes sense. I suck at writing but I am good at hearing or reading what works. Have you written out a full narrative outline?


message 6: by Kevin (new)

Kevin (kevingchapman) | 2 comments Brad -- interesting excerpt to pick. I would be careful with the premise of the drunk Native American stereotype, but you're past that. As for this excerpt, I agree that there's more detail about the process of pissing than is needed. Doesn't really help. I'm more interested in the physical characteristics of your character and the nemesis you are introducing. How big and strong is our hero? How big is the other guy? The element of surprise is one thing, but is our hero beating up on some smaller, defenseless kid just because his father was driving the car that hit hero and his father? Why is it the kid's fault? What has triggered hero to take this action? On the other hand, if nemesis is a hulk and a bully and has been picking on hero his whole life and this is the moment when the smaller hero takes on the bigger bully, well, then that's a different story. Based on the excerpt, I can't tell.


message 7: by Brad (last edited Oct 14, 2016 03:11PM) (new)

Brad Jensen (bradjensen) | 12 comments Mod
Stefan,

Books actually done, except for a little more editing, and getting it published.

I was just curious what your viewpoint is on cuss words (blanks or spelled out)?


message 8: by Brad (new)

Brad Jensen (bradjensen) | 12 comments Mod
I realize I sometimes go overboard with my descriptions, but that is my strength....


message 9: by Kevin (new)

Kevin (kevingchapman) | 2 comments If the characters cuss, they cuss. In my new book, the dialogue is realistic for the characters. You should spell them out, always. Leaving blanks looks silly -- like the narrator is editing the speech for the reader. If it's a YA book, then create characters who don't swear. If it's an adult level book, and the character would say fuck, then write "fuck." (hopefully, goodreads moderators won't hold it against me)


message 10: by Brad (new)

Brad Jensen (bradjensen) | 12 comments Mod
Kevin wrote: "Brad -- interesting excerpt to pick. I would be careful with the premise of the drunk Native American stereotype, but you're past that. As for this excerpt, I agree that there's more detail about t..."

Hi Kevin,

I realize it is only an excerpt, therefore you are not privy to anything else.

The book is predominantly about the prejudices that native americans face, but told from the standpoint of one pushed into his racist views due to his father's death by the hands of an American Indian (and other extenuating circumstances).

The book is set in the 70s and the stereotype of drunk American Indians was very prevalent during that time frame. The idea of the book is to shine a spotlight on the reasons native American Indians were turning to liquor in such epidemic proportions back then.

It also will let the reader know what it was truly like to live as a white boy near a reservation in the 70s. The book is fiction, but it is pulled out of the reality that I lived growing up during that timeframe.

Dakota is not really a bully, although he does do some bullying out of anger over his father's death. The kid in the bathroom just happened to be at the wrong place and time (when Dakota was having a meltdown). That is what the scene strives to bring to life.

The storyline is also a coming of age saga full of action, adventure, and of course some romantic attraction towards a caucasian girl and an American Indian girl. It brings Dakota's boyhood to life.

Thanks So Much for your thoughts!

Sincerely,

Brad Jensen


message 11: by Melissa (last edited Oct 16, 2016 02:28PM) (new)

Melissa Abigail (melissaabigail) | 2 comments Brad wrote: "(The following is an excerpt from the novel/book 'REZ's EDGE'.


Well, I'm going to say for starters, I don't normally do this kind of critique thing so I'm not sure if I'm doing it right. I joined actually because I'm interested in Indigenous issues. My upcoming novel deals with prejudice and different cultures as well, including Indigenous ones so this is right up my alley.

I will say that I actually like your premise. I think the drunken Indian stereotype is a very overdone and damaging one, BUT I understand why you've used it and thus I don't think it's a problem. Especially if it turns out that although that "murderer" was drunk, you contrast that by showing the struggles Native Americans face and maybe what led to the alcoholism of that specific person in the first place, or if it turned out he wasn't drunk at all or something "surprising". Did I explain that well? Just don't leave it at, he was drunk. Contrast the stereotypes. It's your story though so I don't want to tell you what to do. I'm sure you will figure out how to navigate through it.


"I walk past the sinks and the stalls, and pull up to the urinals that go from chest high to the floor. They're walls of white porcelain. Damn near tubs if they were laid down flat."

When you use the words "pull up", it sounds like you're talking about a car. I would use a different word.

"I unzip my pants, dig through the cotton of my briefs, pull out my penis and piss onto the white walls of porcelain. The yellow urine races down the smooth surface and pools somewhat at the bottom before swirling down the perforated silver drain just below my feet."

This. All of this is way too much. I think a lot of people would stop reading at this point. Like others said, this level of detail is just not necessary...especially if you begin a chapter this way. And I say this not to sound like a prude but because no one puts this much thought into their urination. And readers all know what this act looks like. Think about it. It's a very mundane thing. It requires little detail, especially if it isn't driving your plot. Saying he unzipped and took a piss is more than enough.

"Down the drain. Life goes down the drain. A skull split open bleeds out and goes down the drain. The sucking sound of death. The sucking sound of a drain pipe swallows a life into the sewer."

This is good. I like it.

"The cool water from the sink's faucet hits my hands. I lather with the soap and rinse. The cold wetness feels good. I cup my hands, fill them, bend over and push the coolness onto my face. Again, and again."

I would say something other than "the cold wetness". Maybe just say "the cold" feels good.

"I look up, into the mirror. I see my face. Water dripping down my face. I see my father’s face. I see water dripping down my father’s face. I see clear water drops that cloud and turn dark red, dripping down my father’s face."

There is a bit of an overkill with the way you wrote this. I like the concept, but maybe ditch the 5th sentence.


“You killed him!,” I scream. “You f___ing killed him! You drunk mother-f___ers killed him! Murderer! Murderer! MURDERER!”

Well, for starters I feel like this comes out of nowhere. I get that he is losing his mind a bit, but it just seems so sudden and abrupt that he goes from peeing and there is no train of thought between seeing the guy and then beating him up.

Second, the dialogue. Saying murderer three times just seems unrealistic. I'm not anti-profanity (I use it in my writing) but I think it would have been just as effective a scene if all he said was "You killed him!" and ended it. Or at most, "You killed him! You're a f--- murderer!" Or something.

Just as an aside, is it still acceptable to refer to Native Americans as American Indians? I live in Canada and Indigenous people have their own struggles here. Also I know there's alot of politics around the terminology, and it's not terribly PC to use the term "Indian" anymore, especially since its factually a misnomer. But I get that your book takes place in the 70s, so all kinds of misnomers will be used.

Anyway, hope I helped! Good luck!


message 12: by Brad (new)

Brad Jensen (bradjensen) | 12 comments Mod
Melissa wrote: "Brad wrote: "(The following is an excerpt from the novel/book 'REZ's EDGE'.


Well, I'm going to say for starters, I don't normally do this kind of critique thing so I'm not sure if I'm doing it r..."


Hi Melissa,
Thanks for the critique and all of your insights.

On the American Indian naming convention: I actually researched this and read several articles, one being from Russell Means where he stated he rather be call an American Indian rather than any other naming convention.

In retrospect, I myself, being an Anglo White Guy that was born in the United States of America, and in the Black Hills of South Dakota, can rationally be thought of as a Native American and a Native of the Black Hills. But one would never mistake me as an American Indian. Therefore I believe the naming convention I use in the book is appropriate.

Thanks Again for taking the time to comment!

Most Sincerely,

Brad Jensen


message 13: by Brad (last edited Oct 26, 2016 10:25AM) (new)

Brad Jensen (bradjensen) | 12 comments Mod
Kevin wrote: "If the characters cuss, they cuss. In my new book, the dialogue is realistic for the characters. You should spell them out, always. Leaving blanks looks silly -- like the narrator is editing the sp..."

There seems to be varying opinions on the use of cuss words in YA books. In fact many YA books have a fair share of cussing in them. I am wondering if the YA cussing actually causes a huge number of readers to stop reading a book and never pick it up again? But I've not been able to find any real statistical measure on the issue, only conjecture/opinion. Nothing substantial. (All BS, no meat... =8)

If anyone is aware of any Statistical Evidence on the issue, I'd love to look at it! (Please send me a link/URL/directions!)

Thanks!

Brad


message 14: by Brad (new)

Brad Jensen (bradjensen) | 12 comments Mod
For those that made critique comments, Thank You!

EDIT 2 is now at the top of this discussion.

Cheers!

Brad Jensen


message 15: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Abigail (melissaabigail) | 2 comments Brad wrote: "Melissa wrote: "Brad wrote: "(The following is an excerpt from the novel/book 'REZ's EDGE'.


Well, I'm going to say for starters, I don't normally do this kind of critique thing so I'm not sure i..."


I came across this article and just thought it might be of some interest to you. The website overall might be helpful.
https://americanindiansinchildrenslit...


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