Al's Story: Author's Analysis
This page is for my comments on my first novella, "Al's Story."
- I kept the characters' gestures and speech patterns relatively consistent.
- The dialogue was WAY better and more natural than in Double Vision.
- I have to give myself props for making this a science fiction story in which the protagonist isn't the weirdest character in the room, y'know? I have a tendency to write in first person from the point of view of very odd people, and it's a nice change that this time my protagonist is a normal person who's faced with having to deal with supreme weirdness.
- This is also probably my first protagonist who doesn't look like me. Girls with blue eyes and long blonde hair with bangs seem to have reached a critical mass in my fictional worlds, so brown-haired, brown-eyed Alecia is very welcome for the diversity she contributes.
- Er, and Alecia is obviously not one bit of a self-insert character, considering she's got tastes, abilities, and attitudes I don't share and, well, she's pretty horny.
- Finally, a person who is properly curious when something weird happens. In previous books I've been guilty of just having weird things happen and nobody seems to really think it worthy of investigation. But in this novella, right away Alecia is pestering Al about how he opened the locker without the combination, and she thinks it's very weird.
- I'm kinda impressed with how good my spelling was by this point. "Embarrassing," "acquaintance," "definitely," "necessities," "mathematician." I even used the correct plural when I wrote "nebulae."
- Al's nervous chatting is kinda cute. I like him running his words together when he's uptight, and I like how he can't look Alecia in the eye at first.
- The conversations about stars are interesting, especially the goofy bit about Orion's armpit. Al really has a philosophical side that I expressed pretty well for being a young teenager.
- Even though Alecia and Al fall in love unrealistically quickly, at least she kind of acknowledges it by saying she isn't sure she believes in love at first sight but figures she and Al had the closest thing to it.
- It's also refreshing to see that in a romantic story the horny little bunnies are thinking about birth control.
- Even though it wasn't all that well-written, I liked the scene when Alecia encountered Ann again and they realized through their conversation that they didn't have anything in common anymore. Ann was still talking about silly high school stuff and Alecia was babbling about her kid. Alecia had moved on and outgrown her best friend. It was kind of neat.
- Pulling someone's hair when they're screaming obscene things is probably not very wise. I don't know why Al did that. "I didn't mean to startle you"? Then why'd you pull her hair?
- And speaking of hair, one of my pet peeves now is that when authors want to introduce the color of a character's hair, they almost always do it by having the character interact with it (by pushing it out of their face or whatever), but then they don't have that gesture later, so it's really contrived. I unfortunately did this in this novella to introduce Al's hair color, though at least I made it a regular gesture of his.
- For a girl who was frantic to get to class on time, she sure has a lot of time to mope around and chit-chat once Al shows up.
- The whole "Can I carry your books for you?" thing is sweet, but sort of dated. I don't think a guy ever carried my books for me in high school. Perhaps Al's idea of romance is dated; he also claims that if he doesn't buy Alecia's movie ticket, it's "not a real date." Whatever, Mr. Chivalry.
- I think I overused the word "conversationally." I know I overused the word "grinned." And in conjunction with that, there are two points in the story at which someone grins and gives Alecia the thumbs-up sign regarding Al. That would be her best friend and her mom. Tell me please why they have the same gesture in the same context? Repetitive. Boo.
- I also overdid it on the alternative permutations for the word "said," like using "declared" or "remarked" instead. What can I say . . . I guess all amateur writers do it.
- There's a scene where Alecia's best friend Ann shows up and then suddenly isn't mentioned again. I guess she walked away and I forgot to say so.
- I'm not really sure why Al couldn't have made up a country to say he was from instead of trying to avoid the subject. That's nothing but suspicious . . . and it's bad writing. Like "OH HELLO, THERE'S SOMETHING WEIRD ABOUT WHERE HE'S FROM, JUST IN CASE YOU DIDN'T GET IT!!!"
- Alecia seems amused by Al being nervous around her and thinks his awkwardness is cute, but it's never really explained why she's so damn available to him. Just because he likes her, she likes him back? Sure you can call me, sure we can go to the movies, and guess what, you'll probably get laid if you ask. She's easy! What's up with that? Okay, so she doesn't bang him the first time she has a chance, but still. At the beginning of their relationship she kinda acts unusually flattered over the fact that, y'know, a guy (OMG) NOTICED HER!!!
- They fall in love awfully quick even for teenagers. It's kind of lame. And yes, Alecia, you are cheap to be making out in the movie theater with a guy you just met.
- I mentioned a button-down tee shirt. Uh, isn't it either a button-down or a tee? And I seemed to have a consistency problem with whether I hyphenated "tee-shirt." (I shouldn't.) Boo-hoo.
- Really not sure what I was trying to pull with Al commenting that he'd been to outer space early in their relationship but pretending it was a joke. It was just silly.
- I probably should have made a fake movie title instead of using a real movie. It's better to leave references to real media out, since sometimes it dates your writing and overall it's just not necessary. Same with mentioning the band whose concert they were seeing.
- With the whole eye-color changing thing, I think Alecia takes it too well. She should really think it's a lot weirder that his eyes can turn pink when he feels silly.
- Why does Al have a lighter in his pocket? He doesn't smoke or anything.
- It's cheesy that just because Al lives in a barn, most of the surfaces have to be frickin' bales of hay. You can't get a card table or something? At least he actually has a mattress.
- Alecia's lame "I'm not a big slut" justifications sound preachy and weird. She's talking to the reader. That's a no-no.
- Boy, it sure is convenient that Al doesn't know the mission of his people. That excuses me from explaining why the HELL he was on Earth.
- I think it's kind of . . . screwed up that Alecia doesn't mix a healthy dose of fear, curiosity, and confusion into her sadness after Al leaves. You'd think she'd be like "OMG MY BOYFRIEND WAS AN ALIEN!" But there's really not even a trace of that thought at all during the time you'd think she'd be the most disbelieving and in shock over it. The first time it even enters her head to think about "Whoa, he's an alien" was after she discovered she was pregnant and she realized her baby might not conform to the standards she's reading about in the baby books. She even talks about how she isn't telling her mom because it might "freak her out," but . . . why doesn't SHE freak out at all?
- If the passages after Al left and her discovery of her pregnancy had been written in the same style as the beginning it would have been more interesting. But "Blah blah blah. I wasn't sick, I was pregnant. It turned my life around" is not interesting reading. I find it odd that I can dictate whole pointless phone conversations but sum up nine months of pregnancy in a few paragraphs mostly devoid of feelings.
- It would have been cool if there was any mention of the reaction her parents must have had over having a grandchild who could talk and reason before her first birthday.
- I don't get how come the memory box Alecia looks through not only has things like letters and ticket stubs but also has Al's lighter and her freaking beret. Why would she take his lighter? Why would she throw her hat in a souvenir box?
- There's no explanation for why Al knew Alecia's phone number or how come he was able to open her locker. I guess "He's an alien, duh!!" is supposed to be enough. Except for having color-changing eyes, precocious children, and cool spaceships, I don't really see any difference between these aliens and humans, so I don't know what it was we were supposed to assume about Al that would make it make any sense that he could do those things.
- I hate it that the ending is so disappointingly unrealistic. Beyond his control, Al has to leave for years, but then claims in an "oh well" afterthought that they can visit her parents on holidays. And Alecia has no problem going to his home planet with her baby RIGHT THEN with NO NOTICE and doesn't, like, even have a sleepover bag. WTF.
- And the goofy magic anklet that makes her eyes start changing color is, I don't know . . . DUMB? Gah, I'm really pissed that she eloped with an alien and didn't even tell her parents she was leaving the planet. BOO!
- My misspellings and language mistakes aren't that bad, but they're there. "Obscenities" was spelled as "obsenities." "Separate" was spelled as "seperate." "Exercise" was spelled as "excersise." "Resources" was spelled as "resourses." "Familiar" was spelled as "familliar" (but not always). "Driver's license" was written as "drivers' liscense." I misused a lot of punctuation and capitalization conventions with regards to quotation marks. The plural of "freshman" is "freshmen," and I know I knew that so I don't know why I wrote it correctly once but incorrectly later. "M + M's" should really be "M&Ms," "mike" should really be "mic" since it's short for microphone (though plenty of people have been published using "mike"), and "drinken" isn't a word (unless you're Dutch). But above all I am appalled to see "Your welcome" and two incorrect uses of "then" when I meant "than." What was I thinking?
If you were amused by this and want to see more old bad writing, be sure and check out the "ancient history" section of my writing page.
If you're curious about my current skills in the long fiction department, check out the novels in my "current projects" section.
LONG FICTION PAGE
AL'S STORY PAGE