The Tree by Jeffrey Swencki

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Re: The Tree by Jeffrey Swencki

Post by Robert_Moriyama »

See now, this is what happens when I get lazy. I usually try to fix the spelling and grammar and word-choice/typo problems (and sometimes do more extensive copy-editing, to the dismay of the authors). Maybe I allowed myself to be swept up in the simple joys of the story and its depiction of (maybe) magic -- or imagination ...

Well, that, and I was trying to get everything uploaded before I went out of town.


Robert M.
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Re: The Tree by Jeffrey Swencki

Post by kailhofer »

Now, here's a story that knows how to refer to Wisconsin... It's a land of modest natural beauty and innocence, unfortunately filled with far too many oblivious stumblebums, mucking up the place. That is what it's like. Plus, Mr. Swencki chose not to narrow himself down to a particular spot, and run the risk of putting in setting incongruities. Kudos there. Although, it "felt" like the west side of the state to me.

In terms of the rest of the setting, things were rather vague, but in contrast to what I'd normally say, I liked it that way. Saying too much would have ruined the disbelief. We'd have seen holes in Abe's imagination, and it would have ruined the running thought that maybe this was really happening. That is, maybe the kid was teleporting away to captain a starship. This is fiction, after all, and that way it took a while to figure out it was only his imagination (sort of, considering he talked to a blue jay and the wind/trees spoke to him).

As Bill mentioned, there were a number of spots that lacked in professionalism, and it detracted from the experience. Missing punctuation (mostly commas and a missing quote mark or two) stood out.

On characterization, I think there were too many bit players. The only steady characters throughout the whole story are Abe and Linden, the tree. Everyone else shows up, does their bit a little too strongly, then isn't seen again. Maggie is all grumping and sibling rivalry, then suddenly reverses and cares a little too much for how Abe will take the news. Then she's less caring when Abe is missing ("my brother couldn’t get lost in that woods if he were blindfolded, tied up, and wanted to be lost"). Then she's gone. The realtor is over the top, and at first it's funny, but then her oblivious nature carries on too long for me to buy it. The detective is there, swept up to tears over his own son. That was ok, but it detracted from the rest of the focus on Abe and what's happening to him. Then too, the cop is never heard from again. Then there's Kadin, who at once is treated like some young pup, and at the same time like an old friend who could tell him off. She struts in, sounds her fury, and then she's gone also.

If this were a play, I'd say the entire supporting cast overacted.

I look for characters that seem like real people. I like for them to show their character through words and actions. Then, I like to seem them grow and change throughout the story. It's obvious Abe grew older, but I didn't recognize him as the old man. That is, according to the identifiers, it said it was Abe talking, but it didn't feel like the same person. What changed him in the first 6 parts of the story into the man he is in the 7th?

One's perception of the plot is a gut-level thing. You either buy it or you don't.

I buy this.

Despite the characterization problems, and that there wasn't any rising action, no major conundrum... and since there was no climax, by my definition it isn't even a story... it did have a certain magic to it. It ended as it began, and therefore felt like the story had come full circle. Linden and Abe's lives were linked, so they could die together and that worked.

I agree with Bill. There was a core of a great story underneath this: the link between Abe and Linden, and them overcoming circumstance to be together. With a lot of crafting and revision, I think this could have been a whale of a tale.

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