The Blurb on Other People’s Words – The NaNo Hiatus Continues

November 15, 2011 at 1:23 am (fantasy, Links, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , , , )

Today the charming and witty JT Kalnay has agreed to provide me with another guest review for my blog. Imagine my joy and surprise when he volunteered to review one of my digital shorts, released by Trestle Press. I now once again turn my blog over to JT, and let him have his say on this lovely Monday…

It’s All About The Tourists by Chantal Boudreau

Chantal Boudreau provides a whimsical behind-the-scenes look at two entertainers in her short story, It’s All About The Tourists. But these entertainers aren’t performing at your local Amusement Park or roadside Enormous Ball-of-String. These entertainers are Flash the Unicorn and Kirkondolius the Dragon! They are performing for tourists atop a rocky crag, where they act out a dragon versus unicorn melodrama. I’d never thought about what goes through the minds of performers at an Amusement Park, let alone through the minds of a performing unicorn or dragon. So it was really very enlightening to learn that mythical creature performers have many of the same concerns as regular people. Who knew? For example, Flash the Unicorn is worried about his middle-aged belly and thinning mane while Kirkondolius the Dragon is, if not worried, at least cognizant of the fact that his romantic interludes are occurring with less frequency. I never realized it would be so easy to identify with the issues of a unicorn and a dragon!

Ms. Boudreau illustrates a talent both for internal dialogue (e.g., Flash the Unicorn wondering how he is going to provide for another mouth to feed) and witty repartee between characters (e.g., Flash and “Kirk” busting each other’s chops waiting for tourists). This gift for dialogue intrigues me and got me wondering about her longer works. As a writer, that dialogue also got me thinking about the best way to keep a story moving. While there is some description of the surroundings and some description of the characters, it is the dialogue that really keeps this short story moving. We learn things about the characters through their conversations and actions, rather than through a description.

This is pretty much true about our human lives isn’t it? How do we truly learn about other people? By meeting them, talking to them, and seeing how they behave in different situations. Descriptions of other people are just that, descriptions. During the seemingly interminable run-up to the 2012 elections we have already been overwhelmed with descriptions of people. As it turns out, almost all of these descriptions are worthless. Same thing with so much of our social media, especially online dating. Has anyone yet met a six foot tall man on line that didn’t turn out to be about five foot ten? And has anyone yet met an “athletic” man online whose sports didn’t turn out to be watching football, drinking beer, and, like Flash, watching his mid-section expand? No, third party descriptions don’t get it done in real life, and they don’t get it done in literature.

It is meeting the characters, both real and whimsical, hearing their words and viewing their actions, in both unguarded downtime and in stressful situations, that provide the fabric from which the quilt of a relationship can be pieced together. I wonder what happens next to Flash and Kirk? Do they get to keep their jobs after the unfortunate tourist incident at the end? Does Kirk find romance? Does Flash find other work in his chosen field as a virgin-detector? If Kirk finds romance will there be any virgins left for Flash to detect? Since we are so quickly drawn in by their seemingly completely natural dialogue, after just a few pages we want to know about these characters. Well done Ms. Boudreau, and I look forward to one of your longer works.

JT Kalnay

Author of The Topsail Accord, Mina’s Eyes, The Pattern, and The Keeper

www.jtkalnay.com

 

– JT, you keep me in stitches, and thanks again for your help during NaNoWriMo.

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