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edit First review
|Humour:||7||There is a lot of frenetic funny in this, but see endnotes.|
|Concept:||7||Notable historical person. Wickedpedia has an article on him (which, oddly, makes no mention of his freakishly large cucumber).|
|Prose and formatting:||6||Most of this is technically fine, but I would suggest polishing. See endnotes.|
|Images:||7||Appropriate and even humorous images.|
|Miscellaneous:||7||I like this. Uncyc needs more strong articles on real history and real science.|
|Reviewer:||----OEJ 15:39, 18 May 2008 (UTC)|
This sentence --
- "Julien (prematurely suspected of being a retard of some sort) wouldn't utter his first word until the age of two, but it would go to be cornerstone of his existence 'Mine'."
-- puzzles me. I simply don't know what the last phrase means. I assume "it would go on to be the cornerstone...etc" but I will be darned if I know what "it" is! His first word? OK, I think, as I am writing this, that that is the case: His first word was "Mine!" and that turned out to be the cornerstone of his later life. But I suggest you clarify that sentence.
You might consider restructuring some sentences to make them stronger and more direct. For example:
- "Julien went on to astonish the all female tribe with cheap parlor tricks and his freakishly large genitals.
Why not simply "Julien astonished the all-female tribe with cheap parlor tricks and his freakishly large genitals."?
In a similar vein, the "then"s in the following passage --
- "Julien then enslaved the women and put them to work in the Lead mines of the area, furthering both the constant struggle of beautiful women and Caucasians all over the world. The usage of the word "fox" when referring to an extremely attractive women derives from the Tinivaj Tribe...Dubuque then founded Dubtown...etc"
-- feel repetitive. And really, are they even necessary? Try reading the sentences in question without them. Do they still have the correct meaning and flow?
I might also suggest you watch out for the "would" in phrases like the following:
- "...and would live out his remaining days...etc"
-- and --
- "She would allow Dubuque's body to be exhumed..."
My thought here is that the sentences become simpler and more active without the "would". I wonder...OK, let's run some changes on the last sentence mentioned and see how it seems when rewritten different ways.
- "She would allow Dubuque's body to be exhumed in order to sell his genitalia to Phineas Taylor Barnum's museum of freaks and oddities."
- "She allowed Dubuque's body to be exhumed in order to sell his genitalia to Phineas Taylor Barnum's museum of freaks and oddities."
- "She had Dubuque's body exhumed, and sold his genitalia to Phineas Taylor Barnum's museum of freaks and oddities."
- "She exhumed Dubuque's body, removed his genitalia, and sold them to Phineas Taylor Barnum's notorious museum of freaks and oddities."
- "She dug up Dubuque's corpse, chopped off his genitals, and peddled them to Phineas Taylor Barnum's notorious museum of freaks and oddities."
It all depends on what you want, I suppose. Plain words like "dug up" and "chopped off" are more direct and brutal than "exhumed" and "removed". There is a difference between "she allowed him to be exhumed" and "she exhumed him", and it depends on just how you want to cast the widow Wiccunt: as someone who would allow such a thing, perhaps reluctantly or with revulsion; or as someone who would personally rob graves and mutilate corpses. You can tune the sentence to be as active, direct, and evocative as you want.
However, this is advice on style and you asked for advice on how to expand the piece...
SO! You do ze dangerous thing, señor, when you ask ze crazy man for ze advices on making the story. Here is some advice anyway...
Most of the piece is told in summary -- that is, it does not use the storytelling techniques of scene and dialog.
- "Julien Dubuque had the world by the balls until 1720, when his gambling and drinking cost him his fortune."
You might create scenes and dialog for certain bits. Here's what I might write if I wanted to expand the single-sentence summary above into a more-realized scene.
- In 1720 Julien Dubuque had the world -- or at least Dubtown -- by the balls. On one fine June evening he was sitting in Jack Snugg's saloon with a hundred-dollar bottle of Laphroig scotch and a plate of oysters on the table before him. The oysters were shipped on ice from Delaware and cost about as much as a medium-sized Iowa farm. Across the table sat Wild Jim Burns, a Kansas City cardshark famous for cheating Bill Cody out of his horse, his rifle, and his sequined underpants.
- Wild Jim shuffled the cards and dealt a hand of poker. Julien sucked down an oyster, knocked back a jigger of Laphroig, and squinted across the table. Almost carelessly he tossed thousand-dollar bills onto the table -- five, ten, twenty-five thousand dollars.
- "Don't d-d-do it, Mister Julien!" stuttered the Presbyterian pastor, Teddy Littleneck. "He's g-g-got an ace up his..."
- Without even blinking Wild Jim Burns pulled his ivory-handled .38 and shot the pastor's nose off. "I'll match that, Dubuque...and raise you fifty thousand" he said.
And so on. You can spin it out longer or compress it down by inserting either more dialog and detail or by summarizing passages ("By the end of the night Julien Dubuque had lost his lead mines, his mansion, and his horse's virginity..."). Basically you slide into and out of close-focus scenes with just a few transitional words. You can think about it in cinematic terms: you zoom in and see the light catching bubbles rising slowly in a glass of whiskey-and-soda just as Wild Jim turns over his last card; you zoom out and see a whole month pass in a single sentence ("That July was hotter and longer than any the residents of Dubtown could remember, and as days passed and the sun burned down their little world turned dry and brittle; by August it was in flames." That kind of shit.)
It's actually standard storytelling technique. Here's how John Updike handled the transition out of close-focus to summary (the scene is a God-doubting preacher speaking to an old man on his deathbed):
- "...I can't quite believe damnation is for you [Mr. Orr]. Maybe more for the likes of me. I can see the signs of election sparkling right in your eyes."
- The little man as if spitefully closed them, leaving his caller gazing down at a shrivelled yellow death mask.
- Some weeks later, when that debilitating onset of June heat had settled into a daily drone of July temperatures...
Updike takes only a few words to switch from tight focus to the long lens.
But WHY? Why go to all that goddam trouble?
Because as an article gets longer and longer, the reader becomes bored by straight single-focus summarization. Variety is the spice of life, and also of prose, I believe. If you want a long article to be interesting you probably have to vary something -- voice, point of view, structure. One of the most effective things to do is to insert specific scenes and dialog. They help the reader's mind "see" the story. That interests the reader, engages his or her imagination.
And getting a reader interested and engaged is a very good thing for your article to do!
Good luck with this. Remember that these notes are only the ravings of one slightly cracked reader. Only one reader.
----OEJ 17:06, 18 May 2008 (UTC)