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Old 06-07-2017, 12:27   #1
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Looking to fiction for lessons on what not to do...

Just finished Ransome's "We Didn't Mean to Go To Sea."

One piece of advice for writing fiction I've seen is to create characters the reader cares about, then have the worst possible thing happen to them.

Ransome has everything go wrong, to rather, makes it clear that his character, Jim Brading, does everything wrong.

He's out for a day sail with four children onboard, and on his way back into the harbor, fighting the tide, the wind dies, so he fires up the engine, and
  • he runs out of gas, and
  • anchors in the shallows, with just enough scope to hold at the current level of tide, and
  • leaves the kids onboard while taking the dinghy to shore to fetch petrol, and
  • gets run over by a bus.

Of course, when the tide lifts the anchor drags. In trying to manage the unfamiliar windlass the oldest boy lets the chain run out, and naturally the rope that secured the end of the chain in the locker had rotted.

And naturally the running lights were out of paraffin, because they wouldn't be needed because it was "only a daysall".

It made for an interesting story, what with the fog and the gale and the unanticipated trip to Holland. But I prefer my life to be somewhat less interesting than that.

Will Rogers used to say there are three kinds of people in the world. The ones who can learn from reading, the ones who can learn from the experience of others, and the rest who have to pee on the electric fence themselves.
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Old 06-07-2017, 13:42   #2
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Re: Looking to fiction for lessons on what not to do...

Lovely summary of the story, Jedge, and remember the uses of dramatic tension in story writing. Good old Arthur Ransome!

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Old 06-07-2017, 13:55   #3
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Re: Looking to fiction for lessons on what not to do...

There's lots of fiction on this site��
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Old 06-07-2017, 14:58   #4
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Re: Looking to fiction for lessons on what not to do...

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Lovely summary of the story, Jedge, and remember the uses of dramatic tension in story writing. Good old Arthur Ransome!

Ann
Yep.

If he'd made sure his petrol was topped off, his anchor chain was secured, his running lights were fueled, and most significantly, if he'd not left his boat without a qualified master, it'd have been a lot less interesting a story.

(The children's father pointed out, later, that he should have stayed on the boat and sent the oldest boy for fuel. Or just sat and waited for wind and tide. Being in a hurry can convince you to do stupid things.)
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Old 06-07-2017, 15:06   #5
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Re: Looking to fiction for lessons on what not to do...

Captain Ron is also the perfect fictional story for what not to do.

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Old 06-07-2017, 15:17   #6
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Re: Looking to fiction for lessons on what not to do...

My dad, who was British, read me the whole series of Arthur Ramsome books, and I have them still. "We didn't mean to go to sea" is my favorite. Sure, there are lessons there, but the real lesson is a careful and cautious approach to the sea.
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Old 06-07-2017, 16:20   #7
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Re: Looking to fiction for lessons on what not to do...

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Captain Ron is also the perfect fictional story for what not to do.

Huh, that's a documentary with few liberties taken.
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Old 07-07-2017, 10:41   #8
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Re: Looking to fiction for lessons on what not to do...

Ever watch a show or read a book and the hero does so many stupid things in a row that you start hoping the bad guy wins?

Doesn't sound like there was a "bad guy" but sounds like the same sort of theme.
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Old 07-07-2017, 10:51   #9
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Re: Looking to fiction for lessons on what not to do...

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Captain Ron is also the perfect fictional story for what not to do.

David,

Captain Ron's docking maneuver actually works good, we've been using it for many years. Had been using it even before we saw the movie.
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Old 07-07-2017, 13:17   #10
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Re: Looking to fiction for lessons on what not to do...

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Yep.

If he'd made sure his petrol was topped off, his anchor chain was secured, his running lights were fueled, and most significantly, if he'd not left his boat without a qualified master, it'd have been a lot less interesting a story.

(The children's father pointed out, later, that he should have stayed on the boat and sent the oldest boy for fuel. Or just sat and waited for wind and tide. Being in a hurry can convince you to do stupid things.)
I was chatting with a young couple whom had grounded in low tide near shore. They called coast guard. The. Oasties having nothing better to do arrived on the scene of eminent disaster. They boaters were screaming as the boat was heeling too precariously for them. The cg with megaphone say whats the problem ?
We are afraid of sinking and drowning! Cg replied , just walk to shore. Go back to your boat at high tide . That story cracked me up.
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Old 07-07-2017, 13:42   #11
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Re: Looking to fiction for lessons on what not to do...

Friends of ours panicked when the engine on their 40ft sailboat quit on them inside the harbor and near the marina, then began calling out for help. Some kayakers nearby paddled over and asked them what the problem was. "We have no engine," replied my friend. The kayakers responded, "neither do we" as they laughed and paddled off.
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Old 07-07-2017, 18:44   #12
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Re: Looking to fiction for lessons on what not to do...

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the rest who have to pee on the electric fence themselves.
I watched a friend of mine do that when we were both about 8.
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Old 08-07-2017, 07:21   #13
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Re: Looking to fiction for lessons on what not to do...

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I watched a friend of mine do that when we were both about 8.
Did that become known as...
"The Big Yellow Flash"?

(sounds like a comic book superhero)
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Old 09-07-2017, 08:55   #14
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Re: Looking to fiction for lessons on what not to do...

All is Lost is a movie with similar lessons to be learned on what not to do. It was still an enjoyable movie. It also helped to drive up prices of Cal 39s!
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Old 09-07-2017, 09:44   #15
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Re: Looking to fiction for lessons on what not to do...

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All is Lost is a movie with similar lessons to be learned on what not to do. It was still an enjoyable movie. It also helped to drive up prices of Cal 39s!
Isn't that the sailing spoof comedy put out by Robert Redford?
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