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From The Guestbook [message #3192] Tue, 15 February 2005 14:11 Go to next message
Ellen Hayes  is currently offline Ellen Hayes
Messages: 684
Registered: September 2002
Senior Member
Taken from recent guestbook entries... the vitriol expressed is not necessarily that of Ellen Hayes, her Contributing Editors, staff, fans, readers, casual passers-by, or in fact anyone at all.


Saturday, February 12, 2005 at 16:40:39 (PST)
Name/Contact Info: cuddlybear

Comments: The current Tuck story arc lacks tension. Here you have the perfect chance to put the kid in real peril both moral and physical and add a bit of a spark and it reads like a military procedural. I don't like to backseat write, but how about one of these kids putting Tuck in a spot with the Travis angle. The bad guys need some advantage. Just beating up Tuck is not enough. It really isn't. There needs to be something at stake, for Tuck to lose. Blackmail, Internal Turmoil, Threat of Exposure. These are all things you might be considering yourself, but I haven't picked that up from your writing. This story needs conflict.

Saturday, February 12, 2005 at 18:03:46 (PST)
Name/Contact Info: Genda Bendte
Comments: Howdy Cuddly Bear...
This is not a criticism, so please don't take offense. A fair number of people here have lived this story at one level or another... for us, it's a taut psychological thriller in that sense. The fact that the context is sufficiently alien to you that you don't identify with it (and therefore can't easily put yourself in Tuck's place), pobably speaks volumes about your life experience and aren't you the lucky child for that.

While reading Tuck (just for you), stand in a puddle, juggle expensive fine china and a box of freshly sharpened cutlery, then french kiss a wall outlet... the context of this story will become instantly apparent to you, and it'll make perfect sense from that moment on. The tension is supposed to be in you... the story is speaking to the experience of being caught between a rock and a hard place with pointy imbedded objects jutting out. If you've never had that experience, none of this will make any sense. This is not melodrama. This is human drama. It's not a video game. Pimps will not be bustin capz in ho'z asses here. There aren't any gangstaz. Just because the Tuckers can field strip an M16, doesn't mean you can expect to see [place name here] the action adventure hero making a guest appearance. No Aliens busting out of chests. If the joy and pain of a human life isn't sufficiently intense to illicit an adrenal reaction for you, you make want to spend your time watching extreme sports or whatever get's you all hot and bothered.

Just my two cents... hope that shines a light in some of the dark places... Smile

Monday, February 14, 2005 at 16:41:57 (PST)
Name/Contact Info: cuddlybear
Comments: Well, it's not like I'm optioning it for a movie. So, it IS what it IS. I don't say these things to be mean. I'm just giving an honest gut reaction. As some of you have guessed, I have not experienced the specifics of the story in my own life, nor was I ever a retarded man, a blind girl, or a swashbuckling pirate. I have however gone through depression, been awkward sexually, been a teenager, gotten beaten up. All themes in Tuck. The narrative is not above criticism, not even mine. You've internalized it, which is fine, but that doesn't make it better writing in and of itself.

"The joy and pain of human life"? What a cop out. More time is spent discussing strategy and who will be where when, than is given to joy or pain. It's like an episode of 24 without the pacing or the punch. Stop looking at it moment by moment and see the bigger picture. What has Ellen given you in writing to make you feel the danger in this taut psychological thriller?

Where is the thrill coming from? Is it from some lingering story element from 30 eps ago? I'm sorry, that's just not enough. I love her dialogue, I love how she juggles characters and keeps them so real, but I do not love how she's telling this story right now. Human drama is all well and good, but it's like listening to a rock song without weak hooks. There has to be dramatic development, there has to be melo-drama (like Sarah crushing the can and bleeding as she stand next to the girls in the elevator) to spike the action. I enjoy Tuck, I wish Ellen the best of luck in writing it...

Though, and I think Ellen would agree with me, Tuck could really use some Aliens busting out of chests. And some kind of robo-sapien with Hitler's brain. Make it So, Ellen.


Discuss. I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts on this.


Re: From The Guestbook [message #3193] Tue, 15 February 2005 17:27 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Messages: 197
Registered: May 2004
Senior Member
I first became aware of the Tuck series last April and 103 chapters were out. It took me several days to go through them and I found the pacing satisfactory and details having calculated depth in information. It gave me a lot to mentally deconstruct which I found most entertaining. Since my introduction to this series, we are now up to 108, which from a serial perspective of the last 9 months, it seems slow. From a perspective of "Tuck time", it is quite fast.
I sense Cuddly Bear is taking the perspective of a readers time perspective. Hence, all this background and strategy appears pedantic and mundane. Maybe (s)he's watched too many episodes of 24 and expects a miniclimax, denouement and then cliffhanger for each chapter. (In Sheila's voice)Ellen, you are the writer....is that what you want to do?
I came to view Tuck as an evolving piece of work such that when you conclude this series it would be consistent, logical, real and have all major characters fulfill their purpose surrounding the evolvement of Tuck. Of all the stories that are posted on your site, this is currently your master work and I think you are doing it well.
As for understanding the story arc of canon Tuck, I look at it as a sort of "Breakfast Club" series where each character encountered by Tuck has some demons and flaws while Tuck discovers himself. For Fun Tuck - I'll go to the Seasons version... Tuck may not be Luke Skywalker conquering the universe and discovering the Force, but Tuck is still the hero in this story in search of who and what (s)he is. If Joseph Campbell were alive, I wonder how he might deconstruct the Tuck mythology....

Maybe for the Cuddly Bears of the world you might come up with a "Terminator Tuck" story - where Tuck eventually becomes the next governor of the State of ???... Smile
Re: From The Guestbook [message #3194] Tue, 15 February 2005 17:42 Go to previous messageGo to next message
OtherEric  is currently offline OtherEric
Messages: 589
Registered: September 2003
Senior Member
This is a hard one to answer, partly because I don't particulary agree with either of the writers. I can see where some people might find a lack of tension in the current arc, but it has nothing to do with what Ellen's written. It has to do with the relativly slow release rate of recent chapters.

I think the story is great as it is, and has a lot of tension from what's been happening. But, not everybody is going to stay keyed up when it takes a year to cover a little over four days of story. And I don't think there is any tension you would get from just this episode in isolation. (We're watching one side take control of the game. It doesn't work unless you see how the other side got ahead earlier in the game; or you don't know how the good guys are capable of playing the game in the first place. End of bad analogy.) It does build on stuff from 30, or 60, or 90, or even 107 episodes ago. Tuck is a long novel, and treating it any other way won't work. And if little doses don't work for someone, they should just wait unitl Ellen is done, whenever that might be. (No time soon, I hope.)
Re: From The Guestbook [message #3195] Tue, 15 February 2005 19:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
Messages: 712
Registered: September 2002
Location: Surf City, USA
Senior Member
CB is criticizing Tuck for not being something it wasn't intended to be. It isn't an action flick, sf or otherwise, so saying it needs aliens bursting out of chests is like criticizing a fifteen-speed mountain bike for not having enough high-compression cylinders. Yes, I know CB did not mean literal aliens.

There's plenty of dramatic tension, but the slow pace of chapters appearing is another conseqwuence of what Tuck is. It's a deep and long story and it takes a lot of care and passion to write it so well. Ellen can only write Tuck as fast as she can write it. You can't hurry Christmas, no matter what Dave Seville says. Smile

The fact is, the high tension episodes of Tuck getting assaulted and taken to the hospital were enough for any fan of dramatic excess. Now we deal with the aftermath, it is a natural story rhythm that matches natural life rhythms.

- Erin
Re: From The Guestbook [message #3196] Wed, 16 February 2005 05:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Brooke  is currently offline Brooke
Messages: 695
Registered: August 2004
Location: Portland, OR
Senior Member
Cuddlybear is an idiot.

Anyone who can read the story to date and then say "There needs to be something at stake, for Tuck to lose." is totally clueless.

Tuck was almost killed. Tuck is still in danger of *being* killed by folks other than the ones the cops are going after.

And depending on what is revealed about why they went after him the way they did this time, he may be in the position of being outed as Val, as gay, as a "medical freak", or any combo of the three.

To say nothing of the psychological trauma. Tuck's head has got to be *majorly* messed up right now.

I could go on for pages, but it'd just be more examples of his not understanding the characters and their (real, human) motivations.
Re: From The Guestbook [message #3197] Wed, 16 February 2005 05:55 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Brooke  is currently offline Brooke
Messages: 695
Registered: August 2004
Location: Portland, OR
Senior Member
I just realized two things:

First that "story arc" terminology indicates an expectation that the chapters are intended to be more or less standalone units, with occasional "story arcs" that carry a them over several "episodes.

But the Tuck Saga is a large *single* work. The chapters are merely component parts of a whole.

The other realization was when I was thinking about the reactions of characters versus the reactions he seemed to expect and realized that I (like many here) tend to think of Tuck and company as if they were real people.

That's a testament to Ellen's writing. But it also colors the way I look at things. And if one doesn't think of them that way, I suspect it would lead to the view that interest needs to be maintained by stronger/"nastier" action and events.
Re: From The Guestbook [message #3198] Wed, 16 February 2005 09:31 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Janet  is currently offline Janet
Messages: 74
Registered: December 2002
Location: Valley of the Sun

Perhaps this would be somewhat easier to understand if we had a clearer definition of the word "is". =)

Seriously, I get the sense that there are some who for whatever reason come into a story with too many of their own expectations. There are others who will overly identify with one or more of the characters and/or situations in a story. It is extremely difficult for an author to respond to either person. The good news is that there is no real need for them to do so.

The work speaks for itself. The author has made her decisions about character, plot, and story line and the deed is done. In the words of comedian/author/radio host, Michael Feldman, when people criticize his radio program, "Get your own show."

Bottom line is that CB's expectations were not/are not being met. Okay, nothing wrong with that. If CB wants aliens to pop out of a box, CB can write story (maybe a fanfic) with box popping aliens.

GB jumped in to defend the story from GB's pov; a defense which really wasn't necessary. The story should (and in most people's opinions does) stand up for itself. And any discussion which springs from the premise of "you just don't understand" is pretty much doomed to end up at cross purposes.

In the real world there is nothing which 'nobody doesn't like', even Sara Lee. =)

Now, for what I think was the real reason that Ellen brought this up. Tuck is a work in progress and Ellen works extremely hard to make it as good as it can possibly be. Part of this effort is to try to be sensitive to other's comments. There are times in the creative process when one can get so wrapped up in the details that the whole picture loses focus.

This happens to me and I expect that (even though she might protest otherwise) it happens to Ellen, too. One becomes so sensitized to the effort of perfecting the work that it turns into a battle of attrition trying to satisfy everyone's expectations. So, the message here is shake it off and keep going.

Now, a comment from me to CB and GB.

CB, keep reading. Maybe things aren't going the way you'd like right now. But, knowing Ellen, it wouldn't surprise me if eventually in one of her stories there WILL be a box popping alien... probably when it's least expected. If you find that you're really not enjoying the story, then don't read any more. I'm sure you'll quickly find something more suited to your tastes.

GB, thanks for thinking enough of the story to rise to its defense. Don't worry so much, if someone else doesn't share your enthusiasm for it, though. If we all felt the same about everything, the world would be a pretty boring place.

And to both, thanks for your comments.


All that glitters is not Iron Pyrite
Re: From The Guestbook [message #3199] Wed, 16 February 2005 09:45 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Eric  is currently offline Eric
Messages: 641
Registered: January 2003
Location: San Francisco
Senior Member
I think OtherEric makes a valid point in suggesting that the timing of the chapter releases may be having some effect.

But I think there's a somewhat similar but more important factor here: we've never lost our narrator for five consecutive chapters before. However dramatic recent events have been -- people arrested, noses broken, hackers foiled, cans crushed, etc. -- inevitably, I believe, there's a loss of focus and something of an awkwardness to the pace, the way the story's being told now.

(That's a description, not a criticism. I might have been able to find some less "loaded" words to characterize them.)

Put simply, chapters narrated by Tuck -- and even, I think, the past third-person chapters -- have a continuity to them that these last five don't.

It seems to me that there was more of a time flow in the previous third-person segments than there is now. We knew who was talking, what was going on, how slowly or quickly things were proceeding, what people were trying to do. Because of that, the disruptive element then wasn't nearly as strong as it now.

Usually, we can count on some perspective when Tuck gives us some information, even if Tuck doesn't know what's going on himself. This time, we're not getting Tuck's take on what we're reading, and what we are being given -- things like two unidentifiable strangers talking about something that may or may not be Tuck's missing laptop -- often isn't of much immediate help in letting us know where we're headed or how we're getting there.

I think that's what Cuddlybear is picking up on here. Unable to tie things together, we're forced more than usual to evaluate the Good Guys' moves individually -- his "military procedural" -- than to figure out what they're intended to accomplish, and how and why they'll work, or not.

A simple action story (1) wouldn't put us in our present state of confusion and uncertainty (at least, not on purpose) and (2) could be resolved by Captain Marvel flying in and shazamming all the bad guys. Tuck isn't that kind of story, and I have trouble believing that anyone could confuse it with one.

(Uncle Lanier flying in, on the other hand...)


[Updated on: Wed, 16 February 2005 09:50]

Re: From The Guestbook [message #3200] Wed, 16 February 2005 10:04 Go to previous message
T.  is currently offline T.
Messages: 20
Registered: February 2004
Junior Member
When I saw CB's first posting, I dismissed it as a troll. "This story needs conflict"?! Give me a break!

CB seems to expect a series of episodes, each complete in itself. This sounds like someone brought up on Hollywood television fare. If that's what he/she is looking for, there are plenty of other websites that are full of over-the-top, improbable action ficlets.

The reason I was immediately hooked on Tuck (I discovered it at #101) was *because* the story and characters are so true to (my) real life, and I could identify with all of it. As I suspect is true for many others among Ellen's fans, Tuck was the catalyst which finally made it possible for me to reach back into that dark closet and deal with the stuff that had been tormenting me for many years. A kind of support group that didn't have to be flesh and blood to be much more effective than any human has ever been, for me. I'll be forever grateful to Ellen for giving me that.

Had there been figurative aliens popping out of chests every chapter, I would have quickly moved on to something else.


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