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BROOMFIELD'S BOX

Funny, sure. Going somewhere? Not so sure about that

By G.S. Williams, author of No Man An Island

Oct 7, 2012: "Broomfield’s Box" is blog-fiction, which means the structure is of a blog (which in my mind is similar to a diary) and the posts are "in character"—made by fictional people about fictional events.

I don’t like blog-fiction in general—diary structure means that narrators "tell" a lot of details directly instead of "showing" events through actions. It makes sense for the convention of a diary, because you wouldn’t need to show yourself scenes that you were present for, you could just tell the basic details for more recall later. However that means the structure itself is designed to avoid the best part of novel fiction, the immersive quality.

With blogs and diaries you’re not immersed in the story world of situations and events and settings. If it’s very well done, the writer can immerse you in the thought processes and conversation of the narrator—which is different. You can get to know a character well that way, and if you’re luck then you get their sense of what’s going on around them.

"Broomfield’s Box" is a pretty good example of blog-fic, given that I avoid the genre in general. The posts revolve around different characters—Quentin, who has a detective consultancy agency, Lacy and Thea Cornwall, who are his agents, and then his staff Samantha and Babette (they run the office.)

Multiple character narrators is tricky, because voices need to be distinct. Quentin narrates a little more dryly than the others, but the girls so far "feel" the same to me—very quick, tangential, mildly funny and close to "stream of consciousness" in hyperactive sort of way. I find the humour enjoyable, but the voices aren’t individual enough for me to say it’s four or five star excellence.

I get the sense from the blog (which is self-referential) that the author has actual books with actual plot and this blog is a companion to that, to further flesh out the characters and do some marketing promotion. For that reason, I notice a lack of overall "plot" in the parts I’m reading. There are funny individual episodes but no over-arching meaning.

Perhaps that exists in the actual novels, but around here we review free web-fiction. I’m giving this story three and a half stars because it can be genuinely funny, the conversational tone is interesting enough that I don’t mind the "telling" too much because it’s like talking to a quirky friend who has weird adventures. I just wish that there was an actual plot with direction shown through fun, first-person narration instead of loose blog entries. That’s a personal preference though—people who like blog fic should enjoy this just fine.

As a final note—Lacy is an erotic dancer on the side, so some of her friends show up and sometimes there are mild sexual scenes when they do. They aren’t particularly erotic but they are there, so from a reading standpoint they detract. Mature audience recommended —and I don’t see a warning on the site that makes that obvious. I also found the site arrangement annoying because I had to find the first blog post by searching for it, there’s no handy Table of Contents or first chapter link. Lacy even complains about it in a post—funny enough, but the coding for blogger isn’t that hard and it can be set up quite easily.

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