Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What I'm writing this week: Chapter 7, scene 1

I am ruminating on the image of the Woman Discovered In Her Bath. It's as old as the Greek myths, at least (two unlucky souls walked in on Artemis bathing; she turned one into a woman and the other into a stag, who was promptly torn apart by his own hunting-dogs), and a popular device in plenty of books and movies. Red-hot versions of it occur in Elizabeth Hoyt's The Serpent Prince and Sherry Thomas's Delicious. And a month ago or so I happened to see the movie Witness (police detective Harrison Ford is forced to hide out among the Pennsylvania Amish) for the first time in years, and there, too, was a scene in which the hero walks in on the heroine and sustains the turbulent sensations (turbulents?) of shock, guilt, desire, possibility, and the bedrock decency that finally makes him turn and leave.

Chapter 7, as I'm rewriting it, begins with a scene where the heroine walks in on a man in what, for that time, would have been an alarming state of undress. I'm curious about what happens to that device when the genders are reversed, and when the man is the one with violable innocence while the woman is "fallen" and feels herself capable of tainting him with her gaze.

I'm not altogether sure it's a keeper, though. I might want to save the experiment for a book in which the walked-in-on man can be the hero, and thereby make the stakes higher. (The man in this scene is a supporting character, patiently if hungrily waiting for me to write him a heroine of his own. The hero, of course, would like nothing better than to be discovered in his bath, by the heroine or any other lady who cared to call; the more the better in fact. But that would take all of the electrical charge out of the Discovered in Bath device, and so I'll have to find other ways for him to be seen and admired as much as is his due.)

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