Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What I'm Writing: Beginning of the Next MS

It's getting there. I've changed the hero's name three times now, but I think "Will" is going to stick. Also I demoted a nobleman, got sidetracked by some research, and re-thought the hair color of my antagonist.

Anyway I'm pretty sure I'll have it done in time for this contest deadline. Crossing my fingers I won't get a judge who values scenic description above all else, because I'm a little thin on that.

What I'm Reading: Under the Banner of Heaven

This is Jon Krakauer's book about the Mormon religion and specifically the radical FLDS offshoot. Subtitled A Story of Violent Faith.

This stuff - specifically, the disadvantaged position of women in the FLDS society - fascinates me the same way I'm fascinated by Victorian marriage horror-stories. (Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Daniel Deronda.) Marriage, in a society where men have a disproportionate share of the power, can so easily devolve into a nightmare for women. And in an era where women didn't really have other options for supporting themselves, the stakes for choosing a partner and/or falling in love were incredibly high. I'd like to see a bit more of that awareness in historical romance.

Under the Banner narrates several instances of women whose husbands converted to FLDS ideals and became convinced it was their religious duty to take additional wives. Good God. After marrying in the church, and agreeing to the "forsaking all others" bit. How does any woman come to terms with that?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What I'm writing: 7.2 (still)

The hero and heroine have gotten into an argument, which they did not when this scene happened from her POV. Granted, when it was in her POV it came later in the story, too, and so maybe they were less prone to argue.

Progress has been slowed by that development, by not one but two sick kids at home this week, and by a sudden determination to crank out page 1 of the next MS for submission to Dear Author. Except yesterday I poked around that site and the First Page submission form is, ominously, no longer to be found. Maybe they've been snowed under with submissions and have decided not to take any new ones for awhile. (I'm sure there's something like a 2-year wait by now.)

At any rate my local RWA chapter has a first-few-pages contest with a deadline coming up very soon, so I think I'll aim for that.

What I'm reading: still The Old Curiosity Shop

Page 367:

Some men in his blighted position would have taken to drinking; but as Mr Swiveller had taken to that before, he only took, on receiving the news that Sophy Wackles was lost to him for ever, to playing the flute; thinking after mature consideration that it was a good, sound, dismal occupation, not only in unison with his own sad thoughts, but calculated to awaken a fellow-feeling in the bosoms of his neighbours.


And that, Right Reverends and Wrong Reverends of every order, is a sentence! Two semicolons, seven commas, seventy-four words, and absolute confidence in the reader's attention span.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What I'm writing this week: Chapter 7, scene 2

Finished scene 1, and I'm happy with how it came out. I fear I may be out of step with most modern readership on this, but I'm a sucker for quiet scenes where people are talking about something mundane -- e.g., the mechanics of making bread -- and not saying the things that maybe ought to be said:

"I admire you above all other women but/and I honor the rules and restrictions that have put you out of my reach."

"Your friendship, and your willingness to take me seriously, sustained me through the darkest days of this past year."


Scene 2 gets the h/h out into fresh air, to his immense relief. I'd already written most of it, but later in the story and from her POV. Now I'm flipping it to his, which I think/hope will be more interesting at this point in the story.

What I'm (re)reading this week: The Old Curiosity Shop

My local PBS station promised a version of this (they've been running Dickens adaptations all month), and so I've been re-reading to prepare. Though, honestly, I skim a lot of the stuff with Nell and her grandfather. Nobody does the treacly sanctification of children quite like Dickens does. (Though Harriet Beecher Stowe, with her little Eva, certainly gives it her best shot.)

To cut to the chase: the adaptation was a huge disappointment. For some unfathomable reason they decided to cram the whole story into 90 minutes. So, no Punch and Judy. No saintly schoolmaster or dying little boy. No Sophy Wackles (later Sophy Cheggs). And no allusion whatsoever to the Marchioness being the illegitimate spawn of Quilp and Sally Brass.

Most disappointing of all was the short shrift given to one of my top five favorite characters in all of English-language literature, Dick Swiveller. I don't know, honestly, if his comic richness can come across without that distanced, commenting authorial voice Dickens used. I don't know if it's possible to make him as delightfully lamewitted in the more immediate medium of film, or even in the now-fashionable tight-third-person narrative voice. (Though it probably is. Dick is a sort of spiritual forbear to Bertie Wooster, and his foolishness is indelibly sketched in first person.)

At any rate large chunks of his story were cut out, as was his habit of speaking in verse. He was shown marrying the Marchioness at the end, and it sort of came out of nowhere. (He never got sick; she never saved his life.) He lost his wonderful arc, from borderline-villainous buffoon to improbable hero.

Oh, well. I'll finish the re-read. Then maybe I'll look for Little Dorrit, which was the previous PBS adaptation and which I've never read.