April 23, 2012

April Snippets


The month is growing old, but here is my Snippets post at last!  March and April have been fairly productive months for me, but the trouble is that these chapters are part of or approaching the climax of The White Sail's Shaking, so it's difficult to share many snippets.  But I'll see what I can do.

april snippets

He was holding a pocket watch, tilted to catch the light on its open face, the chain dancing back and forth like a pendulum between his fingers; it seemed to have mesmerized him, for he had no attention for anything else. He watched it as a cat watches a mouse hole, unblinking, unwavering, with a faint occasional smile on his mouth.

- the white sail's shaking

“I came to see how your knee is, naturally. Heerman says it’s healing, but one can always hold out a hope for infection. There isn’t any, I suppose?”

Tip gave back a grimace of a smile. “None. Sorry to disappoint.”

- the white sail's shaking

The Constitution stood out, though, with her shrouds a tangle of mist and the sun a brilliant gold on her stern windows, her guns just now gone quiet. The bomb ketches beyond her were silent as well and so, too, were the Tripolitan batteries. An eerie, twilight hush had fallen over everything, as though the harbor held its breath; Tip could hear the gulls starting to cry once more.

Then the breath was released.

- the white sail's shaking

Some of the desperation must have leaked into his words, for Charlie’s backward glance was only half mocking. “I’ve my gun crew to command. I’ll come down when the fighting’s over.” 

Yes, Tip thought, but when the fighting’s over, it will be too late.

- the white sail's shaking

Tip stopped and looked up without turning around, gazing forward at the pale expanse of the schooner’s deck and the darker sea beyond, a haze of either sleeplessness or moonlight on his vision. So beautiful, he thought superfluously, hardly knowing whether he meant the night or the sea or the schooner, only knowing that whichever it was, its beauty made him ache.

- the white sail's shaking

Father, I miss you.  On nights like this I know I'll never see you again, and I feel like my heart will break.  
I miss you.  I want you to come home.

- sunshine and gossamer

Details of the room caught her eye in brief flashes. There were books everywhere; the opening door had raised a breath of dust from them. The air smelled sour, almost green. She saw a man in shirtsleeves and the back of his tawny head before he turned, and then she saw nothing but a pair of grey eyes.

She screamed.

- tempus regina

April 18, 2012

Reimagination

This past Friday most of my family - my brother, sister, brother-in-law, and cousin, to be precise - went to the theater to see "The Hunger Games." However, my sister-in-law and I not being theater-going people, we opted to stay behind and watch "Treasure Planet" with my six-year-old niece and three-year-old nephew. (I do realize that some of you are thinking, "Good heavens, she gave up The Hunger Games in favor of watching Treasure Planet? Is she crazy?" This was the general assessment among my siblings, too, but that's alright.)

"Treasure Planet," silly children's movie though it may be, is one of my favorite films and was my first introduction to Treasure Island. For years the only reason I knew anything about Stevenson's classic novel was because of "Treasure Planet." Having recently read the book for myself, and not having watched the movie in some time, I was interested to see how closely this re-imagining of the story kept to the plot itself. After all, my reputation is staked as being very much opposed to re-interpretations of classics and I would have to be appropriately outraged if too many liberties were taken.

Because changing a story's setting from sea to space and an island to a planet, not to mention replacing half the characters with aliens, isn't a large liberty at all.

At any rate, we settled in with our pudding parfaits to watch the movie. The first part of it was spent in freaking out over whether or not my niece was going to freak out: she was none too sure about the aliens, although Silver's cyborg eye was much appreciated. My nephew, on the other hand, was all for the movie because he had been impressed with the idea that there were going to be rockets. I don't think the solar-powered "space-ships" quite measured up, but he was excited by them, all the same. The guns got his attention, too; he gave me a water pistol and got a Nerf gun for himself, so we were prepared to take on anything that might come through the screen. The conversations went something like this:

James: "Are you weady?"
Me: "Okay, I'm ready!"
J: "Don't be weady, 'cause they're not firing yet."
M: "Okay, I'm not ready!"

or...

James: "I think he dwopped his gun!"
Me: "No, he just put it back in his belt."
J: "SHOOT! SHOOT!"
M: "They're not shooting, they're talking!"
J: "...Are they gonna shoot?"

B.E.N., the robot interpretation of the marooned Ben Gunn, was another hit with the children, although James didn't quite grasp the idea that he was a good guy. Thus another conversation...

James: "If that wobot comes through the scween, I'm going to SHOOT HIM."
Me: "But he's a good guy!"
J: "...Yeah, but if he comes through the scween, I'm gonna SHOOT HIM!"

In the end we all had a good time - even my niece, although she was rather alarmed at the idea of going to bed afterward. I think my sister-in-law and I had the most fun out of the four, as we were better able to understand what was going on. And I came away with an appreciation for what the producers had done with Stevenson's story. Certainly not everyone agrees with me (people tend to roll their eyes when I mention the movie), but I find "Treasure Planet" to be one of the few instances where the movie-makers have made improvements on the original story. While reading the book there were only two things I wasn't thrilled with: Jim himself and how he relates to Silver. Jim is fairly typical: a decent and well-mannered boy who gets into an adventure and, through it, is forced to become a man. The development of his friendship with and respect for Silver is more stated than shown, perhaps because the voyage to Treasure Island is passed over so swiftly in order for the adventure to really begin.

The screenwriters of "Treasure Planet" changed both these things. In re-imagining the story, they made it less a straight-up adventure (which is what Stevenson wrote) in favor of adding nuances to the characters themselves. Jim Hawkins becomes a rebellious teen, bent on proving himself by finding Treasure Planet; Silver becomes the father-figure Jim has never had. In this the producers were probably pandering to sentimentalism, but the fact is that it works for the story. It gives both characters more dimension and makes the discovery that Silver is a pirate more cutting for Jim. In the process, the movie is made more emotionally engaging.

Re-imagining any story is a tricky business: any major changes, even to subplots, tend to alter the whole thrust of the story. Though "Treasure Planet" is one of the few cases where I have enjoyed these alterations, I still have to admit that those alterations have indeed been made. It is no longer the unfettered, fast-paced adventure that Stevenson tended to write, but rather the sentimental and complex story that most people nowadays enjoy. Pulling Sherlock Holmes out from among the fogs and rattling coaches of Victorian England and plopping him down in the modern world of Google and mobile phones drastically changes the whole atmosphere of Arthur Conan Doyle's mysteries (sorry, Mirriam!). Adding green fog and seven swords to The Voyage of the 'Dawn Treader' turns the whole plot on its head.

Such changes can still be quite enjoyable, and I can't say otherwise. Still, it is interesting (and perhaps even worthwhile) to consider what the authors themselves would think if they could see what has been done with their works. Would Lewis like green fog? What on earth would Doyle think of the internet? And would cyborgs and solar-powered ships totally befuddle Stevenson? What would I think - what would you think - if, years down the road, my story were so drastically altered for the sake of its audience? Perhaps the question is pointless; and yet I think there is a point to taking the original authors into consideration whenever we're faced with some new re-imagining of their work. After all, they were the ones who wrote it to begin with. They deserve, at the very least, to be remembered and given credit for that.

April 12, 2012

Gone with the Wind

Over the past few weeks I've been reading Margaret Mitchell's famous Southern novel Gone with the Wind. I grew up on the movie; it was given to me as a birthday gift when I was too young to watch it, and I'm sure that the first time I actually did, half of the story went over my head. But I have not read the book before. Last year I began it and then put it down, not being in the mood. This year I picked it up again, determined for one reason or another to plow through.

I'm nearly done with it now with about a hundred pages left - and in the 1000+ page copy that I own, that's not much. I have not enjoyed it unreservedly, nor can I recommend it unreservedly: Scarlett's morals are pitiful, to say the least, and Rhett's are nonexistent. Yet at the same time, there is something more than engaging about the story. Though she shows the world through the cold eyes of Scarlet O'Hara, yet Margaret Mitchell portrays the effects on the South of the Civil War and Reconstruction with a potency that cannot help but stir the reader. I have always been glad that the Union won the war (another bad-Southerner trait!), but still the Confederates engage my sympathies - especially during the horrors of Reconstruction. And, being Southern myself (although not Georgian), Mitchell's descriptions of the South leave me with a sense of pride. Here are a few of the quotes from the book that have left me with respect for the author's powers of description...plus a quote or two for sheer amusement.

"Land is the only thing in the world that amounts to anything...for 'tis the only thing in this world that lasts, and don't you be forgetting it! 'Tis the only thing in the world worth working for, worth fighting for - worth dying for."

- chapter ii

Spring had come early that year, with warm quick rains and sudden frothing of pink peach blossoms and dogwood dappling with white stars the dark river swamp and far-off hills. Already the plowing was nearly finished, and the bloody glory of the sunset colored the fresh-cut furrows of red Georgia clay to even redder hues. The moist hungry earth, waiting upturned for the cotton seeds, showed pinkish on the sandy tops of the furrows, vermilion and scarlet and maroon where shadows lay along the sides of the trenches. The whitewashed brick plantation house seemed an island set in a wild red sea, a sea of spiraling, curving, crescent billows petrified suddenly at the moment when the pink-tipped waves were breaking into surf...

It was a savagely red land, blood-colored after rains, brick dust in droughts, the best cotton land in the world. It was a pleasant land of white houses, peaceful plowed fields and sluggish yellow rivers, but a land of contrasts, of brightest sun glare and densest shade. The plantation clearings and miles of cotton fields smiled up to a warm sun, placid, complacent. At their edges rose the virgin forests, dark and cool even in the hottest noons, mysterious, a little sinister, the soughing pines seeming to wait with an age-old patience, to threaten with soft sighs: "Be careful! Be careful! We had you once. We can take you back again."

- chapter i

[Melanie's] heavy earbobs with their long gold fringe hung down from loops of tidily netted hair, swinging close to her brown eyes, eyes that had the still gleam of a forest pool in winter when brown leaves shine up through quiet water.

- chapter vi

Already summer was in the air, the first hint of Georgia summer when the high tide of spring gives way reluctantly before a fiercer heat. A balmy, soft warmth poured into the room, heavy with velvety smells, redolent of many blossoms, of newly fledged trees and of the moist, freshly turned red earth. Through the window Scarlett could see the bright riot of the twin lines of daffodils bordering the graveled driveway and the golden masses of yellow jessamine spreading flowery sprangles modestly to the earth like crinolines. The mockingbirds and the jays, engaged in their old feud for possession of the magnolia tree beneath her window, were bickering, the jays strident, acrimonious, the mockers sweet voiced and plaintive.

- chapter v

What a few short weeks it had been since she was safe and secure! What a little while since she and everyone else had thought that Atlanta could never fall, that Georgia could never be invaded. But the small cloud which appeared in the northwest four months ago had blown up into a mighty storm and then into a screaming tornado, sweeping away her world, whirling her out of her sheltered life, and dropping her down in the midst of this still, haunted desolation.

Was Tara still standing? Or was Tara also gone with the wind that had swept through Georgia?

- chapter xxiv

"...I've lived with Melly long enough to know she's sickly and scared and hasn't the gumption to say Boo to a goose."

"Now why on earth should anyone want to say Boo to a goose? It always sounded like a waste of time to me."

- chapter xl

For instance when she decided to change the name of "Kennedy's General Store" to something more edifying, she asked [Rhett] to think of a title that would include the word "emporium." Rhett suggested "Caveat Emptorium," assuring her that it would be a title most in keeping with the type of goods sold in the store. She thought it had an imposing sound and even went so far as to have the sign painted, when Ashley Wilkes, embarrassed, translated the real meaning. And Rhett had roared at her rage.

- chapter xlix

April 9, 2012

A Discussion of Dialogue

Last week Joy of Fullness of Joy very kindly invited me to do a guest post on her blog. This is my first time writing one, so naturally I am quite excited about it. Here is a snippet:

I am not much of one for dissecting story structure. I never enjoyed Literature classes for that reason; it seems too bad to pick apart an author's writing until it is hardly recognizable for the story it once was. I don't deny that there is some help to be gained from such dissection; as in the biological world, it is crucial for knowing the interworkings of those living words. But I was never fond of dissections in biology, and I think that has carried over into my reading style as well.

Despite that, however, I do tend to look at stories in two great parts: dialogue and narration. Dialogue is anything inside quotation marks (I lump the protagonist's thoughts into this category, too, since they tend to be in monologue form); narration is, well, everything outside. Both can be hard to write, but the area of dialogue is the one in which writers tend to have the most difficulty. How closely should characters' speech resemble "real life" dialogues? How casual is too casual, how formal too formal? How do we get to the point of a conversation without it sounding abrupt? How do we differentiate between characters' ways of speaking? There are a dozen questions that come up and conflicting answers to meet them.

to read the full post, "the discussion of dialogue," drop by Joy's blog!
 
meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings






Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
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Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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