Sunday, January 10, 2010

What line am I up to?

I must do a count. But in the meantime:
She shut her mind to the bloodsoaked years of 1916 and 1917. She would not go back. The white warmth of the eggs in her hand, and the ones already nested in her apron were the only signs she would listen to. And, like the hens that persisted in their laying through the cold Spring, and within earshot of shelling, Juliet would safely deliver her baby despite the war, and they would finally be able to leave the town and go west. They could go as far west as it took - to the coast if necessary or across the Channel. They could find their mother's cousins.
There is a lot here. We have pretty much the whole thrust of the back story. Bad years in the war, Juliet pregnant, an English mother. Much to unravel. I think it works fine.
By the way, writing this has turned me all around. I had a look at the first couple of lines and then downloaded them to a word document and it turns out, in that format, the lines don't hang together at all. Of course, the chapter is more or less written, but considering it in this mircocosm form encourages rewriting that doesn't then fit with the shape of the chapter, and the direction of the content. No matter. This can all be sorted out later.
All the questions about these sister posed here make up the bulk of the novel (in terms of the characters of the sisters). We are still to meet a hero. Do we need a hero? I have already written one so he will enter soon. Could it? Should it? Yes, a love story.
It did occur to me once, when listening to the radio about the film Titanic, that love is a great carrier of story. Mikey Robbins (when on Triple J) was arguing that he thought the love story between Rose and Jack was un-necessary for the story, that ship alone was enough. Perhaps, for some readers or viewers. But then, one Christmas, when I was reading Stalingrad (for fun), I was asked by a man what the hell I was doing READING Stalingrad. Not a story for a woman clearly. Women read romance (or equivilant apparently). Well, there are lots of stories that need a Rose and a Jack to tell them to the right demographic then, in my estimation. So I want to tell some of the stories of Australian soldiers on the Western Front in World War One. And I need a romance to set it around. Stay turned for the arrival of the hero. Any minute now ...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

line 18 and counting

There were enough good talismans to see her through the gloom of these days. There were still hens. They were still laying. And as the hens birthed their eggs with little fuss, so too would Juliet birth her baby. Just as Viola could collect the eggs each morning, so she would collect Juliet's baby. There was nothing to fear.
OK. So now we are getting to the detail. The sisters can't move. They are stuck because one of them is having a baby; and soon. But the war, we know from the brief prologue, is on the move. So not just an orientation, but a conflict, a complication, a dilemma. Yes, bread and butter. But what about the writing? I don't mind these lines except they are a little impersonal. We are no yet with Viola in any real sense; we are being told about her, she is being described, not experienced. Writing is a bitch.
What about:
As Viola opened the door of the hen house, she felt warmed by the gently clucking hens. The contented noise reminded her that life went on. She carefully slid her hand under each nesting bird, delighted with each new eggs she encountered. So early in the spring for her girls to be laying so well. This had to be a sign.
This seems to me to be better. Perhaps talisman is too tough a word here, and sign is a bit more gentle; easier to read and to say. Viola feels more present too, we are not so removed from her as a character; more with her, more in her head - or at least somewhere near it. I think that this works.
Putting the lines under the spotlight like this makes the whole thing harder than just writing (well, that was the point, after all), but harder than I would have imagined. In a bunched up couple of pages, the problems that I am encountering here don't present. I want Viola to be an effective heroine, not one just thrown onto the page to demonstrate a thesis (that was the big criticism of a piece I wrote once; an editor said that my thesis was showing, and I can see now what I do). Here, Viola needs to be more - well, not real as such - flesh.

Friday, January 1, 2010

line 15ish

Happy new year. I just had a look at the spirit of this blog and realised I have nothing I said I would do. Oh well. Here we go.
Wet wool around her legs; the damp cold morning; these were small problems. Nothing to worry about. She had made it through with Juliet over the last three years. They would survive the next day. The next week. The next month.
I quite like the summing up quality of these lines.  We know that Viola is annoyed by the circumstances of the morning, but here we understand that her experience has been larger and more broad that what has been suggested this far. We have scope. A backstory if you will. Yes, well.
I don't know about the use of the semi colon twice. That might be wrong. I also think that, yet again, the voice might be out of time. Nothing to worry about seems wrong - too causal, too modern. Perhaps I could write:
Viola would be happy to hold these problems every day. The blood and death of the war she could no longer hold. But she had made it through this far, made it through with Juliet. This day too, would be one they would survive. And the next day. The next week. The next month.
This feels more secure as a couple of lines. We have contrast here, and so I think it makes more sense. So she has made it across the yard to the hen house, has reflected on her problems and the war, and is about to go and get eggs. Not too bad. We still don't quite know where she is and what war, but all in good time. Soonish, and sharpish.