Tuesday, October 8, 2013

INKBLOTS--six "men" and creative juices flowing

A yawning Inkblot

Inkblots October 7, 2013

Six men, John's red wine of choice--aged--Giles (okay, five men, one boy) sitting in for the first time (reading from his Normandy invasion tale), Doug Mc leading off with a reworking of an earlier manuscript set in German WW II, putting in at the end of the war, Kitty's Story, opening chapter. Kitty's thoughts lost me; would the thoughts work better just in third person. Amputation with sights and sounds, vivid. This was a tough thing to listen to. We wondered about this as an opening chapter, grim and bloody. John suggested have her on the ship on her way to immigrate to America, with flashbacks to this episode. Alan suggested being more specific, like a branch, better as like a branch of an old walnut tree. Great writing.

Giles read a couple of pages of his historical fiction set with the British troops preparing to take Pegasus Bridge in Normandy. It was suggested that he be more specific on exactly what they were doing in their training, rather than just refer to the training. Show don't tell. He was given some good encouragement.

John is reading to us from his French Cousins book, written lovingly for his grandchildren, American and French. Nutella all over Rubin, a nice touch of authenticity. I like your description of the old vineyard house, but give us some more details, and old house smells, nooks and crannies. You have done a fine job of writing in a simple, straightforward style, accessible to children. Keep events in sequence, especially for children; avoid being in the house, in the car, then back in the house. Show the kids' excitement, rather than tell it. Be specific, give their words. Delightful style, so appropriate for children.

Carl, the country parson, reads a post from his blog. Awakening hearing his wife say something about chickens being out of the coop. Chickens have a varied palate, hold that thought. Love it. Carl is so wonderfully bibline, always making a beeline for gospel application, in this case, the nature of temptation, lessons learned from the chickens and their escaping from their coop, and our escaping from the snare of temptation. It was their own dog who tried to gnaw his way through the chicken wire, not raccoons--this time. I love this genre.

Alan reads his Josephus era historical novel. He fought against he Romans (not Alan--he's not that old), later present at the fall of Jerusalem. Opening chapter, set in AD 90s. First person, opening in Greek conversation. I like the papyrus books shop and Italian wine strokes of authenticity. Good local color details, but be careful of losing momentum, bogging down in details, rather than those details aiding  in moving the story forward. I would break up the longer monologue of Josephus with natural pauses, like punctuating the air with a finger, which you did effectively; maybe more of the immediate context, lizard on the wall, breeze rustling a curtain, gurgling fountain, you get the idea. What does a papyrus book shop smell like? My opinion is that the description bogs down and slows the pace when we lose touch with Josephus, and we need more personality in his friend with whom he is chatting. You use he, when we need his name in the attribution a bit more often. Could Josephus recollect fighting in previous wars, the triumphs, but the horrors, death and devastation. Flashback to these from the conversation, but not bogging down, foreshadowing the Jewish war coming. 

I read from chapter seven of Hammer of the Huguenots, a tense moment in the story when a bull is let lose in a Huguenot worship service by local thugs, an increment to the impending threat of royal Catholic League troops descending for the kill. Seemed well received, though it is difficult to put in midway in the tale when prerequisite information is not in place. 

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