|California writers, join me at the Christian Writers Seminar|
Rachel reads on. Lenin, Bolshevik Revolution, 1917 era. How do you explain foreign language expressions in your writing? Footnotes are a bad idea in fiction, in my opinion. It is best to weave in understanding incrementally, but avoid doing so by explanatory narrative: This means in French... or which means... These are not the ways to weave in meaning and understanding naturally. Soot had darkened... Instead of the beams were darkened by the soot, which is passive voice description, slows the pace, makes writing less vigorous. When you write about inanimate things, keep the doer of the action as the subject of your description--the soot was the cause of the blackness. I wonder if Collette in third person is a bit pedantic sounding. Can you give her more life, more authenticity?
Sydney up next (
her text with my capital letter comments): The Archbishop stood before us. Here was the man I was commanded by the king to protect. Here was the man who, in his turn, had protected the one upon whom Haldor wished death, who had protected the offspring of that brutish murderer, who had protected with all the powers of his life the person who had sucked the last of his dying mother’s. Here was the man who had raised as a father one who should never have been a son; who had sanctioned the final, destructive piece on my existence; who knew, who knew all and kept it hidden, hidden — oh the irony — to protect he whom had destroyed from the bare knowledge that he had destroyed it. Here was the man of God who said: At last, by my choice, a man shall not reap what he has sown. This man was smiling. He had a tall, slender figure, bent forward beneath a white robe. His brow was coarse and grey, passing in thin lines above his eyes, which beamed from the old, pale face as paint come alive upon dry parchment. His eyes were young. They seemed to glisten, and in any other person the glistening would have seemed as tears, but in this man, that thought would have been mistaken. It was joy, somehow, joy that glistened. Vibrancy. Life. One was not used to seeing such life in eyes. I CAN SEE AND FELL THIS From the draping sleeve of his robe a hand was extended in greeting, as thin and fragile as a bird’s claw. “Father Alphege, you’re alive,” Finn said, grasping the hand in his own dirt-besmeared one, and pressing it with such a strange mixture of vibrant admiration and timid self-restraint, that I would perhaps have found it amusing under other circumstances. As it was, I turned my full attention upon the fragile man, who seemed larger within than without, and said nothing. GOOD DESCRIPTION OF SUBTLE CHARACTERISTICS The thin lips had passed again into a smile. “Very much so, Finn.” The Archbishop glanced over the two of us, his eyes were laughing in a way, like Finn’s but the laughter was different — soft, knowing, as if the knowing too much had made them gentle. “Are you well? Is this man wounded?” he asked, looking at me. “Very much so.” The Archbishop opened the door wider, and I believed he would have done the same before a wounded Dane, if one had so appeared at his door. “You are of course welcome here.” He gestured us within, and his keen, blue eyes peered out into the fog across the forest in the direction of the city. “God help them,” he said as he shut the door, and something in his tone made me uncertain if he spoke of those in the city who were helpless victims, or those Danes who might even now be killing them. Perhaps he spoke of both, and neither one over the other. I could not tell. It aggravated me that I could not tell. GOOD INTENTIONAL NUANCE OF UNDERSTANDING He led us into a tall room, lined with the same rough-hewn timbers I had seen scarring the face of the outside. There was little light, but a fire burned in the grate over which a small pot was simmering, though with what it was filled I could not see. A stack of bowls sat at the hearth, and directly across the room was a small, wooden table, on top of which lay a steaming bowl of water and three rolls of bandages. “Gustav put these out PLACE ATTRIBUTION HERE in case there should be need of them while he was gone,” the Archbishop said. The unassuming manner in which he said the name struck me with a cold wash of anger. Did one whisper the word asp after it struck you? Did the Archbishop act to all the world as he acted before us now — as if nothing belonged more to this life than the one person I knew never should have been born. I closed my eyes and felt the blood ooze once more beneath the cracking scab on my forehead, as my brows furrowed, my head pounding in the darkness behind my lids. “May I see your injuries?” THIS SHOULD BE A CAPITAL T, AS IT IS NOT TECHNICALLY AN ATTRIBUTION the Archbishop’s voice lifted beside me. I opened my eyes. He was standing quite near, his eyes fixed with a quiet expression upon my face. Finn had seated himself upon a chair, watching. “No,” the word fell flat into the air, as if my tongue had dropped it. I heard the silence, and Finn shifted in his chair. “They may require attention.” “I am only hungry,” I said, gripping the back of the empty chair at my side. I half-turned and felt Finn’s eyes boring into the side of my head as I fell into the seat. “I would be grateful for a bowl of what is over that fire,” I added, and would not meet Finn’s eyes. I heard the Archbishop step away, the crack of the pot as the lid lifted and the smell of beef wafted with AMIDST, MAYBE the smoke and wet steam into the room. “Are you hungry, Finn?” the Archbishop asked, and I heard the clicking of the bowls as he lifted them from the stack near the hearth.
“Am I ever not?” There was tension beneath the grin of Finn’s voice. The Archbishop straightened and turned, his footsteps sounded again across the floor. I I felt Finn’s gaze turn and I looked up. He was watching the bowls approaching in the grasp of the frail fingers, as the steam rose from them and the faint aroma gave all its promises of comfort and warmth. The grin was still playing about his lips, more genuine now, and a glint of eagerness shown in his eyes. “Are you quite well, Father Alphege?” Finn asked, taking the bowl and dipping his ladle with relish. The Archbishop placed the other in front of me. “No harm has befallen you or the LOWER CASE WHEN YOU USE AN ARTICLE Cathedral it seems, and praise Heaven for that!” “No harm whatever, Finn. We are all quite well.” The Archbishop seated himself beside me, drawing in his chair before his own bowl of stew. He paused, lifted his eyes to Heaven, and the made the sign of the Cross. I felt my body stiffen upon the chair. I refused to look at him. “And Gustav?” Finn asked. I could feel his gaze. “Occupies the library like his lifeblood is the ink from the manuscripts,” the Archbishop smiled. “He has always been a clever lad, but this last year he has shown great progress in his work, and has been able to THIS IS A SPLIT INFINITIVE VERB, TO SHOULD GO WITH HELP, TO HELP most effectively help me in my own.” “The last time I was here, he spoke in admiration of the king’s army,” Finn said. “Does he ever think of joining us, of fighting against the Danes?” Everything in my body throbbed and I felt my muscles tighten, my fingers curl and grip into the palms of my hands, my jaw clench beneath the dried blood upon my face. I could feel Finn watching me still. “No,” the Archbishop said. “He does not. He is determined to serve in a different manner.” “I trust him to do that,” Finn breathed. “I would trust him — with my life —” Something in his tone forced me to look up. Our eyes met across the table. “Where is he now?” Finn asked. “He and Raul have gone into the city. The areas where the fighting has deserted the wounded still lie. Those who are well enough, they will bring here, but the rest they will tend to as best they can in the street, and pray God’s mercy upon them.” “I should be with them,” Finn said, and he began to rise to his feet. He stopped suddenly, ran a hand through his hair and glanced at me. “Not forsake one friend for the sake of the other,” he mumbled, then collapsed upon the chair and pulled it up to the table, his brows knitting across his face. “When you go, I am going with you,” I said. Finn looked at me, aghast. “By no means beneath heaven,” he said, “will that be the case. You’re being too wounded to be out there is precisely the reason we are stuck within these walls this very moment.” “I need to see him, Finn.” “Gustav?” “Yes.” “Do you?” There was a moment of silence, during which I could feel his breath falling heavy between us. The Archbishop leaned forward and turned to me, his eyes full of a gentle command. “Do you know my son?” The quiet words slammed into my skull with a violence to which the gentle tone seemed only to add. As frail fingers behind a sharpened knife, as the smile lingers below the threat, as the laugh is the voice of a mockery, GOOD USE OF COMPOUND SIMILES so the words fell upon my ears, permeated my skull, whirled with the memories within, the flashes from the night, the desecrated life, the anguish which had fallen because this parasite upon the universe — he whom the Archbishop called son — had a father who could not even be boasted of by a demon in Hell. I did not remember rising to his feet, yet here I was, swaying upon the floor, my feet gnawing to keep their hold in the earth but all the world seemed to toss around me, and I did not even know to care. “I think so,” Finn was saying, rising to his feet as well, uncertain, one hand still upon the table where he was gripping his ladle, the scars on his knuckles shining white beneath the dirt and blood. “They met...years ago…” the words trailed off.
Rachel asked what the big picture of this story is. Haldor discovers that his brother is alive, Gustav and Dane are captured, Raul. Two parallel yarns, interwoven. Anglo-Saxon England setting. Resolution between brothers at odds.