Saturday, 5 May 2012

A363 TMA 06 part 2: Commentary

Why a commentary, but no creative writing? Because I'm continuing the story I developed over TMA 04, TMA 06, and the EMA as my first novel, and I'm being secretive about it! :-)
When I look back at this commentary it seems horribly stilted. The trouble was that I had so much to say and only 500 words in which to say it, so it ended up reading like notes on the back of a fag packet.

Please note that certain details have been removed for reasons of professional coyness :-)

I renamed the main characters for increased authenticity. Pronunciation of [protagonist's name] could be a problem for readers, and the word is not pretty, so I may abandon it, though [it] has traditional resonance which would be great for the character to learn about from his mentor.The story is set in [a real location] rather than a fictional [one] because I relished the prospect of researching[1] real locations and letting characters loose in them. I will, however, try to avoid offending present-day [residents].I must take care writing about people of a different time and culture. I found Shawl and Ward’s (2011) discussion of ‘unmarked state’ helpful, and have adapted their ROAARS[2] model to suit historical writing.

Revised plan:

  • [Mysterious objects] treated as incidental at first. Their significance is revealed later.
  • Main quest is finding [protagonist's] kinfolk (alive).
  • [Protagonist's] call to action is realisation that he isn’t a proper member of the  [...] household. (He alone is punished for something both boys did.)
  • [Sidekick's] call is, he rationalises, necessity of supervising [Protagonist]. I will show it to be more about guilt (which blossoms into loyalty.)
  • Boys discover awful truth – [...] in a desolate valley.
  • [Person] responsible for [that location] tries to stop the boys. His actions are less malevolent than they believe, but lead to their tragic deaths anyway, thus preserving the secret and leaving intact the history we know.

Feedback for my proposal suggested establishing the relationship between the two leads early. I have attempted this with an opening scene in which [Sidekick's] callous and condescending attitude to [Protagonist] contrasts with the latter’s naïve acceptance of this. I was advised to include an inciting incident in Chapter 1, but may not do so until Chapter 3. I’m unsure whether the shortness of my chapters mitigates this! I plan to follow the advice to include a shock before the end of the EMA. This will be the moment the boys realise, through violent turn of events, the ‘friendly’ person is trying to thwart them.

Finally, I was advised to consider the usefulness of foreshadowing. I have opened with a flash-forward to the end of the boys’ adventure. This is intended to arouse the reader’s curiosity about how the boys came to that pass, and to cast a fatalistic shadow over the story. However, I mean to give the reader such an exciting story that the flash-forward slips his mind until the final page, where he suddenly finds himself with the [pursuers] at the [showdown location], a helpless witness to the boys’ final moments.

[Word count: 516, of which 116 are Revised Plan.]

Shawl, N. and Ward, C. (2011) Writing the Other, Seattle, WA: Aqueduct Press.

[1] I have researched communications, timekeeping, and weather, but have yet to cover clothing/uniforms, eating habits, and occupations.
[2] ‘Race, Orientation (sexual), Age, Ability, Religion, Sex’. Because my orientation is the same as my characters’, I was able to replace ‘Orientation’ with ‘Era’. (Yeah, I know...)

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