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Hello, writers.

SenSho couldn't make it this week, so she flashed the Hack-Signal over Gotham, and I answered the call. (And yes, these tights are totally riding up.)

Tonight, because a novel without romance is like a fork without a tine, we're going to talk about love--or as they say in Czech, 'hrczynavci.' However, first I wanna know: do you love any novels that don't contain any romance whatsoever?

Now, while I know that much of what we do as writers consists of extracting emotions from our brains and splattering them willy-nilly on the page in the desperate hope of infecting the corpus callosi of passers-by, I'm wondering how we do that with love in particular.

The Harriet Vane and Peter Wimsey romance is one of my favorites, yet Sayers very conveniently avoids showing Peter falling for Harriet. He just loves her. (And who could not? She's much too good for him.) So the fun of the romance is watching her teeter on the edge of love, until she falls in with a great splash.

So second, in how many of your favorite novelistic romances is one half of the sketch already in love?

Third, fourth, and fifth: What are your favorite literary romances? At what point to you believe that the characters are in love? Any love stories where you never believed it?

And tonight's challenge is ...

Love at first sight!

There's not much room in comments, but can you show two (or three, or eight, for that matter) characters meeting for the first time, and one of 'em falling in love? Bang. Just like that.

Not lust, mind you. Lust is too easy. Gotta be falling in love. Or at least falling toward love, that first shiver of possibility--or certainty--or however you wanna portray it.

And for extra credit, write the same scene from the other character's viewpoint and email to SenSho without explanation.

Write On! will be a regular Thursday (8 ET) feature until the moon crumbles. Please ignore the banner ads for vanity publishers that may load with this diary.

Never, ever sign anything with any agent or publisher whom you haven't checked out at Writer Beware or Preditors and Editors.  If you can't find anything on the publisher there, that's not good news.  

Originally posted to GussieFN on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Readers and Book Lovers.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

    by GussieFN on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 05:00:07 PM PST

    •  Can't email to (5+ / 0-)

      Ms. Shoes, 'cause no email addy in her profile.

      I think you can expand the definition of love in books beyond just romantic love to love of a place or a country--something that profoundly moves the main character and changes his or her life.

      One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.--A.A. Milne

      by Mnemosyne on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 05:08:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Curses! She's always foiling me. (5+ / 0-)

        I've got a link somewhere on my desktop to an article about a woman who married the Eiffel tower.

        But I'm talking about romantic love, here. Interested in how people handle it. I'm mortified to admit that I've only fell in love once, and while I write characters falling in love (not, perhaps, with any facility) I never feel like I know what I'm doing.

        Best to just show the characters in action, and let the love be a subtext? To gave into one character's pov and burn through 3,000 words of quasi-lyrical gumbling?

        Also: You don't like Murakami, huh? Unless that's a different Mnemosyne.

        "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

        by GussieFN on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 05:14:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Murakami? (5+ / 0-)

          Isn't that the new Teapublican congresscritter from Ashtabula?

          Forsooth, kind sirrah, I have never dissed Murakami. Or read him, either.

          As for characters in love, the best scenes are when it happens naturally as part of the plot and action. Nothing worse than "Joe Hero walked into the room, saw Minday Heroine, and promptly droppped to his knees to propose." Ho-hum.

          But do a good action scene where he realizes he's fallen in love with her, even though he doesn't want any involvement, because, day-umn, she sure could handle a Glock and it came in right handy when they were ambushed on the back road coming down the mountain from Old Dan's place.

          One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.--A.A. Milne

          by Mnemosyne on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 05:54:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Love..... (5+ / 0-)

    same effect as eating chocolate.  :)

    "No man deserves to be praised for his goodness unless he has strength of character to be wicked." La Rochefoucald

    by Void Indigo on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 05:16:47 PM PST

  •  Some day I will write a diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DawnG, GussieFN, cfk, davidseth

    about how "love" is portrayed in "romance" novels.  It is downright scary.

    You're sleeping on a featherbed of lies - Scott McKenzie

    by Im a frayed knot on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 05:26:48 PM PST

  •  hi (8+ / 0-)

    I have to talk a bit first before I talk about love.

    I bought the book that was recommended on writing called From Where you Dream by Robert Olen Butler ed. by Janet Burroway.

    I liked the title and premise.  It is lectures the man gave to students.  Thanks WB.

    I have been reading it this week and the author cites two attempts at a story that he wrote.  One he likes and one he hates and you have already guessed it...

    I like the one he hates best.  SIGH.  So there you are.  That is what I am like.  Can you still love me?

    I have written 17,995 words of the story about gates that I wanted to explore.  First, it has kept me writing which Bolen and King insist I must do every day.  

    Second, I like the female protagonist.  Of 12 previous stories that I finished writing, I only had 2 ladies that I sort of liked.  Weird.

    But I don't think there will be much more written for this one.  I have another one in my mind to try after that.

    Best wishes to all here.

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 05:35:24 PM PST

    •  What did Butler (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk, JamesRhetor

      dislike about the 'bad' one, and what did you like?

      "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

      by GussieFN on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 06:02:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am still reading that part (3+ / 0-)

        all I know is that it was energetic and lively and I am thinking, "uh, oh, I am in the wrong again." :)

        Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

        by cfk on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 06:09:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  LOL--you're making me feel guilty for (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GussieFN, cfk

          recommending the book!

          •  no, no (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GussieFN, JamesRhetor

            It is all good.  But I just feel that he is wrong about this.  So much more passion in the one he hates.

            :)

            Good thing I was not in his class, though.

            Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

            by cfk on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 07:07:31 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Actually, I think he makes a fairly good case (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              GussieFN, jabney, cfk, JamesRhetor

              that the "good" story is actually more dynamic because in the "bad" story the narrator is a passive observer who has nothing at stake, for whom everything is going fine, who lacks "yearning."  "The dynamics of desire are utterly missing."

              Then there's the lack of subtext, the lack of an underlying motif, the lack of an organic "whole" in the "bad" story.

              In the "bad" story, the passion is all on the surface.  In the "good story" it's more intrinsic, more built into the very structure of the story.

              •  yes, I know (3+ / 0-)

                the problem with me is that I am a woman and what he calls that little hand motion means nothing at all.

                I don't feel anything when I read the good story.  The man murders someone and leaves...

                yuck.

                In the bad story, I am totally curious about everything.  Just me.  Why I am not a best seller.

                sorry...I am a pain...

                I do like the book...

                Thanks again!

                Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

                by cfk on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 07:36:57 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Actually, I feel the same way about a lot of (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  GussieFN, cfk

                  the stories I read in The New Yorker and in literary publications--that they don't move me in any way, though I can oooh and aaah about the technique.  But I think that Butler, with his dreamstate notecard writing technique that emphasizes characters that yearn is a way out of that. (You can use his technique to write in a more passionate manner than he does).

                  I guess I'm hopelessly in search of the holy grail of writing, what Yeats calls the point where passion and precision are one--that you can have both exquisite technique and passion in the same work, one that actually connects with the reader in a visceral way. (I'll let you know when I find it).

          •  oh, and I now have my 3x5 (3+ / 0-)

            cards...that does sound promising to try.

            So far I have only written entertainment stories.  Will I manage to try a literary story after reading this book?

            Stay tuned. :)

            Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

            by cfk on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 07:10:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Love (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GussieFN, Mnemosyne, pico, JamesRhetor

    I like some loving in my stories, I admit.  

    So second, in how many of your favorite novelistic romances is one half of the sketch already in love?

    I can't think of any right now...I am thinking it is a mutual exploration in most of the stories I read.

    Apparently Penman thinks that Henry II and Eleanor mostly married and maintained their marriage on lust instead of love.  Who knows?  That view is kind of boring after hundreds of pages.

    He seems to have loved his mistress Rosamond more or regret her death more or something and she was just sort of uncomplicated according to Penman.  Who knows?  

    Her fictional married pair, Ranulf and his blind Welch wife, are more touching.  They are concerned for each other's feelings and actually talk to each other about things of importance.  They sacrifice for each other.

    see part two in the next post...

     

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 05:43:35 PM PST

  •  Gosh and golly gee. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GussieFN, Mnemosyne, cfk

    I hate to show up at a party without a gift  So here's the gift.  I hope you like it.

    It's not about love.  Or is it.  

  •  One of my favorite love stories (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GussieFN, Mnemosyne, jabney, cfk, JamesRhetor

    is Jane Eyre. As I'm pondering why, I think we've lost something of the mystery and suspense with multiple viewpoints watching two characters fall in love. We know how Jane feels about Mr. Rochester but we don't know if he returns her feelings and we desperately want him to love her. Jane deserves to be loved. But he plays with her, turning hot then cold, and it keeps the reader on the edge of suspense.

    Sex, meh. I skip most sex scenes in novels and I think they often destroy the budding romance in the relationship, which is why I only like sex scenes with a strong dollop of humor.

    And yes, personally, I like romance in adventure, sci-fi, horror, etc. Even in these genres, the loved one becomes a partner and the hero is not alone. Love leads to belongingness and community, which are stong themes in my writing.

    "The white race is the domineering race, which is why I'm voting for McClain." Anonymous voter on NPR

    by txdemfem on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 05:51:51 PM PST

    •  Never read Jane Eyre. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mnemosyne, jabney, cfk, JamesRhetor

      Strikes me that you could do a pretty horrifying fem-jep type book where you saw the lovely, deserving woman falling in love with a charming fellow whose inner life, in his pov, was as ugly as possible. It's so obvious it's probably a subgenre, but I can't remember seeing one.

      "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

      by GussieFN on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 05:58:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  well (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GussieFN, Mnemosyne, jabney, JamesRhetor

    Third, fourth, and fifth: What are your favorite literary romances? At what point to you believe that the characters are in love? Any love stories where you never believed it?

    I usually believe the more complicated love stories.  I am still wrestling with the question from Russo's Bridge of Sighs.  Here is a quote:

    page 349

    Suddenly she understood the question she’d really been trying to ask all summer.  Which was more important: to love or be loved?

    I think this is an important question.

    So, in the Lymond Chronicles (six books in the series) by Dorothy Dunnett that Gussie didn't like...which is OK...there were several ladies involved with Lymond.

    One who I think he could have loved, died too soon.  That hurt my heart.

    The Irish lady whom he was trying to lead away from a terrible life was a very strange person and he gave her one night of tenderness which I believe is the best sex scene ever written.  I copied it once at BFBC, but I don't know where it is, now.

    That poor lady paid a terrible price for his love.

    The lady I wanted him to love, he did not.  I really liked her.  

    The lady he picked and fell in love with around book five was not the one I wanted at all.  No way, no how.  But she was better than the one Dunnett chose for her hero Niccolo (eight books).  I just didn't believe in either of them.

    see next post...  

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 05:59:08 PM PST

    •  I -did- like the Lymond Chronicles! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk, JamesRhetor

      Just didn't, well, fall in love. And liked Niccolo better--at least at first.

      "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

      by GussieFN on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 06:04:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, I like Niccolo (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GussieFN, jabney, JamesRhetor

        but not his bride...shudder...godzilla of the insipid mind...pretending that cat and mouse games to force him to notice her will keep his interest and which nearly kill him off several times.

        I speak of their little chat on the mountain...

        "Step over with me..."     oh, my god!!!!

        Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

        by cfk on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 06:16:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Okay, so the husband is pestering me (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GussieFN, jabney, cfk

    about dinner, so I'll have to come back in a little while.  Hopefully there will still be a few commenters hanging about, so they can laugh at my comments about láska (Czech, for 'love').

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 06:15:34 PM PST

  •  Love scares me... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GussieFN, jabney, cfk

    Well, writing about love scares me. (I suppose there's some truth to the former as well...)

    This is particularly pertinent to my writing as my young hero is in love with someone he cannot be with--it's not unrequited so much as unannounced. The woman in question has no clue that she has a suitor, and the suitor is unable to get access to his beloved... and to make matters worse, no one knows about his love for the girl except him.

    I've created a dilemma for myself, as I'm not writing in the first person from the hero's perspective... so I must intimate all of this until my protagonist confesses his feelings to someone in the book.

    Sheesh.

    I'm daunted by the prospect of writing about love. That is for certain.

    ~j.

    •  Really tough to pull off. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jabney, cfk, JamesRhetor

      I stall out somewhere between 'he really liked her big ass' and 'she was his all and his everything, and as the colors of sunset swirled through her glossy chestnut hair, seventeen angels sang in harmony ...'

      "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

      by GussieFN on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 06:29:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  LOL! But isn't that the way of it? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GussieFN, jabney, cfk

        I mean, I fluctuate between those extremes in real life!

        I'm hoping that I can avoid some of the pitfalls of writing about love (mainly, being trite or cliche) by having it be intimated rather than out there in the open. My construct sorta forces me to be subtle and avoid being heavy handed.

        I'm telling myself it might be easier if I don't have to come right out and admit that he's head over heels... if the reader uncovers/discovers his feelings as we go, I guess I'm showing rather than telling, and that would be a good thing, right?

        Well, that's what I'm trying to tell myself, anyway!

        ~j.

        •  I'm trying to think if male and (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jabney, cfk, JamesRhetor

          female authors handle love-falling differently. Never read any Nicholas Sparks, but the Bridge of Madison County is curious because the guy, the photographer, seems mostly in love with himself.

          I agree that trite and cliche are the obstacles. Sounds like you've got a plan, at least! A good plan, actually. Of course, it's all about the execution.

          You're writing our besotted hero in third person? That allows just as much emotional engagement, I think. But restraint is probably wise. My first draft  literally had my couple stopping to flirt while being chased by the murderous hordes.

          "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

          by GussieFN on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 06:47:53 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You know, I'm sure there's quite a difference (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GussieFN, jabney, cfk

            in how male and female authors handle falling in love... but I'm not sure if I'm adept enough to express what those differences might be.

            Do you think it matters, though? I wonder if we read past those variances in approach because both ring true--it may not be our experience or our truth, but if it's true from another's perspective, I don't know that it would be bothersome. Or have you found it jarring to read of love from the female perspective?

            Of course, it's all about the execution.

            Oy vey. There's the rub, eh? I guess I won't know if I'm up to it until I try.

            And stopping to flirt while being chased by murderous hordes? Well, that sounds like true love indeed! :-)

            ~j.

            •  Don't think it matters much, no. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jabney, cfk, JamesRhetor

              Only really a question for writing a characters well. If I think my female character would fall in love in a more (for lack of a better term) feminine fashion, I've gotta know how to portray that properly. And I've read women who've had trouble with that with male characters: they just aren't like any man I've ever met.

              "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

              by GussieFN on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 07:06:45 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Well, this will take me a bit (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GussieFN, jabney, cfk, pico

    Since I immediately thought of a scene that desperately needs rewriting & it's not really that short.

    I love romance. I find stories without emotional connection (of which love is the most potentially disastrous peril to put characters in), utterly boring.

    However, there has to be more going on, it can't be the Harlequin formula. Trying to fit in love among all the everyday things is tough, having crap go horribly wrong and juggle explosive emotions, well, that's just good drama.

    (I'm glad my characters are imaginary. They'd lynch me for all the peril and love-gone-awry I throw them in.)

    I just wanted to vote in the primaries. Honestly, I am much too liberal to be a Democrat.

    by WiseFerret on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 06:33:34 PM PST

    •  I'm with you. I like me some romance. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jabney, cfk, pico, WiseFerret, JamesRhetor

      Having a hard time at the moment because I'm trying to establish a love relationship in the middle of a car chase, basically.

      The train clipped the horse trailer and the pickup squealed off the road and paused for a deathless moment above the ravine.
           "Jolene," he sighed. "I could lose myself in your eyes forever."
           "Oh, Harrison. One day I'll take you sailing, and we'll swim and surf and chase the horizon across the world.'  
           "Well catch it, too," he said, and the pickup smashed into a jagged boulder, the uranium pellets cascading through the bulletshot window.

      "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

      by GussieFN on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 06:41:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  mine (7+ / 0-)

    can you show two characters meeting for the first time, and one of 'em falling in love? Bang. Just like that.

    She noticed that he limped, first.  It raised a question in her mind.  Army? Accident? Childhood trouble grown large?

    He used the slim cane unobtrusively.  He took a moment to lower himself into a chair.  

    She saw that he sat near a group who were talking loudly and laughing and his face from the side became animated, too.  He was enjoying their energy, joining in.

    Later, she saw him out on the balcony with his arms outstretched to the city below in yearning.  She wanted to photograph him like that.

    That was when she knew.  She wanted to listen to his heart beat with her face buried in his shirt.  She wanted to pull his face down to hers and kiss his eyes and the side of his mouth and then swallow his breath with her lips.

    She wanted to walk with him in a strange land where no one else was thought of.  Just the two of them.  

    Oddest of all, she wanted to hold his hands and swing them as she had with friends as a kid.  See him laugh.  See his face light up as she came toward him.  Hear him call her name.

    Such yearning for a man whose name she didn't know jarred her.  Not like her.  But she was not ashamed.  

    It seemed right to put some food on a small plate and go out on the balcony and say, "Hi, I would like to share some food with you."

    He looked at her in the light from the window and he smiled.

    "Sharing food, sharing thoughts is my favorite thing to do.  Thank you lovely lady."

    Something inside her roared like a tiger.

    "My name is Lacy," she said.  

    "Lacy, I am Graham Lord."  He took a sandwich off the plate.  He limped over to a chair by a tiny round table.  Music started up in the room behind them.  Out here it was vague background like a curtain to look through.

    She sat down very close to him and watched him eat.  He laid the sandwich back down and looked at her.

    "You smell pretty," he said.  "Lilacs.  I shall paint you as a lilac bush against a rock wall for reliance."

    "You are a painter, then?"

    "What do you do?" he asked.

    "I am a gofer for a photographer.  I help pose the models, get coffee, get chewed out if people are late, call taxis, run errands.  Not very exciting, but I am learning something about how to see through a camera."

    "That is important," he said.

    That was when she knew he would call her for lunch and she would go, yes, eagerly go to meet him.  Magician to change her life in minutes.

    "Magician," she said.

    "My middle name," he said and he leaned toward her and kissed her.  

    The world went away.

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 06:41:49 PM PST

  •  Countertransference at First Sight (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GussieFN, jabney, cfk, pico, WiseFerret, JamesRhetor

    He has me at "I don't just need the proverbial 'Room of One's Own' to write, what I really need is a Leonard Woolf, too."

    Damn, why does Dharam keep referring these cutey, wiry, artsy emo types to me knowing that they're my road to countertransference perdition?

    With the thick black stubble on his cheeks and intense blue/green eyed gaze belying an underlying strength to his otherwise delicate features, he's turning my professional demeanor into mush. I'm a puddle of lemon jello as I ask, "What do you specifically mean by that? What would Leonard Woolf do?"

    "Keep the world at bay," he says. "Fight my demons."

    "And what does he get out of that?" I ask.

    "He gets off on it," he says.  "And unlike the real Leonard, he'll get some hot sex on the side."

    And with that, powerless against my inclinations, I say abruptly, "I'm afraid we can't go any further.  I can't take your case."

    "Why?" he asks.

    "Because I want to ask you out... Will you go out with me?"

    "May I ask, how many--"

    "You're the first," I say.

    "OK" he says.

    "OK," I say, imagining that this will be a great story to tell our grandchildren. "I'll refer you to another psychiatrist who I feel will be a good match for you."  (and who's old and dry and not susceptible to your charms).

    "Do you like sushi?" I ask.

    "Cool," he says.

    "Cool," I say.

    Now that I've given in to my own demons, I feel exhilarated.  All in all, I'd say that this was a good session.

  •  Love and Pie (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GussieFN, cfk, WiseFerret

    Love and Pie - by john abney - 12/09/2010

    Love? Here I am, a senior in high school, 99th percentile on every major test I've ever taken. Respectable grades - good enough to get me in the sort of college that will cost my folks enough to ensure that they won't forget me while I'm there. I'm one of those chosen early for the sports teams. My screen ID is recognized on at least three continents. I've been told by persons that are not my parents that I'm good looking. My sister Judith even says she thinks the band I'm in is pretty cool, "For a bunch of kids."

    Now about this whole love thing. I'm not gay, at least I'm pretty sure I'm not and I probably wouldn't freak out if I found out I were. But a wife and kids are in my plans - just not yet. Sex? That's fine any night (except Thursdays - some online obligations are too important to miss); after all, I'm not a virgin - well technically I suppose you could say I am. But that's my private business. And that's what pisses me off about love. The lack of privacy, the lack of space, the intrusion on my alone time.

    However I'm not totally obsessive about the alone time, take Thanksgiving - a Thursday as you may recall.

    In our family we eat the turkey in the middle of the day, watch a little football, then it's pie in the evening. It's usually tight, but I can squeeze in a piece of Grandma Flo's pumpkin and Grandma Alice's mincemeat - thus showing them that I still care for them both - equally - and still  log on by 10:15 to lock-in my choice of battleground. Rank has its privilege.

    So when Judith calls from  the station to say she's bringing her roommate from Albacore to our place for the holiday, I am not concerned. (Even though I am only three wins away from advancing to Field Marshall.) Another chair at the table in our house is no big deal. Then Judith walks in, "Hi guys, this is Judy." (You'd think I would have picked up on the fact that my sister and her first college roommate have essentially the same name, but I hadn't. Nevertheless, it seemed less awkward to act as if I knew that - and the rest of her biography as well.) We get through the main course OK, and Judith seems less big-sisterish than usual. She and Grandma Flo keep exchanging some sort of conspiratorial look though. (Grandma Alice might have joined in too, but it's hard to tell for sure after the stroke.)

    During the game, Judith starts telling Judy about my band. "Yes, we do have a CD, but it's only an EP." "I'd like to hear it," Judy says and pretty soon the three of us are up in Judith's old room. I do the obligatory cringing over some clams in the second and fifth tracks and then Judy says, "Your sister tells me you're quite the online gamer. What games do you play?"

    For some reason, my usual eagerness to yap a newbie's ear off about the most awesome game on the world wide web is replaced by a short pause. This gives Judith just the chance she needs to put her spin on things: "He's a Colonel in 'Gopher Grenades'." Normally I would correct my big sister for slighting my rank. But before I get a chance to say, "Major General," Judy (the one that's not my sister) says, "Pretty intense game - what's your screen ID?" She says this like she's actually interested. "Electric Gopher" I say. "Electric Gopher? Isn't the Electric Gopher a Major General?"

    That's when I knew I'd be retaining that rank for at least one more session. "So Judy, may I bring you some pie?"

    I support socialized water

    by jabney on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 07:24:00 PM PST

    •  lolololol (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GussieFN, jabney, WiseFerret

      ah, love in the modern world!

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      by cfk on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 07:41:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cfk

        The part I was most conscious of was trying to isolate the tenses using paragraph spacing and parentheses. A re-write - had there been the time - might have involved more furniture. But I'm still trying to get a feel for how much is appropriate in prose (as opposed to lyrics).

        best,

        john

        I support socialized water

        by jabney on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 08:19:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Very nice. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jabney, cfk

          A great voice--I like the humor and it feels to me that you really peg the age, too. Many strong details. Is this is riff on that other project you're working on? Am I right in remembering that you're doing some kinda YA music-heavy novel? Have you read Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist?

          "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

          by GussieFN on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 05:15:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks GussieFN (0+ / 0-)

            Have you read Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist?

            No, but I should after reading the wikipedia movie plot summary (thanks for the tip). I wonder if the still-missing kitten's name in the 'superhero' hand-held movie device commercial is an inside nod to the macguffin band in "Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist?" That would be sort of re-recursive since the book's title itself is a nod to the "Thin Man" characters.

            As for the other project, it's hard to say. There's already one character doing a first person voice. And another character is presented in a loose omniscient third. What are the rules for adding another first person voice? Keeping the major male characters in first person and the major female character(s) in omniscient third may be worth trying.

            best,

            john

            I support socialized water

            by jabney on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 09:18:57 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Part of a larger story (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GussieFN, jabney, cfk, pico

    & I rewrote from scratch (because I think my computer ate the original mess...)

    Mick stubbornly planted his feet, jolting Rick's prisoning grip just enough to wrench his shoulder free. It was too late. The story of the decade had complete their escape to a private balcony.
    "Mick, dammit, I got Teresa breathing down my neck with jealousy! You owe me- and this will make it even! And I'm not setting you up like last time," Rick bent over to yell in his ear to be heard over the new tune the band launched into.
    "Alright already," groused Mick, making his already short self even short just to annoy Rick, "I'll be decent."
    "Be nice! Her transfer to the Uni has been full of crap. Being clan, she doesn't understand all the structure."
    "Clan?" hissed Mick, glaring at Rick. Just what he needed, some woman thinking an evening should wind up in bed.
    "Just move it!" Rick shoved him through the crowd of chattering people, not even letting him linger innocently at eye-level, well displayed cleavage. The evening was doom.
    "Where, Rick?" Mick demanded loudly with a voice full of irritation.
    "Here!" Rick turned him to a group of young men and women, chatting with drinks in hand. Mick reached up to pull a hat over his face that was not on his head. It did not go well with the tuxedo and it's familiar absence was keenly felt. Especially in the moment of making an utter ass of himself. Surely the poor girl, even if she might be as wide as a barn door and less preferable, had overheard his reluctance.
    "Merry," Rick gestured across the group with overt cheeriness, "This is Mick. Mick Flanagan-"
    Mick looked across and up into the back of someone's well-coifed head. He quickly adjusted to his own eye level and missed Rick's introduction with stunned silence.
    The cascade of mahogany hair framed an oval, lightly freckled face. Green-blue eyes regarded him nervously although she stood with lovely poise among so many strangers. Her teal dress clung to her like a loving hug. For an idle moment, he fantasized about being that dress, that hug before the noise of reality reminded him he was supposed to be taking over Rick's shepherding duty.
    Swiftly, before he'd really thought it through, he stepped forward, offering his hand.
    "Merry, is it? Welcome to Candorstone University," he said with his most welcoming smile, his warmest tones and surprising himself by really meaning it. Her handshake was firm and warm. He did not want to let go.
    So he didn't. He tugged gently, feeling giddy when she obligingly followed his pull away from the group.
    "Come, let me introduce you to some more respectable folks," he shot a glance at Rick's startled expression.
    "Oh, I don't want to inconvenience-"
    "It is my firm opinion that people exist to be inconvenienced. What other point is there to being a journalist?"
    "Oh, like yourself?" she replied coyly then laughed gently as his face colored.
    "Even myself," he admitted.
    "And I have had it pounded into my skull that it is for the observation and reflection of society for it's betterment and enlightenment- ala Professor Shushin."
    "I thought that sounded familiar."
    "He wasn't terribly pleased to have a new student today."
    "He's not terribly pleased about anything," Mick paused, "You're a journalism student?"
    "Yes," Merry's eyes brightened although she glanced away coyly. Mick wrestled pointlessly with inner turmoil. She, this stunning beauty, knew something, possibly about him! Was he wanting to know her or know what was secret?
    Pointless. Hopeless. He still had a hold of her hand. As they said, it was a good doom.

    I just wanted to vote in the primaries. Honestly, I am much too liberal to be a Democrat.

    by WiseFerret on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 07:25:24 PM PST

    •  And the flip, because I think it might be better (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GussieFN, cfk, pico

      I was kind of surprised how the different perspective came out.

      "Where, Rick?" the male voice was loud and full of irritation.
      "Here!" Rick said, turning the short, stocky man to face the group. Merry caught her breath as she recognized the famous face that had graced many posters distributed to the clans. Scratch that off topics to talk about. Janet certainly had blown many preconceived notions of "famous person" out of the water already today.
      She was not entirely sure she wanted to meet another today, but Rick launched into introductions. Mick paused, clearly assessing her. Merry waited, struck with the realization, that for all his fame, he was a guy. His eyes lingered on her cleavage, making her feel more comfortable. A guy she could deal with. Even have a fun evening with. This was just a guy who'd managed to survive the Revolution by doing some important things.
      He offered his hand with a warm smile.
      "Merry, is it? Welcome to Candorstone University."
      His hand was warm, gentle but firm, conveying a genuineness that startled her. When he tugged at her hand, she followed, letting him keep a hold.
      "Come, let me introduce you to some more respectable folks." She did not miss his challenging glance at Rick.
      "Oh, I don't want to inconvenience-"
      "It is my firm opinion that people exist to be inconvenienced. What other point is there to being a journalist?"
      "Oh, like yourself?" she replied coyly then laughed gently as his face colored. Yes, a guy who was even nervous.
      "And I have had it pounded into my skull that it is for the observation and reflection of society for it's betterment and enlightenment- ala Professor Shushin."
      "I thought that sounded familiar."
      "He wasn't terribly pleased to have a new student today."
      "He's not terribly pleased about anything," Mick paused, "You're a journalism student?"
      "Yes," Merry looked away, not wanting to give away she knew more about him. Let him find out she'd met his roommate when he tried to introduce her. What would he do when he found out she was his roommate's girlfriend's new roommate?
      Ok, it was silly. But fun. So, should she reclaim her hand yet?

      I just wanted to vote in the primaries. Honestly, I am much too liberal to be a Democrat.

      by WiseFerret on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 07:52:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  not sure (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GussieFN, WiseFerret

        which I like better.  Her view point explains who he is better, but his view of her is interesting...being irritable and changing his mind instantly...

        I esp. liked this moment:

        Mick reached up to pull a hat over his face that was not on his head. It did not go well with the tuxedo and it's familiar absence was keenly felt.

        Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

        by cfk on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 08:02:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Extra credit for you! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cfk

        I like her POV a lot--maybe even more than his.

        "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

        by GussieFN on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 05:19:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  good ending! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WiseFerret

      He still had a hold of her hand. As they said, it was a good doom.

      Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

      by cfk on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 07:53:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here we go: (5+ / 0-)

    He asked for a job application.
    She handed him the form.
    He began to walk away.
    She went back to her filing.
    He returned to ask for a pencil.
    She pointed to one on the desk.
    He fumbled and dropped it.
    She sighed and went back to her filing.
    He apologized over her back.
    She said it was nothing.
    He apologized again, a little louder
    She said that she said it was nothing.
    He turned and tripped over his shoelace.
    She sighed and went back to her filing.
    He scrambled to the nearest chair.
    She sorted through folders.
    He laughed and said "I'm okay!"
    She bit her tongue.
    He felt his mouth going dry.
    She found the folder she was looking for.
    He coughed to clear his throat.
    She sat back at her desk.
    He tried to catch her eye.
    She tried to avoid his eyes.
    He was starting to sweat.
    She could tell he was starting to sweat.
    He was running through things to say.
    She was hoping he'd notice her wedding ring.

    Just a rough draft, and I'd have to polish it a few times, but I'm already running late.

    I was thinking (in response to your questions): a lot of the novels I read don't have romances per se, but substitute friendships, or platonic crushes, or some kind of 'attraction' that resembles romance without necessarily being about love.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 08:22:35 PM PST

    •  Poor him! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SensibleShoes, jabney, cfk, pico

      I want to see you write an entire novel that way. Short sentences in alternative viewpoints.

      I wonder sometimes about the genre conventions of 'literary' novels. I've got a pretty strong grasp of the conventions of many of the genre genres, but haven't read enough literary stuff to know. I suspect that if the romantic element is too strong, the book isn't purely 'literary' any longer (just like in a thriller, if the 'literary' element is too long, it becomes a sorta hybrid). The literary novels I can think of that have strong romantic element are more 'Oprah's Pick' literary than literarily literary.

      "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

      by GussieFN on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 05:25:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It might just be personal preference: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GussieFN

        I'm pretty cynical, so the gooier stuff doesn't stick to me.  Then again, cynicism for cynicism's sake doesn't, either.  So I dunno.

        There's plenty of romance in 'literary' novels, but they may be too busy focusing on the Eternal Questions, or How to Make This Needlessly Complicated, etc.  Sometimes they get misread as woozily romantic when the authors maybe don't intend that, like Molly-Bloom, or Humbert-Lolita(!), or Zhivago-anyone.  There's also a lot of mileage in doomed love affairs, as in Roger Mexico's love for the soon-to-be-leaving-him Jessica.

        Oooh, I just remembered.  My favorite literary romance is in a short story, "Lady with a Dog".  That shit takes my cold, emotionless heart and breaks it into a thousand little pieces.  I actually tear up at the last few paragraphs.

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 12:09:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  well done! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GussieFN, pico

      very realistic...

      feel sorry for both of them  :)

      Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

      by cfk on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 08:47:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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