Wednesday, August 29, 2007

070829 Jonathan's Tale

Wow - Boot camp was a great experience.

Fortunately, unfortunately, I will be choosing to take advantage of what I learned by rewriting everything that has happened so far. For most folks, that means they will want to just bow out until I'm finally done, for crying out loud. But for the few, the perserverent, I will continue to maintain this blog.

Two big changes are:

1) I will be telling part of the story from Jonathan's point of view. This will be interesting because I have realized that both Jonathan and Marietta were in a unique position relative to earlier church events. In fact, a future book or novella I plan to write covers their story during 1834-1837.

2) I will be starting this novel from the day Marietta gives birth to her daughter, Mary.

One of the big things folks at the OSC Writers Worshop online focus on is the opening of a story. You want the first 13 lines to leave the reader eager to know more. Orson Scott Card was kind enough to help me work the beginning of my stuff - I'm adding the process here for posterity to know what OSC spared them.


daughterofheaven said...

Opening as of 070827 @ 1710:

Jonathan never expected to marry Marietta. She was too young, too lovely for him. But he did as had been bidden. It had taken a while to win her away from the hope her uncle had planted in her heart, the hope that she would be a wife to the prophet. But the prophet never asked for her. Instead the prophet had sent Jonathan, the cobbler. Eventually Marietta stopped hoping and agreed to marry him.

Jonathan never expected to see visions and dream dreams. In truth, he wasn't sure he had. Hoped, in fact, he was mistaken. Because in the dreams he had dreamed, he was alone with a little girl, his heart aching. As Marietta had grown large with their second child, Jonathan realized his older daughter, Sarah, was the little girl in the dream. He lived each day with Marietta as if it might be their last together. And now he stood outside their cabin, cradling Sarah in his arms, terrified that his dreams would come true.

OSC said...

Critique as of 070827 @ 1717:

first paragraph assumes too much knowledge on the part of the reader - you're giving us deep point of view about things the character knows all about, but the readers - even Mormon readers - will be baffled by. WHEN is this? Where? Which prophet? Who is Jonathan and why should we care?

and point of view seems to shift in mid-paragraph. It starts in J's pov, ends in Marietta's.

I urge another try that turns the first paragraph into a STORY instead of a summary. why not give us this information as a whole CHAPTER of the persistent Jonathan. Only ... if the prophet SENT him ... anyway, pick a point of view and write this wonderful story of the "courtship" and only END the chapter with Marietta giving up on her real hope and marrying him.

daughterofheaven said...

Opening as of 070828 @ 0742:

OK, wrestled last night with the temptation to go back and tell the story of Jonathan and Marietta's courtship. But I think that is a book I want to write later. Here are the first few lines that start the story I want to write now:

Jonathan looked out across the rushing Mississippi to the forests of Iowa beyond. Soon his cabin would not stand out as one of the few completed structures on the Illinois side of this bend in the river. He tried to think of clearing trees, plowing ground, carving logs, making shoes, all the tasks that had filled his days and distracted him from his fear. But now all he could do was stand, holding his daughter, listening to the muted sounds of his wife laboring in the cabin behind him.

As long as I can hear her, she lives.

He turned as a thin infant cry sounded in the afternoon air. But he didn’t relax until the door opened and he saw the calm face of the young woman coming out.

There was no sign on Elvira’s face of any of the disasters he had imagined. For the first time in days he relaxed.

“Jonathan? You have a beautiful baby daughter. Go on in. I’ll watch Sarah.” Elvira reached out to take his daughter from him.

OSC said...

Critique as of 070828 @ 1234:

Not "the young woman coming out" but "the young midwife" or "the young neighbor woman."

just my opinion, but "soon his cabin would not stand out as one of the" was a very weird way to say "soon there would be many cabins besides his own on this side of the river." "standing out as one of the few" is certainly not what he can see from HIS side of the river, and if it is one of FEW why does HIS stand out among the few?

What disasters did he imagine? What memories does he have of other childbed events? it's ok to mention the source of his fear - a loss he knows of personally, etc. It will make him more real and give him a past.

OSC said...

Additional critique as of 070828 @ 1734:

What are you doing when you're "trying to think of" something? Thinking of it? Or not thinking of it? i think maybe you mean "He remembered clearing trees, plowing ground ..." But ... then in paragraph two, you start with Marietta. Who is that? His thoughts, right? Not a change of POV? So ... "His wife Marietta" or refer to Marietta during the previous paragraph. Also, in paragraph 1, what was it he feared? A hint please. Indians? Isolation? Fear that something would go wrong and there'd be no one to help?

OSC said...

Critique on penultimate version as of 070829 @ 0041:

So much more robust and involving! Thank you for listening to Mr. Let's-Make-Everything-Clear. Now I'm rooted in it.

The only thing that feels as if it hasn't been taken into account is: He has a daughter. Presumably Marietta already bore her. Were there problems? Or was it a smooth delivery? She's been through it once ... that should be addressed ...

daughterofheaven said...

First 19 lines as of 070829 @ 1555:

Jonathan looked out across the rushing Mississippi to the forests of Iowa. He wished there were trees to clear, ground to plow, logs to carve, shoes to cobble. Anything to distract him from the fear he had felt since he'd seen this place a year ago, when only one cabin had stood on the Illinois side of this bend in the river. The fear he'd felt to know this place was real. He'd seen this place in dream years before, shrouded in summer green. He’d dreamed of holding a young child, dreamed of heartache. Dreamed of being alone.

His wife Marietta had survived the marsh fever that swept Nauvoo that first summer. He'd made sure she was one of the first with a home to call her own. He'd done everything he could to protect her, other than withhold children from her. He’d stayed away from her all last summer. He reminded her that both their mothers had died in childbirth. She'd just asked which siblings he'd wish had never been born, then come to him and held him. When the leaves had turned, Marietta was pregnant again. Now Marietta labored in the cabin behind him, and the trees had regained their summer foliage.

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Mother, Physicist, Manager, Author, Genealogist