Through careful characterisation, Catherine Jinks positions readers of Pagan’s Crusade to initially dislike the character of Joscelin, an old acquaintance of the protagonist, Pagan. Jinks’ use of flashbacks within a chronological narrative structure, give insight into Joscelin’s shady past and simultaneously implicates Pagan in events that have potential to compromise the readers’ initial admiration of the protagonist. Pagan’s Crusade is a dialogic novel. Mike Cadden argues that, “The dialogic or double-voiced text represents voices as equal and provides alternative interpretation that offer, in their aggregate, no single and final answer for the reader.” (Cadden, M., 2000, pp. 147). Jinks uses time shifts and creates in Pagan a first person unreliable narration, in which the reader discovers a level of comprehension for Joscelin’s situation and an awareness of how difficult life was in Jerusalem in 1187. In presenting a past association between Joscelin and Pagan, Jinks encourages readers to compare these two seemingly contrasting characters. As a result of Jinks’ strategies of double-voicedness, readers see both characters as well-rounded and human, making human decisions and errors; this in turn enables readers to identify with the characters, feel empathy for them, struggle with the same questions and feel as though they are making their own opinions of these characters.
Did you know that from as early as the 16th century fairytales (originally an oral tradition) were collected in written form: with Le piacevoli notti (The Pleasant Nights 1550-53) by Giovan Francesco? This past week I have been stuck into critiquing different versions of the Little Red Riding Hood fairytale for an essay I am writing. Not much novel writing has taken place, but plenty of other writing.
How do people make friends? School, work and hobbies often form the basis of meeting people – places where you meet regularly or have a shared interest. Small children are much better at making friends than adults, I mean, walking up to someone in the supermarket and saying “Will you be my friend” like a child in the playground, just isn’t appropriate! It can even be difficult within clubs, like sports groups, to form friendships that stretch beyond the group itself.
Try creating mood through descriptions that have a dual purpose. Does the description create a setting, a mood, an atmosphere? Write your description and consider how it will prompt action, and what sort of action the description suggests. Then write the description and the action will naturally follow.
Coming back to basics, like character descriptions, can prompt new writing. Today I am using brief character descriptions to prompt writing for my novel. This is useful in times when you have a writing lull…never panic, just go back to a writing exercise to keep writing and keep thinking about your story. This will breathe life, not only into the plot, but into you, the author. In this way, writing exercises can keep you fresh and keep your writing flowing, even on those days when the writing of your actual novel has slowed.
Throughout history, fear and superstition have ravaged the hearts and minds of peoples of Europe. Witches, werewolves and vampires were blamed for all manner of atrocities and trivialities. Tied to religious fervor, anti-Semitic sentiment and social control, an estimated 110,000 witch trials took place across Europe; 48% of these ending in execution. (Brian Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, 1995.) Today, our fascination with witches, werewolves and vampires is seen in popular literature and film.
My writing at the moment is slow…no lightening pace for me, no blistering pace with fingers scorched from the heat of frantic typing. My writing proceeds at a slow, secreting, oozing pace. It is frustrating, but every word counts.
Actually, this is not quite true, I am writing quite a bit: poems, appraisals, reviews, essays …just not much on my novel!
This week I continue research 18th century medicines and herbal remedies. It’s fascinating actually – gruesome and bizarre! Given the protagonist of my historical fiction, Annabella, is a healer, I need to develop a working knowledge of herbs to build accuracy and authenticity. Annabella is treating a princess (historical figure who died of a ‘mystery’ illness). Of course today, doctors could diagnose the princess’ illness; at the time however, her symptoms had the villagers gossiping – pale skin, an aversion to sunlight, reddened urine…not surprising then that the villagers thought her a vampire. And you know how gossip grows and spreads.
This week I am trying to bring my main character, Annabella, into my head so that everything that happens to me becomes raw material. With each event or occurrence in my life, I wonder how she would react. I am building a sense of where I see her in life. This is helping me to notice things in my life that might be useful in my writing. Give it a try yourself: be observant – how can you use your life in your writing?
I’ve been thinking about my mum lately – she’s never touched a computer, save maybe to dust it, and now she’s taking a computer class. This morning I got what I hope is the first of many emails from her…well done mum! Week 1 – she was inspired. She was telling me that there were about ten people in her class, many of them older and slower than her, so she felt pretty good about the pace and being able to keep up with the new concepts she was learning. Week 2 threw her off. Six people dropped out of the class – according to mum, the six slowest people! Great, I thought, she’s the fourth quickest person in her class at a minimum. But for mum, her confidence was rocked a little. No longer did she have a safety net of hiding behind the slower learners, no longer did she have the benefit of them asking questions that saw the teacher repeating instructions over and over – according to mum, now she is the slowest in the class, struggling to keep up with the others, slowing everyone down.