Paratalk or torque? –  The “Jane Eyre moment”

Today Paratalk or torque? is brought to you by Jenny Jones, a writer I’ve known for many years.

I was experiencing an ordeal: a hand of fiery iron grasped my vitals. Terrible moment: full of struggle, blackness, burning! Not a human being that ever lived could wish to be loved better than I was loved; and him who thus loved me I absolutely worshipped: and I must renounce love and idol. One drear word comprised my intolerable duty – ‘Depart!’

And so the mad woman in the attic has been discovered, and Jane Eyre’s wedding day is in ruins. Mr Rochester pleads with her to go away with him to the south of France.

Me? I’d be saying, where’s my suitcase? When does the boat leave? Come on, what are we waiting for? But not Jane. Jane is a Christian woman, and to paraphrase her thoughts – what is the point of holding all your life to Christian principles, only to abandon them the second they become inconvenient? It’s easy to be good when there’s no temptation to be otherwise.

Whatever I might think of Jane’s decision, hers is an example of tremendous strength and courage, and I admire her for that. This is such a powerful piece of writing, and Mr Rochester’s anguish breaks my heart every time I read it. In a novel I have just finished writing, my lead character has his “Jane Eyre” moment. I wrote a whole chapter in which he behaved in a particular way, and then I realised – no, this is not the man I have created, this is not authentic, and so I re-wrote it, and I feel the story is stronger for it.

And I often wonder – do I have a “Jane Eyre” moment – a line I would never cross? Do you?

Jenny Jones is the author of Take This Longing, a short novel examining abuse within marriage. Visit her author page on Facebook or buy the Kindle version of her book, it’s very revealing.

Paratalk or torque?

Paratalk or torque?Iron Will by James Maxwell
Published by 47North on March 13th 2018
Pages: 416

The epic conclusion to James Maxwell’s gripping fantasy series.

The world is facing a war to end all wars, a confrontation that will destroy everything Dion and Chloe hold dear. With Palemon’s dragon army growing in number, time is running out…

Dion is doing everything in his power to prepare his kingdom, but he knows it will not be enough. Although he needs Chloe’s help, recent tragedy makes him terrified for her safety. Magic is dangerous. Only Palemon is too arrogant to see it.

As chaos engulfs the land and Palemon risks civilization itself, Dion and Chloe must unite people of all nations to have any chance of survival.

Just for a change in pace I’m looking at a paragraph from a brand new book. The publishing date was yesterday and I’ve not read it. From this paragraph it looks to be very emotional…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

It’s from Iron Will in the Shifting Tides series by James Maxwell.

More refugees had arrived in the night, but they might be the last to make it. This group said they traveled in darkness and hid during the day, but even so they were lucky to reach the city alive. They told stories of horror: every homestead, hut, farm, and village was deserted, either abandoned or ravaged by death on wings. They had passed scene after scene where others made their final stand, with one inevitable outcome. In Xanthos, all the surrounding lands were awash with blood.

Not having read the book I’m free to look at the paragraph in isolation. Except for the word Xanthos, this paragraph could very well have been written about Syria or Myanmar. It’s very much in keeping with how I imagine some refugees would have travelled, ‘in darkness’ hiding during the day. That’s not possible though as this is a fantasy book with shape-shifters and an ancient terrible power. How do I know about these last points? I’ve been given a description of the entire series.

The bit that really has me intrigued is ‘death on wings’. What on earth could this be? If it were written by Tolkein I’d be thinking of the Ringwaiths. Or by Rowling it could be the Death Eaters. Or even in real life I’d be thinking carrion eating birds such as vultures. But this is none of the above and I’m really intrigued by what Maxwell might possibly have written into his book.

I’m not sure I like the ‘awash with blood’ imagery but it fits with everything else in this paragraph. This is obviously a war much like WWI where the trenches and surrounding grounds were ‘awash with blood’ as so many people had perished. Why don’t I like it? I think because it’s so stark and so brief, there’s no give in there for any form of relief.

Just because you might not have heard of Maxwell before here’s just a few words.

James Maxwell is the bestselling author of The Evermen Saga and The Shifting Tides series, and has previously ranked in the top 5 bestselling authors on Amazon worldwide. The final book in The Shifting Tides series, Iron Will, is out now in paperback with 47North, Amazon Publishing. Find out more about James and his books here.

Paratalk or torque?

My new column, with a title that somehow makes sense. From now on until I stop I will be examining a paragraph in whatever detail I choose. This is also a good time for guests to pop in and do their own paragraph.

Today’s paragraph is from a book I took from my shelf with the lights off so I had no idea what I’d picked up until I got into the light. It’s by Adam Ant, musician from the 1980s (and still playing but I know of him from the ’80s), called Stand & Deliver: The autobiography. I’m giving you three paragraphs as the second one is very short and I laughed.

‘Who’s this?’ asked the doctor when I was called into a cubicle.

‘Mr Ant,’ sniggered a nurse.

The doctor wasn’t as amused by my name as his staff were, and was clearly offended by my (and my friends’) appearance, so he savagely worked stitches into my head after claiming that there was no anaesthetic for such an occasion. It hurt like hell for days after and hurt even more a week later when, performing at Eric’s, a tiny Liverpool venue that saw the debut gigs of, among others, the Teardrop Explodes and Echo and The Bunnymen, I leapt up and split the stitches open again.

You’ve probably laughed already so I won’t point it out. This paragraph amused me, it’s from 1977 and it illustrates what drew me to Adam Ant in the first place. Nowadays I probably would say ‘what a pretty face’ and then continue on but back then these things were more interesting to me. He was very vibrant and active on stage, this is born out by this paragraph. He split his head open leaping up and hitting it on a low beam. I’m still not sure what the low beam did to Ant to deserve being hit but the low beam came out the best there. The wording shows how uncaring the doctor was ‘savagely worked stitches’ if they’d been placed carefully then the wording would have reflected that action. Don’t ask me if anaesthetic is contraindicated for such a wound, it’s not something I’ve checked.

Paratalk or torque?

My new column, with a title that somehow makes sense. From now on until I stop I will be examining a paragraph in whatever detail I choose. This is also a good time for guests to pop in and do their own paragraph.

Today’s paragraph comes from a play. It’s a very special play as it’s been on stage in London since 1952. The author stipulated it couldn’t be published in the United Kingdom until it comes off the stage. I’ve seen the play when we were in London in 2001. They asked us not to reveal the ending to anyone and they say this in every production. It’s called The Mousetrap by Dame Agatha Christie. Knowing it’s lack of publishing history in the UK I jumped when I saw a copy of The Mousetrap & Other Plays in a general store in the back of nowhere somewhere in Australia. It was on the shelf with a handful of other pre-loved books for a whopping great big 50c.

(MOLLIE and CHRISTOPHER exit through the archway R to the kitchen.
GILES frowns, ejaculates something uncomplimentary to Christopher and crosses to the small armchair down R. He picks up the newspaper and stands reading it with deep attention. He jumps as MOLLIE returns to the room and speaks)

Why is this paragraph so special? It’s from a play and play formatting differs from novel formatting in a few key things. As a part of that I need to explain how I’ve changed the formatting a little.

Look at the first line. You’ll see it finishes abruptly. That’s where it finishes in the play and the second and subsequent lines are indented a little. I couldn’t reproduce that in this WordPress format. That’s how they’ve formatted it throughout the play.

I think I’ve spotted a typo in this paragraph. It’s only because I was typing and proofreading for you that I spotted it. It seems that all characters mentioned as on stage in a given paragraph of stage directions have their names capitalised. The second iterance has only initial capitals, I think it’s meant to also be capitalised.

The small caps R means right. It tells the performer which way to exit or move. But the point of view is everything here. I’ve struggled with this for years. It seems that you need to use the performer’s point of view. So right means to go to the right of the stage as seen from the stage looking out towards the audience. I hope that makes sense.

Stage directions are all in italics with the names as stated earlier in capitals but not italicised.

Note the lack of full stop at the end of the paragraph. I’ve checked a few stage directions in this play and they all lack the full stop.

The choice of wording is interesting. I do wonder if the word ‘ejaculates’ would be used in today’s writing. It does seem to have different connotations than that of the early 1960s.

In case you want all the spoilers here’s a copy of the same book I have. You can buy it and read the entire thing if you choose. It is cheaper than flying to London to see it there. And the clicks will make me happy as it’s an affiliate link.

Paratalk or torque?

My new column, with a title that somehow makes sense. From now on until I stop I will be examining a paragraph in whatever detail I choose. This is also a good time for guests to pop in and do their own paragraph.

Today I’m looking at a paragraph from National Velvet by Enid Bagnold. I reckon it must have been an iconic book in its day and was made into an iconic movie, one that everyone should watch. I’ve scribbled some slightly coherent words about this book before but as I’m not happy with my writing I’m not linking to them.

Sir Pericles, the little creature, brilliant and honest, never looked to right or left but stayed where Velvet drove him, straight at the middle of each hurdle. He fled along the grass, jumping as neatly as a cat, swung round the sharp, uphill corner towards the table where the sewers stood, Velvet kicking the stirrups free, neck and neck with the livery-man on a blue roan. The roan drew ahead. The sewers’ table neared. Velvet flung herself off as they drew up; her feet ran in the air, then met the ground and ran beside the horse.

This is a very exciting paragraph. I don’t care much for sport of any kind but this paragraph actually makes my heart race a little. It seems to give the impression of speed and excitement and actually draws me in to wanting to watch how it all works.

The description of the horse is both demeaning and uplifting. Demeaning as Bagnold has used the words ‘little creature’ which makes the horse seem less than it is, I mean, a horse used in one of these races is really quite big yet she’s called him ‘little’. But then she’s used the words ‘brilliant and honest’ anthropomorphising him and giving him human characteristics.

And then there’s the description of Velvet getting off the horse. It’s as if she’s as light as a feather with the ability to make the horse run faster by having her feet move as if she’s running in the air. It’s very description and eye-catching.

This book was written in 1935 and is still available for sale today. And in case you want to read it and see the rest of the descriptions, feel the excitement that is palpable on almost every page here’s an affiliate link, should you decide to buy using this link I will receive a few cents into in my coffee fund.