Thursday, June 30, 2011

Serena's Cape

This is a story of epic proportions, a mythical historical drama, featuring a powerful evil villian and an heroic female protagonist who thwarts him, with a smile and great attitude, and a single sentence. All of this in 175 words. I hope you enjoy. ~Mike

"Forgive me mistress, but you must know you'll die if he finds out. We all will!"

Serena continued weaving, eyes and hands steady. She looked only at her work and remained silent in the face of her servant's entreaty. Then she said, as she had said the day before and the day before that, "You've distracted me, Melanie. Now I've found a mistake. I must tear out this day's work and start again."

As her mistress began tearing out thread after thread, Melanie ran from the chamber, weeping.

The next day, the lord master of the realm arrived with his vast army. He came immediately to Serena's chamber, accompanied by the still weeping Melanie.

"What? Not finished? When will you deliver me my Impervious Cape?" Rage and impatience flamed up in his eyes. "I return to battle this day. I must have it!"

Serena looked up at him with a grim smile. "You've distracted me, your Lordship. You've caused me to make a mistake. I must tear out this day's work and start again."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mark Twain On Style, and Writing with a Pen versus Typewriter

Mark Twain Autobiography, p. 224

"Within the last eight or ten years I have made several attempts to do the autobiography in one way or another with a pen, but the result was not satisfactory, it was too literary. With the pen in one’s hand, narrative is a difficult art; narrative should flow as flows the brook down through the hills and the leafy woodlands, its course changed by every boulder it comes across and by every grass-clad gravelly spur that projects into its path; its surface broken but its course not stayed by rocks and gravel on the bottom in the shoal places; a brook that never goes straight for a minute, but goes, and goes briskly, sometimes ungrammatically, and sometimes fetching a horseshoe three-quarters of a mile around and at the end of the circuit flowing within a yard of the path it traveled an hour before; but always going, and always following at least one law, always loyal to that law, the law of narrative, which has no law. Nothing to do but make the trip; the how of it is not important so that the trip is made.

"With a pen in the hand the narrative stream is a canal; it moves slowly, decorously, sleepily, it has no blemish except that it is all blemish. It is too literary, too prim, too nice; the gait and style and movement are not suited to narrative. That canal stream is always reflecting; it is its nature, it can’t help it. Its slick shiny surface is interested in everything it passes along the banks, cows, foliage, flowers, everything. And so it wastes a lot of time in reflections."