Pride and Predjudice


Written on Sunday, February 22, 2009 by haleigh

Sunday, February 22, 2009

As part of my requirements for school, I must read selected texts within the genre, and critically examine them. One of the texts I chose for this semester is Pride and Prejudice because (gasp!) I haven't read it before and I thought the whole "requirement" thing might give me the necessary motivation.

In fact, it did, and of course, I loved every word. Though I must say, by the time Mr. Darcy got around to proposing (again) to Elizabeth, it was subtly buried in a paragraph, and I missed it. When she announced to Jane she was engaged, I had to go back and figure out when that had happened. lol.

So P&P is, of course, classic literature, and reads like classic literature. There was the omniscient narrator, a ton of telling, and adverbs everything. Fortunately, unlike Frederica there was no one ejaculating their words. Thank god.

The thing that really stood out to me the most in the novel is the character arcs. Both characters went through major changes from over the course of the book. Mr. Darcy was as proud and haughty as Elizabeth was accusing him of being, and by the end of the book, he had seen the error of his ways. He told Elizabeth about his change of heart, but even more importantly, it was shown through his subsequent actions. He put up with her mother, who he had previously dismissed as a liability, he spoke to her "trade class" aunt and uncle with the utmost manners. And most importantly for Elizabeth, he ended his interference between Jane and Mr. Bingly.

And Elizabeth changes as well, though it wasn't quite the complete reversal of Mr. Darcy's change. Elizabeth made snap judgments, and believed Mr. Wickham's account of Mr. Darcy's behavior, all of which she was forced to read after Mr. Darcy explained all in his letter. Not only did she have to change her own mind, she then had to admit her bad judgment to Jane, whom Elizabeth had previously convinced of Mr. Darcy's wicked ways.

Even though there were other characters in and out of the story - Lydia with Mr. Wickham; Jane and Mr. Bingly - but it's Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy who have such wonderful changes throughout the story.

Tips for writng fast


Written on Tuesday, February 10, 2009 by haleigh

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

So at Barnes and Noble last week, I came across the Book in a Month guide. I'm not sure I could - or would want to - write a book in a month, but this had some great tips for writing fast. (It also had some great charts and workshops downloadable from the author's website without buying the book.)

Two great tips have really stuck out to me. The first is writing "as-if." I often find myself making fairly significant changes to character or plot, esp at the beginning, which forces me to go back and change everything coming before it. The author's tip: jot a note as to the change, and continue writing "as-if" you did make that change already. Mark down the page # where you started writing with the change, so that you can easily go back and fix it.

Another idea was about research. This is the one that's really saved me time. Instead of researching things as you go, jot a note as to what you need to research, and keep writing. So as I was writing along last week and realized I needed a Palestinian name for a character. So I googled "common Palestinian male names" and then spent an hour on Wikipedia learning how Arabic names are structured, all the different types of names they have (no easy first, middle, last in Arabic!), and which names are religious vs. secular.

Instead, had I been following these tips, I could have just jotted down, "Check Palestinian names, chapter 2, scene 1" and spent that hour writing another page or two. But then again, I wouldn't know that the Ism usually has a religious prefix, and comes before the Kunya name, which you only receive after the birth of your first-born. Wow.

"he grinned at her...."


Written on Friday, February 06, 2009 by haleigh

Saturday, February 7th

So in one of my critiques at school, I received a very interesting remark I didn't expect. A very contentious reader wrote on my page: "You use the words 'smile' and 'grin' a lot. Those are lazy words and you write better than that."

This had never occurred to me before, how often I use the phrase "he smiled" or "she grinned," and how little such a phrase actually conveys. There are a gazillion different smiles. Happy smiles and fake smiles and sexy smiles and nervous smiles....big grins that light up your face and little ones that show sheer, unadulterated amusement.

I've recently started watching a TV show. This is a big deal for me, as there are only two shoes on television I'll watch regularly. I now have a third, and I have (in two episodes) fallen deeply, deeply, in love. "Lie to Me' on Fox on Wednesday nights (or even better, here). The show is about a man who has spent his career researching facial expressions, and can spot any lie. A human lie detector. His firm is contracted by the FBI, various law enforcement agencies, politicians, etc, to find out if people are lying or telling the truth.

The nuances they can spot are phenomenal. What the slightest furrow in the eyebrows might mean. The slightest tilt of the lips. A change in breathing. A change in speech patterns (apparently, if you stop using contractions mid-way through a conversation, it's a big red flag).

So this has gotten me thinking more about what you can do with facial expressions, and all the nuances you can use. The small little subtitles that can show emotion in a way that "He grinned at her" cannot.

So, any words or phrases you use lazily without thinking about it? Anybody else overuse smile or grin? Anybody else hooked on this show?