Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Reckoning - Solvey's Question Breakdown

Question 1) What pov did you use?
Third person limited omniscent. We stick with our protagonist, learning that which he already knows through his thoughts and the dialogue, and learning alongside him what it is he's dealing with. I wanted to keep this in his head, so that the reader is trapped inside him when we reach the climax - I didn't want the reader to learn anything that he doesn't know/find out.
Question 2) Describe your protag with three basic characteristics (e.g. male, late 50's, hates sponsored swimming events).
Male, late 50's, loves wealth but not celebrity.
Question 3) What is your protag's name?
We never learn it. I refer to him as He throughout, though, through the text we could associate him to the name Dives; Mr Dives.
Question 4) How many secondary characters did you use?
Two. His agent, whom we only know of as the voice on the other end of the phone, and the Capuan Venus, His Aphrodite; the marble statue he fell in love with and abandoned.
Question 5) What was your opening line? Why?
"He heaved the door closed, diminishing the throes of the party behind two inches of carved oak." - I wanted, right from the beginning to evoke a sense of grandness (which begins here; the door is made from oak, large and rather heavy) - obviously I don't have many words to devote to describing the look and feel of the room because of word limitations and my want to stick to the descriptions of the darkness, there're celebrations going on that our protagonist wants to be away from, and of course by 'heaving' the door closed, I am foreshadowing later weakness. I don't evoke character until the second line (which, I suppose, could have come attached to the first): "'Leeches'."
Question 6) How many names did you invent (e.g. place names, character names, shop names, etc.)?
None. No places are mentioned - just as with the previous competition. My work always seems to sit in a very tightly focused world, nothing on a grand scale, single, simple locations - as this is, the writing room. And the real people aren't named.
Question 7) How many similes did you use?
Similes: 10
... A circular room appeared before him like a developing photograph... as if the caller was trying to cross the rift between this sanctum and the rumbling revelry... party that beat like a headache... heavy and solid like shackles of steel... the shadows began to shift about him like oil on a tide... filling his lungs to the brim like a swimmer caught in a riptide... slipped from her slender legs like spun silk... moved slowly, deliberately, like a goddess... as if guiding creases from silken sheets... lips were as cold as stone.
Metaphors: 6
... dampening the throes of the party... when he’d composed at his desk... lifting rousing, singular moments from eternity’s bosom and lacing them into poetic verses upon the page... their talons knitted into Dive’s soul... adrift upon his vision... wheezed at the night-stream...

Now, that's a different flip from the last competition piece I did. Similies have trebled, and metaphors have dropped by a third.

Question 8) Did you use devices of sound (e.g. alliteration, assonance, consonance, onomatopoeia)?
There are a few interchangeable moments of alliteration, assoance and consonance.
Question 9) What primary/secondary theme/s did you use?
The primary theme is retribution for betrayal. Just as in the parable, Dives betrays Lazarus by not helping him and thusly, Lazarus goes to Heaven, and Dives to Hell. I wanted my protagonist "Dives" to have betrayed his muse, personified by Aphrodite's statue - the Venus of Capua (a different version of the Venus de Milo).

The secondary theme is wasted talent through narcissm and avarice. The muse has provided Dives with skills and abilities to create, manipulate and write, but it is clear from the text that he forsook that long ago, forsaking also his muse and buying into ghost writers to maintain his riches with no effort - clearly he's treated them badly, but we never learn how (it should be enough in the manner in which he talks to his agent, and his first words: "Leeches," about the party goers). And if you were a muse, wouldn't you be pissed off that you'd wasted all your effort and someone like him?

The third theme is unrequited love. Dives once shared with his muse, this room, their writing, their shallow love of their own images. Through him, his muse speaks on the page, but when he promised himself he'd give it all up, sign on some ghost writers and make money without effort, he chose to give her up completely, leaving her alone and loveless.
Question 10) Which of these did you intentionally use?: violence, sex, profanity, death, birth, hatred, love.
Death and love are clearly intentioned. Sex is intimated through the Venus' touching of herself. Technically she is ressurected, or reborn - the only link to the title (from the other, more well known parable of Lazarus), which I like to think relates the protagonist, Dives, to Jesus. He has power over the muse, power to create (his last words are: 'Every conquerer creates a muse') and so, just as Jesus arrived at Lazarus' tomb to reawaken him, so too does Dives return to his muse's tomb, and reawaken's her... only that power has become corrupted by the years, and his role as Jesus to her Lazarus is ironic. Of course this links immediately back to theme number one, and make the Capuan Venus, the muse, both Lazarus's. She is the one betrayed and the one ressurrected.
Extra words of note:
I have used two partial quotes at the end of the piece.
Dives says, "Every conqueror creates a muse", taken from Edmund Waller: “Illustrious acts high raptures do infuse, And every conqueror creates a muse.” Dives is reasserting his authority over her and yet, the Venus replies, "Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to short-change the muse. It cannot be done", taken from William S. Burroughs: "So cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can't fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal." She knows that her will be done.

Of course this may all be read from not such a supernatural point of view. Dives is suffering weakness, shortness of breath, he's drunk, and then tightness and pains in his chest. Clearly he's having a heartattack, and is hallucinating. It is the good portion of his soul making him pay in these last minutes for the life he's led. From that viewpoint, the story is about guilt that we are never as good as the people we wish we were.

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