Monday, October 01, 2007

Paid Companion - Solvey's Question Breakdown

Question 1) What pov did you use?
First person, present.

Question 2) Describe your protag with three basic characteristics (e.g. male, late 50's, hates sponsored swimming events).
Male, mid-thirties, searching for reconciliation

Question 3) What is your protag's name?
Unknown, and I guess... irrelevant

Question 4) How many secondary characters did you use?
Three - Father, Mother, and the Gull

Question 5) What was your opening line? Why?
He eyes me from the yard, his chest gleaming white against the scudding clouds.

This was originally:
He eyes me from the yard, his dull grey-white plumage setting him out as the brightest object on the shifting horizon.

And then:
He eyes me from the yard, his white chest gleaming against the black underbelly of the clouds.

As you can see, it's always been about the Gull (funny, that's the name of the piece - to give the sense that the Gull shadows everything in the tale from above). It therefore seemed best to jump straight into the situation and move around that, either backwards or forwards in time. I just had to make the sentence work properly. I originally wanted to give time and place immediately but there was too much going on - "shifting horizon" is moved to the second sentence - opting on the second pass to off-set the white of the gull against the black of the clouds, but scudding works so much better, doesn't it?

Anyhoo, note how I've really pulled back on the description of the gull - everyone knows a bird has plummage, that they have grey feathers upon wings and back... but what's important is that first image, that the gull is white (chest) against the dark clouds. Everything else is unnecessary filler - brevity!

Question 6) How many names did you invent (e.g. place names, character names, shop names, etc.)?
None. I didn't even make up a name for the boat - how odd, me thinks. Actually, the only naming I do use is in relation to the shipping forecast designation areas - Plymouth, Fitzroy and Biscay.

Question 7) How many similes did you use?
Similes: 5
... the way a child keeps momentum on a swing... looks as if he’s master of all the sea... like the ferocious jaws of a shark... like a landing parachute... he dines like a captain, feasting on the finest crabmeat

Question 8) Did you use devices of sound (e.g. alliteration, assonance, consonance, onomatopoeia)?
The most alliterate line is:
But the sea has a cold heart, and though she may tranquilise the most turgid of tempests...

But the story makes very specific use of sailing and fishing terms, be they in describing the protagonist's face:
Father’s lineage has bestowed me with his waxy, chiselled features, a sailor’s skin rigged to withstand the constant saltwash

his hurried work:
... my body braced against the open-air cabin as I cast the last clove hitch between the port railing and my stash of pot traps... knock down the sails, secure all trappings and lay ahull...

Or in the anthropomorphic personification of the sea and her anger:
... listening to the sea’s rush along the keel... the glint of long black teeth gathered on either side. One after another they crashed over the gunwales like the ferocious jaws of a shark... as the sea began to circle, hissing and scolding me with her salty spit and slapping the hull with her angry fins.

Question 9) What primary/secondary theme/s did you use?
The primary theme is in the companionship between man and Gull, and the symbiotic relationship this specific two share - the partnership of man and nature.

Secondary to that and underlying the whole thing is the protagonist's relationship with his fisherman father and the life he's spurned in favour of a wife and a land bound life. Ultimately we have the return, but for what reason? I leave that up to the reader for the time being... I've said too much

Question 10) Which of these did you intentionally use?: violence, sex, profanity, death, birth, hatred, love.
The violence of the sea, death of a parent, and the attempted reconciliation between hatred and love a child has for a parent.

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