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Sunday, November 28, 2010

A New Novel, Part 56 Answers to Questions and Uniform Details

I'm answering questions today.  I'll address any questions you might have on my comments or the text itself.  This helps me clarify the writing when I go through it in future edits.  My answers are in italics.

Part 42 The Proposal Part 2

You said the demon chose this aunt/uncle, city (Wien, ie, Vienna), school for his own purpose; not yet revealed, but you hinted the demon wanted "more scope to torture Aksinya."

Couple of basic Q's on your choice of words:

1. Why use Wien..'German' language name for Vienna, the city and federal state in Austria? (Many readers will miss connection.) Yes!  Wien is Vienna.  I did this on purpose, and I'm not certain I want to explain it to my readers.  The reason is that I very much like the scope of using foreign language terms in my writing.  It ensures the reader steps out of her/his safety zone and has to think in a new way.  The basis language for the writing is Russian--they means I transliterate most Russian terms into their English equivalents.  Count and Countess, for example, instead of their usual Russian equivalents.  On the other hand, as I explained before, I had Aksinya use the Russian for "shut up" to drive the reader back into the idea of the use of the Russian language.  As they move into Austria, I want the reader to be constantly reminded that this is not Russia, it is Austria.  I can't imagine a better what than to refer to the correct Austrian names for places and people's names.  Also, the use of stra(sset)e instead of road.  So, in conclusion, the knowledgeable reader will know that Wien is Vienna and all it's cultural associations (which will come out in the writing)--about 20%.  The not as knowledgeable, but curious will look it up and figure out what is going on--about 30%.  The entertained will just think it is a place in Austria and make the association at some point in their life.  That might make them want to reread the book to see what they might have missed--about 30%.  The rest of the readers will assume it is real or imaginary and just enjoy the story--the remaining 20%. 

2. Why did you say demon wants "more scope to torture Aksinya? I'm aware the demon attacks her.. tied directly and indirectly to her actions. But, inflicting torture evokes the idea of punishment or pain to get info or to coerce another to/away from a certain a certain actions without tortured one able to make an decision of 'free moral agency' w/ consequences know a priori...which is vastly different.  I'm not certain where I write about this in the story, but the demon does say it directly more than once:
1.  His job is to do evil in the name of Aksinya--if she will not do evil or not order him to do evil, he will take it into his hands to force her to it.  That is his purpose.  This is torture enough for a normal soul, but there is more...
2.  He is allowed to torture those who do evil.  So every time Aksinya accomplishes evil, that gives the demon further latitude to torture her.  This small detail has not been revealed before, and is a major revelation about the book.  This is the expanding tragedy that is Aksinya, by following the dictates of the demon, she causes herself further suffering.  In other words, there is no way she can save herself from the demon.

Part 43 The Arrival at the Gymnasium

1. Interesting choice of name for the girls' gymnasium, Sacré Coeur; I think that's French for Sacred Heart. Why a French language catholic school? I realize Austrian aristocracy sent their children to French speaking schools preparing them for University; but, why choose a Catholic place? Seems like a 'religious' place is the last place a demon would want the girls. Very good sleuthing. Sacré Coeur does indeed mean sacred heart in French.  It is the name of a real convent and girl's school in Wien (Vienna).  Where better than the heart of Christ would there be for a demon to do evil.  What better Trojan Horse than a pitiable young countess who was driven from her country.  Here is a revelation, the demon will attempt to bring down the school and the convent from within and without, but that is simply a sideline to his main goals.

2. Also interesting to note, 'sacred heart' is a devotional name used by Catholics to refer to the physical heart of Jesus Christ (as a symbol of divine love), and often associated w/ asceticism..a far cry from compulsion & temptation the girl falls pursuit of luxuria. (I'm guessing, the school name, and environment was purposely chosen, for juxtapositional purposes.)  You are right on the money.  I didn't intentionally skip over these associations--as I mentioned before, I try to explain the multi-levels of the writing as well as I can, but I will certainly miss some of my own key points.  Many of these will come out later in the text in a more complete revelation.

3. Finally, interest why Freifrau Bockmann, while making a running commentary on the school, and say... “...across from the church is the school... I mean the gymnasium. That is such a new term for me. It was always just a school when I attended there.”

Why did she call it a 'new term/? My understanding, the gymnasium was the model of German-Austrian schools since the 16th century; and in 1812, a Prussian regulation ordered all university prep schools bear the name of gymnasia. And, by the 20th century, this practice was followed in almost all German states, in Austria and in Russia. Would imply, in Wien, schools were called gymnasiums, preceding Freifrau Bockmann's own childhood, and training at that very school. Am, I missing something?  When Freifrau Bockmann went to Sacré Coeur it was simply as school for girls.  By this time it was a gymnasium for girls.  Perhaps I need to clarify.  I did try to convey this point in the text and I might have mentioned it before.  There were no gymnasia for girls until the 19th century in Germany and into the 20th century in Austria.  Therefore when Freifrau Bockman went to Sacré Coeur, it was a school and now it is a gymnasium for girls.  As I understand it this is also historically correct for the actual Sacré Coeur in Wien.  Note also, instead of Baron and Baroness, I use Freiherr and Freifrau.  I would have liked to use Baron and Baroness, but I use the Austrian terms to place you in Austria.  Harder for me, but, I hope, a scene setter for my readers.

New section in the chapter with a break.  So we move on to the school itself and their incorporation in it.
Freiherr and Freifrau Bockmann left Aksinya, Natalya, and Asmodeus and took their coupe back to their estate at the edge of the city.

That afternoon Aksinya and Natalya received a pair of uniforms from Frau Drescher. To her credit, she chose clothing that was not too worn or faded, and the uniforms fitted the two of them reasonably well. After Natalya was finished with them, they were perfect. The stains were gone and the fitting was perfect. They flattered both of them. The uniforms were classic grey woolen skirts that reached to the ankles with a black belt at the waist. The blouse was made of white silk with some gentle lacy frills at the collar. For the winter seasons there was a grey short coat and a grey sweater. The shoes were button-up black brushed leather. Asmodeus gladly found shoes that matched Aksinya’s requirements from his large chest. He brought out the basic items Aksinya requested from him.

Okay, I couldn't find out the exact uniforms that Sacré Coeur used at this time, so I did some research and used the model of a typical convent school uniform for the time in Austria.  The style is typical convent mixed with a little Art Deco from almost a decade before.  If you note, we get again the perfection that is Natalya.  She knows exactly what to do domestically and as a lady-in-waiting.
Just a short piece to round out the questions I answered.  In the writing, I am at chapter 13 and almost finished with it.  I have been so busy, I haven't had much time to write, but I intend to finish this chapter and go to 14 today.  I have the rest of the book outlined, and I know where it is going--the devil (demon) is in the details.
In fact, a little about where hard points come in the writing.  The last pieces for me were difficult.  I don't like to have to set every bit of the scene, but I know it is critical to the novel.  Once the scene is set, you can then write directly to the storyline, plot, and theme.  You will see this direct detail in the next section of this chapter, that is chapter 6.  In chapter 13, I had a heap of description, plus a lot of introductions.  The description is necessary, the introductions are critical.  Introductions in this cultural period are the lubricants of society.  Therefore, the detail I put into this novel must show you these introductions.  As we will see (have seen) the way introductions are made are critical to pick up on many of the deeper details of the story.  To pull all this together, once the details of the scene are set, the author is free to then let the players move around in it.  The hard part is the scene, the easy part is the play of the novel within it. 

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