Sunday, December 28, 2008

Technical Topics -- 'First Meeting' scenes

For a while now, I've been pondering on the 'first meeting' scene of MAGGIE in a futile, disorganized, uncomfortable way.

Romance genre contains the story of a love relationship at its heart. The H&H tend to meet early so this central story gets underway.
One doesn't vamp indefinitely beforehand.

When I have nothing better to agonize over, lately, I've been looking and relooking at the first 5000 words of MAGGIE and asking myself when and where and how I should position this 'first meeting' scene.
At the opening of the ms?
A couple thousand words in?
And how do I coordinate this 'meeting' scene with the beginnings of the other six or seven stories I'm telling in the ms?

So last night I was mulling over 'first meeting scenes I have known' and naturally started thinking about Lucia St. Claire Robson's classic, The Tokaido Road.

Tokaido is not genre Romance, of course, since the stage ends up strewn with corpses at the end of Act V, a la Hamlet, and heaps of still-twitching corpses piled from horizon to horizon is a clue you're not in a Romance.

Tokaido is interesting to the great world of Romance, however, because it's the story of a love relationship where the H&H don't actually meet for most of the book. They exchange letters.

Tokaido differs from, for instance, Kinsale's My Sweet Folly, because in Folly the letters, though vital, are presented more or less as backstory and the 'first meeting' is an early and intrinsic part of the on-stage action.

So, anyway, I was uselessly pondering on all this last night.

My mind goes wandering off this way instead of doing serious work and I hold onto the pommel and kick my heels into its flanks,
(note to self -- 'Are those flanks that get kicked or is it some other part of the horse?')
and hope I'll wind up on the trail again, eventually.

Then a movie came on TV -- the Lake House -- where the structure of the on-going action is the H&H exchanging letters.

Hmmm ... says I. Synchronicity.

Now it happened that I picked up Hot, by Julia Harper, out of the TBR pile because I don't generally give movies my whole attention and Hot was on top of Julia Ross, Nights of Sin, rather than under it, so Hot it was.

(Hot is funny and well-done. It's on some 'Best of 2008' lists and deserves to be.)

Now I'm a third of the way through Hot, and the 'first meeting' has still not come down.

The H&H are exchanging cell phone calls, cell phones being the new letters, which will deprive future generations of untold literary correspondence, won't it?

Anyhow, synchronicity squared.

So now I'm wondering if I might use this idea of webbing together 'relationship at a distance' later in the story when Maggie and Doyle are in Paris.

But maybe not. Probably I'll file this under 'cool stuff I can't use', which is a whole drawer in my mental filing cabinet.


  1. taryn7:20 PM

    While I embrace the immediacy of electronic communication, I also mourn the lost art of letter writing. These days the only thing I see with a real signature is a greeting card that someone else wrote the sentiment for. I found an old "love letter" that I'd gotten from my husband about 10 years ago - it was a print-out of an email he'd sent, the only one I have a hard copy for since that computer has been upgraded several times. It's a cautionary tale to those addicted to texting and email - sometimes it is just better to use those 20th century tools - pen and paper - to say how you really feel.

    Good luck with that first meeting - I can hardly wait!

  2. Anonymous8:45 PM

    On a related husband travels 2-3 months a year, so this year I printed out the emails that I could imagine wanting to reread in 20 years and gave them to him in a book.

  3. I'm afraid letter writing has gone the way of embroidered slippers. It is an archaic craft. The world is a bit poorer for its passing.

    When I cleaned out my parents' attic a few years back, I found they'd kept the voluminous correspondance I wrote them from Iran and Africa. Cool stuff, if I do say so myself.