Apr 27, 2014

Educating Celia

Not everything is this black or white for Celia...

First of all, thank you to the people who wrote with support or ideas or comments about my last post and my 'crisis'. I really appreciate your help.

Some people felt that I was worrying unnecessarily about Celia and that if I tied up the story successfully from the point where I am now, she'd have least learnt not to be quite so trusting.

While that is certainly a useful thing to learn it doesn't seem to me to be that interesting for the world at large. I still feel she needs to be a better person at the end of the story, not just a more suspicious one.

So I think I need something more significant and the clue I feel lies in the problem in the relationship between Franz and Celia. Looking at chapters 4-7 again it doesn't seem plausible that all the problems are caused by Franz, with Celia just a victim. I think she needs to play a part in the marriage's deterioration.

And I think a source of trouble could be Celia's background. I think she could be a lot more bourgeois than she cares to admit and Franz losing his job as a philosophy professor on a point of principle could be extremely annoying to her, especially if he then takes a job on the railways instead. Apart from the possible financial strain, there would be the whole status issue. It's all very well marrying somebody foreign to irritate your family (perhaps?) if they are prestigiously employed; it's something else if they are a night train conductor when you are a latent snob.

There could also be another problem for Celia. What if she's explicitly offered the choice at some point to carry on working for Colonel Kaiec and make a sensational art history discovery or carry on asking questions about her brother and lose her job? I like the idea of presenting her with a moral dilemma where she initially makes an unethical choice.

Anyway, that's the way I'm tending at the moment. If you have any comments, send them in!

Apr 18, 2014

Help! Help! Crisis!

Over the past few weeks I have realized that I’m not able to write any more with the book in its present form. There is a big hole in the centre of the novel, and it’s all because I haven’t followed the guidelines that I gave myself at the very beginning of this blog. Here’s what I said in October 2012 in my entry Jamie's cordon-bleu guide to cooking a good thriller’:

1 genuine moral dilemma – the hero or heroine should have a certain amount of realistic doubt about the rightness of their course of action which the reader can identify with.  It’s also important that the hero / heroine is flawed but is able to overcome their deficiencies (unless it’s a tragedy, in which case they have to die). By the end of the novel the hero / heroine should have learnt something and become a better and stronger person.

My problem is that at the moment there is no moral dilemma. Celia just ploughs on getting closer and closer to the end of the book, but she’s not showing any development. She doesn’t seem to have any flaws which she needs to recognize and overcome. The result will be that the reader could get to the end of the book and say ‘So what?’.

This is very frustrating, because I now have to go right back to the beginning of the novel and decide if I can simply add stuff to make Celia a little less perfect or whether I need to start all over again.


I hope beginning all over again  won’t be necessary. I think there’s some good writing there but it’s missing the development element. But we shall see what needs to be done after a proper review.

Apr 4, 2014

Chapter 25 - Speculation

Ned ... perhaps
Finally, the man whom we've heard so much about, Ned Atkinson makes his appearance. Or does he?

The story so far ... Celia has made a powerful enemy in Colonel Kaiec due to the difficult questions she has been asking about her brother Ned. As a result she has been attacked in Venice and has now lost her job in Munich. What will be her next step?

Chapter 25 - Speculation can be seen on the right under 'Good stuff'