Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Teaching and Reading

Word Count: the same

Busy couple of days teaching and dashing round London. I was doing two short-ish sessions about how to 'format' programmes and stories, based on the time I spent making up programme ideas (yes! this was a real job!) and also on my experiences of seminars like McKee's Story (which I summarised in 10 minutes - sorry, Robert, I know there's a lot more to it than this - as a) 'always change mood from scene to scene, i.e. go from a positive emotion to a negative one or vice versa' and b) 'always confront your hero with their worst fears, building towards the thing they dread most right at the end.').

I think I've mentioned before that the thing about teaching and lecturing is that ideally you'd have a Strictly Come Dancing/Ice-skating moment where the people you've been talking to hold up score-cards at the end...and tell you how to improve. I felt my talk went better on the first day, because I had the impression the people were newer to the process, and so my thoughts felt more revealing to them. I don't think I'll ever know...

So, back to my various WIPs...and trying to tear myself away from Suite Francaise, which I am loving. I gave up on Special Topics in Calamity Physics, because it was soooo bloody long. I never got on with The Secret History either, think I have an aversion to books about smart college/high school kids, though I did like what Piessl in Calamity Physics was doing in terms of experiments with style. But admiring a book isn't enough to get me through 500-odd pages (and I had to take it back to the library, might try again in paperback!). You might love it if you were a Tartt fan though.

Suite Francaise is also a fairly hefty volume (it's two books, actually, of four or five parts planned by the author, Irene Nemirovsky, who died in Auschwitz in 1942). I am enjoying the story - it uses a kind of omniscient narration, moving between the thoughts of the different characters very frequently, which is often seen as a dangerous, even erroneous thing to do. But here it really works for me - perhaps it's the style, too, in translation. There's a fantastic range of characters and that omniscient 'overview' really conveys the randomness of war, and its impact not just on humans but also on human behaviour: both debasing and elevating us.

It's not completely flawless but what is most remarkable about it for me is how right she seems to get the mood and the sense of foreboding for the future, given that she had no way of distancing herself from current events. Usually it takes us a few years or even decades to get the measure of a period in history, but she didn't have the luxury of time. I'd love to know what you think if you've read it? It's also a great lesson if you are intending to try that style of narration.

Lovely Link of the Day:
Via Kate Hardy, I did this fab map and considering that I am scared of flying, I don't think I've done too badly...


create your own visited countries map

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goodness Kate - makes my own map look quite sad! I do have an excuse though...

12:47 pm  
Blogger Beth said...

I finished Special Topics grudgingly. I was left with the impression thatI was reading her college syllabi... And if you read even 50 pages you could probably guess the ending anyway. Not high on my list.

10:42 pm  

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