Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Off Shore Wind,
Francis Lee Jaques,
oil on canvas, nd.

I am as a chatelaine beseiged.

Though it will be driven back, more snow crept over the battlements last night and lurks in the outer bailey.

These are the days when I stand at my narrow window and search the southern sky.
Straining to hear the first faint call of the legions marching on the wind.
Sounds to signify the dominion of the white demons is at an end, that I may take seisin of my keep and fief once more.

Hurry, my brothers.

I yearn for your wild shout, the beat of your wings, to see you drive northward in triumph while the enemy fades before you and dissolves in mist.

I am sick of prisonment.

Soon, I tell myself -- for today the wind weeps, not in sorrow but in relief.

I have an atavistic relationship with geese. They represent the necessary duality of pen and sword.

There are other sounds, of course, many of them, that kick my unconscious awake and alert: a tolling of bells, the sound of a horse ridden hard, the surge and retreat of surf, the cadence of marching feet, bagpipes, a train challenging the lonely night, yet one with it.

So many. Sentries of my imagination.

PBW put up an excellent post yesterday on secondary characters, complete with a brilliant example.

Seondary characters shouldn't just be inserted so the MCs and plot can bounce off them like a backstop.

I rather think most writing advice is fairly bland and useless -- all tell and no show -- unless so illustrated by a specific example.


ChristineEldin said...

I agree, which is why reading good books is important for the writing process.

Now, I'm off to Today's post is riddled with big words.

ChristineEldin said...

Okay, chatelaine probably won't make it into my writing. But atavistic is a nice, useful word.

Bernita said...

What big words, Chris?
Thought they were ten cent words.

writtenwyrdd said...

Sounds and scents are more evocative than we generally realise, aren't they? I lived along the Pacific Ocean for a large percentage of my life and I miss being able to walk down the beach in the middle of the night, lost in the soft and sussurous roar of the waves. (And I'd still be doing it, too, despite the risk, if i could.)

And it's a great point about secondary characters. If we treat them like bumpers in a pinball game, our readers will sense our lack of affection. Our writing will lose something, a key bit of vitality in our worldbuilding.

I read eight books in the last six days, three okay, two that were too bland, two I disliked, and one I really enjoyed the hell out of (the 1st Jaz Parks book, if you care.) It occurs to me that the bland ones didn't involve the world around the characters very much. Nice plotting, main characters and dialog can be ruined by failing to flesh out the world with other bits of business by other people, IMO.

Bernita said...

Written, I have this suppressed desire to be a beach bum.
"flesh out the world with other bits of business by other people" - a good way of putting it. Thank you.

Carla said...

"These are the days when I stand at my narrow window and search the southern sky.
Straining to hear the first faint call of the legions marching on the wind."
Beautiful and poetic

Bernita said...

Thank you, Carla.
It's like a hunger.

BernardL said...

The example in PBW is very detailed and helpful, Bernita. Thanks for pointing it out.

Bernita said...

Always great stuff from Lynn, Bernard.

raine said...

Lynn's post was excellent. Quite right.

Lovely images, Bernita.
Hang on! I'm seeing signs of spring here.

writtenwyrdd said...

Me, too, Bernita! One of these days I am going to run away to a South Pacific island (not Hawaii; been there, done that!) and swing in a hammock with a Maitai for a month or two.

kmfrontain said...

LOL. Lovely piece with those ten cent words, Bernita.

Anonymous said...

Wishing warm weather your way.

SzélsőFa said...

I loved the description of your longing for warmer, spring like weather.
Here, the first tulips are out in fluu bloom, but it was snowing yesterday, too. Well, it lasted a minute or so, but still...

Bernita said...

A post I'll keep going back to, Raine.
My husband swears he saw a pair of robins this morning, but we still have a foot or two of snow on the ground.

Written, I want to walk by the surf's edge and gather what the sea brings.

Thank you, Jason. I need green.

Szelsofa, thank you.
There are no scents sweeter than spring scents.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I love fleshing out bit characters. It's a bit of distraction for me--sometimes too much! I like pregnant pauses and exchanged glances and heavy sighs that indicate another life lived, all unnoticed by an utterly self-absorbed protag.

One of my critters said about one of my secondary players:
"Sometimes Jason sounds like he's twenty and sometimes he sounds like an old man. He's happy, he's irritated, often downright moody. What's up with him?"


December/Stacia said...

I'm beginning to think spring is just a rumor.

Agree on the writing advice. It's very difficult to grasp what's being said without an example.

Bernita said...

Nailed it, SS!

One wonders, December.
And I was so looking forward to global warming.

Charles Gramlich said...

This is a flash fiction in its own right. Well done. Last night we had the air conditioner on so we could sleep. The armies have gathered here. I'm urging them to ride north, urging them in your direction. I expect they'll leave their debris behind.

Billy said...

I don't know how you deal with the climate, Bernita. I know an artist/poet up yonder--Prince Edward Island. I think she drinks a lot -:)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Charles.
I'll watch for them eagerly.
Makes the grass grow, doesn't it?

Bill, I huddle and hibernate. In my cave.

bookfraud said...

i thought canadians loved snow creeping over the battlements and lurking in the outer bailey.

well, if not, it was beautifully put. especially your avatistic relationship with geese. very canadian, no?

(my canadian wife and i are having our own u.s. v. canada fight these days, thus the snotty comments above).

Bernita said...

Book, I could comment on stereotypes and logical fallacies, and transference but I won't.
Instead, I'll conform to another stereotype and say thank you for your kind words.

Suzanne Perazzini said...

Beautiful painting and lovely words. Must go look at that link to secondary characters.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Suzanne.

Jeff said...

Close your eyes and think of palm trees, warm sand, and a gently rolling surf, Bernita.
Spring is coming. :)

StarvingWriteNow said...

We have a pair of geese that appear to have taken up residence on the lawn here at work. I agree; a thrill hit me when I first saw them--Spring is coming. Spring is coming at last.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

btw, I forgot: ROCK ON WINTER!

(I'm a snowboarder whose season is shrinking.)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Karen! ( missed your post first time through.I apologize.)

Jeff,I try to be patient.

And new beginnings, WriteNow.

You had your season, SS, don't be selfish.

Jon M said...

You sending them geese back over to us then? :)
We might even be getting a dusting of your snow too. Here am I typical Englishman talking about the weather!

writtenwyrdd said...

Bleh. More snow tonight and tomorrow. downgraded from another FOOT, but still, they say another 1/2" of ICEas well as several inches of snow.

Record snowfall this year. Six feet of snow piled at the roadsides. But it was 41 today! I want to mow a lawn or weed some flowerbeds!

Bernita said...

Sending them, Jon?
Don't think they take the Great Circle route.

Bernita said...

It's wearisome, Written.

Gabriele C. said...

You have such lovely images. Spring should listen to their incantation.

Dave F. said...

Spring isn't far. The deer have changed color and they are eating my hedges and hiding amidst my evergreens. They aren't disgusting winter brown but that reddish gold shade.
And the geese are moving. I see fewer and fewer in the ponds on the farms around me.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Gabriele.
I thought of you when I wrote it, thought of your legions and your castle keeps.

Dave, I long for the days when I will see those squadrons overhead.

Dave F. said...

A few geese came by and spoke in my ears. Your geese summered in California and had to get driver's licenses to travel far and wide again. All immigrants have to get California driver's licensesssssss...........


Bernita said...

Well, that would cook the goose, Dave.