Monday, February 6, 2012

Hearing Back (and Gearing Up)

This past week I heard back from an editor I hired to look over my short story I wrote last semester as part of my grad school application package. The overall things - voice, prose, characters, and dialogue - I did well on. They also said my concept of a dystopian science fiction based on the story of the Sword in the Stone was sophisticated and intriguing. But it looks like I have some work ahead of me. Hence the "gearing up" in the title. The story has a lot of plot holes and places that need polishing. Because my protagonist sees past, present, and future as the same the story is made of a series of scenes in no real chronological order. That makes it confusing for the reader. Also, the editors would like to see another scene or two to set up my second character Allan better. It's not exactly an overhauling of the story to make these changes, but it will still be a lot of work. Last week was a busy one for me; I had lots of tests and shifts at work. But this week should be more laid-back.

Which is good, because I really need to work on "Nightshade." I've been procrastinating because I know it's going to be a long, annoying process. I've learned so much about writing for young adults since I last looked at it. About a week ago I went through my first chapter and saw so many places where the writing was okay, but could be so much better. With my time this week, I can sharpen the prose and get rid of all those adverbs. (I searched the document for the letters "ly". I found way too many.)

I do have one major paper I need to write this week. It's applying critical theory to the book of my choice, and I picked "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle. The reason? I think I critique it based on Dante's four levels of a text: literal, allegorical, moral, and anagogical (this last one refers to how things are beyond human knowledge, usually, the afterlife.) I was surprised by how well it works as an allegory. In one scene Charles Wallace has asked to be read Genesis for a bedtime story, and if this clue is applied to the text we can see Charles Wallace's temptation and fall on Camazotz as referencing Eve's taking of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in the Bible. It doesn't hurt that Charles Wallace falls because he wants to know more.

I'll admit, I don't know authorial intent on this one. But it is interesting. The search for allegory continues. If Charles Wallace represents Fallen Man, then is Meg, who saves him, a Christ figure? She, of the three, is the closest associated with their Father and she does rescue Charles Wallace with her love....

Tentative, and again, I don't know if L'Engle intended any of this. But I'm looking forward to writing this paper.

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