Review of Regina Brooks and a Love Letter to Lord Rochester

Only a little while ago, I entered the Dear Lucky Agent Contest.

While I didn't win, I was one of the first 100 entries, and won a copy of Regina Brooks' Writing Great Books for Young Adults. Came home one day to find it on my doorstep!

I don't normally read writing advice books; I can count all the ones I've read on one hand: Stephen King's On Writing, White and Strunk's The Elements of Style and Donald Maass' The Career Novelist.

Yet Brooks was a pleasure to read, and would make a great gift for the beginning writer in your life; basic enough not to scare them, while covering all the essential points so that they feel well-armed and not daunted to start writing. Her style is clear and straightforward, and the book even features exercises, to help kick start your ideas.

Having just completed my first/second draft, I found the sections dealing with story arcs and conclusions the most helpful. Brooks has fired me up to finish my synopsis and start storyboarding my scenes, ready to move them around, delete or add to them, for the greatest impact.

At one point, she provides a link to Read A Summary, which I thought was a rather interesting website. I never would have thought of distilling From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler to "investigation and analysis lead to knowledge" – it sounds like a text book!

On the other hand, reading all those narrow theme sentences gave me an idea for my own for Out of the Water: "if you lose everything, but gain love, you may have found all you need."

I love a good romance [g]

[Interlude! Don't forget my 100 Followers Thank You Contest!]

Now, speaking of romance... Today's lunar eclipse occurred on the winter solstice for the first time since 1554. For those that were around when I was blogging about our Writers Houseparty at Cherry Hill, Georgia back in July, 1554 was the year that Rosa wrote her letter to Lord Rochester. This is the first thing that came into my head when I saw the newspaper article on the eclipse; right away I figured out how old Rosa was when the eclipse last happened on the solstice and, on realising she was 80, remembered the letter.

For those of you that weren't there... my character Rosa fell in love with Lord Rochester at that party, and after they'd separated, and once she'd neared the end of her life, wrote him a letter for him to find in his own time.

Here it is:
One day the court woke to a buzz of rumour. Rochester had left for France unannounced! He did not return for some weeks, by which time speculation as to his doings had reached fever pitch. On his arrival, the lords and ladies remarked on his haggard appearance and enjoyed themselves immensely as they relished the rumoured details of his supposed debauchery on the Continent.
Only Charles and Buckingham knew the truth. Rochester showed them the letter, handling it with his fingertips on the very edges of the crackling parchment. There was a note overlaying the top sheet, which he kept entirely to himself...

Galata Tower Street
1 April 1535

My belovèd John,

I append a covering note to my epistle, on paper which you will perhaps recognise from that first party when something deeper than friendship was kindled between us. The parchment has grown even more yellow with the passing years, as it has lain inside pockets and drawers, always hidden, save for those precious moments when I stole it out of its hiding place. How strange I might have looked, had any spectator chanced to see me, gazing enraptured at a mere eight lines of poetry. Yet how could they know of the wondrous scenes I saw through the words and the passionate memories I relived at its touch? I return it to you now, for safe keeping. The ink has faded with each passing year and I am far from certain that it will hold for another century, deep under the ground. No matter; the ink I now use shall not fade, I promise you, for I have mixed it myself and poured my soul into its making. The entire pot will not suffice to bare my heart to you.

I write you this letter as an elderly matron, but look forward still, to a few months ahead and yet another house party, where I will be young and lithe and yours once more...

(Yes that beloved was simply an excuse to use the accent on the letter e. I love that accent!)


Robin Bates said…
Fun stuff. I want to know what the eight lines of poetry are.
Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks Robin!
I actually found a poem of Rochester's that fit the context of the houseparty, and quoted the lines:
"When, wearied with a world of woe,
To thy safe bosom I retire
Where love and peace and truth does flow,
May I contented there expire,
Lest, once more wandering from that heaven,
I fall on some base heart unblest,
Faithless to thee, false, unforgiven,
And lose my everlasting rest."
Here's the scene where I had him recite the lines to Rosa:
Zan Marie said…
Oh, Deniz. "On the other hand, reading all those narrow theme sentences gave me an idea for my own for Out of the Water: "if you lose everything, but gain love, you may have found all you need."
is the perfect theme for OUT OF THE WATER! Wonderful. I think this will help you storyboard the wip into shape. ; )
Anne Gallagher said…
What a beautiful haeart-breaking letter Deniz. Very well done!
MTeacress said…
Congratulations on reaching 100 followers, and thank you for the suggestion. Have a wonderful Christmas. :)
Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks Zan Marie, Anne and Michelle!
Merry christmas!