#IWSG POV: Protagonist or Antagonist? @TheIWSG #amwriting #WWWBlogs

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts and concerns about our profession.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

The co-hosts for the March 6 posting of the IWSG are Fundy Blue, Beverly Stowe McClure, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard!

  • March 6 question Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?

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I definitely prefer first person point of view of the protagonist, as a reader and as a writer. My favourite novels, when I started reading adult fiction, in my teens, such as, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, David Copperfield, and Rebecca, to name a few, were written in this fashion.

The first person narrator, whether he or she is protagonist or antagonist, has the powerful advantage of speaking directly to the reader, but on the other hand, he or she also has the enormous disadvantage of limited knowledge and bias.

The first person narrator cannot be everywhere or be aware of everything the reader would like to know. Moreover, he or she is necessarily biased due to gullibility, innocence, ignorance, physical, or psychological problems, or he or she can be downright evil and purposefully lead everyone along the wrong path, which is usually the case of the antagonist as first person narrator.

The question posed, implies that only one narrator is possible, and that he or she is either protagonist or antagonist, but there are many more options available to the writer. There could be more than one point of view, and more than one protagonist and or antagonist, or the protagonist and antagonist could even be the same person at the same or different stages of his/her life.

The first time I read a novel with various first person narrators was Laura, by Vera Caspary, also in my teenage years. I remember being pleasantly surprised, as a reader, by two aspects, the multiple first person narrators and the presence of unreliable narrators, including the antagonist.

In one of my ‘A’ level texts, The Fall, Camus’ manipulative first person narrator, Jean-Baptiste Clamence, whose long series of monologues is a confession and reflection of his life, to a stranger he calls, ‘cher ami’, thus, mostly using the second person ‘you’. He is also both protagonist and antagonist, as he finally turns the mirror on his patient and unsuspecting listener/reader.

The options are endless. In my case, I’ve published three books and written five (two will hopefully be published this year), and all of them have multiple, first person narrators, including protagonist and antagonist.

Although I don’t mind reading novels written in third person, I can’t see myself doing so. I would especially avoid third person omniscient narrators, mainly because I think it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of manipulating characters, events and readers. I prefer to allow my characters and readers more space to grow and reconstruct their own novel.

I overcome the hurdles inherent to first person narration, at least partly, by having more than one first person narrator, which I believe gives the novel wider scope and perspective.

The Eyre Hall Trilogy has several, rotating first person narrators, and although some readers have complained, most readers have positive opinions. The use of various first person voices is innovative and enriching, but it’s by no means easy to juggle so many characters at once, and it’s not something I’m planning on doing again, at the moment.

My two latest, unpublished novels, both have only two points of view. In one case it is the protagonist and the antagonist, and in the second case a mother and daughter, who are both protagonists. So far, beta readers have responded favourably, and I’m satisfied with the end product, although, one still has to go through the final draft and editing stage.

I think two narrators give enough scope for multiple perspectives to allow readers more space to interact with the narrative.

I will probably experiment with other viewpoints in the future. As I said, I enjoy many  different points of view as a reader, but for the moment, I plan to continue writing novels with, at least, two first person points of view.

Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to like and/or leave a comment 🙂

What about you, how many and whose point(s) of view do you prefer as a reader and as a writer?

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#AtoZChallenge ‘J is for Jane Eyre’ #Haiku #NaPoWriMo #PoetryMonth

Photo by Author and Translator @OlgaNM

Olga, who blogs at Olga Author Translator, took this beautiful photo last year at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I don’t know if it is supposed to be Jane Eyre, but it certainly reminds me of her!
In fact, this sculpture is called Wilsis and belongs to a series of portrait heads by Jaume Plensa, depicting young girls from around the world, with their eyes closed in a dreamlike state of contemplation.

Photo by author @Annecdotist

Photo by author @Annecdotist

Anne Godwin, who blogs at Annecdotal, took these photos of North Lees Hall, which many believe was Charlotte Bronte’s inspiration for Thornfield Hall,  during one of her many walks which she finds conducive to the creative state of mind

In fact, On Sunday, 17th June 2018, she’ll be leading a guided walk called  In the footsteps of Jane Eyre, at the Peak District National Park, more information about the walk here.

An enormous thanks to both Olga and Anne, readers, writers, book bloggers, and supportive participants  of many online book blogging and writing communities, for allowing me to include their photos on today’s post, meant as a humble tribute to Jane Eyre, a novel I know both of them also love and admire.

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Jane Eyre
Plain, slight, poor orphan
Fulfilled all her childhood dreams
Beloved Jane Eyre
****

Jane Eyre was an underpiviledged and underfed, Victorian orphan. She didn’t stand a chance of living her own life, and yet she fought for her place in the world, in spite of constant adversity. She was honest, tenacious, loyal, intelligent, hard-working and fiercely determined to be ‘an independent woman’.  

I would never have had the inspiration or courage to write The Eyre Hall Trilogy if I hadn’t read Jane Eyre when I was a teenager. I’ve regularly reread it since then.

It took me a long time, but I eventually followed my dreams, too.

Last year’s AtoZ Challenge was All About Jane Eyre, in case you’d like to check it out.

Have you read Jane Eyre? What are your thoughts?

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This year is my fourth AtoZ Challenge. My theme this year is poetry once again. I’ll be writing a haiku a day, but I’m also adding a new hobby to the posts, photography. I will post one of my photos, or a donated photo, every day to accompany my haiku.

This April, I’ll also be sharing my poems and joining another group of poets at National Poetry Writing Month, organised since 2003 by Maureen Thorson. Write 30 poems in 30 days. I’m in! What about you?

 

My latest copy of Jane Eyre, the one I’ve been rereading since 1980! And my Jane Eyre cup, a present from my best friend, Anna, who is neither a blogger nor a writer, but who knows? I’m working on it and both are highly contagious!

#ThemeReveal #AtoZChallenge #Haiku #Photography #MondayBlogs

This is my fourth time participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

I’ve had great fun as well as a bit of stress the previous three years! But I’m ready to go again.

Year one was 2015 and I posted an author spotlight iincluding an interview with an author a day and a book review of one of the author’s books. I chose contemporary authors, many of whom published independently. These authors and their novels had made me think, laugh, and/or cry.

Year two, 2016 was devoted to Jane Eyre. I posted about my inspiration and passion. My posts were all about Jane Eyre, the book, characters, themes, symbolism, author, etc.

Year three, 2017 was devoted to poetry. I ambitiously took part in National Poetry Month as well as the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. I posted two poems a day, one written by me and another poem written by one of my favourite poets, whose name or surname began with the corresponding daily letter.

This year, 2018, is my fourth year and my theme is poetry once again. On this occasion I’ll be writing a haiku a day, but I’m also adding a new hobby to the posts, photography. I will post one of my photos every day to accompany the haiku. I’m still learning but I’m gradually getting better at taking and editing photos.

Haiku (or hokku) is a Japanese verse form. In its English version, it has three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables. A haiku often features an image to represent the essence of the haiku. It often refers to nature or seasons.

A Haiku aims to capture the essence of fleeting feelings in a specific moment in time, which becomes one with the universe.

It has been described as one of the most elegant and immediate poetic forms because it creates an aura of mystery and artistry in a short and intense outburst of syllables.

The challenge of an effective haiku is to capture the elusive instant, which reveals universal feelings, making it both ephemeral and eternal at the same time, by using just three lines and 17, or fewer, syllables. A Haiku is often written in the present tense and includes an enigmatic last line.

It wasn’t popularized in Western literature until the early 1900s. Paul-Louis Couchoud became one of the first European translators of the form who popularized this poetic form in Europe. Soon more were translated and written by French, Spanish and English speaking poets.

Western poets like W.H. Auden, Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, Jorge Luis Borges, Billy Collins, Allen Ginsberg, e.e. Cummings, Ezra Pound, Joanne Kyger, Anne Waldman, Richard Wright, and Sonia Sanchez also wrote haiku.

Here’s a beautiful Haiku written by North American poet Sonia Sánchez, published in her collection of poetry, Shake Loose My Skin (1999).

I love writing Haiku with one of my own photographs or in response to a photo prompt. I find it reduces the poem form to its very essence, the equivalent to flash fiction, in a poem.

Writing a haiku isn’t as easy or simple as it would appear. Sometimes I spend hours, even days thinking of the right word or the right combination of syllables to capture the moment and the feeling. Other times, it’s impossible to find the right words… and occasionally, the seventeen syllables flow from pen to paper, as if they had been in my mind for years, waiting to be written.

Here’s a haiku I wrote recently. It’s one of my favourite, so far. I took the picture and wrote it when I was experiencing complex emotions.

Clouds scream at howling tides.

Seize the fury, ride the storm,

Then embrace the calm…

Are you taking part in the April Blogging Challenge this year?

If you are, what’s your theme?

Feel free to add the link to your theme reveal in the comments 🙂

#CarrotRanch #FlashFiction Challenge ‘Marry me’ #JaneEyre

This is my response to Charli Mills’

March 1: Flash Fiction Challenge

Prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a raven. Respond by March 6, 2018, to be included in the compilation (published March 7). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

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Marry Me, Jane!

‘Soon I shall be a bridegroom,’ said Mr. Rochester.
Jane looked down at her plain, governess dress and remembered Blanche Ingram’s extravagant clothes, noble features and glossy, raven hair.
‘I’ll leave at once. Miss Ingram will have plans for Adele.’
Jane refused to witness the man she loved marry a beautiful, yet unworthy gold-digger.
‘You would have me marry that frivolous woman?’ Rochester shook his head. ‘You think so little of me, Jane? I ask you to pass through life at my side as my best earthly companion.’
Rochester kissed her hand. ‘Jane, say Edward I will marry you.’

****

It’s amazing how the mind works. I saw the picture of the raven and thought of Blanche Ingram’s hair! For those of you don’t remember, she was Lord Ingram’s daughter, who Mr. Rochester used to make Jane jealous, tease her and perhaps find out if cool Jane loved him…

I’ve tried to capture the moment Rochester asked Jane to marry him, which is no doubt one of the most dramatic and romantic scenes in the novel. Jane is convinced that he’s going to marry the awful Miss Ingram, but Mr. Rochester recognises gold when he sees it, even if it’s hidden under an ugly dress!

 

#CarrotRanch #FlashFiction Challenge ‘Art as History’ @Charli_Mills

This post was written in response to Charlie Mills’ Carrot Ranch Weekly Flash Fiction Prompt 

March 16, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) go down the rabbit hole to a place where art is not allowed. It could be a small story or a dystopian vision. Is there a power struggle over art? Would the general public miss it? Is the end of art a natural evolution? Go where the prompt leads.

 

An Unfavourable Ancestor

‘Destroy it, Brigs,’ Rochester said, pointing to the portrait.

 ‘But it’s your most glorious ancestor, sir, Damer de Rochester, who died at the Battle of Marston Moor.’

Jane gazed admiringly at the portrait and the man she loved, seeing a likeness. ‘You must be very proud of such a brave ancestor.’

‘Brave but foolish, Jane. The Rochesters have been on the blacklist since the Restoration, thanks to him.’

‘It’s a grand work of art. I beg you to reconsider,’ pleaded Rochester’s administrator.

‘I want no trace of him. The new Queen mustn’t know, and I will have my knighthood.’  

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A little bit of English History may be needed to capture this flash in its entirety.

The portrait of Damer de Rochester, who was slain at the Battle of Marston Moor, is mentioned in Jane Eyre, as one of Mr. Rochester’s ancestors.

Marston Moor, in North Yorkshire, is famous for the battle fought on 2nd July, 1644. The Parlamentarians, led by Oliver Cromwell, defeated the Royalists. After this defeat the Royalists left Northern England.

        The Battle of Marston Moor, by J. Barker

It is not known for sure if Rochester’s ancestor was a Royalist or a Parlamentarian, but my guess is that his family were associated with the Parlamentarians, and so when the monarchy was restored in 1660, the family was not awarded a knighthood for their loyalty and service, as would probably have happened if they had been faithful to the monarchy.

Two hundred years later, a member of the landed gentry, such as Rochester, would probably want all reference to his Parlamentarian ancestor destroyed, because the new Queen, the young Victoria, of German origin, might not know enough about English history to continue with the veto on the family. This is why Rochester is so keen to have the portrait destroyed, because he wants no evidence of his family’s lack of allegiance to the monarchy.

Charli’s flash includes the lines, “Your art is my history, Danni.”

Art does indeed record history. It is a historic document, and as such can be subject to manipulation or destruction. Rochester, in my flash, would destroy a work of art because it reminds anyone who sees it that his ancestor fought against the Monarchy. He wants this fact to be forgotten.

My flash is a fictional reinterpretation, based on the painting and the characters in Jane Eyre. I have used it to illustrate the point, that art can be inconvenient for future generations as a permanent record of events.

A world without art that Charli envisages, would be unbearable.

I believe a world without music, dance, literature, fine art, photography, theatre and cinema etc. is impossible, however, a world where past and present art is manipulated or censored is unfortunately possible.

Nevertheless, I’m optimistic, because artists have always found a way to express their true feelings through their art.

*****

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Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction Challenge: Creating Jane Eyre

This post was written in response to Charli Mills Weekly Flash Fiction Challenge, at Carrot Ranch.

January 26, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the theme, “women create.” It can be art, sewing, ideas, babies. What is at the heart of women as creators? Go where the prompt takes you.

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Creating Jane Eyre

“Who’s the author of this abhorrent attempt at a novel?” asked Lady Eastlake.

“Currer Bell,” replied Mrs. Mozley.

“Who on earth is he?” asked Mrs. Rigby.

“Some say he’s a woman,” said Mrs. Mozley

“Women don’t describe such coarse and shameful relationships between men and women,” snapped Lady Eastlake.

“Unless it is such a woman who has long forfeited the society of her own sex,” said Mrs. Rigby.

“It’s unchristian. We should make sure it’s banned,” suggested Mrs. Mozley. “Just in case it’s a woman’s creation. Imagine how degrading it would be for the rest of us.”

They nodded.

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When Jane Eyre (1847) was first published by Charlotte Bronte under the masculine pseudonym Currer Bell, it was received with mixed reviews. Some were highly praising and others harshly critical.

Some of her staunchest critics were female and criticized Jane Eyre for being vulgar, improper, anti-christian, as well as politically incorrect. Her three main female critics were Lady Eastlake, Elizabeth Rigby and Ann Mozley, the three women I’ve brought together in today’s flash.

Among the most outspoken critics was the conservative Lady Eastlake, who accused Charlotte Bronte of lack of femininity, and of agreeing with the working class uprisings of the Chartists, who were demanding votes for the working classes.

In addition to Lady Eastlake, Elizabeth Rigby, an author and art critic, and the first woman to write for the Quarterly review, stated that if the book was by a woman, “she had long forfeited the society of her own sex.” Rigby also considered Jane Eyre  showed “coarseness of language and laxity of tone.” Rigby was especially irate about her unflattering depictions of the aristocracy, accusing Charlotte Bronte of a “total ignorance of the habits of society.”

Ann Mozley, writing for the Christian Remembrancer in 1848, writes “Never was there a better hater. Every page burns with moral Jacobinism.” The Jacobins were French revolutionaries who aimed to abolish the monarchy and do away with class distinctions, as well as instituting a universal vote, an idea abhorrent to upper class, Anglican Britons.

According to these and other critics, Jane Eyre challenged traditional views about how women should act and behave, and therefore threatening the established social order.

Jane is indeed rebellious and demands respect and equality, although she knows her place, she also believes that her fate isn’t written in stone. Here are her unforgettable words to overbearing Mr. Rochester:

jane-quote-1

Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since the 19th century. Censorship, accepting injustice and exploitation, and gender, racial or religious discrimination is something we aim to overcome.

Well done Jane Eyre for shocking them all out of their complacency!

You’d be happy to know that my sequel takes up her fiercely independent, outspoken and resilient, free spirit.

In Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, Charles Dickens visits Jane Eyre (at that time, Mrs. Mason) at Eyre Hall for a few days over Christmas. Dickens confesses that he has left his wife and has a young mistress, although it is a well kept secret, because he is not prepared to affront the establishment. When Jane tells him she is having an affair with Lieutenant Kirkpatrick, her former valet, and she is no longer hiding her feelings, he replies:

“How invigorating! Are you going to shock us all and defy the laws of propriety? How brave of you!”    

That’s my Jane!

Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction Challenge: ‘What if?’

This post was written in response to Charli Mills weekly flash fiction challenge.

January 5, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rattling sound. It can be an intimidating sound of protest, a disorienting loud sound, a musical expression or a gentle baby’s toy. Go where the prompt leads you. To take part, join in here!

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Today’s flash was inspired by the Christmas season, which has just passed.

 

The Good Nephew

‘Go away,’ he shouted, covering his head with the woollen blanket, but the rattling grew louder.

‘Leave me alone!’ He was trembling.

More rattling.

‘I don’t want to go there again!’

‘I warned you last Christmas,’ came the ghostly echo with more thunderous rattling.    

Minutes later, the ghost discarded the heavy chains and stood by the skeletal corpse in the icy bedroom.

‘I was only reminding you to keep your promises,’ he said closing Ebenezer’s blank eyes.

Then he opened the safe where the miser kept the gold coins and dropped them into his purse.

‘Rest in peace, uncle.’

***

One of the strategies I use in my retellings of Victorian fiction are ‘what if questions.

In the case of A Christmas Carol I asked myself:

What  if Scrooge didn’t change after all?

What if there were never ghosts, just a trick to scare the old miser?

What if the nephew wasn’t such a good person?

What if his nephew, became more greedy and tired of waiting to inherit?

The same story with a ‘what if’ becomes another story, which is complimentary to the original story.  The more feasible the ‘What if’, the more credible your new version becomes.

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There are many possible ‘what ifs’ to any story. Here are some more for A Christmas Carol:

What if Scrooge was an opium addict instead of a miser?

What if Scrooge wasn’t as rich as people thought?

What if the ghosts were time travellers?

What if his nephew was really his son?

What if Scrooge had killed Marley to take over the business?

The options are endless and exciting if the questions are reasonable. It can also work with ‘unreasonable’ what ifs.

For example, if I asked, ‘What if Scrooge was really Prince Albert who was bored at home with Queen Victoria?’ It might work as a nonsense story, but not as an alternative version.

In the Eyre Hall Trilogy, my sequel to Jane Eyre, some of my ‘what ifs’ were the following:

What if Bertha had a child in the attic?

What if Rochester had the child removed?

What if Bertha’s daughter returned to Eyre Hall as an adult to claim her birth right?

What if Rochester went back to his old ways shortly after marrying Jane?

What if Jane stopped loving Rochester?

What if Jane fell in love with another man?

And many, many, many more!

bertha-and-jane

Creating alternate, complimentary, versions of well known novels or stories is fun and creative, because it opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

I love reimagining fiction and reinventing stories.

Some people criticise me for doing so. I answer that writers have been borrowing stories and retelling them since pen was first put to paper (Chaucer, Shakespeare and Scott, did it all the time! Even Dickens did it occasionally).

My retellings are a tribute to the original authors and works, and I consider it an honour to be able to share my reimaginings with my readers.

Do you ever venture into the world of ‘what ifs’ in your writing?