Tuesday, 13 May 2014

A Novel Experience

Following her triumphant debut yesterday as temporary Writer In Residence at Much Malarkey Manor, Primrose has spent today sitting lightly on her laurels looking as smug as a mug without an 's'. She has decided she is well into poetry now, and psychoanalysis, and is flicking through the pages of an Open University prospectus because she quite likes the thought of doing a spot of study and becoming a Doctor of Literary Prowess. Daisy, meanwhile, has poo-pooed poetry. She is aiming for the dizzy heights of novel writing...

'I am going to write a novel,' Daisy announces, emerging from the pod in a sprigged muslin frock and velvet bolero jacket. She is also wearing a short, lightly curled wig topped with a perky bonnet.

'You remind me of someone,' says Primrose, shifting on her laurels because laurels are quite spiky on the chicken tush despite their lush and smooth appearance. (The laurel leaves, not the chicekn's tush.)

'Really?' says Daisy. 'Whom, pray tell?'

Primrose squints. 'Well...' she begins.

'Would it be someone like the celebrated, highly regarded and some would say finest lady romantic novelist England ever produced?' interrupts Daisy.

'What? Barbara Cartland?' says Primrose, looking slightly startled. 'She wasn't who immediately sprung to mind, no, but now you mention her...'

'Oh, tish and pho!' says Daisy, and taps Primrose lightly on the wing with a closed fan. Only it isn't  that light a tap and Primrose ends up in a heap in the lemon balm which is going great guns this year and is threatening to reach an overall mass equivalent to a small elephant.

'Ouch!!!' says Primrose. 'Was that entirely necessary? Who are you talking about?'

'Why,' simpers Daisy, 'Jane Austen, of course.'

'Humph,' says Primrose. 'In that case, I think you should dispense with the simpering. I don't think Jane Austen was a simperer. I think she was a feisty gal with a good left hook.' She rubs her wing. 'You got that bit right, I suppose.'

'Okay,' says Daisy. 'I shall cut the simpering. To be honest, I can't do with simpering. But I can cope with being a feisty gal, and I have been reading about novel writing in the 21st century, and feisty gal is what you have to be if you are going to get even a sniff at being published.'

'Quite right,' says Primrose. 'Feistiness, good characters, seamless plot and knowing someone in the publishing business are all integral ingredients in being a published author these days. Do you know anyone in the publishing business?'

'Sadly, no,' says Daisy. 

'Then you are doomed to fail,' says Primrose.

'But I have drawn up a list of some excellent names for characters,' says Daisy. 'Of which I shall share with you now. Are you ready?'

'As I shall ever be,' says Primrose. 'Regale away.'

Daisy clears her throat. She has clearly given a lot of thought to the naming of these characters.

'Trilby Lukewarmer,' she begins, 'Smatterly Bumfluff, Nancy Pants and Stoately Harris. Partly Nantwich, Weasley Binton, Lobelia Tonguegroove and Tuppy Broadweed...'

'I had a cousin called Tuppy Broadweed,' says Primrose. 'He was in MI5. Of course, he didn't use his real name when he was incognito because he didn't want to draw attention to himself.'

'Most wise,' says Daisy. 'What was his incognito name?'

'Monty Aardvark-Vidayo,' says Primrose.

'Ah, yes,' says Daisy. 'Far more discreet.'

'So,' says Primrose, 'have you a plot to go with these characters? Of course, all good plots are character driven, so personally I think it is best to be flexible with your storyline and see where the characters take it.'

'What?' says Daisy. She hides the folder marked, 'Detailed and Intricate Plot Notes' beneath her Regency muff. 

'Oh yes,' says Primrose. 'Personally, I would give one of your characters a simple situation, a line of introductory dialogue and let them get on with it.'

'You would?' says Daisy.

'Yes,' says Primrose. 

'For example?' says Daisy, who is suddenly realising that perhaps dashing off a best selling novel by the weekend is probably unlikely to happen. 

'Well, for example,' says Primrose, 'you could put Trilby Lukewarmer in, say, a street in London, called, oh, I don't know, Bakers Street, and he could step suddenly from a foggy corner into the path of a small coach and horses and confront the evil Smatterly Bumfluff with the words, 'I knew you wouldn't stay away for long, Bumfluff. How was your aunt in Weston-Super-Mare?'

There is a moment of stillness. It is as if a nugget of genius has been released like a rare butterfly into the air, and Daisy is looking like someone who has a net and is frantic to catch it before it is ripped to shreds by the beak of a passing pigeon, because pigeons are ruthless like that. 

'Right!' says Daisy. 'I see what you mean. Right! Good! I have to go. Now. Important...er...pudding to make.' And off she scuttles to the pod. 

Primrose counts slowly to ten. The sound of crazy typewriter clacking soon fills the air.

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