Friday, January 13, 2012

Writing Like Clockwork, and "Friends and Foes" by Sarah M. Eden

Have you ever thought about how a clock works? I mean really thought about it? I'm not talking about the digital kind that has the glowing numbers on it. I'm talking about the kind of clock that has an hour, minute, and second hand ticking away in perfect rhythm. The picture you see is the inner workings of an antique pocket watch. The delicate scrolling detail done by hand is spectacular. To me it looks like artwork beautiful enough to frame and hang on a wall. 
According to Wikipedia, a mechanical watch or clock is driven by a mainspring that must be wound periodically. The spring's pressure pushes the gears which powers the balance wheel. 
Clear as mud? I thought so.  
I doubt anybody cares about how it works, just as long as it keeps actuate time.  After all, we aren't watchmakers. It's not our job to build one from scratch, we just need to wind the stem every once in a while to keep it running--that is if we don't have a modern battery powered watch.
What do delicate springs and tiny gears of a watch have to do with writing, you ask? 
Good question!
I've read five books in a period of nine days. They've all been regency romances, although the period of the books' setting nor the fact that they were romances had anything to do with my enjoyment or lack thereof--but the quality of the author's writing did. 

In December I read a review of Sarah M. Eden's regency romance, Seeking Persephone, and I fell in love with the story line. I love a hard case main character anyway, and the Duke of Keilder sounded like the worst of the lot of them. 
If you'd like to read Julie Bellon's review, go here. It's always worth your time to stop by her blog and then I won't need to do an actual review, I'll piggy back off Julie's. 

 I will do a review of Sarah's latest book,  Friends & Foes

"Friends and Foes" is the fourth of a series for Sarah, and I've read all four, although, I must admit, not in order, therefore I absolutely had to go back and read the first one again, just to know all the characters a little deeper. 
"Kiss of a Stranger" was first. Crispin Handle, Lord Cavratt, kisses a woman and is forced to marry her, to save her, and himself, from scandal. In that story the characters talked about the Dangerous Duke of Kielder, which is Persephone's reluctant and formidable husband. 
"Seeking Persephone" was a Whitney Award Finalist in 2008. This is where the Dangerous Duke buys a wife. 
"Courting Miss Lancaster" (Persephone's younger sister) came next.  
In "Friends & Foes" Phillip Jonquil was a important secondary character in "Kiss of a Stranger" but has the lead as the gentleman Earl of Lampton. On the surface Phillips is a "dandy, or fop", (don't you just love words like that? Dandy is a slang term, and correct me if I'm wrong Sarah, it means Metrosexual in today's terminology) but don't be fooled by Phillip's "brightly colored, fashionably tailored society togs," they are nothing but a cover he concocted five years earlier when he enlisted with the Foreign Office to track down Napoleon spies. Then he meets his female match. Sorrel Kendrick's a beautiful woman with a wit as sharp as the insult Phillip gives her during the first moments together. Ending up at a prolonged party together, their war of words leads to love--and danger when Sorrel stumbles upon the spy Phillips is tracking.

And this brings me back to writing like clockwork. (You thought I forgot, huh?) Contained inside the clock, or watch casing, are the gears and balance wheel driven by the tension of the main spring. You can break down a good novel much in the same way. The mainspring, (the plot) pushing the gears (the characters in a character driven book, main and secondary) which keeps the balance wheel (subplots) dancing back and forth, which keep the hands (the story) moving forward. Every so often an alarm goes off, (major turning points, minor turning points) like clockwork, keeping tension present. Finally, everything come together at the stroke of midnight, or at "The End". 


The words and phrases Sarah uses in her Regencies is what captured me. Words like, "nip-purses, or knucklers" (muggers, pickpockets), and "facers"(punch in the face. Love it!) "Blackguard!" "Blast it!" "Mutton-headed." Oh, my! Can my delicate eyes take that kind of cursing? Words are what I'm writing about with Sarah's novels. She takes the story and details it out until it's beautiful, like the tiny scrollwork on the pocket watch  bracing. I've read several regency romances in the past couple of weeks, and while they were good, I delighted reading Sarah's well turned phrasing and detailed history. I understand from her biography that she read her first Jane Austen novel while in elementary school where she became an addict. I didn't even know there was a Regency era section of the reference department at the public library. She did, evidently. I bet she dreams in regency. I know I have this past week.     


If you'd like to read any or all (I recommend all) of Sarah's Regency Romances, I made it easy for you. Just click on the title and the link will send you to straight to her book on Amazon. And if you own a Kindle, or other electronic reading device, you could be reading in just a few minutes from now. I'm sure you'll thank me.

1 comment:

alice said...

These look like good books.