it’s in the telling

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it’s in the telling

We went to see Jane Eyre last night. The last time I went to see a film was over six months ago, on the other side of the world. It was The Muppets; quite a different experience.

Films here (in France) are shown in French or ‘V.O.’ which thankfully doesn’t mean Voice Over, but Version Originale. Jane Eyre was on, 8.45 at Massey, in V.O. and I’m nearly always keen for Jane Eyre. It is a significant book for me.

So… Mum and Dad babysat, I left lots of breastmilk in the fridge, and we were free for a whole four hours! Unheard of.

All dolled up for Date Night!

We ate dinner at this gorgeous Lebanese place just up the block – sat outside under the awning, in 30-something degree heat, after seven at night, and had a gorgeous, flavourful meal. Knowing I wouldn’t be breastfeeding again for a few hours I finally tried a ‘Kir Royal’ – champagne with Creme de Cassis. Good idea. Very good idea.

Then we found the movie theater, following Luuk’s memory of the map and his nose – success! (GPS was in the glove box but it’s like a challenge to get around without it.)

The movie was beautifully filmed and the soundtrack was great. There were a lot of scenes without any background music, but the melancholy melodies set to scenes of the moody moors – perfect.

We saw it in the English, with French subtitles. Except there were no subtitles for the bits in French… gah! Managed to follow most, but not all of it.

Probably most noteworthy in this, the most recent of dozens of versions of Jane Eyre, was that they rearranged the story line. The novel sets out the events in chronological order and, as far as I’ve seen, all the film versions have done the same.

You can argue till you’re blue in the face about films being faithful to the novels they’re based on, but I’m going to put it out there and say that I think this was faithful to the book without being a dead-copy. Films are, after all, quite another thing: what works in a novel may not in a film and films can do things which novels simply cannot.

I took a writing course at university – Creative Writing for Stage and Screen – and the teacher summed up the difference between the two (stage and screen, not novels) quite simply: the screen is more visual, less talk; the stage relies on talk to fill in the visual.

Novels are, of course, another thing entirely: There is no visual unless it’s a picture book. The words paint the visual, which is entirely in our minds. Or, if we see the film version first then that’s often the visual in our minds. It can be quite jarring to see a film of a book you’ve read (especially if you loved it) – the filmmakers never do get it just as you imagined.

If you read the book first you get to imagine your own visual, but you might not enjoy the film.

If you see the film first then you’ll probably like both the film and the book.

Which is why I tend not to be a ‘read the book first’ purist.

All this has got me thinking about the order in which I’m telling the story in my novel. I’ve written it pretty much chronologically but fully intend to mess with it when I’m editing. One of the better pieces of writing advice I’ve heard/read is to start your story as close to the climax as possible. If you use language carefully (which, of course, you should) then information can be conveyed without the necessity of showing every little bit of the story. Flashbacks are one way of doing this. Conversations between characters, about things that happened in the past, are a little less risky.

My goal, in editing, is to be succinct. In editing, not so much in this first draft – hit 50 thousand words this week and managed 2000 words a day for the last two days. Who knows? Some of it might be succinct. But I wouldn’t bank on it.

Today I haven’t touched it but this gave me plenty to think about on the train. I’ve been on the train quite a lot…

Louis, using his time wisely, reading on the train.

We went into Paris to apply for the kids’ Dutch passports, and an I.D. card for Luuk. European I.D. is handy-dandy in Europe.

We were early but there was plenty to look at while we waited.

 Not a bad spot for a morning stroll.

Once that was done – last week’s photos accepted! – we headed off to Tuileries to meet Mum and Dad for Lunch.

Louis had a waffle with chantilly cream for Lunch. Went down a treat. Literally.

After lunch we went to Musee de l’Orangerie and spent a couple of hours looking at some of the creme de la creme of the impressionists. In the nearly six months we’ve been in Paris this is only the second art gallery I’ve visited! It’s a crime, I know.

So much culture in so little time: a film, and an art gallery, in just twenty four hours. I’m feeling rather spoilt.

My feet are feeling rather burny and tingly from walking so much (and I had Elena in the sling, adding weight and heat).

We’re all worn out.

Louis fell asleep on Luuk’s shoulders and slept all the way back to Antony.

Louis is grumpy, though currently placated by a balloon. Luuk is trying to turn beef mince into dinner for four. Mum’s holding Elena, who is watching Louis run around in circles, and Dad is playing an air traffic control game on his ipad. (Can you believe it? An air traffic controller, playing air traffic control. While on holiday. He swears it’s fun.)

We’ll blob out this evening and watch the opening ceremony to the Olympic games. Perhaps I’ll do a little novel writing in the boring bits.