In the format of a non-traditional critique, Writing that Scene examines the fundamentals of what it takes to capably convey a scene to one’s readers. The opinion expressed is my own, and other readers’ opinions may and will differ.

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Author: Thomas Love Peacock

Scene location: Near beginning of the book

Genre: General Fiction, Satire

Maid Marian: (Original Scene Text)

The abbot began to intone the ceremony in a style of modulation impressively exalted, his voice issuing most canonically from the roof of the mouth, through the medium of a very musical nose newly tuned for the occasion. But he had not proceeded far enough to exhibit all the variety and compass of this melodious instrument, when a noise was heard at the gate, and a party of armed men entered the chapel. The song of the choristers died away in a shake of demisemiquavers, contrary to all the rules of psalmody.

The organ-blower, who was working his musical air-pump with one hand, and with two fingers and a thumb of the other insinuating a peeping-place through the curtain of the organ-gallery, was struck motionless by the double operation of curiosity and fear; while the organist, intent only on his performance, and spreading all his fingers to strike a swell of magnificent chords, felt his harmonic spirit ready to desert his body on being answered by the ghastly rattle of empty keys, and in the consequent agitato furioso of the internal movements of his feelings, was preparing to restore harmony by the segue subito of an appoggiatura con foco with the corner of a book of anthems on the head of his neglectful assistant, when his hand and his attention together were arrested by the scene below. The voice of the abbot subsided into silence through a descending scale of long-drawn melody, like the sound of the ebbing sea to the explorers of a cave. In a few moments all was silence, interrupted only by the iron tread of the armed intruders, as it rang on the marble floor and echoed from the vaulted aisles.

The leader strode up to the altar; and placing himself opposite to the abbot, and between the earl and Matilda, in such a manner that the four together seemed to stand on the four points of a diamond, exclaimed, “In the name of King Henry, I forbid the ceremony, and attach Robert Earl of Huntingdon as a traitor!” and at the same time he held his drawn sword between the lovers, as if to emblem that royal authority which laid its temporal ban upon their contract.

Author’s Point of View: Since this is the second paragraph of the first chapter, the author must continue to set the tone, establishing the humor and action/adventure of the work as a whole.

Maid Marian: (My comments in blue)

[The abbot began to intone the ceremony in a style of modulation impressively exalted, his voice issuing most canonically from the roof of the mouth, through the medium of a very musical nose newly tuned for the occasion. This is great! A wonderful way of introducing the character, and a good satiric tone. Fun!] [But he had not proceeded far enough to exhibit all the variety and compass of this melodious instrument, when a noise was heard at the gate, and a party of armed men entered the chapel. I like the originality. Most authors who write about Robin Hood and Maid Marian focus on the main characters. I think your choice of focusing on the side characters lets you have a greater scope for humor.]

The song of the choristers died away in a shake of [demisemiquavers, I like the fake word. If you hadn’t established the tone already, it could be confusing, but as it is, I think it’s very effective.] contrary to all the rules of psalmody. The organ-blower, who was working his [musical air-pump Technically, you don’t need the word “musical,” since you already established him as a organ-blower.] with one hand, and with two fingers and a thumb of the other [insinuating a peeping-place through the curtain of the organ-gallery, Nice original verb. “Insinuating” instead of “creating” or “making.”] was struck motionless by the [double operation of curiosity and fear; I like how the “operation” mirrors the action of the organ.] while the organist, intent only on his performance, and spreading all his fingers to strike a swell of magnificent chords, felt [his harmonic spirit ready to desert his body on being answered by the ghastly rattle of empty keys, and in the consequent agitato furioso of the internal movements of his feelings, was preparing to restore harmony by the segue subito of an appoggiatura con foco with the corner of a book of anthems on the head of his neglectful assistant, when his hand and his attention together were arrested by the scene below. Brilliant use of semi-musical terms to describe the unfolding of this scene!]

The voice of the abbot [subsided into silence Nice alliteration] through a descending scale of long-drawn melody, [like the sound of the ebbing sea to the explorers of a cave. Interesting choice of simile, contrasting with a landlocked wedding ceremony.] In a few moments all was silence, interrupted only by the iron tread of the armed intruders, as it rang on the marble floor and echoed from the vaulted aisles.

The leader strode up to the altar; and placing himself opposite to the abbot, and between the earl and Matilda, [in such a manner that the four together seemed to stand on the four points of a diamond, You don’t have to include such specifics, but I like how quickly you established the arrangement in the readers minds.] exclaimed, [“In the name of King Henry, I forbid the ceremony, and attach Robert Earl of Huntingdon as a traitor!” Nice use of formal dialogue to help establish the historical time period.] and at the same time he held his drawn sword between the lovers, [as if to emblem that royal authority which laid its temporal ban upon their contract. I like the commentary, but it definitely indicates a level of detachment from the typical “main” characters, as we are seeing this scene mostly as spectators.]

You’re welcome (and encouraged) to share your own comments, keeping a tone of constructive criticism in mind so we can all learn from this project together. And feel free to disagree with any and all of the advice and comments I gave. Thanks!

Copyright 2014 Andrea Lundgren
Photo by butkovicdub, Creative Commons

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