unfortunately, “agathism” doesn’t mean what I thought it did

I get the A.Word.A.Day emails every day, and yesterday’s was about “agathism,” which I thought was a coincidence since I had just talked about Agatha Christie in my last post, but it turns out the word is not related in any way to Dame Agatha.

Oh, well.

I’ve hit a bit of a roll on my new story — I finally got to a scene that has some momentum. Until then it had been basically me pulling the story along, paragraph by paragraph, like dragging a heavy kid on a sled.

(This may be why I stay away from metaphors.)

I would consider starting to post it, except that it doesn’t have a title yet. That’s one of the things that’s specific to writing serial stories — you have to commit to the title at the beginning of the process, rather than at (or after) the end. So, I view this as part of the process — if the story isn’t clear enough to have a title, it isn’t clear enough to start posting either.

I thought this article was interesting also (although rather longer than it needed to be): “The Case Against the Trauma Plot.”

I have always stayed away from “trauma plots.” I have characters who have suffered various kinds of trauma, and that informs their actions and reactions, but that’s knowledge I hold — backstory, not story. And I have characters with what are generally considered mental problems and I’ve never given a “reason” for their condition.

This part of the article caught my attention specifically:

Classics are retrofitted according to the model. Two modern adaptations of Henry James’s “The Turn of the Screw” add a rape to the governess’s past. In “Anne with an E,” the Netflix reboot of “Anne of Green Gables,” the title character is given a history of violent abuse, which she relives in jittery flashbacks. In Hogarth Press’s novelized updates of Shakespeare’s plays, Jo Nesbø, Howard Jacobson, Jeanette Winterson, and others accessorize Macbeth and company with the requisite devastating backstories.

Reminds me of Orson Welles’ take on Iago. Various productions and adaptations of Othello have conjured up a reason (or reasons) for Iago’s actions, but that’s a modern sensibility. As Welles put it (paraphrasing here), everybody who’s spent any time out in the world has met an Iago or two.

Needless to say, “Rosebud” from Citizen Kane was not Welles’ idea.

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