Monday, January 14, 2013

"She is a perfect cruet."

Although it is time again for Snippets of Story, this month I have not written over-much new material. Perhaps that will change through the next two weeks and I can do a post then. Most of my writing has been the composition of fill-ins and beefing-up pieces for Fly Away Home, or messing about with a new plot idea. (One that I am not springing on you just yet.) You will have to be patient. I am, however, giving you a fresh, deeper glimpse into Mr. Barnett's character. After much thought, I have decided to add a few of Mr. Barnett's "Journal Entries" throughout the book. Because of a certain aspect of Callie's story, I have wanted and needed Mr. Barnett's side of the story to be cloaked. All the same, after consulting many friends (and my own good sense) I decided that it would be prime opportunity to deepen his character, deepen other characters, and generally flesh out the plot if I give you a bit of Mr. Barnett from his own lips. Er...pen. I am in the process of deciding where these pieces will fall, what back-story and new plot developments they will bring to light, and what I will do with this new wealth of material.

Fly Away Home is written in first-person narrative. It's so much fun to write Mr. Barnett's perspective after having written Callie's. Their voices are so elementally different. Callie's is sassy, sarcastic, insecure, and sweet by turns. Mr. Barnett's is careful, archaic, precise, and laced with dry humor. It's actually a little weird getting this close to Mr. Barnett. Getting into his head, in a way. It makes me feel like somehow I've taken a huge step into his character and that I've burst his personal bubble.'s pretty amazing....I thought I'd share an excerpt from Mr. Barnett's journal relating to the first time he meets Calida Harper...


…I rang Mr. Shores of The St. Evan’s Post in the evening. If the poor fellow smokes—and I believe all of them do—I’m afraid he swallowed his cigar whole when I announced who I was, and my purpose for calling. It was a one-sided conversation due—I fear—to the swallowed cigar. I politely informed him that I had an interest in beginning a small magazine for the families of America, and wondered if his firm would consider supplying an assistant for me. I had every intention of suggesting Miss Harper for the job, but when it came down to it, I couldn’t think of a plausible reason for knowing the girl. It seems she’s an obscurity I ought to know nothing about. Reminds me of a kitchen drudge in the dungeons of those great English houses.
By some blessed event, Mr. Shores agreed to my plan. He shares the desire of all his type to ‘not be taken in’, by which I understand them to mean they won’t allow themselves to believe in anything, lest it prove untrue. This trait added the complications of him doubting my seriousness, doubting I could get the thing together and doubting—above all—that he could spare anyone to help me.
“Haven’t you any…dispensables?” I asked. “Anyone just taking up space in the office?”
“Why are you so hot to get someone from this office, Mr. Barnett?” he asked.
I felt exactly like man clinging by his fingernails to the edge of a cliff and wishing the rope would come just a bit closer so he could grab hold of it. I reminded myself I would act in a similar fashion if put in Mr. Shores’ position. “I take an interest in underdogs, Mr. Shores,” I said. “Furthermore, I thought it would be an attractive position for your business. Think of the possibilities, sir. If my magazine succeeds—and forgive me the vanity, but I am certain it willThe St. Evans Post will have the dignity of being co-founder.”
He was silent for some moments before agreeing to my scheme. We set a meeting for three o’clock today, and that is why—an hour or two ago—I was in a wretched, ninth-floor office meeting Calida Harper.
The girl reminds me of a yearling filly—headstrong, calculating, and ready to kick a fellow at the least provocation. She stared at me as if I was a ghost first, then Winston Churchill, then a free ticket to Easy Street, then a banana peel in a trash-barrel at the West End. I am not sure on what footing this puts us. I’m not sure she’s sure. I suppose tomorrow will tell.
I ask myself what I think of her.
She is beautiful.
“Calida”…“Beautiful warmth”. Which I must admit is horribly ironic. Miss Harper seems to prefer the cold-shoulder method of communication. She is a perfect cruet, to pardon an odd expression; tall, stately, and full of vinegar.
I have so much to do in the next few days. My yacht will be out of the dry-dock with all repairs finished. I’m thinking of rechristening her. I shall search around for a good name, and ask Dirigible to paint over the old one. Sailors say it is bad luck to change a ship’s name, or to paint her a different color. What a mercy Man has more than one chance to change his stripes. ‘Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His mercy endureth forever.’



Stephanie said...

That is a great idea... adding his journal entries. Fleshing him out will make for a really good story. Personally I think it would be cool to make the story into a movie. :D Although the picture you put up of him didn't exactly match my mental picture... so I'm recalibrating. ;)


Chloe M. Kookogey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chloe M. Kookogey said...

Have I mentioned before how much I love Mr. Barnett? I have? No matter, it bears repeating. He's pretty much the ideal man, except he's not perfect, which just endears him to me even more. I quite like the idea of adding journal entries, as it gives the reader a window into his thoughts for part of the story. We hear so much of Callie, which is the purpose of the story, of course, but a few scenes from Mr. Barnett's perspective give a bit more roundness to the whole story.

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

Oh, my goodness, I love your metaphors! Whoever would have thought of comparing someone to a cruet...and yet it works perfectly. Love the line describing how she stared at him, too.

Unknown said...

I love your writing style Rachel! That a was fun little excerpt - I like Mr. Barnett more and more every time :D

Unknown said...

I love reading this, Rachel! :) It's very interesting reading the story and seeing Callie through someone else's eyes. I don't think I've told you just how much I like Mr. Barnett, I love his dry humor and his kindness and... oh, just everything about him. :)

I think adding some Journal entries from Mr. Barnett's point of view is an excellent idea! You're right, It really does help with character development. Just a couple months ago I was having a difficult time getting the feel of one of my characters and so I decided to write a Journal from hi point of view. It has helped tremendously! Now I want to have a separate Journal for every one of my Characters. ;)

Joy said...

I really love Mr. Barnett's character too, Rachel!! And Gregory Peck as an image of him just makes him all the more endearing!

I love this idea of making journal entries from his point of view... it will give the story a more rounded point of you! I really agree with what Elizabeth Rose and Annie have said all around!

So excited for your next snippet collection. They're so good! God bless.

Joy @

P.S. I'd love it if you'd come visit my blog sometime. You'd be most welcome :-)

Joy said...

P.S.S. I loved that sentence... " If the poor fellow smokes—and I believe all of them do—I’m afraid he swallowed his cigar whole when I announced who I was, and my purpose for calling. It was a one-sided conversation due—I fear—to the swallowed cigar."

So witty!!

Rachel Heffington said...

Thank you, everyone. I am glad Mr. Barnett translates well to the blog page, because he holds so much of my heart in his fictional hands that I'd hate it if you hated him. I'm vain that way, I suppose. I want everyone to like Mr. Barnett as much as I like him.

@Joy- sometimes I think Mr. Barnett is witty on his own, without my help. Characters will do that on occasion.