Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A NaNo Snippet

I can't resist. I'm so excited about the new novel I thought I'd share a snippet with you. Remember, it's an early draft, so don't judge too harshly. I hope you enjoy it.

I scrape away the globs of white with the palette knife and swirl a touch of blue onto my brush. Jamet will never equal Father in skill, of that I am certain. Whereas if Father would only give me a chance…

I should be thankful to be at court painting feathers and bows instead of scraping carrots in my mother’s kitchen, yet each day spent at Fontainebleau tries me past endurance. An army of artists slaves to transform this hunting lodge into the showcase of Europe, and all I can do is watch. Rasping saws and clanging chisels taunt me as I sit at Father’s desk, tallying accounts; whiffs of wet varnish, undercutting the reek of courtiers’ perfumes, entice as I arrange the fall of sitters’ skirts. Marble gods beckon for caresses as I cross the palace gardens toting Father’s paintbox; tumbling putti wave as I pass beneath cloud-swathed vaults with pails of water to launder chalk dust from Jamet’s sleeves. Knowing I’ll never plaster the garlanded frescoes or tint the stuccoed fauns eats at me like acid on an engraver’s plate. I shan’t even gild the “F’s” that monogram the paneled walls of the king’s
grande galerie.

“Is it ready?” Jamet fills the doorway, blocking the light that streams in from the courtyard.

Finishing the last of the pearls, I don’t look up. “Father says she doesn’t expect it until next week.”

“Not the portrait. My bag.” I hear him grunt as he spies his leather satchel on the bench beneath the window. “I do hope you packed new chalk. That last batch of black splintered under the slightest pressure.” He clucks his tongue as though I fired the faulty charcoal myself, just to vex him.

Sibling rivalry takes on an entirely different dynamic when women's roles are severely circumscribed ...


lucyp said...

I do find it is easier to work in description in first person, and I can see that in this passage. It seems far more natural than in third person.
Have you read Sarah Dunant's Birth of Venus?

Julianne Douglas said...

Thank you, Lucy! That's a wonderful compliment coming from a fellow hf novelist.

I did read Venus several years ago, but too long ago to remember the description. Was there something in particular that struck you in it?

Amanda said...

I love it! I just found your blog and am loving it. What is your first novel you wrote?

Rachel said...

Oh, very nice! I love how you have used your character's stream of jealous thoughts as a vehicle to so evocatively describe her surroundings - I can see, hear, smell all that she can, and her bitterness is palpable. And this line is fabulous - " eats at me like acid on an engraver’s plate."

Get typing on that MacBook, Julianne!

cindy said...

wonderful, and i'm intrigued and reeled in already. i love that it is an artistic scene. i like the first person. thank you for sharing and GOOD LUCK on nano!!! yay!

Julianne Douglas said...

Amanda--I'm glad you found my blog and especially glad you like it! My first novel hasn't been published yet; its under submission to publishers by my awesome agent, Stephanie Cabot. There's a snippet from that book in the sidebar.

Rachel--Thanks for your kind words. I try hard to make metaphors and similes fit the world of the character. As for the Macbook--everyone's encouraging words have made me quite eager to get back to typing!

Cindy--I'm glad the first person is working. I'm still not sure about the present tense. I find myself falling back into past as I write, so the jury's out on whether I'll wind up switching or not.

I try to follow your mantra of letting myself write utter poo in the first draft in order to crank it out, but no matter how hard I try, I can't write that way. I have to edit and polish as I go, mostly because while I'm doing that my mind is working out what happens next plotwise and characterwise. It's slow going but I think it saves time in the end, because at least with my first book, I had hardly any editing to do when I finished; my agent only asked for a few tweaks in the opening pages before we started submitting. I'll just have to be happy with a slowly but steadily increasing word count. Anyway, back to squeeze in a few more words before bed! Thanks for the encouragement, and good luck to you too!