Book Jacket

 

rank 5907
word count 38448
date submitted 13.11.2008
date updated 10.02.2009
genres: Fiction, Chick Lit, Popular Culture...
classification: universal
complete

Emotional Sequelae

Joann Carrey

"People who have the courage to feel from the heart are a minority." - Joann Caravello

 

Jessica Falzone was lonely, though surrounded by her husband and children, she lived in a void- a great crevasse separating her from the world which everyone else considered "normal". She existed along this Great Highway of the Forlorn until one fateful night when she decided that she had a story to tell. She wrote a book, "The Woman Who Loved Gabriel Stone" and, lo and behold it sold- turning Jesse's world upside down. A best selling book and a bitter divorce ensue; transporting Jesse into a life where she feels she can finally be free; until she encounters Richard, a lover from her long, distant past with more emotional baggage than she... We become a fly on the wall as we watch Jesse and Rick attempt to help each other heal and rebuild their lives. We see that the human psyche is like a ball of yarn- once unraveled, it tangles and, to most, a waste of time to rewind. As time progresses, they learn that the feelings one holds in their hearts has a way of seeping into the lives of others; they learn they are responsible for their own decisions and the consequences thereof: the emotional sequelae.

 
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deep, emotional, funny, hamptons, hits a chord, humorous, intense, new york, north fork, painfully honest, painfully real, raw, surprising, uplifting

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6 comments

 

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Pierre Van Rooyen wrote 1826 days ago



Dear Joann,


Raising a son of twenty four? You are crazier than my wife and I. Brett was thirty before we kicked him out of the house. Tee-hee.

Emotional Sequelae is on my revolving bookshelf.

I’m almost afraid to critique. This is very different to anything else on Authonomy. Quite unique and very beautiful. I don’t fault the writing. It’s very much a narrative soliloquy. I read four chapters. Literary agents might insist on more character sketches. I’m not sure.

The notes below relate to ordinary fiction. With your skills I don’t think you need them, but perhaps something there catches your eye. If so, I’ll be the one smiling. Go well with your work.

Over the past five months I have spent three hundred hours providing page-long critiques but can no longer keep up with the volume.

So I’m trying another way of passing on information.

I will attempt to do better than critique your work by indicating how you might judge it yourself. Rather along the lines of give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, feed him for life. You may or may not agree with everything and I admit I do not always stick to these thoughts either.

What I have set out below are guide-lines based on what I myself have learnt from being published.

The pitch is critically important as among the book-lists which editors scan, your pitch stands alone with no support from the synopsis. I write the synopsis first, because a key sentence there is usually appropriate for the pitch.

A synopsis is not a dust-jacket advertisement. Aimed at a professional editor, it is a no-nonsense summary of what happens in the novel, including how the novel ends. Don’t leave the editor dangling and don’t ask her questions. Tell her.

Somerset Maugham said, ‘There are three rules for writing a successful novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.’

Correct. There are no rules for creativity. Think of Richard Bach’s Jonathon Livingstone Seagull. So way out, so creative it was rejected over a hundred times. Then it became a best seller.

There is one criterion though……. entertainment. Our writing must entertain from the very first sentence. There is no other reason for story-telling whether around a camp fire or in print..

I have struggled nine years to write three novels. Each written three times. One published, one lying fallow, Fig Tree currently in the process of being rewritten for the fifth time. Two literary agents requested the full manuscript but threw it back at me for narrative story telling. So I am rewriting, converting narrative to dialogue.

Based on what has happened to me, these are my thoughts on what editors want from us…………….


Plunge directly into the story. Do not set the scene or back-story first. When we go to a play and the curtain rises, we don’t see stage hands putting the props in place. The stage is already set. Likewise our opening paragraphs to the reader, the actors should immediately get on with it.

I have found that our opening chapter isn’t necessarily the first one we write. It might only occur to us when the novel is completed.

Let our characters drive the story-telling via dialogue, interplay and direct action. It’s stupid (although I am guilty of this) to have a stage set and silent characters frozen, while an off-stage narrator bores the audience with what is supposed to be happening on the stage.

Write minimal words because research shows that our readers’ brains race ahead of our words, visualizing the scene themselves, anticipating how our sentences end…… four times faster than they are reading. They become bored and frustrated by our overwriting, over description, unnecessary information. (I have been hauled over the coals for this.)

Write tight, sparse, lean, stark, bare bones. Adjectives and adverbs are for people who need a crutch to support their unimaginative nouns and verbs. As far as possible, always seek the appropriate noun and verb.

(Read John Steinbeck’s field notes Journal of a Novel which he jotted down while he was writing East of Eden. He edited out as many adjectives and adverbs as possible, finding the appropriate noun or verb instead.)

And yet, in my rewrite I am horrified to find superfluous words, adjectives, adverbs and general waffling which I am getting rid of. I am embarrassed at my own work.

My vocabulary is poor, so I use Roget’s Thesaurus which is a treasure. A real work-horse and a delight to use. It’s a companion that provides thousands of alternative words. Appropriate nouns and verbs are there for the picking.

Don’t write your scenes. Live them. Experience them. Meditate. Daydream yourself into them Watch what is happening. Listen to what the characters are saying. Smell the sweat or the aroma or whatever. Touch what the characters are touching. What do you feel? Taste the bile, the coffee, or the skin of the lover.

All communication is made through our five senses. I wear earmuffs when I write, to help me leave this world, experience the emotions and the senses and disappear into another universe which is the scene I’m trying to paint.

Are we stirring the emotions of the reader? Feeling is critically important. This can be achieved through good dialogue. Speak your dialogue aloud to hear what it sounds like. Is it natural? Do people really speak like that? Is it too formal? In the real world, we often don’t speak complete sentences. So dialogue can be truncated too to make it more natural.

In my opinion a novel must generate its own momentum, so readers experience it rather than read it. This can be achieved by dreaming it, experiencing it, living it, rather than writing it.

To avoid clumsiness I edit out the past participle ‘had’. I change ‘he had done it’ to ‘he did it’ It seems to make the action more immediate and more relevant.

I also dump words ending in ‘-ly’……. seemingly, clearly, obviously. actually, strangely, finally, eventually………. and all the others. Somehow they weaken our writing and make it vague.

And I am finding that much of the dialogue reads better if the ‘he said, she said’ is deleted.

Taking words out of our sentences and taking sentences out of long narrative paragraphs, in my opinion, is the secret to better writing. I can easily cut my stuff between 20% and 50%.

I learnt this when a literary agent demanded I delete 40,000 words from my first novel of 120,000 words. I was shocked but I cut it back to 80,000 words and the novel was published.

Fig Tree has already shed 16,000 words and I am currently rewriting it for the fifth time, changing the dialogue, cutting the narrative and tightening the writing as much as possible. I might dump another 6,000 words.

You may be interested in The Video Inside Our Heads, which is part of a confession I made about my idiocies in attempting to write. See, ‘How I Wrote and Sold My First Novel’ in Forum’s Writing section. It’s quite insane and you’ll probably laugh at me but it did work and I suppose that’s what matters..

I trust this is better than a critique and provides a bit of food for thought..


Kind regards,



Pierre Van Rooyen.

The Little Girl in the Fig Tree.

LittleDevil wrote 1827 days ago


I’ll call them chapter one two and three for the sake of how the book is pasted on the site.
One-three is beautiful, sad and emotive. I came to chapter 4 believing totally. But as I read the first two paragraphs I found myself wondering why are you telling us this? Why don’t you let it all unfold naturally? Personally, I don’t think you need to tell us anything you are capable of rich narrative without information.
I’d begin Kate wanted to be someone...
And then... I would rephrase
Kate spends her days...
And have something like
Her days were spent or she spent her days.
I think the beginning of chapter four could do with some tidying up, but I got back into the story half way down the page where I met with some lovely prose, snail snot. And this:
Like the changing of the leaves from one day to the next. One day they’re hanging from the trees in their spectacular coloured coats and the next they’re being trod upon in the driveway. That is an amazingly true statement about the way a relationship can change almost without noticing.
Chapter 5
Although I enjoyed it, part of me is saying, ‘Why don’t you use dialogue to tell Jame’s story?’
And although I like the final statement about dumping his father’s butt in a home to sit in his own drool, it didn’t seem like something a 7 year old would say. I’m not saying it’s wrong I am not qualified to tell anyone that something is wrong, but it kind of struck me as awkward that’s all. The fact that the story is being told by a depressive makes what would usually seem wrong right.
I love the little rhymes that are littered throughout the story.
Many women will relate to events in chapter 6 feel the sadness and the craving to be loved.

I'm at the end of chapter 7 and my grandaughter is trashing the house because I can't stop turning the pages. I can't wait to see how the real life turns out when she meets Richard. But for now, I have to stop and clear up the mess.

LittleDevil wrote 1827 days ago
LittleDevil wrote 1827 days ago

Firstly, thank you!
I’ve been searching for two days for something I really want to read. After reading as many lines as I would in a bookstore, I thought – Yes! I finally found one. Don’t worry, I’m not backing you on the basis of the first few lines. I am going to read enough to form a realistic opinion. It may not be tonight – we’ll see how good you are at keeping the interest alive. Let the reading begin!
My first impressions as I breezed through chapter one was: How true this all seems, very real and I would suspect that many women have felt at some time during their marriage. (I’m not admitting anything ;o)
I love the basic rather than the materialistic way you describe the tender moments when your (hark at me, YOUR) thoughts drift to simple gestures like the boy passing through. (YOUR) That’s when I know I can believe in a narrator, when I start referring to YOUR as if it really is your own story. Maybe it is, kind of. But forgive me for this.
I love Jesse already. Far too many people nowadays don’t know the meaning of real love. Their relationships are scored on fancy cars and expensive gifts. And are they really happy?
I think you may need permission for quoting song words, but I’m sure you’ll check that out for yourself.
I’ll be honest now, no bullshit. I am going to back this on the basis of the first chapter. I want to be one of the first to say ‘Hey look what I’ve found’ And do you know what? I hate chic-lit usually, but this is slower. I think this is more literary fiction. Chic-lit is not good enough to describe this.
I will be back! Too tired to continue tonight.
Sue

Janet Marie wrote 1835 days ago

Hi Joann. Engaging Voice. You convey the sensitivities of man's universal yearning for love and security. You gently provide foreshadowing and then immediately stoically sum up the events. Shelved. Good luck. Janet Marie

kals60 wrote 1837 days ago

Highly recommended, very enjoyable read. Everyone has a little bit of Jessica deep inside, which makes this character very easy to identify with. The book successfully explores love and the bitterness of its aftermath; as well as the fulfillment of dreams and that all elusive golden ring of success spawned by pure determination when you think that life has turned its back on you. However, Joann Carey also shows us that sometimes in life, like rewinding a movie to re-view a particularly good part, we are sometimes disappointed that the "good part" wasn't as good as we originally thought...and that it was rather a disappointment the second time around. She makes us ponder how we differentiate between what to "rewind" and what to consider memories in the saga we call our lives. All in all, I would highly recommend this book as an enjoyable, thought provoking story of the power of love, determination and the pursuit of happiness which I think we can all identify with.

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