On Costuming (Not Really)

My slow but steady revision of Rosemary and Time is plodding through the middle chapters of the book, especially chapter six ( A Dark and Stormy Knight ) and seven ( A Tight Squeeze ). This section has always been a little problematic for me. In it, Peter and Rosemary continue their trek through the Land of Fiction, reliving books from Rosemary’s past. The problem is, I believe, that this section comes after the very wild and crazy Number Crunchers chapter. The book scenarios are a little more realistic, here, so they don’t have the silly energy of the Number Crunchers, but the story itself has yet to take that darker turn which leads the main characters into the climax. If the story drags, it’s here.

So why not remove it? Well, pacing is one reason. I want to show a progression in the books that Rosemary comes upon, to give some idea why this girl turned away from fiction so. The Number Crunchers serve to show that Rosemary enjoyed reading as a little girl (and still does; just not fiction); in chapter eight, Peter and Rosemary face a terrifying haunted house — and the angry characters who are after Rosemary choose that moment to attack.

I can’t put one thing next to the other. If I did so, there would be no sense of progression, and I think there has to be. The tension has to be given time to build up before I break it open. That’s how gothic novels work, and it’s for that reason, in my opinion, that gothic horror movies are more effective at getting under your skin than straight splatterfests.

Which still leaves two chapters.

I hope I’ve managed to keep reader interest by tightening the narrative as much as possible and adding humour. A fair amount of this humour has been the magical change of costumes Peter and Rosemary have to suffer through as they proceed through the stories. While the humour is in for its own sake while the story takes the time to build, I think it serves a good purpose, highlighting some of the silliness of certain fictional genres (it’s hard to be a heroine in a Victorian dress), but also illustrating character through Peter and Rosemary’s reactions to their costume. This is all good because, otherwise, Peter and Rosemary’s clothes change on their bodies simply as a result of authorial fiat.

It’s interesting that I should be thinking about this while “Joe Clifford Faust posts that the clothes don’t make the man (or woman). He makes an interesting point about descriptions being vague on some strong characters, allowing the readers to build better mental pictures of those characters through the power of their imagination. Looking through Rosemary and Time, I notice that while Peter gets a good physical description, Rosemary doesn’t. This is partly because this story is told tightly in her point of view, and there are no opportunities for her to stare at herself in a mirror (actually, there’s one, but she’s not given enough time to reflect upon her appearance).

Despite this, many of my beta-readers seem to have a pretty clear picture of Rosemary… albeit one that’s different depending on who you ask. Anybody here want to describe her and compare notes?


I’ve been so busy, a few things have fallen by the wayside. I should mention that the Carnival of the Canucks has been continuing, highlighting all sorts of interesting things each week in the Canadian blogosphere. Last week, Catherine Jamieson hosted. She also has a nicely designed blog.

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