Categories
On Writing

Endless Cups of Tea

Kameron Hurley has a great new post, “The Madhatter Teaparty: Rescuing Your Characters from Endless Cups of Tea,” about the problem of novels becoming too talky.cup-of-tea

Plot kicks my ass. It kicks my ass up one end of a story and down another, because honestly, all my characters want to do is snark at each other over tea. Or whisky. Or coffee. Or bug juice. Whatever. Any excuse for them to sit around flinging zingers at each other and discussing what they are going to do next works for me.

Snarking at each other — or perhaps politely teasing each other — over tea is about all my characters do (when they’re not being robbed by cross-dressing highwaymen or dueling with swords). In some novels, it’s literally all they do (see Rachel Cusk’s Outline). Jane Austen was criticized for exactly this. Even her publisher said that Emma “wants incident and romance, does it not?”

Categories
Feminism Politics

Getting Georgian England Wrong

Cracked's caption: "Right after the artist was finished, this thing went full-on orgy." What's actually happening: those officers are going to march out at 3 a.m. to meet Napoleon's army. (WikiMedia)
Henry O’Neil’s “Before Waterloo,” depicting British officers at a ball given by the Duchess of Richmond. They’ve just gotten the news they’ll be marching out at 3 that morning to face Napoleon’s army. Cracked’s caption: “Right after the artist was finished, this thing went full-on orgy.” ROFL, Cracked, ROFL! (WikiMedia)

My impression of Cracked.com was that it provides accurate information in a humorous way, but I was not amused by the over-simplifications in a recent post on sexual mores during England’s Georgian period. Yes, there was a lot more sex going on than in your typical Jane Austen novel, but the article implies that this was an equal-opportunity sexual liberation, which it emphatically was not. Here’s a sample (and you’re right if you guessed that the part that got me was where the author described Jane Austen as “a sexually repressed spinster who almost never left her hometown, so what did she know?”):