LETTERS TO THE BETTERS
Here at FFA HQ, we receive literally tens of fawning fan letters every quarter (approximately). Sometimes our kindly members dip their quills into the inkwell of writerly wisdom to help smooth the unsightly frown lines of ruffled writers seeking recherché recommendations on rhetoric. Such wisdom-seeds are then sewn into our Pearls of Wisdom section to benefit the advice-starved writing masses.
A Miss TM of Auckland writes:
My ambition is to write passionate fiction in the style of Lobelia Quest, but my endings always come out limp and flaccid. How can I make them swell and surge like hers?
Lobelia Quest replies:
The secret to a satisfying climax is simple. Consider the finale of one of my own works:
“To hell with the Third Reich and to hell with the racial purity laws!” The Hauptsturmfuhrer swept Bella into his manly arms. “If loving you is pollution, I don’t want to be clean. We’ll make a fresh start, just the two of us. We’ll go to Switzerland and start a chain of restaurants serving kosher schnitzel with klezmer-lieder background music—we’ll take the world by storm! We’ll raise half our children as Jewish and half as Nazis—it will add spice to their chase games.”
“And—and you’ll be circumcised?”
“It’s no skin off my nose.”
As he kissed her, the building shook to its very foundations. Outside, a panzer division gave a 21-gun salute and a V2 rocket surged into the sky—destination London, fuelled by love.
Three things make this satisfying: all obstacles have been cleared from the path of true love; far horizons beckon and the future opens up bright with possibilities before them; and the backdrop of the story echoes the characters’ passion, their surroundings becoming atmospherically harmonic.
This last is the most important and is absolutely vital for a climax that leaves you drained and shaken and in need of a cigarette. Dour realists sniff at it and call it by names such as ‘the pathetic fallacy’—doubtless embittered by their own lack of passion and their pathetic phalluses. (Or in the case of the ladies, slack and unresponsive bosom-antennae.)
Here are some more examples. This is from my saga of prehistoric romance, One Million Years Before Clothes:
Ug tossed the club aside and folded her into his arms. She felt dazed and reeling from more than mere concussion. In the middle distance a volcano erupted; a mastodon reared its trunk and bellowed; across the bay a plesiosaur thrust its long neck into a sea-cave—slowly, tenderly, but with every evidence of intending to remain inside for some time.
Or how about this from Fenella of the Fenlands:
As she melted into his arms all of nature seemed to riot around her in response. Floodwater gushed through the sluice gates; a sleek moist beaver nibbled at a sturdy log; tadpoles frolicked in a rippling pool; a fish rose to swallow a wriggling worm and was played expertly by the angler until it lay stunned and thrashing on the bank. Then there was only the slow repeated plopping and sliding of his pole as he thrust the punt ever onwards towards destiny, fulfillment, and Norwich.
From Texas Hold Him:
The roped horse whinnied. On the horizon the oil rigs gushed, the mighty machines pumping rhythmically as they pounded and drilled the eagerly yielding earth. A cactus flowered; a magnificent longhorn thundered across the range and mounted a cow. Mitch took her in his arms, once and forever. He left his boots on as they did it.
From Queen of the Cosmos:
“Damn the Space Ranger code! It wasn’t written by anyone who’d ever met a girl like you—and with eight breasts!”
In every direction the stars shimmered like dreams. Their air bubbles met and merged into one. Asteroids collided, meteors showered, and a comet flew into the hole of a pulsating quasar and caused it to go supernova.
Taste and subtlety are always my watchwords. I sternly repudiate and am not responsible for any unduly vulgar construction sordid minds may put upon such inflamed passages and never stoop to crude sexual symbolism. Sometimes a plesiosaur is just a plesiosaur. Nevertheless, I think you can see a mood is being created, a picture evoked of the consummation of a passion so epic that the very world around seethes and bursts and concatenates in sympathy with it.
I hope this has helped. However, it may be that you are simply not a born writer as I am; indeed the samples you enclosed were so cretinously dreadful that I hold out little hope for you. There is a charge of ten guineas for my advice.
About the Author
Lobelia Quest published her first novel, ‘The Lady and the Boot Boy’, at age 16, winning praise for its originality of grammar and freshness of vision, with one critic remarking, ‘I will never again be able to look at a rotary shoe-polisher without blushing.’ Since then she has worked in a variety of genres and styles—’each song creates the singer anew’—and has twice won the Silver Vulva at the Montreux Passionate Writing Festival. Her advice to aspirant writers is stern: ‘One has to give and give to one’s readers and then give some more until it hurts … One cannot be a slave to the dictionary. One has to transcend it. Often one must voyage far beyond the right word in order to land on the really surprising one.’ To get into the mood, Miss Quest usually works naked apart from a rope of pearls and a dab of Givenchy. This may make it easier to apply her patented ‘nipple test’ to each line of prose: ‘Nipples are nature’s own early-warning system for boredom. Slack nipples mean slack writing. When the writing is taut, quivering, and threatening to gush just a little bit, so are my bosom-antennae.’