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Chapter 5
(var. Tancred)

Tancred presents issues and solutions - and offers some advice.
He offers an example of what he means.


       PM 1 is entirely inadequate. The stated and implied objectives can not be met by these means.

       At the very least, PM 1 requires -- and, in its current form, is completely lacking:
  • Stronger foundations (throughout)
  • Accurate transcription -- or, in the alternative, summarization (clearly indicated as such)
  • Annotation
  • A separation of editorial commentary (and personal opinion) and fact

       ISSUE: Lack of foundations.

       SOLUTIONS: Reference guides, at the beginning or as appendices, providing detailed information about the relevant people, places, and things. A "cast of characters" providing detailed biographies (including pictures, etc.). The provision of all necessary background. Detailing of all relevant information (education, professional life, historical events, etc.)

       Foundations re. all the information that is introduced are essential. Almost none are made available.
       A family is plopped on the reader's doorstep, and the first thing they do is go through the mail. Who are these people ?
       Gradually, over the course of the opening section, a reader can form a picture: a father, a mother, two children. It slowly comes into focus, though the amount of concrete information is minimal. Unless the intention is for the reader to create his/her own interpretation (as one might allow in a fiction) this is unacceptable.
       The Sinclair family is a real family, the four members real people. Information about them is withheld, and only some introduced (and piecemeal, at that). This is unfair (and surely annoying) to the reader. There is also no reason/excuse for it -- other than the unacceptable: laziness or an attempt to achieve some sort of dramatic (or other) effect.
       Each family member should be clearly introduced before they appear on the stage, so that the reader understands their role. The initial introduction does not have to be exhaustive, but should give readers a sense of who the person is. Age, personality, experience, interests, appearance should, at the least, be mentioned.
       (Other facts, even if seemingly minor, that might otherwise be distracting to readers should also be explained: the origins of the unusual names, for example.)
       Morgenstern is better-developed -- but only in comparison (and note that there are other faults with how he is presented in these introductory chapters; cf. below).
       Everything needs a foundation. The parents' careers (and the publishing house), Rystwycz, Annabelle's apparent Congo-preoccupation, etc. Everything !

       ISSUE: Accuracy in transcription.

       SOLUTIONS: Accuracy in transcription (possibly by switching media: film or voice-recording) -- or summarization, clearly indicated as such.

       Conversations and other interactions are carelessly reproduced. There is a great deal of simplification as well as considerable and very radical editing. The reductio is taken almost ad absurdum. This is unacceptable.
       Accurate transcription (or recording in other media: phono- or video-tape) would result in considerably more text -- but at least the words would be right. In the alternative, summaries might be offered (as they are, in a number of places in the text) -- but it is essential that readers are aware that a scene has be cut and compressed, the words twisted and simplified.

       ISSUE: Annotation

       SOLUTIONS: Annotation -- extensive and thorough

       There is essentially no annotation. No footnotes (or endnotes), no references, minimal links. Both personal and other information must be explained and analyzed. This can be done in the text itself, but rigorous annotation seems a preferable solution.

       ISSUE: Mixing of opinion and fact

       SOLUTIONS: Clear separation of fact and opinion

       The prevalence of personally-coloured information is disturbing, and detrimental to the project -- especially since the presentation makes it largely indistinguishable from the factual material that is also included. A modicum of subjectivity, a "personal touch", even the presentation of pure opinion is acceptable -- as long as it can not be confused with fact. Here it can.
       The sketch of Morgenstern, for example, is a ridiculously filtered reminiscence. The actual factual content, the information conveyed, is only minimal. Yet readers can be misled into believing that they have a "sense" of the man, even though almost none of the information they have gotten is substantive.
       More than these narrow perspective must be offered, and there must be a clear demarcation between fact and ... fiction.

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       Think bigger.
       Think more expansively.
       Think more encompassingly.

       Also: narrow the focus to the relevant. Extraneous material must be shed: there is no need to weigh down the account with it. Understandably, relevance is difficult to determine before the fact. Still ... the plays of Simon Gray ? Etc.

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       A properly laid-out chronology is clearly the best way of organizing the material -- at least for the time when time is the overarching organizational principal. (It may at some point in the story be superseded by a superior organizational principle, but until then proceeding chronologically must clearly be the default-preference.)
       I suggest side by side (by side by side) narratives following each of the four characters, running in parallel down the page, proceeding along a marginal time-line. (Only Morgenstern-related material need be covered -- as long as this is defined sufficiently broadly.) This allows for the concurrent presentation of more than one perspective on the goings-on -- lessening the dreaded taint of subjectivity and making it easier for readers to decide for themselves who and what they wish to believe. It also doesn't tie you down to the one story (or version or what have you) but allows you to present as many as all four (or, if necessary, even more) thematic variations.

       A simple example is presented below -- the opening of the letter first informing the family of Morgenstern's request. Note that this example has been reconstructed based solely on the memory of one participant (Tancred) and the written account of another (PM 1 - chapter 1, by B.S.) -- and so it does not fully take advantage of the form, in essence only reproducing one (or one and a half) version(s) of this particular incident. The actual version must, at the very least, also rely on the accounts and interpretations of the other two participants.
       In addition, it should also take into account and/or present whatever extraneous evidence and material may be deemed relevant. For the given example I would suggest that readers -- at the very least -- also be provided with:
  • A floorplan of the Sinclair apartment -- with the relevant areas of movement of the given scene highlighted
  • A picture of the envelope in question
  • The letter itself, preferably in full facsimile

PM 1 - Example 1 (var. Tancred)

       (Note that only text is presented here. The example must also provide the requisite illustrations and facsimiles (maps, the envelope, the letter, etc.). In addition the text should be thoroughly annotated, cross-referenced, and indexed. Other possibilities (strongly recommended) include: audio and video clips, where available.)

       Time is given in the form HH:MM:SS (hours (0-24), minutes, seconds). Times given are approximate and serve only as a general guide: the narrative focus is on action.

  • (Text in brackets indicates actions.)
  • "Text in quotation marks indicates spoken words."
  • Text in italics indicates thoughts.
       (Note that the presentation can -- and probably should -- be more elaborate and detailed. Possibilities: colour-coding; boldness of font to indicate significance/loudness/notice, etc.)

19:27 (In kitchen: clearing away dishes) (In kitchen: taking apple pie from oven, cutting it, getting ice cream.) (In dining room: clearing rest of table.) (In dining room: clearing rest of table.)
19:27:05 . . Now seems like a good time. "Should we get the letter now, or wait until after desert ?" .
19:27:15 . . . (Stops clearing) "The letter ?"
19:27:25 . . "The London letter. From the solicitors. Clotwold and Berne." .
19:27:45 . . . "Maybe we should let Mum and Dad should have a look for themselves first. It probably only concerns them. Might be something serious.
19:28:15 . . "You were the one insisting that it was for all of us." .
19:28:30 . . . (Hesitates uncertainly.)
19:28:35 . . I wonder why she's reluctant ? Official looking stuff, I guess. Can't be good news, she figures. .
19:29 . . . "Right. I'll get it."
19:29:15 (Returns to table. Sits.) . . (Goes to get letter.)
19:29:25 . . And then she's the one that gets it ? Not that there's much credit there -- but some. Makes her look responsible, decisive, like she can take charge. When she'd probably forgotten all about it. .
19:29:45 . . . (Handling the letter, turning it over and over.) I wonder what it is. And if it's not better to leave it. But that's the problem with letters: they come into your house and they become an obligation. Can't very well just toss it away unread. Not something this official looking. (Takes letter opener and skips back to dining room.)
19:31 . (Enters dining room with tray with four plates, each with a portion of apple pie and ice cream. Spoons clattering on tray as she put it down.) . .
19:31:30 (Helps pass deserts.) (Helps pass deserts.) Lawsuit or inheritance. Those would have to be my two guesses. Or it could be one of Mom or Dad's British authors, in some sort of trouble. .
19:31:45 . . . (Hovers near mother.)
19:32 . . . "This came today." (Holds letter in front of mother.)
19:32:10 . (Takes letter.) . .
19:32:15 . (Examines letter. Some surprise at look and feel of envelope.) Mom doesn't recognize who its from either. (Worried.)
19:32:20 . (Reads:) "Sinclairs ?" . .
19:32:25 (Begins to eat desert.) . "Annabelle thinks that for some reason it's addressed to all of us ..." "I think it's for all of us ..."
19:32:30 . . "But I'm sure it's just for you two." .
19:32:35 . . "Trouble with the British law or something." "But it clearly says: Sinclairs. It's addressed to the Sinclairs. All of us."
19:32:40 . . She just can't let it be, can she ? She can't be right, but she still has to go blabbing away, as if that helps makes her argument stronger. "Even Tancred."
19:32:45 . . . "And why shouldn't it be ?"
19:32:50 . (Turning the envelope in her hand.) For an infinite number of reasons, all of which are more likely than the ridiculous idea that some London lawyers are even aware of the existence of someone as insignificant and annoying as Annabelle. Sure, it probably isn't for us, but this is probably the only way we'll get to find out what's in the letter -- whether Mum and Dad are in big trouble or something.
19:33 . "Well, let's just open it and see, shall we ?" . (Holding out letter opener.)
19:33:10 . (Takes letter opener.) . .
19:33:12 . . (Stares at letter in mother's hand.) I wonder ... (Sits. Stares at letter in mother's hands.)
19:33:14 . (Slits envelope open, removes pages, unfolds them, scans them.) . .
19:33:30 . (Flips through pages silently.) Well, this isn't fair. I mean, even if it's none of our business, she should at least tell us ... that. This is so unfair ! (Near tears.)
19:33:35 "Anything of interest, dear ?" . . .
19:33:40 . "Pardon ? Right ... yes, it appears it is for all of us." . .
19:33:42 . . Well what do you know ... I knew it ! I knew it ! Tancred is a moron ! I knew it !
19:34 . (Looks up from the pages.) "Morgenstern ..... It seems to have something to do with Morgenstern." . .
19:34:10 . . Professor Morgenstern ? Well, he is always good for some fun ..... Professor Morgenstern ? Yeah, he always treats us right. Acknowledges our presence. Even Tancred's presence, which seems very generous to me.
19:34:15 . . But it's not him -- it's some lawyers who sent the letter ..... .
19:34:20 Something must have happened to him. Something must have happened to him. Something must have happened to him. Something must have happened to him.
19:34:45 (Concerned glances around the table.) (Concerned glances around the table.) (Concerned glances around the table.) (Concerned glances around the table.)
19:35 . (Begins to read from letter:) "Dear Sinclairs ....." . .

       At this point the letter would be introduced, in facsimile -- then perhaps the text run through once again, while the thoughts of the four characters as they listen to it being read are related.

       Clearly, this is only a sketch of what the actual end-product would look like. For one: you see that there are many blank spaces that need to be filled. A great deal more information must be provided -- both from the point of view of each of the characters as well as general background and expository material. But surely you see that my method and approach are far superior to your initial attempts.

       Rest assured, you can count on my full support in these undertakings. I look forward to assisting (and, on occasion, guiding) you in your efforts.

       Now: let's go do it right.

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