Round Robin – August 2021

Do you have any character habits or favourite words that always crop up in your writing?

Oh my! This does take me to task.

I’ve said it before but ‘that’ is like an alien species, invasive and hard to eradicate. My lovely editor at MuseItUp, Judy Roth, pointed the habit out to me and I now make huge efforts to check each ‘that’ has an earned place.

Another favourite word can be the word that (is that necessary? Ed) arrives in my head while writing on any given day. It will usually be an adverb or adjective and when I edit, I discover its presence in one paragraph after another. Maybe this need to edit makes the prose richer.

The antithesis of favourites are the bogey-men. Only in recent years have I developed the confidence to begin sentences with a (necessary) conjunction and end them with a (necessary) preposition. Likewise, I find it very hard to use suddenly and will often opt for abruptly.

Character habits, too, can become favourites. Agitation in my regencies is very often signalled by the heroine shredding the ribbons of her hat or twisting the strings of her reticule until her fingers are white. From Mariah’s Marriage:

“Mariah gripped her reticule so tightly flashes of pain stung her hands but shewelcomed the distraction they made because they prevented her bursting into shameful tears.”

Smoothing down her skirts is another personal habit I attribute to my heroines as they seek to bring a difficult passage to its conclusion. It in some ways signifies the resumption of control.

In describing the secondary characters, I often have stains on their clothing from dropped food. I’m using this to suggest the slightly lower level of society they inhabit, perhaps, or perhaps that their intellects set them apart from such mundane issues – in their opinion. When Tobias calls at Mariah’s home for the first time in Mariah’s Marriage his pristine and fashionable dress almost brings the household to a stand.

“Mariah reluctantly led the way into the house and was not surprised to findTilly opening the inner door as she entered the tiled vestibule. The girl had been spying through the side-light. ‘Tilly, is Papa in the downstairs study?’ she asked the maid, who was agog at the appearance of her escort. Mariah had forgotten how circumscribed their lives were. Of course Tilly would be interested in the earl’s tailored wool coat with his spotless waistcoat and carefully tied neck cloth. The men who normally visited here wore ill-fitting garments which were often stained with food. Not only that, but the earl had a clean-shaven face and the hair of his head was trimmed into a neat style that allowed his strong bones to be seen easily. Seen and admired, she thought.”

I’m sure there are many more, but please read on in the posts of my fellow robins from the list below.

This week saw the publication of the first instalment of my People’s Friend serial about The Edinburgh Seven. A Class of Their Own will run for 8 weeks.

Gerard Fay

Skye Taylor

Victoria Chatham

Connie Vines

Diane Bator

Beverley Bateman

Dr. Bob Rich

Fiona McGier

Helena Fairfax

Rhobin Courtright

Judith Copek