Thinking about “Chapter One”

Upon re-reading “Chapter One” and thinking about it, I am not satisfied with the ending of it.  One, the description of Mary is brief, to say the least.  Of course, she’s a ghost; how much fleshing out should I have done?  Still, the scene ends abruptly and badly.  It ends like I didn’t know what else to write and I put words in her mouth.

It’s true I didn’t know what else to write.  The words, though, are Mary’s.  She did say, “You are writing the wrong story,” and she told me that over and over again.  I’ve had to really think about that.  I thought I had a really good story planned.  So who is Mary talking to?  Is she telling the protagonist in the story, “You’re writing the wrong story”, or is she telling me, the author of the story? 

Another problem is Mary’s language.  I am of course speaking American English of the twenty-first century.  Mary did not learn English until after she was twenty-five years old and a captive in England; she never did speak it very well.  She spoke French, Scots, Latin, and Italian.  French was the language in which she naturally spoke and wrote.  So as Mary hovers before our protagonist (what is her name?) instead of telling her, “You are writing the wrong story!” shouldn’t she be instead be saying, “Vous écrivez l’histoire mal!”

If she chose to speak in Latin, since our as-yet unnamed protagonist is a university professor, and during the Renaissance, all professors taught in Latin, Mary would have said, “Scribis iniuriam fabula!”

But perhaps Mary wouldn’t have been able to tell that our protagonist was a professor, since she was coming in from hunting.  Maybe Mary looked at our protagonist and thought she was a peasant or just someone way below her station in life.  So perhaps she would have addressed her in Scots, the language of the common people.  She would have said something like, “Yow air wryting th’ wrang tale!”

Whoever Mary is talking to and however she is saying it, her message is clear:  I am writing the wrong story.  As the protagonist (whom I haven’t even bothered to name) tells Mary, “I haven’t written anything in a long time.” So Mary must be talking to me. 

I’ve hardly begun this story.  I have a few other chapters that I haven’t posted because they’re not even done, but Mary Queen of Scots seems to think that I’m going in the wrong direction.  (Before she was telling me I was writing the wrong story, she was telling me I was going in the wrong direction.  Because the protagonist was going to say, “I know where I’m going; I’ve walked through these woods a hundred times.” Going in the wrong direction/writing the wrong story, it’s basically the same thing). 

However, since Mary hasn’t bothered to come back and share any ideas on what to do, I’m doing to finish the other chapters and continue writing the story I have.  Since it’s what I’ve got.  If she wants to reappear and let me know what she thinks, well, I’m ready to hear it. 

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