From Jester To King XXII
By Simon Barget
[Cue bombastic introductory music followed by male voice voice-over]
[Cue footage of man in front of large screen iMac]
Meet S a novelist with ambitions superseding his talent. S has written without success for years and might finally have decided to lay down his keyboard. Will he put a full stop to things entirely or will hotelier cum literary restorer Alex Polizzi be able to salvage content from the wreckage? Together, will they manage to book a place in history for his latest Jester to King piece or will the last laugh be on S?
[Cue footage of S and Alex in S’s flat on his sofa]
-Well I’ve now finally had a chance to meet you in person and read some of your stuff.
-And I think it’s....,well I have to say S I really don’t get it at all!
-I’m sorry to hear it.
-There’s no story!
-It’s supposed to be more a series of sketches really.
-It’s also damned difficult to read!
-That wasn’t my intention, honestly.
-But is there a story?
-I feel there might be one developing with Richard Bloom and John Magnolia and my attitude was to just let whatever come comes. I don’t have an exact plot line at the moment.
-S, I don’t remember even seeing those names once! Magnolia??
-Look. What I’d like is for you to set down a clear plot summary. Put down exactly what’s going to happen with whom, think about how many chapters you need to do it in and decide what you’re going to put in each chapter. That has to be your starting point. I just think that what you’ve got so far is far too incoherent. Perhaps you can use it later, perhaps not.
-I was hoping you weren’t going to say that.
-There are so many things I don’t like about the individual pieces, I really didn’t want to get into it but…
-No that’s fine, I don’t mind feedback.
-The subject matter for example. I really don’t want to tell you what to write but could you try making it more quotidian, more earthy, make it British, show a social conscience perhaps, write about what’s it’s like to be poor and to have to eat baked beans every night, put in some dialogue. Little things like one syllable character names are best, like Jan or Sue and just start a chapter with the actual name of the character followed by a declarative sentence expressing what he or she is doing so the reader knows immediately where they are. Susan wasn’t happy at work today, sorry I mean Sue. Does that sound like something you can work with?
-Come on, tell me you’ll at least give it a go...
-I’ll give it a go!
-Great! I’ll come back in one week shall we say, to check on your progress?
-Lovely you meet you S!
[Cue voice-over, over dramatic Sturm und Drang cello sweeps]
Alex believes that S needs a plot summary to set down exactly what’s going to happen in the novel before committing to write anything. Only then can he cover what needs to be covered. But S seems reluctant, and will Alex’s efforts prove to have been a complete write-off?
One week later:
[Cue voice-over over progressive hopeful synthy music]
Alex is back in town to see how S has fared with his plot summary.
-Well show me what you got, I’m excited!
-I didn’t get very far Alex I’m afraid.
-Well I can’t say I’m surprised to be honest.
[Cue close-up of Alex’s disparaging look]
-But! I came prepared. I, my dear, have brought you my very own plot summary tailored specifically to your novel [cue close-up on piece of paper headed Jester to King plot Summary] and all you have to do is follow it through. Are you pleased?
-Well, I suppose I am!
-Good. And do you think you can write the novel now?
-I quite liked what I’d written already but yes I will give it a go..
-If you’d really truly liked what you’d written you wouldn’t have called me, let’s be honest.
-I was and I wasn’t.
[Cue Sturm und Drang music from before]
-Look darling, if you’re not prepared to give up on your dwindling efforts altogether then there’s nothing I can do for you. Really!
-I don’t know what to say.
-Say you’ll give it another try, I promise it’ll work.
Alex is really quoting S chapter and but he refuses to draw a line under it. Will she be able to put him back in line?
-Ok I’ll try but I can’t see it…
-Try it doll, for me. You’ve got some ability and it would be a shame to waste it. I’ll be back in about a week, do you think you can finish by then?
-See you soon. Bye!
Alex has given S a tight timeline to get him to focus, but will he find himself filling in the gaps or simply falling right through them?
One week later:
Alex is back for chapter three but will this tale have a happy ending?
-You’ve finished I see!
-Yes I finished.
[Cue close-up of finished manuscript]
-And did you post it on that website ABCtales like I suggested?
-I did indeed.
[Cue jubilant jaunty music]
-I got loads of encouraging comments and won Story of The Week.
-I’m delighted for you darling. That’s not it though is it?
-I got an email from Little Brown.
-And what did this email say?
-It said they would like to put an option on it.
-I’m thrilled for you, I really am.
S has finally got something to write home about and he seems delighted. Alex’s advice seems to have worked to the letter.
I was really foundering before Alex came along. I’m so thankful to her and all she’s done, she’s enabled me to realise my dreams! I really feel I’ve turned over a new leaf!