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The Queen's Footman  [message #78607] Fri, 27 October 2023 16:59 Go to next message
Biff Spork is currently offline  Biff Spork

Getting started
Location: Northwest Pacific
Registered: March 2021
Messages: 11



I love a good historical novel and "The Queen's Footman" is so far delightful. This memoir of a pretty page boy amongst Britain's powerful during the Victorian era is a joy to read, and I look forward to the next chapters.



Consider becoming vegan. It's good for your health. It's kind and respectful to other animals. It's a good way to make an individual gesture towards averting the climate crisis. It's easy - if a lazy degenerate like me can do it, anyone can.
Re: The Queen's Footman  [message #78608 is a reply to message #78607] Sun, 29 October 2023 05:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Guest
Seconded. An excellent opening chapter to a historical novel showing great potential. A favourite genre of mine and well worth taking a look at. I noted keenly how the narrative language sits with the time and obviously great care has been taken by the author to genuinely reflect the period.  https://iomfats.org/storyshelf/hosted/charles-lacey/the-quee ns-footman/01.html
Re: The Queen's Footman  [message #78609 is a reply to message #78608] Sun, 29 October 2023 07:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message
William King is currently offline  William King

Toe is in the water

Registered: October 2016
Messages: 98



It was Mark Twain who said: "Truth is stranger than fiction,..."
and that observation readily applies here. Who has heard of Jack Saul and the Cleveland Street Scandal of 1889? Jack was born into a Dublin slum from which he escaped to become a Victorian male prostitute who famously (or infamously) stood up in court to declare himself a sodomite, he more commonly referred to himself as a Mary Ann (gay slang of the period). Jack's life is fascinating and despite speculation to the contrary, he was a real person and existed. 

His history of homosexuality in Victorian England is described, rather pornographically, in a book (freely and safely available to download from Project Guttenburg) https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/53964  Treat yourself to an incite into hidden homosexuality in Victorian Britain. Jack was never prosecuted for his avowal, at a time when buggery carried a twenty year prison sentence, but it was not Jack who was on trial.

I find it fascinating how so much (gay) history has been kept secret for so long. When or if you decide to discover more of this hidden world, or after delving into it, then come back to this story, a fiction that reflects reality!
Re: The Queen's Footman  [message #78619 is a reply to message #78607] Sat, 04 November 2023 06:42 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Guest
Were I to make a criticism of this tale it would be perhaps the speed with which the story progresses as a roll through history with little substance. We get the briefest of historical background, which is enough, but we do not benefit from any in depth characterisations. Our royal page has a few brief sexual encounters, one overnight, but we know nothing of his life as a servant amongst other servants. Downton Abbey, this is not. Two chapters in and three years have passed, Queen Victoria is married, history has rolled on and our page boy has slept with a nobleman's son and had a very brief climax with a fellow page boy, neither of whom he will see, intimately, again. And the rest of the cast? They are waiting somewhere in the wings, yet to be discovered. The stage is set for poor boy becomes rich, but really there is no depth to the story to hold much interest. So far all we have is introduction.
Re: The Queen's Footman  [message #78626 is a reply to message #78619] Mon, 06 November 2023 20:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Chas is currently offline  Chas

Getting started

Registered: August 2023
Messages: 5



"James K wrote on Sat, 04 November 2023 06:42"
Were I to make a criticism of this tale it would be perhaps the speed with which the story progresses as a roll through history with little substance. We get the briefest of historical background, which is enough, but we do not benefit from any in depth characterisations. Our royal page has a few brief sexual encounters, one overnight, but we know nothing of his life as a servant amongst other servants. Downton Abbey, this is not. Two chapters in and three years have passed, Queen Victoria is married, history has rolled on and our page boy has slept with a nobleman's son and had a very brief climax with a fellow page boy, neither of whom he will see, intimately, again. And the rest of the cast? They are waiting somewhere in the wings, yet to be discovered. The stage is set for poor boy becomes rich, but really there is no depth to the story to hold much interest. So far all we have is introduction.

--
Thank you for this response.  One reason for my request to be published here is that I want to improve my writing.  Obviously i'm an amateur author and started writing as a retirement project.

I'm very clear that much of my writing moves too fast, but it's less clear to me how to slow it down.   I greatly dislike writing that contains obvious 'padding' or long, involved descriptive passages that add nothing to the plot but agree with you that my tales need more substance.  

When you mention 'in depth characterisations' what, or who, do you mean?  I wonder if this is where I am falling down.  Any thoguhts gratefully received!

Re: The Queen's Footman  [message #78627 is a reply to message #78626] Mon, 06 November 2023 21:59 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy

Has no life at all
Location: UK, in Devon
Registered: February 2003
Messages: 13737



In depth characterisation develops over time, as we learn what the character hears, sees, feels, hopes for, fears.

It's a bit of a tough call to expect a gradual process to be fully fleshed out by the end of the second chapter.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: The Queen's Footman  [message #78628 is a reply to message #78607] Tue, 07 November 2023 07:01 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Guest
"When you mention 'in depth characterisations' what, or who, do you mean?"

The story is narrated as the first person memoirs of our protagonist's life at the palace. It jumps forward in time skipping a few years with each chapter, our protagonist, Thomas must have been thirteen when he first went into service with the Archbishop, three years later he is sixteen when Queen Victoria marries Albert, and by chapter three we are a few years further on, "Poor Prince Albert! He had a hard time of it, those first few years." During this time Thomas has encountered several young boy's, young men, and various persons connected to the palace, Hansi, Gilbert, Perkins, and now Alec, as well as Francatelli the chef. We know very little other than the meagerest of details about these other characters. Mr Francatelli must have some relation with Thomas or it is something else that made him take note of the problem with Perkins and dismiss Radmacher?

The scant details of these other persons in Thomas's life can be forgiven, because it is the recollections of an old man looking back on his life and his memories, incomplete and focused on the impressionable and fond moments. Nevertheless, were we to get just one example from Thomas's many aqaintances and lovers, it would be there that depth of characterisation would come. For example, it might be a recalled story from Hansi's life in Germany, or Alec at public school. Thomas's lovers might have shared more than his bed and had a story or two of their own. Then so as to not be entirely focused on these amical relations we might have been treated to a little history of Francatelli which would have illustrated why he acted so swiftly and vehemently in dismissing Radmacher.

I don't mean to unduly criticise what is essentially a good tale well told, with a very good regard to the language and description of the period. Nor is it necessarily prescrit not to jump through periods of time, as I am sure the story will reach a satisfactory conclusion which in some way sums up Thomas's life. It is engaging.
Re: The Queen's Footman  [message #78629 is a reply to message #78609] Tue, 07 November 2023 09:25 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy

Has no life at all
Location: UK, in Devon
Registered: February 2003
Messages: 13737



"William King wrote on Sun, 29 October 2023 07:22"
It was Mark Twain who said: "Truth is stranger than fiction,..."
and that observation readily applies here. Who has heard of Jack Saul and the Cleveland Street Scandal of 1889? Jack was born into a Dublin slum from which he escaped to become a Victorian male prostitute who famously (or infamously) stood up in court to declare himself a sodomite, he more commonly referred to himself as a Mary Ann (gay slang of the period). Jack's life is fascinating and despite speculation to the contrary, he was a real person and existed. 

His history of homosexuality in Victorian England is described, rather pornographically, in a book (freely and safely available to download from Project Guttenburg) https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/53964  Treat yourself to an incite into hidden homosexuality in Victorian Britain. Jack was never prosecuted for his avowal, at a time when buggery carried a twenty year prison sentence, but it was not Jack who was on trial.

I find it fascinating how so much (gay) history has been kept secret for so long. When or if you decide to discover more of this hidden world, or after delving into it, then come back to this story, a fiction that reflects reality!

--
I used to work in Cleveland Street (assumkng it to be the one in London!), at the north end.  Now I know more about why the street was reputed to be a bit of a red light area, thiugh that had gone by the time I worked there.

It's also the site of London's most phallic building, the "Post Office Tower" as it was called orignally.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: The Queen's Footman  [message #78631 is a reply to message #78626] Tue, 07 November 2023 20:33 Go to previous messageGo to next message
joecasey is currently offline  joecasey

Toe is in the water
Location: American Midwest
Registered: December 2017
Messages: 35



Chas:

Firstly, kudos to you for writing and finding the courage to submit your work to an online forum; that is a very big first step to take.

For a first effort, your writing is remarkably clear and engaging, and you are to be commended for it.

I'm sure you already know this, but one prerequisite for any would-be author is that you also read, read, read ... and read critically, and read analytically. If you find a particular work that you like, ask yourself why you liked it; what did the author do to engage you and to make the piece "work," in your estimation?

Of course, you also have to write, write, write; practice will allow you to hone your work and let you find your own voice.

I understand your concern about not wanting to weigh your prose down with too much detail, but sometimes detail can help ground a reader and let him or her understand the motivations behind a particular character's behavior. And, yes--I've read many stories where too much detail was shared; those stories feel as if the author has copied and pasted sections from Wikipedia, and things like that stop a story in its tracks. Strive for balance. Details can be provided on a "need-to-know" basis; you don't have to do a massive brain dump at the start of a story (as some authors do) in order to ground a work. Trust your reader to be able to fill in those things on his or her own, and you will probably gain a more appreciative audience.

It might benefit would-be neophyte authors here if there were some sort of group-sourced compendium of works they felt were well-told and could serve as examples to others; these works could be found on this site, but they could come from anywhere, of course. And, of course, there is the entire corpus of published classic literature to use as an example.

Much success with your future stories!

Joe


Re: The Queen's Footman  [message #78632 is a reply to message #78631] Tue, 07 November 2023 22:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy

Has no life at all
Location: UK, in Devon
Registered: February 2003
Messages: 13737



We do have the Writing Masterclass, of course.

Hard to put togetehr a compendium of works without appearig to favour some people above others. Good writing is often in the perception of the reader. Why I see as good others may disagree with, and we will each be able to justify our thinking.

How do we justify this in public foriun without pillorying the poor authir?



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: The Queen's Footman  [message #78637 is a reply to message #78632] Thu, 09 November 2023 04:03 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Mark

Likes it here
Location: Earth
Registered: April 2013
Messages: 275



Well, the story is well-written, though I do have to admit that I must side a bit with James K on some of it.  There's a lot of talk about general history which seems to have little to do with the main plot (though I know that some may argue that a part of the point of the story is that we're seeing said history through the eyes of a teenage servant, and hearing what that individual thinks of it).

Chapter 2 seems to be little more than the main character of Thomas having some one-night stands, at a frequency that seems a bit much given my (admittedly very limited) understanding of society's viewpoint on the subject of homosexuality in 19th century Britian (I say this since it seems to take nothing more than a bit of a glance between the two individuals before both are suddenly hopping into bed and Getting It On despite barely knowing each other beforehand - one time might be believable, but when it appears to happen practically every single time...).  But I can totally understand how difficult it can be to find that balance that's "just right" in writing such things, and not getting too much or too little.  I've found that I've somestimes struggled to find that balance myself in my own writings (and I'll admit that I have the nagging feeling that someone who is far more familiar with such things than I will pop in here and assure me that such pairings really did occur with just as much frequency as has been portrayed in Ch. 2).

Other than that, having just gotten through Ch. 4 at time of this writing, it looks to be really picking up, and I am looking forward to seeing what the rest of the story brings.
Re: The Queen's Footman  [message #78646 is a reply to message #78637] Sun, 12 November 2023 09:13 Go to previous message
timmy

Has no life at all
Location: UK, in Devon
Registered: February 2003
Messages: 13737



I suspect the issue you both see is that the author has done a great job in making it read as though it was written at the time that story took place.

I have a feeling that the same story, written 'today', would have been in today's style.  There may be scope for 'The Kingl' Footman" written about the court of Charles III.

[Updated on: Sun, 12 November 2023 09:14]




Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
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