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Jill the Lass (Alternative History)


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#1 BadgerFox

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 07:53 AM

Revised in #6 !

 

Ok, genre is alternative history. Here's (potentially) the opening 251 words of the novel. It’s 1888, Berlin, and the gender roles are different here. Is any of that coming across here? More importantly, would this pique your interest without confusing you terribly?

 

 

 

    “My God, look at him!” The clerk grinned at the child in Otto’s arms, “You’ll need to lock him up in a few years’ time. The young gentlewomen will be breaking down your door!” Seating herself down at the desk opposite, the clerk adjusted her ink-stained mittens. She took a sip of cold coffee. Over the cup’s chipped rim, Otto saw her looking him up and down like a cat eyeing meat, “But then, I suppose the boy takes after his Papa. His comely, exotic Papa.”

 

    In twenty-three or so years of receiving these compliments, Otto had never acquired the knack of accepting them gracefully.

 

    “Thank you,” he murmured, uncomfortably aware of the phrase coming out sullen instead of grateful. Otto’s looks often made strange women try to give him things he hadn’t asked for. Free drinks. Cat-calls. Sweets. Compliments. Themselves. Mostly it was just embarrassing, Berliners whistling at him in the street over his singular Turkish complexion. And the clerk was entirely right that Tobias here was already receiving the same treatment. Strangers routinely stopped Otto in middle of the Tiergarten park, or on his way home to Mierendorff Street, just to coo over his son’s gorgeousness. Tobias had his father’s black eyes, his mother’s sharp wits, and a sweetly trusting disposition he frankly must’ve acquired on his own.

 

  The clerk set her grimy coffee-cup down upon her desk, heedlessly sloshing watery brown onto the documents there. She sighed.

 

            “I fear little has changed since we last spoke, Herr Müller.”

 

--


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#2 michaelblaine

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 09:59 PM

Ok, genre is alternative history. Here's (potentially) the opening 251 words of the novel. It’s 1888, Berlin, and the gender roles are different here. Is any of that coming across here? More importantly, would this pique your interest without confusing you terribly?

 

 

 

    “My God, look at him!” The clerk grinned at the child in Otto’s arms, “You’ll need to lock him up in a few years’ time. The young gentlewomen will be breaking down your door!”

 

      Seating herself down at the desk opposite, the clerk adjusted her ink-stained mittens. She took a sip of cold coffee. Over the cup’s chipped rim, Otto saw her looking him up and down like a cat eyeing meat, “But then, I suppose the boy takes after his Papa. His comely, exotic Papa.”

 

    In twenty-three or so years of receiving these compliments, Otto had never acquired the knack of accepting them gracefully.

 

    “Thank you,” he murmured, uncomfortably aware of the phrase coming out sullen instead of grateful. Otto’s looks often made strange women try to give him things he hadn’t asked for. Free drinks. Cat-calls. Sweets. Compliments. Themselves. Mostly it was just embarrassing, Berliners whistling at him in the street over his singular Turkish complexion. And the clerk was entirely right that Tobias here was already receiving the same treatment. Strangers routinely stopped Otto in middle of the Tiergarten park, or on his way home to Mierendorff Street, just to coo over his son’s gorgeousness. Tobias had his father’s black eyes, his mother’s sharp wits, and a sweetly trusting disposition he frankly must’ve acquired on his own.

 

  The clerk set her grimy coffee-cup down upon her desk, heedlessly sloshing watery brown onto the documents there. She sighed.

 

            “I fear little has changed since we last spoke, Herr Müller.”

 

--

I think that your idea is both engaging and well-written.  However, I would be sure that you're willing to take on a concept such as late-modern Germany.  Unless your goal is to create an outright alternative history, there's a laundry list of historically significant events around that time which could easily muddle any good book.  I like it though!  Add a bit of flip-flopped suffrage movements and it'd be gold!  



#3 BadgerFox

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 04:00 AM

I think that your idea is both engaging and well-written.  However, I would be sure that you're willing to take on a concept such as late-modern Germany.  Unless your goal is to create an outright alternative history, there's a laundry list of historically significant events around that time which could easily muddle any good book.  I like it though!  Add a bit of flip-flopped suffrage movements and it'd be gold!  

 

michaelblaine, thank you so much for your helpful comment! This is good advice, and I've kept an eye on the c19th timeline (e.g. basic wiki one I've been looking at: https://en.wikipedia...ry#19th_century ) plus more in-depth research. Thankfully I've got two protagonists and the action moves to the other one's country (Scotland) fairly soon, which since I'm Scottish I know better. But you're so right, it's good to think about things like how a character's self-conception of their identity would change through the 1871 unification - you're 'Prussian' on Tuesday but then 'German' on Wednesday, so what does that do to WHO you feel you are, you know? :)

 

Feedback noted and gratefully recieved :) 


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#4 JoQwerty

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 08:20 AM

I am having trouble believing the setting. At that time German officials (and especially the Prussian variety) were known for their professionalism and probity -- they were the original untouchables. Their conduct would have been strictly by the rules and there would have been no small talk with citizens in the office. I can't imagine a clerk working for the government making such personal comments. (Even today it is rare to see a clerk smile in German government office ... :smile: )

 

On the other hand, if you were to set this same exchange in Paris or Madrid, I would have no problem suspending my disbelief... :wink:



#5 BadgerFox

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 09:38 AM

I am having trouble believing the setting. At that time German officials (and especially the Prussian variety) were known for their professionalism and probity -- they were the original untouchables. Their conduct would have been strictly by the rules and there would have been no small talk with citizens in the office. I can't imagine a clerk working for the government making such personal comments. (Even today it is rare to see a clerk smile in German government office ... :smile: )

 

On the other hand, if you were to set this same exchange in Paris or Madrid, I would have no problem suspending my disbelief... :wink:

 

Thank you for your very helpful feedback!

 

Of course, you make an excellent point - the Prussians were known for their formality and stiff manners at this point in history. Berlin's been such a wacky contradiction to write - all these upright, formal Prussians, yet it's simultaneously got super-liberal attitudes in being Europe's biggest red light district, LGBT hangout and lesbian cafe scene!

 

Hmm, perhaps my clerk needs to rein it in and not make lecherous remarks to citizens, then. OR she's being unprofessional because she only works for a shitty employment agency and they don't pay her enough :D OR maybe she IS from elsewhere in Europe and doesn't have Prussian manners, and I need to demonstrate that. OR if she's going to be so flirty with my character, my character needs to be surprised at her behaviour and note how improper it is. Maybe a mix of these.

 

Hm, food for thought and ideas for making changes! Thank you so much.


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#6 BadgerFox

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Posted Today, 12:05 PM

[Revised so my clerk isn't being QUITE so unprofessional :) ] :

 

 

         “Good God, look at him,” The clerk smirked at the child in Otto’s arms, “You’ll need to lock him up in a few years’ time. The young gentlewomen will be breaking down your door!” Sitting herself down at the desk opposite, the clerk adjusted her ink-stained mittens. She took a sip of cold coffee. Over the cup’s chipped rim, Otto saw her look him up and down like a cat eyeing meat. “I hope you won’t think it improper if I say the boy plainly takes after his Papa.”

 

In his twenty-three or so years of receiving these compliments, Otto had never acquired the knack of accepting them gracefully.

 

            “Thank you,” he murmured, uncomfortably aware of the phrase coming out sullen instead of grateful. I do think it improper. But that’s what I get for entering a private office with a strange woman at a seedy little second-rate agency, isn’t it? Otto’s looks often made strange women try to give him things he hadn’t asked for. Free drinks. Cat-calls. Sweets. Compliments. Themselves. Mostly it was just embarrassing, Berliners whistling at him in the street over his singular Turkish complexion. The clerk was not wrong about Tobias here already receiving the same treatment. Strangers routinely stopped Otto in middle of the street to coo over his son’s gorgeousness. Tobias had his father’s black eyes, his mother’s sharp wits, and a sweetly trusting disposition he frankly must’ve acquired on his own.

 

The clerk set her coffee-cup down upon her desk, heedlessly sloshing watery brown onto the documents there. She sighed.


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First 250 words of my AU novel: http://agentqueryconnect.com/index.php?/topic/37913-jill-the-lass-alternative-history/





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