Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Phrases you just can't use anymore...

So I'm working away on my manuscript. A colonel is flattering his commanding officer a bit, talking about the utter success of their most recent action.

He called it "a glorious battle."

In my mind's eye, my characters instantly morphed from humans in the elegant officers' uniforms of 200 years ago, developing ridged foreheads and growing long, long hair. Their discreet glasses of claret disappeared, replaced with great goblets of blood wine. My colonel's concern that the general would give him a stern tongue-lashing upon learning he allowed an important enemy leader to slip through his fingers became shame and terror that his fearsome commander would declare him without honor and kill him where he stood.

So. Humans cannot fight glorious battles. The very phrase transforms them into Klingons.

2 comments:

Kate Diamond said...

Interesting. Do current events color your interpretation of this phrase?

Susan Wilbanks said...

Well, when I wrote it, I was actually trying to step out of my contemporary mindset a bit. My research suggests to me that at least in their speech and writing, the men of that era placed more emphasis on personal and national glory as a motive than we normally do now, especially among military officers and especially in Napoleonic France. Since the characters in this scene are French, I was trying to bring forward some of that love of "la gloire." Only it came out a bit too Klingon, so I went back and tweaked the wording.

I am deliberately riffing on current events in other parts of my WIP, but more to do with what freedom really means and how easily it is to be tricked into thinking you still have it after it's been stripped away.