Received a Phone Call or Ballad vs. Chronicles

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July 8, 2011 by Tiffany A. Robbins

Last night I received a phone call from my mother. (Sorry mom, but I share everything) She went on and on about how wonderful my sister’s novel is. I have to agree with her, my sister is an amazing author. She has some serious ability to create characters and suck you into their lives. My mom told me that she read the book in two days, and that it’s filled with action, adventure, and everything that you could possibly want. It took her weeks to get through mine and all I received was some not-very constructive criticism. I chalked it up to a very rough first draft, which I realized had real need of a rewrite.

However, I had a moment of childish jealousy and I have to admit that after the phone call, my husband had to listen to me rant for an hour about my mother’s inability to acknowledge any of my own accomplishments. (Yes world, I really am that self-centered sometimes)

Then my husband helped me to appreciate something that I really have never thought about as an author. It is something that I wish I had realized a long time ago. He defined ballads and chronicles for me. Yes, I’ve always know what ballads are and what chronicles are, but I had never related those definitions to mine and my sister’s writing before.

He said that of course my mother reacted to my sister’s novel that way. She’s a romantic person and the novel is a ballad. It is beautiful and involved and emotional and romantic with all the excitement that my mother craves in life.

My novel is a chronicle. It is a telling of events. It may seem detached, simple, even dry at times (the original draft may even be a bit schizophrenic), but it allows the reader to insert their own views and draw their own conclusions. I don’t describe my main character in detail or force the reader to fall in love with him. I allow the reader to make him whomever they are craving as I take them through events that may sculpt lives.

There is nothing wrong or right with either style. He also reminded me that there is an audience for both out there. I love my husband. He really gets me sometimes. I’ll get back to my Truth Beneath the Tide re-write now and save all that overly expressive emoting for Justice to the Yeti.

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