Patrick O'Brian Discussion Forum


A reprise for the holidays

Bob Bridges
robhbridges@gmail.com


I was looking at a recent thread below, and it suddenly occurred to me to hunt down and repost an exchange from some years ago, I think early 2005:

Max Trainer
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Writing in someone elses style is an odd, but commercial, talent. I've done enough script polishing to know it ain't as easy as it looks.
 
The Last of the True French Short Bastards
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It takes an ear for their vocabulary and sentence constructions.  That is a talent that I seem to have. I can't write my own fiction to save my life, but I'm half-decent at faking up someone else's style. The more distinctive they are, the easier it is.

It's easier still if you're writing a parody rather than a pastiche. O'Brian is eminently parodiable because of his repeated phrases: "smell of the slow-match drifting along the decks," "gun-captains glaring along the barrels," "the yellow seal, d'ye hear me?" etc.

I had to write audio recording scripts that sounded like football broadcaster John Madden. That wasn't terribly difficult. But I knew I'd get an earful if I got it wrong!

Max Trainer
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John Madden: (frantically diagramming) So then you fake coming upwind, spill your sheets and BOOM! get on the board with that first broadside.

"Ya gotta love the way this guy plays the game! 3 broadsides and a cloud of smoke."

"Man, that is old-time style. Straight at 'em. Ya gotta love it!"

"Whoa, the Captain really got clobbered that time! Don't worry. The doc is coming out to rub a little dirt in it. He'll be fine."

The Last of the True French Short Bastards
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You've got the right idea.

"Jack Aubrey's one of those guys that, even when he's double-teamed, he's still gonna give you trouble."

"I tell you, that Maturin, you gotta watch him. You think you've got him covered, and then, WHIFF! he's got your leg off and is showin' it to all his friends."

"Tom Pullings got real beat up in a game against the Frenchies a few years back, so he's not the best-lookin' guy in the league, but when you need a lead schooner to distract the opposition, he's the guy you go to."

Max Trainer
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This is fun.

"Well, the Frenchies have the weight of metal, but you can never count out the Limeys. Remember Nile I? The French are like 0-fer-never on water on Monday Nights."

The Last of the True French Short Bastards
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"Well, the Brits took a mauling from the Yanks last week in the War of 1812, and that hurt their morale. But in the long run it's experience and training that make the difference. I'll be surprised if the Frenchies get out of Toulon in the first quarter."

"Now see, what you want for a taffrail party is sinkers: salt beef, salt pork, ship's biscuit -- stuff like that. You don't want any floaters -- none of that lightweight Frenchy food. You want stuff that you can take soundings with."

"Give that guy an albatross leg!"

"See, Villeneuve, over here, he's thinking Nelson's gonna use the I formation and spread his forces all along the French line of scrimmage. But instead, Nelson goes for the old double wing -- breaks through the line in two places. The guys up here on the end are out of the action and can't get back. By the time they've figured out what's goin' on, Nelson's wipin' the floor with the rest of their fleet. 'Course, he got taken down with a late hit right at the end of the play, and it doesn't look like he'll be back."

Max Trainer:
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LOL You win! I can't top this.


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