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Jane Austen & Co. News

7 Steps to the Perfect Rave

Have you heard? Jane Austen & Co. is hosting a writing contest this April! The deadline of April 19th is fast approaching... If you're still wondering where to start, one option (of many) is to follow Lesley Peterson's 7 steps to the Austenian/Brontë-esque rant!

NOTE: Submissions for the writing contest don't have to be rants or raves; that's just one option of many available to you, dear writer!

You can find the full livestream -- where Lesley leads us through a wonderful and full-of-fun virtual creative writing workshop -- below! Or, keep scrolling past to find the steps listed below.

Step 1: Dashes, Interjections, and Imperatives

Dashes and interjections are a must in your rant or rave. With enough dashes -- and enough Oh's and Ah's -- your rant will bear a healthy amount of authenticity. You can also include questions -- who says? Questions can serve as interjections in your rant, indeed!

Oh! -- but that isn't all! In your rave, make sure to include a fair amount of imperatives as well. With enough Wait!'s and Look!'s and Beware!'s, your rave will be well on the way to success.

Step 2: Name your heroine and her lost beloved

Don't rush over this step -- it's very important! Your characters' names provide a sense of identity and give your readers a sense of who they are. Names should be telling and unique, and they shouldn't be easy to forget.

Lesley offers a challenge: give your heroine a name that combines a place with a feminine suffix. (Tilburina, Houstonia, and Bostonetta are a few of the examples that she offers!)

As an extension of this, Lesley offers another challenge, this one centering the male character: give your hero a name that combines a physical feature with a masculine suffix. (Whiskerandos and Biceptron, anyone?)

Whether or not you decide to accept this challenge, it would serve you well to give your heroine and hero names that will leave an impression -- I, for one, won't be forgetting about Bostonetta or Biceptron any time soon.

Step 3: What's their relationship, and how did she lose him?

This is another key step in establishing your characters' identities. What's the current situation? How did your heroine lose her beloved? These backstories can be serious and dramatic, or they can be fun and silly!

Maybe the impoverished husband with whom the heroine has just eloped suddenly died of consumption.

Or, maybe he slipped on a banana peel and fell into the sea, where he met a gorgeous mermaid and decided to run away with her, but forgot that he couldn't breathe underwater until it was too late.

As you can see, there's a lot of room to get creative here -- don't be afraid to play around a bit!

Step 4: Place, Witness, Audience, and Imaginary Addressees

At this point, you're probably getting some good ideas about what your heroine might say to -- or even what she might say about -- her lost beloved. Now, it's time to decide where your heroine is now, and who's hearing her rave.

Is she in a sickbed, with a female confidante as witness? Or maybe she's on stage, and her witnesses are the theatre audience! It's up to you to decide.

But -- wait! There's more! Lesley says that to make our heroines sound really mad, at least one of the people she speaks to should be absent or imaginary. This can be a dead or absent beloved, or an imaginary witness (like Shakespeare's "good night, ladies!" or Austen's "ye gentle Nymphs"), an imaginary opponent, or even an animal!

Your heroine's multiple addresses set her up for the perfect distracted rave. Now, she's ready to swerve from one thing or addressee to another -- talk about madness!

This is another place where you can truly let your creativity shine -- rave on!

Now it's time for a minor digression, in true raving fashion -- let's craft our dramatic situations!

Now that you've completed Steps 2, 3, and 4, this could be a good time to craft your dramatic situation! Here's an example from Will Bannister, Lesley's then 12-year-old grandson:

Truck, Eleanor’s husband and co-worker, has been fired by their boss, Mr. Honda Civic. Truck drove his car into a lake and died. In front of Mr. Civic, Eleanor raves in the parking lot of the car dealership he owns.

If you want to hear more about Will's rave -- I know I do -- then make sure to watch the recording of Lesley's event! Lots of raves were shared, including Will's, and it's not something you want to miss!

In the meantime, let's move on to the next steps.

Step 5: Essential Imagery

A basic rave doesn't necessarily require any essential imagery, but it never hurts to include! You can spice up your rave with images of...

  • a bird or small animal

  • an image of entrapment, confinement, or vulnerability

  • a word or idea that conveys innocence

  • water

  • music/noise imagery

If you're looking for another challenge, Lesley suggests including a Shakespearean allusion. Or, if you're feeling daring, swap that image of innocence for a phallic symbol or double entendre. Want some examples? Check out the video above.

Step 6: Ready to rave -- write the first draft!

Now it's time -- the moment we've all been waiting for. Let's write those raves!

Your heroine has a lot of options to explore during her rave. Maybe she lament's her beloved's loss for a bit, then recites scraps of music about love or loss. She can describe a small trapped animal, or describe a mysterious transformation without seeing it, ask a question that's impossible to answer, or express her urgent desire to be somewhere else. The options are abundant, and the choice is all yours, dear writer!

Don't forget to swerve! Your heroine should alternate between addressees -- her beloved, her human audience, and her imaginary audience. And of course -- interject, interject, interject! And exclaim? And question? Yes -- indeed!

Step 7: Assembly and Editing

All that's left to do now is revise! Maybe you want to reorder your fragments from Step 6, or add more exclamations and interjections, or make any other quick additions. You can try casting it as blank verse in iambic pentameter, or you can keep it as prose -- the choice is yours!


Share your rave!

All that's left to do now is share your rave! Consider submitting to the writing contest, or even sharing your rave in the comments below. We can't wait to hear from you!


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