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 Post subject: ingredients
PostPosted: 17 Dec 2016, 08:38 
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Joined: 17 Mar 2012, 14:48
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I've just finished reading a book (not EBD or similar) in which there were so many ingredients to the story: orphan, unkind stepmother and stepsisters, runaway marraige, misunderstandings, playing a role, kidnapping, and many more. So I wondered, which of EBD's books contain the most 'ingredients'? And, are they peoples' favourite stories, or are they overdrawn?


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 Post subject: Re: ingredients
PostPosted: 17 Dec 2016, 09:28 
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Rescuing a Junior from the lake
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I find that some of the later Swiss books contain too many dramatic incidents, which aren't really linked to ongoing plotlines or character development and just seem to be there to take up room. Then again, I think books do need to have plenty going on. KB made an interesting point in the introduction to Juniors about how Princess only has two big storylines - Matron Webb and the kidnapping - and no-one other than Joey and Elisaveta gets much of a look-in.

I think School At gets it just right - there's plenty going on, with a lot of people (Madge, Joey, Juliet, Grizel) involved in major roles, and plenty of other people (Simone, Gisela, Margia, etc) in strong supporting roles, and nothing that really feels as if it's in there just for padding or dramatic effect. A lot of the CS books are like that. Even some of the later ones are - in Theodora, you get Ted's issues, her friendship with Len and Ros, Margot's jealousy and Mary-Lou being Head Girl-ish, and there are dramatic incidents but not too many.

I think the ones with the most ingredients are probably the ones with big changes - School At and Exile in particular, and they're two of the best. But I think having a lot of ingredients only works when it's about ongoing plotlines and character development, not just having someone falling in a lake or getting caught in a blizzard every couple of pages :D . And most CS books do get the balance right, IMHO :D .

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 Post subject: Re: ingredients
PostPosted: 18 Dec 2016, 02:16 
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Promising to do better
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I think it's a matter of execution rather than the ingredients that makes the story good.

I quite like Princess, which is very focussed. I also like Exploits, which lacks a strong central story and consists of a series of not well connected incidents, but is well told with good atmosphere. Other books have lots of plot elements, but all hung off a main storyline.

But I'm not fond of Prefects, which has loads of random plot elements - the motor boat stuff and rebellion among the junior middles, Reg rescuing students from a flood, a mystery virus, an aborted midnight picnic, kittens, a kidnapping at the San, Mary-Lou randomly showing up, vipers in the kitchen, the Sale, Reg lost in a thunderstorm, Len and Reg's engagement... And that's in half a term's time.

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 Post subject: Re: ingredients
PostPosted: 18 Dec 2016, 18:17 
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Learning the difference - can and may
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I think EBD gets away with lack of overall plot when the central character(s) is/are strong enough and likeable enough to carry the book - one just wants to follow them through the term and spend time in their company.

I like Princess partly because I do like Ruritanian and 'Princess at school' storylines, but also because Elisaveta is such a lovely character.

Wrong doesn't have much of a plot, beyond the mix up over the two Chalet Schools, but Katharine is a likeable girl, so it's a pleasant enough read. And it has Aunt Luce!

The least successful books, I think, are those with no overall plot, in which the central character isn't strong enough to carry the book. Adrienne and Summer Term in particular come to mind. And, yes, Althea and Prefects, but I'm not convinced that either of them is all EBD's work. In those cases, the writer can throw in as many ingredients as she likes, but with no hook in the form of gripping plot or compelling characters, there's nothing to draw the reader on.

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 Post subject: Re: ingredients
PostPosted: 19 Dec 2016, 08:44 
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jennifer wrote:
But I'm not fond of Prefects, which has loads of random plot elements - the motor boat stuff and rebellion among the junior middles, Reg rescuing students from a flood, a mystery virus, an aborted midnight picnic, kittens, a kidnapping at the San, Mary-Lou randomly showing up, vipers in the kitchen, the Sale, Reg lost in a thunderstorm, Len and Reg's engagement... And that's in half a term's time.


Prefects reminded me of a soap opera which is losing legs fast so it throws everything and the kitchen sink at the storyline and prays people want to watch. Interesting that in Jo Returns, she criticises the stories which have too many unreal incidents in them.

My favourites were the ones with a couple of dramatic incidents but overall the action is based on good school-type things like Wrong, Bride and Kenya.

Cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: ingredients
PostPosted: 19 Dec 2016, 14:45 
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Castor Oil!
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Head Girl, which is one of my favourites, has loads when you think about it - Grizel's escapade before the start of term, her feud with Deira, the ill-fated snow fight, David's birth, two kidnappings followed by dramatic rescues, an obnoxious new girl, and a wedding!

It does take place over two terms, which gives it some excuse. And nearly everything involves Grizel so she brings it all together fairly neatly.


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 Post subject: Re: ingredients
PostPosted: 19 Dec 2016, 16:13 
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First Lesson
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Joined: 30 Dec 2011, 12:23
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jennifer wrote:
I think it's a matter of execution rather than the ingredients that makes the story good.

I quite like Princess, which is very focussed. I also like Exploits, which lacks a strong central story and consists of a series of not well connected incidents, but is well told with good atmosphere. Other books have lots of plot elements, but all hung off a main storyline.

But I'm not fond of Prefects, which has loads of random plot elements - the motor boat stuff and rebellion among the junior middles, Reg rescuing students from a flood, a mystery virus, an aborted midnight picnic, kittens, a kidnapping at the San, Mary-Lou randomly showing up, vipers in the kitchen, the Sale, Reg lost in a thunderstorm, Len and Reg's engagement... And that's in half a term's time.


I'm entirely with you on Exploits, which is one of my favourites. As Prefects, I'm astonished to be reminded there was so much in it, as I have just finished reading it and my overwhelming impression was that it was all about The Sale. There are at least 5 chapters about the dratted thing, and it turns up in most of the others in some way. It's very instructive to turn straight from Prefects to Gerry and see how much better the latter is!


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 Post subject: Re: ingredients
PostPosted: 20 Dec 2016, 02:06 
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Promising to do better
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I find it's actually pretty easy to break the CS series down into a formula, and that it's the quality of the writing and the strength of the main character that separates the better books from the weaker ones.

How to Write a (non-holiday) CS Book

1) Choose one or two of [Rebellious New Girl, Enthusiastic New Girl, New Staff, Focus on Old Girl, School Rearrangement, External Feud]

2) Figure out which group of students a new character will be dropped into.

3) Pick the major conflicts/plot elements for the main character above, from [rebellious/badly behaved, spoiled, eccentric upbringing, conflict with another student, family conflict or crisis, illness/injury, long-lost family members]. Sketch out how the main conflict plays out over the book.

4) Decide if the book starts with the beginning of school, with pre-term scenes with the new girl, or pre-term scenes with established characters.

5) Select one or two term-specific events to describe [Christmas play, pantomime, half-term events, sale, sports day, sports events, holiday parties, tea at Joey's]

6) Round out the book with minor episodes and incidents. Select from [pranks and misbehaviour, mishaps, illness and injury, weather, form entertainments, rambles, classroom scenes, sports practice, prefects meeting, staff meeting, visits with Joey or Madge]

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Ring the bells that still can ring; Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything; That's how the light gets in
Anthem: Leonard Cohen



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 Post subject: Re: ingredients
PostPosted: 20 Dec 2016, 14:37 
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Castor Oil!
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That pretty much sums it up jennifer!


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 Post subject: Re: ingredients
PostPosted: 22 Dec 2016, 01:00 
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Lost!
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I will always have a soft spot for Wrong as it was the first CS book I ever read. I know a lot of people dislike Redheads but although it would not be in my favourite list, I enjoyed it even although it was not typical CS.

On the other hand Head Girl leaves me cold despite its legends and adventures.


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 Post subject: Re: ingredients
PostPosted: 15 Jan 2017, 19:52 
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Princess had tons, as did Rivals, Highland Twins and Exile, but I'm more willing to give them a pass because the quality of the war / Tyrol books was that good. In some of the Swiss books - Two Sams spring to mind - it feels like she's cramming in events for the sake of it because it's What You Do in a Girls' Own Book. Like all the stuff with the cat and Samaris hurting herself.

I need to read Redheads. It sounds absolutely bonkers. Like Enid Blyton gone wrong.
Audrey25 wrote:
I will always have a soft spot for Wrong as it was the first CS book I ever read. I know a lot of people dislike Redheads but although it would not be in my favourite list, I enjoyed it even although it was not typical CS.

On the other hand Head Girl leaves me cold despite its legends and adventures.

Wrong is one of my favourite St Briavels books, mainly because, as jay8 says, Kat is such a likeable character. Blossom is great in it too. I probably would have smashed the window in her place (and I think the telling off she got was a bit unfair, how was she to know Herr Laubach wasn't in the building?)


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 Post subject: Re: ingredients
PostPosted: 16 Jan 2017, 01:29 
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Lost!
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Joined: 19 Sep 2011, 22:32
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I have realised in recent years that Joey Goes to the Oberland is one of my very favourite CS books.

What I think I love about it is that it could almost be 10 or so short stories.

We have:-

Joey and the packing case
Blackleading
Daisy's wedding
Leaving England
Journey to Simone's
At Simone's Chateau
Going to Frieda's
Frieda and family
Journey to the Platz
Unpacking
That night
Daisy again and Housewarming.

All neatly contained in this book. Love it!


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 Post subject: Re: ingredients
PostPosted: 30 Jan 2017, 14:59 
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Castor Oil!
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Lotte wrote:
Princess had tons, as did Rivals, Highland Twins and Exile, but I'm more willing to give them a pass because the quality of the war / Tyrol books was that good. In some of the Swiss books - Two Sams spring to mind - it feels like she's cramming in events for the sake of it because it's What You Do in a Girls' Own Book. Like all the stuff with the cat and Samaris hurting herself.

I need to read Redheads. It sounds absolutely bonkers. Like Enid Blyton gone wrong.


Haha it is a bit like Blyton on some kind of drug.

I really like Two Sams - maybe because it's one of the few Swiss books I read as a child, because it was in the library. But I re-read it when it was issued by GGB and I think it stands up - mainly because both Sams are strong characters and quite different.

However, there are far too many accidents - Samantha has two, for crying out loud, and the second one at a time when any other CS girl probably would still be keept in bed. Then there's the Rutherfords' accident, and Samaris's accident.


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