Author Topic: Writing OTMAA  (Read 3715 times)

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Offline GDSophie

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Writing OTMAA
« on: February 08, 2017, 02:35:35 PM »
(I put the post here as Olga is the oldest.)

My fiction about the last Imperial Family has finally left the early childhood of my protagonist, Ekaterina, and the starting years of her one-in-a-million chance of being playmates to Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia. I'm planning the years of 1910-1913 where the girls have grown into young women (O and T) and young girls (M and A), but now that I've finished their childhood years I don't know how I can do them justice in the years before and after entering WWI.

Can anyone help?
'Give my love to all who remember me' - Olga Nikolaevna

Offline TheLionandTheEagle

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Re: Writing OTMAA
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2017, 08:11:53 PM »
What specifically are you struggling with?  :)

Offline GDSophie

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Re: Writing OTMAA
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2017, 09:00:41 AM »
How they would talk to each other in private and public and how different it was to talking to other people outside of their circle and showing their personalities in my writing. For example, Anastasia was mischievous, the 'imp' of the family, but some anecdotes from people who had met her only once or even a few times say she was shy, which contradicts both traits which make her, well, Anastasia. Another example is Tatiana; level-headed and regal but also sensitive.

'Give my love to all who remember me' - Olga Nikolaevna

Offline Превед

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Re: Writing OTMAA
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2017, 09:19:04 AM »
This is a shot in the dark, but this post...:

I call the IMDB boards Troll Central for a reason.
The lack of moderation of those boards allowed them to be infested with racists, homophobes, and even pedophiles.

... gave me the idea: What if one of the elder sisters described in "Death in Venice" as surrounding the young and beautiful Tadzio (all of them Polish aristocrats) became friends with OTMA? And Tadzio maybe even with Alexey?

As Polish aristocrats holidaying in Venice they are perhaps most likely from Austrian Poland, but could just as well be from Russian Poland. Less likely is that they are from Prussian Poland, but that could also be told realistically. I'm thinking of setting one these aristocratic Polish girls up with the peasant girl Franziska Schanzkowska at some estate (visiting relatives and having a long encounter with this peasant girl during some kind of emergency, like an illness or a natural disaster (in the manner of Karen Blixen's "The Deluge at Norderney" in her "Seven Gothic Tales") and have her tell this peasant girl all kinds of interesting details about OTMA as a distraction.

In the movie version Tadzio was played by a Swede, Björn Andrésen. You could lift the whiole story to Finland (Hankö), close to OTMA's real haunts at Virolahti and have them be equally die-Welt-von-gestern-like characters from the Swedish-speaking Finnish nobility, noble yet liberal opponents of the Russian yoke just like the Polish nobility.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 09:30:14 AM by Превед »
Берёзы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и берёзы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline Превед

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Re: Writing OTMAA
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2017, 10:36:49 AM »
Or why not at (Gut = Estate) Friederikenhof, in Holstein where Franziska worked as a manual labourer during WW1. It was owned by the Counts Platen-Hallermund of nearby Weißenhaus (birthplace of interesting psychologist Countess Alice Ricciardi-von-Platen (born 1910), who wrote about the Nazi killings of mental patients like Franziska) and was close to the cradle of the Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov dynasty in Kiel / Rohlfshagen / Eutin and to the Baltic with its beaches, like that of Travemünde, with its strong links to Lübecker Thomas Mann, author of "Death in Venice".
Берёзы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и берёзы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline Превед

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Re: Writing OTMAA
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2017, 10:41:49 AM »
Another interesting Polish character that transcends the German-Russian border and possibly could have some links to Pomerania is OTMA's sort-of step-grandmother Countess Alexandrine von Hutten-Czapska, divorced von Kolemin, Countess of Romrod, who was briefly married to their grandfather the Grand Duke of Hesse before Queen Victoria forbade and ordered the marriage annulled.
Берёзы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и берёзы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline GDSophie

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Re: Writing OTMAA
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2017, 09:53:43 AM »
Can we get back to the topic? It's not really helping me.
'Give my love to all who remember me' - Olga Nikolaevna

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Writing OTMAA
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2017, 03:33:02 PM »
If it were me writing about the girls in the period 1911-13, I would start with the events that were going on at that time, and seek to depict them. That way, your characters will be able to talk about something, rather than your having to invent all sorts of inconsequential chatter.

Just for starters:
1) Murder of Stolypin, witnessed by Olga and Tatiana
2) Olga's first ball
3) Olga's possible engagement to Dimitri
4) Alexei's illness at Spala
5) Tercentenary events.

You could also bring in their aunt, Olga Alexandrovna, and her efforts to get Olga and Tatiana out a bit more, plus Lord Mountbatten's crush on Marie (did she reciprocate?).

Hope that helps

Ann


Offline GDSophie

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Re: Writing OTMAA
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2017, 03:50:25 PM »
Thank you! I was thinking of writing a timeline so they do have things to talk about, but in the time period it's in currently they're all very young (Now they're in 1906) and the Russo-Japanese War has ended. I'm focusing on that but also Alexei and Rasputin. Can you help with the timeline perhaps, Kalafrana, or link me to somewhere that has a Romanov timeline of 1906-1918?
'Give my love to all who remember me' - Olga Nikolaevna

Offline edubs31

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Re: Writing OTMAA
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2017, 02:52:16 PM »
Can we get back to the topic? It's not really helping me.

lol, trust me GDSophie we all know the feeling...

Kalafrana is a superb writer so I would definitely take her advice!

In my own writings (much of which has been posted on here) I too used the idea of taking actual events to shape the feelings & dialogue of the characters at any given time.

A good starting point might be to do a little reading or search online and pull some actual quotes from OTMA. Two great resources for this would be Margaretta Eager "Six Years in the Russian Court", and Pierre Gilliard's "Thirteen Years in the Russia Court". Best part is that both books are available right here on the AP!

From there as you get deeper into things I would recommend Helen Azar's translations of the Romanovs diary entries in her recently release series of books dedicated to each of the daughters and family as a whole. You can also find some good nuggets of info just by searching around a little online...Take some direct quotations/diary entries and build off of that.

The murder of Stolypin, as Ann pointed out, would make for a great scene in my opinion. A real opportunity to show the eldest daughters being confronted with death & terror for the first time. Truly a shattering experience given their mostly sheltered existence. I imagine they engaged in some deep conversation about life & death while trying to make sense out of changing political landscape.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...

Offline GDSophie

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Re: Writing OTMAA
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2017, 07:02:42 PM »
I'm reading Pierre Gilliard's Thirteen Years at the Russian Court as we speak, and I finished Six Years at the Russian Court by Margaretta Eager a few weeks ago. :) I'll try and save up for Helen's book as I don't have the money currently, but I'll take yours and Kalafrana's advice. I was thinking of having the Stolypin chapter dedicated to life and death with a conversation between my character, Olga and Tatiana. There's also another one with Alexei later on in a different chapter after his near death experience in Spala. :)
'Give my love to all who remember me' - Olga Nikolaevna

Offline TheLionandTheEagle

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Re: Writing OTMAA
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2017, 09:17:21 PM »
It sounds like you're on the right track.

Try to remember, also, that nobody has just one single trait only.  Anastasia was the Imp, yes, but she could be shy at times.  Real people are balanced, and that balance creates more interesting, realistic characters. 

Offline GDSophie

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Re: Writing OTMAA
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2017, 10:12:06 AM »
It sounds like you're on the right track.

Try to remember, also, that nobody has just one single trait only.  Anastasia was the Imp, yes, but she could be shy at times.  Real people are balanced, and that balance creates more interesting, realistic characters. 

That's what I meant by my second post:

Anastasia was mischievous but shy.

Tatiana was level-headed but sensitive.

What about Olga, Maria and Alexei?
'Give my love to all who remember me' - Olga Nikolaevna

Offline edubs31

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Re: Writing OTMAA
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2017, 05:55:24 PM »
It sounds like you're on the right track.

Try to remember, also, that nobody has just one single trait only.  Anastasia was the Imp, yes, but she could be shy at times.  Real people are balanced, and that balance creates more interesting, realistic characters. 

That's what I meant by my second post:

Anastasia was mischievous but shy.

Tatiana was level-headed but sensitive.

What about Olga, Maria and Alexei?

Olga might have had the most varied set of personality traits of the daughters.

She was smart and often gentle & vulnerable, yet fiery. While no one can top Anastasia and Alexei when it comes to pranks and ill behavior Olga was said to have taken part in some of mischief herself...more so than Tatiana and Maria it would seem.

"Sweet" is a word that that gets tossed around a lot for labeling Maria, and rightly so. But she also seemed to have a disposition towards melancholy much like Olga. She could be as active and playful as Anastasia and physically - once of age - was the most powerful of the children.

Alexei's personality seemed full of contradictions. He was often sickly yet active bordering on rambunctious when well. He was something of an enfant terrible but also compassionate and empathetic to those sick or injured. He lacked much formal education but was gifted with natural intelligence and a quick wit.

The list goes on...
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...

Offline GDSophie

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Re: Writing OTMAA
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2017, 06:15:38 PM »
It sounds like you're on the right track.

Try to remember, also, that nobody has just one single trait only.  Anastasia was the Imp, yes, but she could be shy at times.  Real people are balanced, and that balance creates more interesting, realistic characters. 

That's what I meant by my second post:

Anastasia was mischievous but shy.

Tatiana was level-headed but sensitive.

What about Olga, Maria and Alexei?

Olga might have had the most varied set of personality traits of the daughters.

She was smart and often gentle & vulnerable, yet fiery. While no one can top Anastasia and Alexei when it comes to pranks and ill behavior Olga was said to have taken part in some of mischief herself...more so than Tatiana and Maria it would seem.

"Sweet" is a word that that gets tossed around a lot for labeling Maria, and rightly so. But she also seemed to have a disposition towards melancholy much like Olga. She could be as active and playful as Anastasia and physically - once of age - was the most powerful of the children.

Alexei's personality seemed full of contradictions. He was often sickly yet active bordering on rambunctious when well. He was something of an enfant terrible but also compassionate and empathetic to those sick or injured. He lacked much formal education but was gifted with natural intelligence and a quick wit.

The list goes on...

Thank you!
'Give my love to all who remember me' - Olga Nikolaevna