Reexamination of motivational techniques based on the works of Jules Verne after reading The Survivors of the Chancellor.
The Jules Verne technique
The novels of Jules Verne that have received the most attention over the years are manuscripts of fantastic fiction: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, The Mysterious Island, Journey to the Center of the Earth and From the Earth to the Moon. These books dealt with speculative concepts; a submarine that was powered by electricity, a group of castaways that used scientific ingenuity to survive on an uncharted island, an expedition to the earth’s core and a rocket that uses high explosive as a propulsion system.
Verne’s fantastic stories were grounded in fact; he painstakingly researched every detail against scientific theories that were present at the time. Jules Verne was a lawyer by trade; perhaps the research and attention to details that was prominent in his works was a result of this vocation.
The works of Jules Verne—now in the Public Domain—are available as free downloads in the
.epub format. I’ve been rereading Jules Verne novels for the past two years; the books provided inspiration for a novel I started writing entitled Mastodon Mike’s Weird West Show. This novel has been postponed until completion of 10 short stories that will be used to build a backlist of titles.
Verne’s writing contains all the elements of great fiction: clearly defined characters, fast paced plot, powerful imagery, and compelling storytelling that holds your interest until the end. My goal is to merge this style of writing with mine; if I’m experiencing difficulty resolving a section of a manuscript I’ll ask myself—what would Jules Verne do in a similar situation?—reading about 50 pages from a Verne classic exposes me to his writing technique and I’m able to tackle the story I’m working on with renewed energy.
I just finished reading The Survivors of the Chancellor, a tale of adventure on the high seas.
The main character in the book—a French doctor–books passage on a merchant vessel from New Orleans to London. The initial chapters introduce the other passengers and the crew by weaving each character into the plot.
After a few days at sea the main character begins to notice strange behavior on the part of the captain—he is reclusive and his commands seem counterintuitive to accepted maritime practices. The captain’s orders have put the ship off course and it is approaching the Equatorial regions.
The main character observes the crew washing down the deck of the vessel six to seven times a day. The French doctor notices the crew working barefoot, so, he decides to remove his shoes and get some relief from the oppressive heat of the tropics. The deck is extremely hot to the touch—the first mate takes the doctor aside and informs him that the cargo that is stored belowdecks is on fire.
The captain resigns his commission and the first mate takes command. He assures the doctor as long as the hatchways that lead belowdecks are sealed tight the fire can be contained. The course is replotted back towards London.
A fellow passenger requests to be allowed belowdecks to check on some cargo; he becomes indignant when he is not allowed to open a hatchway to the ship’s hold. The newly appointed captain tells the passenger about the current situation. The passenger becomes frightened and confesses to smuggling 30 pounds of high explosives aboard the ship and hiding it belowdecks. The captain decides to plot a course for the West coast of Africa in hopes of bringing the ship into harbor as soon as possible.
Eventually, the ship runs aground on the outer reefs of a recently formed volcanic island. A small hole in the ship’s hull allows water to enter the hold and extinguish the fire. When the residual heat subsides the case of explosives is removed from the hold and moved to dry land.
The ship is repaired and refloated by using the explosives to blast a trench in the reef. Rough weather causes the repairs to fail and the ship begins to take on water. Eventually the decks are awash; the passengers and crew are forced to climb the masts and cling to the spars and rigging. The crew construct a raft from empty barrels, planks from the aft section, rigging and sails. The raft is stocked with provisions and launched just as rough weather sets in and the ship sinks.
The shipwrecked passengers and crew endure months of drifting on the open ocean. During this time they will face exposure to the elements, hunger, thirst, mutiny, murder, insanity and cannibalism before being rescued off the coast of Brazil.
This book has had a profound effect on me; when I’m plagued with self-doubt and the challenges of independent authoring make my literary goals seem unattainable—writing the content, editing the content, rewriting, more content editing, copy editing, proof reading, formatting, publishing, designing and building the cover image—I just remind myself that I was not a passenger or crew member onboard the Chancellor.
Unification of the literary motivational technique inspired by the writing style of Jules Verne and the general motivational technique inspired by the plot of The Survivors of the Chancellor will carry me through the independent authoring process.