Write on Wednesday … the re-write

Last night I dreamt I went to the dam and saw it.
I felt the chill standing there by the thick reeds and mud, while I tried the edge, it was too dark to go in. There was a dark house behind me. In my dream I heard children calling out and I searched the water for their faces. I peered in through the dark rust coloured reeds. I called but the dam had no answer.

It is always the same dream. The house has infinite rooms. Rooms within rooms. Boxes filled with treasures. Secret staircases that rise high into the building with no sense of reaching another floor. Then, suddenly, it is all on fire. Burning to the ground.

. . .



Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier

This week’s exercise for Write on Wednesday is called ‘the mighty mighty rewrite’, an exercise set by MJ Hyland for her writing students. Thanks to Zanni for suggesting it. Take the opening paragraph of a favourite book and then write your own content into the paragraph, keeping the structure, tone, language. I chose Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Actually, strictly speaking, I had Rebecca chosen for me by my writerly companion, while we had a writers’ slam at the coffee shop. And I kept it, because of this wonderful fact below, which seemed so apt given the exercise.

Rebecca as a WWII code source

One edition of the book was used by the Germans in World War II as a code source. Sentences would be made using single words in the book, referred to by page number, line and position in the line. One copy was kept at Rommel’s headquarters, and the other was carried by German Abwehr agents infiltrated in Cairo after crossing Egypt by car, guided by Count László Almásy.This code was never used, however, because the radio section of the HQ was captured in a skirmish and hence the Germans suspected that the code was compromised. This use of the book is referred to in Ken Follett’s novel The Key to Rebecca – where a (fictional) spy does use it to pass critical information to Rommel.

This use of the novel was also referred to in Michael Ondaatje’s novel The English Patient.

(From the entry in Wikipedia for Rebecca)

Write On Wednesdays