the college murder case (part twelve)

This story started here.

The speech was still in a fairly early stage of its development, but it already had the basic form of the final version, which you may have read. It was based, generally, on drawing the connections between her career as a reporter, her hobby of solving mysteries, and her participation in U-town, both in the founding and in the standing government.

The biggest differences between the draft we heard on that day and the final speech that she delivered at Barlowe University were the tone, and the material about her father. The tone was a gradual evolution over the different drafts. She described it later as "removing myself from the speech." In the version we heard that day, there were quite a few anecdotes and stories and digressions that were mostly there because they delighted her for some reason (or because they showed her in a particularly flattering light). They were gradually removed as she worked on it further.

The other difficulty was addressed almost as soon as she finished.

"That's it," she said, lighting a cigarette. Doc applauded, which was rapidly taken up by the rest of us. I could tell that Christy had wanted to applaud right away, but had been unsure if it would be appropriate.

"This is not my only comment," Doc said, "but your voice was noticeably rougher at the end than it was at the beginning. We'll have to limit the number of times we do this, or it could be a problem when you deliver it for real."

This was true, though we all knew that part of Doc's reason was to restrict the number of hours we devoted to this over the next two weeks.

Ray was smoking and looking over his notes. "My biggest comment?" he said. "The material about your father needs to be cut, or at least trimmed a lot. It's really a distraction from the elegant construction of your arguments."

Jan smiled and turned to me, and I shook my head. "No, dear," I said, trying to keep a straight face. "I did not tell him to say that."

They laughed, and she said, "Marshall has been telling me the same thing. I thought it was because he knows so much about my parents."

"Well," Christy said tentatively, "I think that, at a certain point, we do whatever we do in our lives. Our parents have influenced us, of course, but the decisions are ours." She smiled. "I've been thinking about this because my son just turned fourteen. He's a man now, by our rules, and whatever he does, I can't take the credit. Or the blame."

Doc nodded. "Christy is right, and not only because she's the only one in this room who has actually reproduced, as far as I know. Also, Jan, it becomes awkward that you talk about your father so much and never mention your mother. I know you were raised by Vinnie, but the audience will just end up wondering about why your mother isn't being mentioned, and that will distract them from what you're actually saying."

"Think about them, the audience," Vicki said. "Focus on what they need from you. I think it will start to fall into place when you do that."

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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