U is for … Underscore
April 24, 2012
I don’t mean taking a ruler and drawing a line under your words to emphasize them. That’s a different sort of underscore altogether. The underscore I’m talking about is a film term — the music that runs through a movie, enhancing and emphasizing the action and emotions of the film.
Sometimes, one is hardly aware of the underscore. Sometimes one is more aware than one should be, if the music is too loud, or does not suit the action. Scoring a film is not an easy thing to do.
One of the most masterful examples of underscore in my experience is the score for the film Victor/Victoria (and indeed, Henry Mancini won an Oscar for this score). Listen to that music. I’m not talking about the songs sung by the performers, I’m talking about the underscore. One example — the “Cat and Mouse” music that so aptly reflects the action as King Marchand and his bodyguard sneak in to Toddy and Victoria’s hotel room, then try to make their way out again without being discovered. Watch the movie again. Listen to the underscore. You’ll hear what I mean.
There are underscores in writing, too.
And, since Geraldine, the Very Fairy Princess, is In the Spotlight this week, my example of an underscore comes from the Very Fairy Princess series of picture books.
The underscore in this series is a literary device — actually a theatrical device — used repeatedly and to great effect.
The stories are narrated by the main character, Geraldine. As she tells the story, there are often asides written in brackets, that indicate something that is common to the fairy princess experience. These asides become the underscore for the entire series.
For example, in the first book, The Very Fairy Princess, Geraldine says
“My brother, Stewart, says fairy princesses don’t wear sneakers and don’t have scabby knees. I say sneakers help me practice my flying skills, ESPECIALLY when we’re late for the school bus, and scabs are the price you pay. (Fairy princesses are very practical.)”
The books are peppered with such asides, that enhance the understanding of fairy princesses in an unobtrusive, and delightful way.
Can you think of other examples of underscores in books?
And now (because Fairy Princesses are very giving) I need to remind you of this week’s GIVEAWAY! On Sunday, I will be giving away two Very Fairy Princess prizes. The Grand Prize is a copy of the brand new, hot-off-the-press picture book The Very Fairy Princess: Here Comes the Flower Girl, accompanied by a fairy princess wand created by a talented woman in Minnesota. Second prize is a copy of The Very Fairy Princess: Here Comes the Flower Girl. Every person who comments on any of this week’s blog posts will be entered in the drawing. The more times you comment, the more times your name will be entered. On Sunday, April 29 at 12 noon Eastern Time, random.org will help me choose a winner of the Book plus Wand, and a winner of the Book alone.