Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Why Victorian? continued

The other thing is, things move so fast in the modern world, even if you write in the HERE AND NOW you are going to be fixed in time. Pubs are disappearing...smoking is no longer boxes are vanishing. Plot staples are changing and so are settings. Just as you couldn't keep star-crossed lovers apart by having them married to someone else or not permitted by parents any more, so if you want to send spies or soldiers out to do their duty in modern stories, you will have one hell of a confused historical background to set it in.

Modern settings are changing too fast for the writer.

Also I prefer the myth. The Wild West of gunfighters and Red Indians. Pirates and Privateers. Ninja and Assassins.

Sure there are modern Myths. Maybe I'll come to them one day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Why Victorian?

A couple of You Write On reviewers suggested that I should update Monster to the present day. Others just thought I didn't do Victorian very well, which is another matter.

Cobble says: I thought, maybe it would be better if you could bring this story into the modern era. He doesn't explain why though. Another earlier reviewer thought the same but I have long deleted his review...nowadays I keep a copy, but then I just got rid of them.

So why 19th Century?

Well it was partly the Gothic feel of the time and partly it was the last time that intelligent people believed in fairies. Think of the Cottingley Fairies championed by the likes of Conan Doyle. There could be a good fairy story written in the days of mobile phones, bluetooth and Stealth Bombers, but I could more easily imagine my protoganist in a Dickensian world, a world where Jack the Ripper walked in Whitechapel pea-soupers and Sir Richard Burton disguised himself as an Arab to infiltrate the stronghold of Mecca, and visited fantastic Araby in his translation of the Arabian Nights. I wanted Dickens and Mr Hyde, Sherlock Holmes and Dracula. In fact, I wanted to inhabit the World of Story, not the real place where fairies turn out to be cutouts from a magazine.

I was also inspired by Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Here was a world where Mr Hyde, The Invisible Man and Dracula actually co-existed with Sherlock Holmes and, well, with practically every other fictional character from Victorian times. Even Fu Manchu popped up.

My idea was that as Thomas Grimes started to seek his fairy he would have to go further and further into the World of Story, the unreal world where Fairyland exists, to find her. And in that world he could also find everyone from the Wandering Jew to Father Christmas. If I wanted.

My favourite review of all from You Write On begins: "A Monster in the Mirror is a magical feast."

Which is what I set out to dish up.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Step 1) Take an hour and create a one-sentence summary of your novel. what is my book about? Well originally it was as stated on YouWriteOn:

A lonely, ugly Victorian boy covets a lovely fairy girl. But that was just what the opening was about.

So what was the original inspiration?

It's a bit cloudy now, but the story grew out of a Neil Gaiman story called "Calliope" where Richard Madoc, a one-book writer (suffering the dreaded Block), trades a Bezoar with Erasmus Fry in return for a captured Muse ("Calliope"). The Muse is female and nubile.

Erasmus Fry tells him, "they say one ought to woo her kind, but I found force most efficacious..."

Well I won't tell you the story in case you ever read it (don't want to spoil it), but after raping Calliope, it occurs to Madoc that "the old man might have cheated him: given him a real girl. That he, Madoc, might possibly have done something wrong, even criminal..."

It was two things that intrigued me...the sexual thrill in the idea of capturing a beautiful creature and the twisted idea that if she was a Muse, and therefore not actually a person, then rape was all right.

Out of that grew Tommy Grimes capturing a Fairy. But the real story is about rape, power and, at heart, what is right and what is wrong.

And it's about how people learn the difference, if they ever do. Isn't that what all stories are about?

And a once sentence summary of the story? How about:

A man returns from the South Seas to seek a Fairy he captured as a Youth.

There's a whole lot of story questions to be answered there.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

You Write On

Lets start with a bit of peer review. These are the marks received so far on You Write On from fellow writers-to be (lowest mark 1 on left, up to highest 5 on right):

Character 0 1 14 18 12
Story (plot) 0 1 15 18 11
Pace/Structure 0 6 17 17 5
Use of Language 0 0 6 17 22
Narrative Voice 0 1 5 21 18
Dialogue 0 3 18 18 6
Settings 0 0 9 25 11
Themes/Ideas 1 1 8 26 9

Using standard deviation these marks add up to an overall 3.9. Apparently. So some things appear obvious: Pace & Dialogue need some thought. And at least one person thought the whole idea was useless and gave it 1. Not sure who that was, so can't get a vicious revenge crit in either.

On YWO you can remove 1 bad (i.e. low mark) review out of every 8 received. So far I have removed 6. Wish I had kept them to include here.


Well this is a blog about a Work in Progress.

You can read the early chapters of a first draft on You Write On (an Arts Council funded website) at Monster in the Mirror

Problem is, I got stuck.

So now I've decided to start again using the Snowflake Method.

I thought I'd keep a record of how I get on...I have no idea how or if it will work.