Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Awesomeness--Now in Bottled Form!

So I didn't get around to blogging yesterday, though I wanted to. That's because I was trying to do MORE IMPORTANT THINGS, such as ACTUALLY WRITING. Yes, real fiction writing is more important, sorry. Whatever secret formula I employed yesterday, it worked, as I finished the short story I was working on then plowed straight through another from beginning to end in 3 hours! Actually, that deserves a few more exclamation points.


There we go. Yeah, it was surprising to conceive, plot, and write a story out all in one sitting--can't remember the last time I did, if I EVER have. If I could bottle and sell that, guess who'd be first in line to buy it? The story I finished took me about 7 days for 4500 words, which isn't bad. A few days and I'll send it out for a call at the end of the month. Yay!

The one I started and finished came out to roughly 2000 words, which was my estimate when I started. I never estimate properly--for example, 2000 is how long I thought the 4500-word one would finish up. Strange how (mostly) everything worked out as I intended it to....

I decided to do this 2000-word story on a lark--there was a call for dark versions of Grimms' Fairy Tales so I did a little research and an idea hit me. And I wrote it.

Yes, I have said before that I dislike reworked fairy tales. On a related note, hubby and I tried to watch Oz the Great and Powerful or whatever it was called and JUST COULDN'T. I wanted to barf the whole time, and rolled my eyes whenever he wasn't looking. I don't think we made it halfway through... Never even liked the Wizard of Oz; don't think I've ever watched it all the way either because, honestly, do I have to? If you know the plot, as I suspect you do, it's just painful to watch the bad makeup and corny acting and heavy-handed moralizing and offensive use of people with dwarfism. Nothing about that movie was ever "magical" to me. In the case of the new film, corny acting and bad costumes and flying monkeys in bellhop uniforms aren't an improvement.

I guess for me the world of Oz was just too juvenile or unbelievable or flat-out unpleasant to want to visit. Yeah, even as a kid. I shudder at the thought of skipping down a yellow brick road and always wished I could cut that lion's nasty mane of Goldilocks curls.

Okay, I'm over it. Getting off topic here. Anyway, so I'm not crazy about fairy tale retakes, and yet I did one of my own. Does this make me a hypocrite? No. Well, not entirely. Here's the difference: everyone has read Cinderella or Red Riding Hood or the more popular fairy tales. The ones we know best largely involve female protagonists who get into situations with thinly-veiled sexual undertones (a "slumber" that can only be broken by "true love's kiss", being cornered by a "wolf", the consequences of pricking your "finger" on a "spindle", eating a poisoned--read "forbidden"--fruit). Naturally none of these ladies can save themselves. Naturally, a lot of rehashes replay these stories with a feminist bent, so that they do.

It's gotten to the point that seemingly every fantasy writer in the world has tried their hand at this, if only to be able to say they did. Or to try and do it better than the last person? Please. Cinderella is Cinderella. Your version is not going to be more memorable than the one that's been pounded into our brains since toddlerhood. And if you're going to retell a story you can only change so much of it, meaning that ultimately you end up following the same old plot line with a few alterations. This is just the inevitability of retelling a well-known story--in order to keep it identifiable, you can't change everything. In order to make it new, you DO have to change SOMETHING.

How to write a retelling of a fairy tale without initiating the *yawn, Snow White again?* reaction? Here's my solution: don't do Snow White. Or any of the popular tales. I certainly can't add anything worthwhile to the loooong list of Snow White/Cinderella/Red Riding Hood retellings. In no small part because I have no passion for these stories. Although I suspect the passion has been flogged out of the stories themselves, not out of me.

So I took one of the more obscure stories because this way no one has preconceptions about it. There aren't 5000 other versions to compare it to. Bwahaha.

This seems like a good time to mention that a lot of original fairy tales do present female protagonists who not only take care of themselves, but their families, while saving the day. And there are so many other undercurrents of meaning in these stories that can be interesting and useful to a fiction writer. I picked the story that spoke to me best--my interests, my writerly abilities--and that's probably how I banged the whole thing out in a matter of hours. Because--haha--I already had a basic shape, just had to change things up a bit and write them down.

This call will be coming due at the end of July, so I have some time to sit on it and fix it up. I could've put off writing until all my submissions for June are sent out but, actually, sometimes you have to just write what's at the forefront of your mind, get it down on paper (digital paper for me) and get done. So I did.

And, as you can maybe see, I'm rather overly proud of myself for it, too.

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