Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Snow White and Rose Red (or Why Write a Novella)

Also titled Eating My Words.

I've finally, finally, finally got my new laptop back after a month-long fiasco with a dreadful computer shop in Kigali. The hard drive had a meltdown, leaving me with my faithful backup laptop. Unfortunately the backup didn't have a battery, so went down every time the power had a hiccup, and the keyboard's been typed to death, so I have to use a clunky 80s-style USB pug-in. Your brain rattles as you type. 

So, happy days! 

Yesterday was my first day writing in about five weeks. It's been like a missing limb. Well, maybe not quite as much like a missing limb as the time my hand was in bandages for three months, but really close to that.

Obviously, I'm back to writing Still Life. I was hoping to slay 2,000 but only managed 1,100. The research on this one is brutal. It's about an hour writing to every three hours reading Wiki, browsing Paul Townsend's pictures of Victorian Bristol and watching documentaries about The Great Exhibition.

Attempting to counteract some of this attention to detail, I've written the first 1,000 words of... a novella.

Yes, I do remember writing a post a couple of months back titled: Never, Ever Write a Novella.

I stand by that post. If you're a writer considering a novella in the hopes of finding a traditional publisher - don't do it. I swore I never would again.

I really meant it at the time. Then Ghostwoods read Wolfish and said they would like it, but... would I mind writing another one? After all, two novellas make a novel. 

I must admit, I really enjoyed writing Wolfish. As I said in my posts, it's so refreshing to write a story where you don't have to do any research at all. I did it with Secret Order. It was a bottom drawer novel, but it felt like cleansing my pallet between two full-on historicals (Rosy Hours and Children of Lir). It reminded me what fun writing can be when you don't have to think about it. Like the stories I wrote in primary school about animals that couldn't possibly live in Africa, but  I included them in my story about the savanna because I liked tigers. Why can't a cheetah and a polar bear be friends?

Perhaps my adult fairytales have a bit more plot to them, but it's that giddy sense of spinning on the spot. I can have a forest where any plant in the world can grow. I can have a character wearing anything they damn well please without having to Google 19th century fashion first. Nobody can tell me kettles hadn't been invented. It's delightful.

Originally, I said I'd get through Still Life first, because I didn't think I'd have focus enough for two, but I was so elated at getting my laptop fixed that I'm going for the double whammy. I wrote parts of Wolfish and Creeper's Cottage simultaneously, so it's doable. As with those, this is a split between first person and third, so you have to recalibrate your brain when switching.

I've decided to go with a retelling of Snow White and Rose Red. I think most of my stories begin with character-driven imagery. This one whispers to me like Red Riding Hood did and I think it would run complimentary to Wolfish

Neither of us know which of us came first, but the midwife told my mother we were holding hands, our fingers interlaced like a single length of cloth. “Cut from the same fine fabric,” she whispered, as she sliced our cords with her sharp knife.

In my dream, the sun was just broaching the horizon. Those ancient hills rolled like waves of tar against its brilliant crown. But that was the thing, see. As I came towards the light, propelled forward into day, my sister fell backwards into night. They say we were born at the same hour on the same day, but a single day holds both sun and stars.

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