Writing Wednesday: Differing Perspectives

I’ve spent the last several days reworking one scene in my Phantom novel.  It’s a pivotal scene near the end of Book Three, and because of the way I wrote this whole trilogy, I initially wrote it…three years ago?  Four years ago?  The point is, it was actually pretty early on in the writing of the whole project, because I was writing out of order at that point.

Well, coming up to today, I found that my writing has grown since then, and much of that original scene didn’t feel right anymore.  I decided it would be better to just rewrite it than to try to revise, so I sat down and wrote through it again–in Meg’s point of view, as was the original.

Then I went to meet with a writing friend, we talked about our latest writing…and she wanted to see the scene from Erik’s point of view.  And the more I thought about it…she was right.  So I wrote it again–and now I’m working on a later bit of the same chapter that also needs to switch to Erik’s point of view.  So it’s been an interesting few days, building a scene from different angles.

For fun, here’s two versions of the same moment–first from Meg, then from Erik.

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The melody faded away in another bar, and it was good I was sitting down, it was good he had told me to sit down, because he had said—he had actually said…  My eyes were hot and my throat was tight and I had to say something but I suddenly didn’t know…

He looked up at last, but he still didn’t look at me.  He was staring very fixedly down the length of the room, gaze on his pipe organ but from the tightness in his face I didn’t think he was seeing it.

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Writing Wednesday: Dancing into the Opera

I wrote last week about the Peter Pan story I’m writing for a planned anthology, involving people entering into books.  I’m planning to write at least two stories for the collection, and have started playing with the second one.  I’m not straying far from familiar territory, as I decided to send a character into The Phantom of the Opera.  But the trip will be out of familiar territory for her–Michelle has seen Webber’s Phantom, and has no idea how different Gaston Leroux’s version is!

Here’s a bit from near the beginning.

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I walked along the wall and stopped at random at another shelf.  Nothing was grabbing me.  It all looked boring, boring, boring…

And then I stopped on a black book with silver lettering.  No dust jacket.  But there was the key information on the spine: The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux.

I found myself smiling involuntarily.  Now that had been a good Saturday night.  Kim and I went to see the Webber play, because her husband hates musicals and thinks only tourists go to see Webber.  Whatever, it means I get to be Kim’s theater buddy.  So we went to the play and of course I rolled my eyes for the first scene, the “rehearsal of Hannibal.”  They were trying, and it wasn’t bad dancing, but it wasn’t professional ballet either.

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Writing Wednesday: Falling into Neverland

I recently took a trip to London, my favorite city.  There are endless literary connections (and I made some connections to the recently-read London) but the most prevalent one for me is always Peter Pan–or more precisely, it’s prequel, The Little White Bird, or Adventures in Kensington Gardens.  I wanted a writing project while I was traveling (because I write every day!) so the natural one to work on was a Peter Pan-related short story I’ve had in mind.

One of my writer friends invited me to contribute to a planned anthology of short stories, all based around a central concept–bookshops where people can actually enter into the books they open.  Each short story will focus on a different character entering a different book.  Peter Pan is in the public domain (mostly–it’s complicated) opening it up for this sort of story.

So I did my daily writing on vacation by working on the story of Will, who found himself falling into Peter Pan…literally!  Here’s an excerpt.

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Will took the book into his hands.  It felt oddly warm, but not in a bad way.  It was a friendly sort of feeling.  He meant to open the book to the first page, but the pages seemed to twist within his fingers, and he opened instead to perhaps a quarter of the way through.

He had just read, “When playing Follow my Leader, Peter would fly close to the water and touch each shark’s tail in passing, just as in the street you may run your finger along an iron railing” when the bookshop—and rather importantly, the floor—dissolved around him.

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Writing Wednesday: The Prince’s Friends

Continuing the tale of my sequel story, “The Princess Beyond the Thorns,” in writing the second story I had to introduce far more characters.  The first one had only Rose, Terrence, and a couple of kittens, with brief appearances by Rose’s parents in her memories.  The second one brings us back to the castle, and besides introducing Terrence’s father (as I shared in the excerpt last week), I wanted Terrence to have friends too.  This week’s excerpt introduces a couple of them.

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The door opened to admit two strangers, a man and a woman.  Both were dressed in the silks and elegance of the court, both perhaps a few years older than Terrence.  The woman was tiny, but even in crossing the room it was evident she was a bundle of energy.  The man was tall with the build of a warrior, and walked more slowly as he entered, favoring one leg in a slight limp.

“Good morning!” the woman chirped, then said over her shoulder, “You see, I told you she’d be awake.”  To Rose again, she said, “Do forgive the intrusion, but we wanted to catch you before the court swallowed you up.  I’m Lady Elena Worthington, and this is my husband, Sir Henry.  May we join you?”

“Please,” Rose said, faintly bemused, and indicated the extra, she had thought unnecessary, chairs at her breakfast table.

Lady Elena sat down across from Rose, folded her hands in her lap and put all her energy into her direct gaze.  “Practically everyone in this castle is going to be trying to figure out if you’re a suitable kind of princess, suitable to sit on the throne and suitable to bear the legend.  We’re not like that.  We want to know if you’re suitable for Terrence.”

 

Writing Wednesday: Beyond the Thorns

After I finished my week (or eight days) of short story writing, I wasn’t quite ready to go back to my novel.  I wrote about my break-out story, “The Princess Behind the Thorns,” and I didn’t feel like that was entirely done yet.  Even when I wrote the apparently happy ending, I knew I left a lot unresolved, and things weren’t going to go smoothly for the characters in the immediate future.

So I decided to write that story, about what happens after the spell is lifted and Princess Rose and Prince Terrence go home.  This became “The Princess Beyond the Thorns,” and the brief excerpt below may give you some idea of what they’re up against in this second part of the story.

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The king.  They were coming closer to the king now, and though Terrence had told her his father was a hard man, Rose found herself searching for something, some hope, in his face.  Some hint of Terrence’s kindness.  The king was older than her father had been.  His hair was gray but his back was still straight, his hands strong as they grasped the arms of the throne.  She could see something of Terrence in his eyebrows, in the shape of his jaw.  But the eyes were dark, not Terrence’s blue, and they were coldly assessing her as she approached.

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Writing Wednesday: 7 Stories, 7 Days – #8

My goal with this writing effort was to write seven short stories in seven days.  #7, “The Princess Behind the Thorns,” stretched to two days and 9,000 words.  After I finished it, I found I wasn’t quite done with the project.  So on day 9, I wrote one more story.  After that I went on to other projects…until the next time I decide to write a spurt of short stories!  I really enjoyed the project, and loved the chance to invest deeply but briefly in new worlds and characters.

I also enjoyed the chance to write in different styles than usual.  This last story, “Cinderella’s Dresses,” is obviously a fairy tale twist, but darker than most of what I write.  Here’s the beginning, written from the prompt, “The dress spoke for her.”

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The dress spoke for her.  It said wealth, power, beauty.  It said she belonged, amongst this august company who glittered and glimmered in the candlelight.  She never had to say a word.  The footman let her in without a murmur, without asking her name, without looking for an invitation.  The dress said she was meant to be here.

It was the dress that told the prince to approach her, as she stood near the bottom of the stair, suddenly afraid to take the last few steps down to the shining ballroom floor, to enter into that whirling, elegant throng.  She knew she would be lost among them, not knowing where to turn, what to do.  The dress shimmered and glowed and beckoned the prince away from the girl he had been eying with a considering favor, to approach her instead, to bow and to extend his hand.

The dress seemed almost to dance for her too, its full skirts whisking about her legs, twirling and floating and carrying her along with the music in the prince’s arms.  When he whirled her away from the crowd, out into the moonlit garden, the dress spoke for her then too, rustling as they walked, whispering that she had secrets.  But the whisper of silk could only hint at elegant secrets, rich secrets, aristocratic secrets.  When he plied her with questions and she blushed and demurred, the dress whispered that all was well, that her story was a delightful one, that someday he would be so pleasantly surprised when he learned the truth.

When the clock struck midnight, the dress all but carried her away.  She ran away down the path, feeling her skirts growing slight and intangible in her hands as she lifted them to flee.  The dress distracted her, its thinning, dissolving remnants twining about her legs, so she didn’t judge the steps correctly, so she stumbled and lost one shoe.  The dress was mere cobwebs and air now, and she didn’t dare to stop, even to pick up that one glittering shoe left behind.

She limped home, retired to her small bed by the fire, and lay awake until nearly dawn, trying to decide if the ball had been the most delightful thing that had ever happened to her, or simply terrifying.

Writing Wednesday: 7 Stories, 7 Days – #7.5

Two weeks ago for Writing Wednesday I wrote about my run away idea, the story that became “The Princess Behind the Thorns.”  I didn’t manage to finish the story in a single day, considering it stretched to 9,000 words, so I finished it on the second day.  I don’t think I knew quite how it was going to turn out until I got there–although to be honest, with a story written that fast, it’s hard to remember the order different ideas arrived in!

For the eighth day and seventh story of my flash fiction writing challenge, here’s another excerpt from “The Princess Behind the Thorns.”  This excerpt is quite near the end, after a prince has come to rescue Rose, but that didn’t go as expected either…

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            Rose sat up, looking out through the gaps in the bower’s woven walls.  There was blackness all around them.

“I think the spell’s breaking down,” Terrence said, sitting up too, staring at the shadows around them.  “That’s the only explanation, it’s been too much time and the magic is coming apart.”

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