Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Once Upon a Time . . .

Lately I have a had a lot of people ask me about the origins of certain legends and fairy tales. I've read (devoured) a great deal of such stories but I can't say I know the origins and details of every bit of folk lore ever told.

I want to though.

And so, I am planning a blog series starting in May (after the impending A-Z Challenge we will all {most} be absorbed in through April)about the origins of fairy tales. I will research what I can about about a new fairy tale each week and post what I find.

This will be fun! Let me know if there are any particular stories you would like me to cover.

I can tell you right now there aren't any actual original version. Not in the way there is an original Peter Pan or an Original Sherlock Holmes. Fairy Tales were originally told in taverns and around fires. Each telling was different. They drew elements from each other (what we might consider today an infringment of coppyrights) and developed with the times and people who told them. Stories traveled from region to region, mixing with each other, and gathering new life with each generation. Even the first written collections were only one man's copy of what he heard in the local villages. The stories had existed in many different versions for years before that depending on where, and by whom, they were told.

I could easily spend years trying to pin-point the origins of a single story but we'll see what I can uncover in a week. I'm looking forward to this! I hope you have a lot of fairy tale questions for me!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Manuscript Massacre and Why Editing is Like Piano Practice

I apologize for the absence the last couple weeks. I have been rather absorbed in the task of hacking my manuscript to bits and pieces.

It is a bit odd. I hated editing my last manuscript. Every time I had to cut out a clip of dialogue or a good description I would wince. No. I worked hard to make that. You can't just take it OUT.

"I can" my inner editor would reply "if it isn't helping the story."

Pout. Sulk. Threaten to use even more run on sentences and "ing" words. Finally relent and click delete.

But this time I've only been editing a couple of weeks and I've already cut out three whole scenes. And you know what? I don't miss them. Not a whit. They weren't bad but they were unneeded and bogged down the plot. I'm feeling rather ruthless with my words right now. Half the scenes I've kept in so far have been paired down quite a bit.

Slash. Stab. Parry. Watch the ink drip in little black blobs on the bottom of the page. The extra words fall away for stronger prose, better emphasis to the important parts of the story.

For me having a finished draft is a bit like struggling through a piece of sheet music for the first time. Yeah you have an idea of where your fingers have to go and where the difficult chords are but the piece is far from learned. And any good music teacher will tell you that playing it over and over straight through won't do you much good. You have to take it a few measures at a time, zone in on the trouble spots, and really learn the music phrase by phrase, before you can smooth it out as a finished piece.

So that's what I've been attempting. It's slow progress but progress. I can't wait to see it all fit together.

What is your editing process like?