On Originality

“There ARE no new ideas.  Everything under the sun has been done.”

Sometimes we hear this from people who are defending trite rehashings/copycat stories/ripoffs of existing, well-known, popular works.  After all, there are really only a few story types that just keep getting retold, so why should we expect originality from writers?  Why not just let them lift whatever they like and get away with calling it an homage?

Because even established story types like the Hero’s Journey can be told in original ways.  Even traditional high fantasy can be Tolkien-inspired without reading like the author thinks Middle-Earth is a public-domain playground.

Continue reading

Wendy West Saves the World

I thought I’d share this.  I found my first short story, written when I was eleven years old, in fifth grade: March 15, 1989. It was written in pencil in a preteen’s careful cursive. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation has been left untouched.  It’s called “Wendy West Saves the World.”

Wendy West was an explorer who had shiny black hair and light purple eyes. She could see farther than a million telescopes put together could see.

One day Wendy West was exploring a hole in Sudan, Africa. She heard some screeching inside the hole and a laser beam shot out of it, narrowly missing Wendy. It hit a tree and the tree evaporated into thin air.

Wendy was shocked at this. She looked into the deep hole. It seemed endless, so she used her special vision to peer deep into the hole. At the bottom, there was a huge group of tall, blue men! They shot lasers at her. They missed. She ran to a nearby police station.

The police were on coffee break. Wendy got a police man to come to the hole. He looked inside the hole. “Is this your idea of a joke? I don’t see anything,” Said the police man. “No,” said Wendy. She shined a flashlight down in the deep hole. Sure enough, nothing was there. She used her special vision to look around in Africa, then in Europe. When she got to China, there were the blue men, shooting huge buildings down.

The police sent helicopters to China, after Wendy West reported her story. They disposed of the aliens, and then they had a party for Wendy and proclaimed that day a holiday called “Alien day!”

Completed New Novel: Bad Fairy

Finished writing Bad Fairy!  Took about 5 weeks, except I had to take a break when I had a houseguest.  (Hey Fred.)

Genre: Fantasy (fairy tale retelling).

Length: 41 chapters/815 pages/~255,000 words.

Tag line: “What happened before Sleeping Beauty slept?”

Keywords: FANTASY: Fairy tale retelling, medieval period fantasy, Sleeping Beauty, fairies, magic, magick, dark fantasy, reincarnation, elemental magic, identity issues, quirky narrators, epistolary, autobiography (character).

Protagonist: Delia Morningstar.

POV: First person, past tense.

About:

Delia Morningstar is a precocious and inquisitive half-fairy girl whose great talent and drive mark her for a promising future. But she has some peculiar interests: What is she learning when she dabbles in forbidden “dark” magick, and why does she have such an interest in the afterlife?

Shunned by popular society, she struggles to make her own living, but when one of her attempts to help her kingdom is misunderstood, she is held responsible for a curse on baby Aurora, her kingdom’s beloved princess. Now forced into hiding, Delia must live in disguise as a typical fairy and continue to work toward a surprising goal: Saving the princess from death. While tweaking destiny from behind her mask, Delia discovers many unexpected aspects of both herself and her enemies. Though she ultimately succeeds in her original goal, she finds that dealing with who she’s become is a battle she’s only beginning.

Next up: Lots of editing!

New Novel: Bad Fairy

Started a new book!  The working title is Bad Fairy.

About:

Bad Fairy is the story of Delia Morningstar, a fairy whose involvement with her kingdom’s princess inspired the story of Sleeping Beauty.  Written as an autobiography of the bad fairy, it tells the tale of how Delia grew up, made her enemies, got blamed for a curse, and spent part of her life in hiding.

It’s based on a short story I wrote in 2000.  When Francesca Lia Block’s book The Rose and the Beast came out, some other fans and I wrote our own retold fairy tales to celebrate the release, and when one of my friends reviewed the short story and said it could make a great novel, I decided to find out if he was right.

 

New Novel: Joint Custody

Started a new book!  The working title is Joint Custody.

Genre: Kids’ fiction (middle reader/realistic fiction).

Length: 5 chapters/62 pages/~18,500 words.

Status: In progress/on hold/back burner.

Tag line: “Mom’s house” or “Dad’s house.” Where’s “my house”?

Keywords: KIDS’ FICTION: Juvenile, school, divorce, family issues, animal rights.

Protagonist: Bainbridge Kavin Cassidy (“Bay”).

POV: First person, present tense.

About:

I started writing Joint Custody after a long string of reading Newbery Award-winning books that disappointed me. I heard myself saying “I could do better than THAT!” several times before it struck me that if that was the case, I should do so. Joint Custody is the result. I figured it needed to address a relevant issue for children these days, so I picked divorce. But it also needed to be unique, and if anything, Bay is unique. When I finally finish this book, I hope many kids will relate to him. This is aimed at upper elementary school kids.

This book catalogs the mental wanderings of a confused kid called Bay. It reads a bit like stream-of-consciousness, but in his roundabout way, he really is saying something and making observations. Bay’s parents split up when he was very young, and now he feels as though he has no home. He is either at “Mom’s house” or “Dad’s house.” Bay is kinda thinky for an eleven-year-old, and he shares his philosophical ponderings about roadkill, conformity, having two houses, and the mysterious girl named Marz who’s always taking his picture. First-person present-tense story about a kid who thinks a little differently and just wants to know where home is.

Completed New Short Story: “The Curse”

Finished a new short story called “The Curse.”  This one’s a very peculiar story and it’s on the long side—about 10,000 words.  Speculative fiction, coming of age.

Half of the story is dedicated to detailing the effects of “the Curse,” a change that suddenly and without warning or explanation was visited upon everyone on the planet. Suddenly everyone’s vision has shifted to include other input.

The progression of humanity’s acceptance of the Curse is one plot, and the activities of Balthazar—Zarry to his friends—make up the other plot, interspersed with the first in a switching pattern. Zarry’s mission is to remove the Curse from mankind, which ultimately involves his intellectual battle with the Keeper of the Sight.

It’s really more of a commentary on human nature than anything else, but I dunno who’s gonna get it.  I’ll see if any magazines want it.

Completed New Short Story: “Uncle Avery’s Garden”

Finished a new short story called “Uncle Avery’s Garden.”  It’s actually on the short side, at about 1,400 words.  Sentimental fiction.

A college girl debates over whether to spend her hundred-dollar bill that was given to her as a child by her departed Uncle Avery. She wonders whether it will be disrespectful to do so, even though she really needs the money, because she promised not to and has managed to hold out so long. A dream she has helps her clarify the importance of the gift.

Probably will not try to publish this.  I think it’s kinda sappy. But maybe someone will think it’s also kinda sweet?

 

Completed New Short Story: “The Escape”

Finished a new short story called “The Escape.”  It’s about 85% autobiographical—realistic fiction about childhood, about 3,000 words.

Kelly is disturbed by the idea of growing up. Her friends’ eagerness to act more adult bothers her, and she reminisces in a bowling alley about their past together and how she’d rather move across the country (which she will be doing) and totally lose touch with them than have to see them grow up.

Probably won’t be looking for a place to publish this, but I had to get it out.

Completed New Short Story: “Bloom”

Finished a new short story called “Bloom.”  It’s really long, though, more of a novella.  About 20,000 words, YA coming-of-age fantasy, first person/present tense.

Kamber is concerned about her inability to make her doll dance, which is a sign of becoming mature in the Kinfolk culture. She does not know what to do to make this doll dance, and the only two girls who are Kin from her school make fun of her because she hasn’t done it yet. Because of this abuse and the fact that another girl, Joanne, shows interest in learning about her, she stops eating lunch with them.

Through the story she learns to harness her natural energy, a Goddess-given gift, to demonstrate magical abilities such as calling butterflies and controlling fire and wind. Unfortunately she seems to be demonstrating competence in the so-called “male” elements rather than the “female” elements of earth and water. This and the fact that her doll hasn’t danced are distressing to her, and she attempts to find enlightenment through talking to her grandmother, talking to Joanne, and soul-searching while talking to her Goddess.

She feels like a failure until her grandmother picks up on signs that she has not noticed that show Kamber is growing up. She is given a very important role in a festival for Bloom Day and finds she has much more potential than she thought—and that it has nothing to do with whether she can make a doll dance.

Maybe one day this will be a novel, since there’s no way in heck I’m going to have an easy time finding a magazine that’d want something this long?