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Back to the drawing board and loving it

September 15, 2011

I’m not blogging as much as I’d prefer.  I’ve groaned about that recently and I groan here again.  The day job has become a bit more demanding of late with new evaluation protocols and such.  Add to that my daughter’s soccer schedule (which I help coach) and my time shrinks to teeny-tiny bits scattered randomly.  I like to use those bits for writing when I can.  But don’t give up on Chaos Out of Chaos; I’m still here, just more sporadic than I used to be.

I recently had a steampunk adaptation of a fairy tale rejected from an anthology for being too fairy tale and only superficially steampunk.  Ever gotten a rejection and nodded?  That’s what I did because it was right, the steampunk was mostly just window dressing.  Moreover, it wasn’t an adaptation so much as a retelling in different style.  Ping, two for two in the nod department.

The editor (both editors in concert, actually) offered this analogy:

Consider two movies based off gang-interpretations of Romeo and Juliet: West Side Story and Romeo + Juliet (Baz Luhrman).  West Side Story is an adaptation, twisting the skeleton of the story to make sense in the new setting with new characters and new events.  Romeo + Juliet simply used guns instead of swords and used a modern setting; they used the Shakespearean words, for crying out loud.  Not an adaptation, just a change of clothes.

The editor is looking for a new story that fits the mold of the fairy tale, the way Willow was really Star Wars or how Avatar is really Dances with Wolves.  O Brother, Where Art Thou is likely too perfectly like The Odyssey.  The (bad) movie Barb Wire is too perfectly Casablanca.

Anyway, I hit the drawing board with the same fairy tale but a new plan, to make a new story that fit the mold of the fairy tale.  It helped to take (most of) the fantasy aspects out of it.  Now I have a skeleton for a stand-alone story that is a true adaptation.  Character names will likely stay the same, but the rest is history.  Who people are will change, changing their interactions and motivations, changing the events, changing the final outcome.  Whole new story that will still mimic the original in concept.  All it took was a little suggestion from the editor on how to change a key character’s role to get this whole new story tumbling out.

I confess, I was pretty happy with the first story.  If someone wants a pure fairy tale dressed in steampunk, I think it’s a winner.  Still, I felt it was too loyal to the fairy tale structure and too far from the more modern storytelling style that I usually write in, so it wasn’t quite me.  This one will be more me and I like it that much better.  As soon as I figure out where to start it, I’ll get this thing written.  Still have a while before this new draft is due, but this idea is kicking hard and is taking precedence over my Codex contest story, which is almost done but needs a significant rewrite to insert theme and structure into the freeform glob I wrote on first pass.  The glob may get submitted to the contest in favor of time for this story.  We’ll see.  Hopefully I’ll have time to write SOMETHING soon.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2011 11:24 am

    Will the editor(s) of that Steampunk antho let you sub the new piece?

    • Scott W. Baker permalink*
      September 15, 2011 12:06 pm

      Yes. I’ve been encouraged to do so. It’s an invitation-only antho and there seem to be more invites than slots, but he asked me to rewrite and resub. Mine was the only story he had received so far, anyway. His deadline is February, so there’s time.

  2. September 15, 2011 12:07 pm

    Well played. That’s the true advantage of subbing early!

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