characters, fiction, influences, writing

Getting My Groove On

Not exactly like this. Less leather pants, for one thing.

But I am slowly starting to get back into the groove of writing Wings of Song. It’s been tricky to switch from fantasy to everyday life stories, especially when my previous fantasy was so rooted in the real world. I kind of want to have dryads peeking out from around every corner and fauns popping in for tea with my ten-year-old protagonist. Which would be a lovely story! Just not this one that I’m telling right now.

It’s been tricky shifting my writing style again, too. Wings of Song is written in a very different style from Magic Most Deadly. I liken the type of story it is to LM Montgomery and Maud Hart Lovelace, Susan Coolidge and Miss Read. But it is really, really hard to write a story in that style without turning it treacly or preachy or just plain dull. All those writers? Geniuses. Me? Juuuust starting to really spread my writing wings and fly.

So it’s been hard, but it’s coming. My one character most given to pretentiousness and sententiousness I have made fully aware of his tendencies, and have given him a younger brother always cheerfully ready to wallop him when necessary to keep him from being a prig. I am stashing any fantasy ideas in a different notebook, ready to use in a different story in the future, possibly, but not interfering with this one. I’m trying to read more old-fashioned, “everyday” fiction to get a better feel for writing hopeful, fun stories without them turning soppy.

Above all, I’m just writing.

And in the end, that’s the important part.

(And I’m occasionally watching Kurt Browning in leather pants.)

6 thoughts on “Getting My Groove On”

  1. I’m not saying the Montgomery and the others weren’t geniuses, but you have to realize that the books they wrote were written in a drastically different time than now. You could have your Walter Blythes then more than now, because we weren’t as much of a jaded society then. In the thirties and early forties, you could have Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney movies be blockbusters, but they wouldn’t even go direct to video today. Our minds are set differently today, unfortunately.

    For you, you must find the middle ground between being too sugary and falling into the abyss of today’s mind.

    1. “For you, you must find the middle ground between being too sugary and falling into the abyss of today’s mind.” Yes, exactly! And since it’s set in the 1930s, making it period-accurate while not falling into the trap of having all my characters say “gee, this has been a real swell day” and other stereotypes of childhood in that era.

      I’ve been reading Ellis Peters’ Inspector Felse books, and finding them hugely helpful even though they’re mysteries, not straight fiction – they are set in the 1960s, and very family-focused, and very quiet and calm. Pretty much just exactly what I’m going for, except minus the mystery on my end.

  2. I feel the same way as your first commenter. I adore LM Montgomery, but she wrote for a different audience, and the writing market demanded something different than today. It’s hard to compare. As for switching genres, I know that dance well… so hard!

    1. Audience is so hard to gauge, isn’t it? To say, well, people love LMM, so they’ll love other books in the same style, but then you start writing and realize nobody, not even yourself, is going to enjoy this. So yes, a lot of adapting and learning and scratching my head going on here. I know the story I want to tell, and it’s a good one … it’s just the writing of it that’s proving tricky. (Which is a change for me – usually the writing is easy, and the story eludes me for ages.)

  3. Speaking of L. M. Montgomery, somewhere she said something to this tune: “Pine forests are as real as pigstyes, and one is a great deal more pleasant to walk in than the other.” So, further to what everyone else said: yes, Montgomery lived & wrote 100 years ago, and you aren’t Montgomery. But that doesn’t mean you have to write pigstye literature, even though there’s enough of that out there today to make you believe that that’s what you have to do to be “current” or “saleable”. I, for one, am all for pine forests (and for Walter Blythe, for that matter) – and an E. L. Bates pine forest should be fun to read about, it doesn’t have to be an L. M. Montgomery one.

    1. Thank you, friend! And yes, I’ve always loved that quote … from one of the Emily books, correct?

      I think about Jan Karon sometimes, whose books are hugely popular, and are definitely “cozy” without the mystery. I’ve never actually read one, but I know she was hugely influenced by Miss Read, who is also one of my influences for this series, and who wrote in the 60s, a time when pigsties were at least as popular as they are today, if not more. So I’m not completely alone.

      I think I also figured out part of my problem – trying to write a story from the POV of a ten-year-old girl that ISN’T a children’s story. I think I need to add a few other perspectives in there (which will actually help some of the other problems I’ve had too, such as scenes and understandings that would be over Meggie’s head, but kind of crucial to the tale).

      All progress. And encouragement such as yours is always enormously helpful.

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