Bine ai venit, prieteni!
Translation: Here's some strong espresso and really gooey brownies, because we're getting a bit technical today.
I'm lying; it actually means: Welcome, friends! Don’t click away; that’s all the Romanian I’ll be typing this Saturday, cross my heart. WHY I typed Romanian is because this is my March Round Robin post! (See silly drawing by yours truly in the corner. Makes sense now?)
If you’re new to this—every month a bunch of MuseItUp Publishing authors write on a topic thought up by Rhobin Courtright. Nothing complex. Backstory on March’s topic (cue hazy pipe music and gusting wind to signify flashback dialogue, probably by a well-spoken British individual like 99.6% of existing narrations):
All story genres take some research for establishing details in the setting. What type of research have you had to do? Does it bother you when you read something happening in a story that is inaccurate historically, socially, scientifically, etc.?
This hits home for me right now because I’m transitioning into finding a new story. Before opening a new Word Doc, someone should install a pop-up with blaring letters saying: RESEARCH IS STRONGLY ENCOURAGED. Because someone once told me to “WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW.” No idea who said it, and I actually probably read it somewhere, but it’s the best advice I’ve ever been given. And if you’re burning to write about, say, 18th century circuses and you know diddly squat about them—then sniff up some Nasonex, head to a library, and get your research on. I’ve done everything from skulking the reference sections and shoving quarters to make copies of pages to squinting at Wikipedia and favoriting page after page. True, Wikipedia is not the most Grade A of sources but it’s great for general sleuthing around. The internet is a treasure trove; in the last month I’ve done searches on Arthurian mythology, the Blarney Stone, the Culinary Institute of America, and all kinds of Romanian folklore.
You might think, Uh, yeah that’s great but that’s a lot of work and I don’t wanna do it. Well—too bad. You want a good story? Either gets your facts right…or learn a broad stroke of it all and fake it. There’s that other phrase about every lie containing a kernel of truth, right? Gather up a sprinkling of true historical facts or semantics and then just weave the rest around if you want. If you write fiction like I do, all you need to do is write like you know what’s going on. For The Christmas Lights, a novella I wrote that takes place in middle/late 1800s England, United States, Switzerland, and France, basically the only things I looked up were when lightbulbs became the norm and the style of men’s clothing, then went off from that. I was a big cheater for that one. Well—don’t write about Abe Lincoln using Skype to contact Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War and expect people to bow down to your intellect, but you get what I mean.
As for reading, I don’t think I’ve picked up any glaringly incorrect books history/scientifically-wise. I just finished The Princess Bride and THAT bundle of words was the biggest middle finger to history’s timeline that I’ve ever seen (at least in the beginning, when Goldman was trying really hard to pretend that Morgenstern was a real and at time cloying person), but the it does to let you know that it is, indeed, a story and not to be taken as fact. And it was kind of funny. Other than that, I think writers know the code that, even if you’re fabricating 90% of the story, you do need some semblance of normalcy. It’s got to make sense.
Un mil gracias for stopping by (that's Spanish, and means "a thousand thanks")! What kind of research have you had to do? Are you hardcore on it or just consult ol’ Wiki now and again? Or do you avoid research like the plague, or jury duty, or those channels that only show infomercials?:)
P.S. I just Googled it and apparently "X" stands for "kiss" and not "hug"? I'm just trying something out. Let's make it a stand in for "Cheers," "Yours," or "Sincerely." :)
Follow along and be mentored by the setting secrets of other Muse writers(!):
Heidi M. Thomas
GUESS WHO'S ON SPRING BREAK?!
No, not the Pope. Or, at least, I don't know how his schedule works.
No, not George Clooney. Unless he's not doing a movie right now?
Yes, it's ME! And I'm not in Miami or Mississippi or the Bahamas like some of my friends. I'm home, sitting on my couch while my dad's flipping channels. Plans are: read The Princess Bride, draw The Mona Lisa (art contest), and just chill. It's been barely two days and we've watched two new Disney movies: Big Hero Six (sob) and Cinderella, the new one that just got into theaters. And I realized something. BH6 is based off a comic book, and Cinderella has been thrown into every facet imaginable.
Cinderella is still blonde, wears blue, and talks
to mice. The Prince is still charming and the
Evil Stepsisters are boorish and
snappy. However, this time I teared up
at Cinderella's unfailing kindness, and the
prince had a personality and a name (Kit)! I
knew exactly what was going to happen.
But I still loved it. Fairy tales, comic
books; they're tried and true and we adore
them. Think how many Batmans, Supermans, how many Romeos, Juliets, Snow Whites and more have been written about. Stuff that everyone knows--everything in the public awareness, a world mythology of sorts--is game. Think about it: The Lunar Chronicles, the Percy Jackson series, Harry Potter, the Vampire Chronicles, etc. None of their authors invented Sleeping Beauty, Poseidon, wizards or vampires. What I'm trying to say is, nobody really owns Cinderella. I mean, what, are the Brothers Grimm or whoever wrote it going to snatch up a Ouija board and file a lawsuit?
I guess I love the idea that writers have the ability to take a beloved story and explore its nooks and crannies, its maybe questionable plot points, and take it apart like patchwork in order to spin it on its edge. In Dante's day (Dante Alighieri, that guy who wrote all about hell, purgatory, and heaven), it was a common thing to tug great lines out of epics and use them as your own. Now that's often called plagiarism, but not when you use old, old tales. Thor and Loki and Odin. Zeus and the rest of the Olympians. King Arthur. Robin Hood. Even Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene wait in the wings (Da Vinci Code, I'm lookin' at you). These figures dance around in everyone's imaginations and gladly follow authors on roads untraveled.
Who decided what tales become free of copyright? Is it because they are legendary? Some, like Peter Pan retellings, are often called "unofficial" because J. M. Barrie gave the rights to a hospital. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has some "official" stories as well if an author gets permission from whomever holds ownership of Mr. Holmes and Watson. Then again, those legends are a little younger. I doubt you could email King Arthur for permission to write about his life (if he wasn't a figment of someone's imagination).
Anyway, just sharing my thoughts. Any favorite legends you've heard retold or have retold yourself? :)