Fresh Fiction Writing Refreshed

Yesterday, the heart of my post about writing fresh fiction was this: A fresh story is a familiar one told in a new way. Or a different story told in a familiar way.

While I think those statements are true, I don’t think they are particularly helpful to a writer who is trying to figure out out to tell a familiar story so that it comes across as something new and interesting.

I think of King Arthur stories, since there are so many of them. It seems next to impossible to tell the tale in a new way, and yet Bryan Davis did in his Dragons in Our Midst series of YA fantasies (AMG Publishing).

Part of his stories, but not all, were flashback scenes of King Arthur and good prophet Merlin saving the dragons from dragon hunters by turning them into people. Reviewers often said their favorite parts of the books were these Arthurian legend scenes.

Obviously Bryan told the familiar in a new way. But how? For one, he linked Arthur with dragons, something I don’t think is part of the traditional legend. He also made dragons in need of saving and gave Arthur a pivotal role in doing so. In other words, Bryan’s fresh take enhanced the existent story and built upon the character’s strengths.

Stephen Lawhead also re-imaged a familiar story in his King Raven series (Thomas Nelson)—Robin Hood. He changed the legendary setting from England to Wales, then in the final book of the trilogy gave a credible explanation how the English adopted the story based on a “real” Welsh hero.

A third example of a fresh take on a familiar legend is the movie Ever After, the story of Cinderella, told as if by an aging relative who passed the true story along to the Brothers Grimm. In this “real” version, Cinderella is anything but a helpless woman, though she is mistreated by her step-mother and one step-sister (the other turns out to be of some help later in the story, though she doesn’t stand up to those who are abusive).

The magic elements of the story are changed into real events/people, with only a perception of the fantastic. Another twist is that the prince, when he learns who Cinderella actually is, feels betrayed by her and is unwilling to marry beneath his station. Later he comes to his senses, rushes to save her from a brute who has bargained with her step-mother to marry her, but finds she has already freed herself from the man’s evil clutches.

These three examples do not hide their source but make a concerted effort to alter the story in some significant way: Davis by incorporating dragons in the Arthurian legend, Lawhead by changing the setting of Robin Hood, and Ever After by explaining away the magic of Cinderella and adjusting the plot accordingly.

Making full use of myth and legend while altering the source in some significant way is just one method of telling the old in a new way. But I’ll save any further discussion of fresh fiction for another day.

CSFF Blog Tour – Scarlet, Day 1

Stephen R. LawheadA CSFF Blog Tour—my favorite time to blog. 😀 This month we are featuring Scarlet, the work of perhaps the most famous Christian fantasy writer this side of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien—Stephen R. Lawhead.

Lawhead’s list of books is impressive. From the Dragon King Trilogy to the Pendragon Cycle, the Song of Albion Trilogy, and now the King Raven Trilogy, he has made a name as a creator of myth.

I admit, apart from that information, I knew very little about the man, so I did a little research and developed a little quiz for you from my findings. Have fun.

1) Lawhead was born in
a. Oxford b. New York c. Kearney, Nebraska d. Tupelo, Mississippi

2) His wife, also a writer, is
a. Alice Slaikeu b. Janice Oranski c. Elizabeth Gradinow d. Pearl Abrahams

3) He has how many children?
a. Two daughters, Betsy and Diana b. Two sons, Ross and Drake c. a son Drake and a daughter Betsy d. he has no children

4) True or False
He is a former editor of Campus Life magazine.

5) True or False
For a time, he managed the singing group DeGarmo & Key.

6) True or False
For a year, he ran his own record company, Ariel Records.

7) True or False
He grew up as an atheist.

8 ) Lawhead became a Christian
a. in preschool b. in elementary school c. in high school d. as an adult

9) What school did Lawhead attend
a. Northern Baptist Theological Seminary b. Kearney State College c. both a and b d. he has no higher education

10) Scarlet is
a. the rewrite of the sequel to Gone with the Wind
b. the myth about Robin Hood’s true love, Lady Scarlet
c. a book about the blood-stained robe of Jesus
d. the story of Will Scarlet, one of the men giving allegiance to Robin Hood or King Raven

Answers posted below the list of other blog tour participants.

1. c Kearney, Nebraska
2. a. Alice Slaikeu
3. b. Two sons, Ross and Drake
4. True
5. True
6. True
7. False
8. c. in high school
9. c. both a and b
10. d. the story of Will Scarlet, one of the men giving allegiance to Robin Hood or King Raven

So how well did you do? 🙂

Published in: on November 26, 2007 at 12:15 pm  Comments (12)  
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