And then, one day, that old story idea pops up in a totally new form and I say, "Hey! I should go back to you!"
Actually that's only happened twice. Once with Lillian. And now with...this story.
It was originally dreamed up in 2014 under the title Amid a Million Stars. Back then it was the first novel in a trilogy about two girls from a futuristic boarding school who got caught up in a war between the planet Earth and the evil planet Athena. The bright spot in the draft was certainly the charming space thief, Dar Beauregard. Most of 2015 was spent on the second draft, now entitled The Prince's Pendant. This draft was still about the two girls, but they were starting to be less important characters than the duty-torn soldier Raphael Novarex and the other men involved in stopping the evil empire's plot to kill the Prince Alphonse. (That evil empire, by the way, had its name changed to Festerlon at this point.) After that second draft was finished, I wrote a hurried first draft of a sequel in early 2016...and there it ended.
|Image not mine.|
Until now. This little story has flown up at me transformed almost beyond recognition in the surprising guise of a novelette.
(Confession: the novelette thing was the idea of a sci-fi/fantasy creative writing scholarship I plan on applying for. Can't submit a full-length novel or a children's story, so Lillian was out of the question, and this was the most interesting sci-fi/fantasy thing I had on the back burner, so. Yes, it sounds mercenary. Maybe it is. But this way I get to work on a story and tell Mom I'm working on scholarship applications.)
When I told my sister about the new idea, I was expecting her to give a horrified "What?!" and then laugh it to scorn.
But...she loved it. And we spent half the night thinking up all the changes to the plot and characters and story-world.
So I plunged in.
(Actually, looking back I realize that the night we made all these drastic changes was just a day or two after I read a lovely post of Blue's @ To Be a Shennachie involving characters from her space story...so Blue, if you're reading this and you sense any subconscious plagiarism in this novelette of mine, do please be a dear and call me out for it.)
What is the genre?
Space opera. It's not science-y enough to be science fiction (fate forbid I ever try that!) and it's not fantasy-ish enough to be fantasy, so that leaves it to space opera.
What is the title? The time period?
Alas, there is no title as yet. The storyboard I have made for it on Pinterest is entitled "The Twin Princes" but that's probably going to change. Another idea is "Mercury's Wings" or "On Mercury's Wings" but the sister who is practically a co-author in this case kinda pooh-poohed that idea.
As for time period, it takes place...vaguely in the very far future.
|Once again, Pinterest fails to provide me with exactly what I imagine.|
Who are the characters?
While the original drafts were chock full of characters, this version, I'm sad to say, has relatively few. I do feel remorseful for cutting so many, but strange to say I don't find myself writhing in agony over it. I think that's because I don't think of myself as cutting a select few, but salvaging my very favorites.
Those of you who have read the earlier drafts--please don't kill me! It's true: so far Jude and Christina and Ada and several others I was exceptionally fond of haven't made an appearance in this draft. But that doesn't mean they don't exist! I'm determined that they do, somehow...and even if they don't show up in this book, they're still walking around somewhere in Erdania, and if I write deeply enough into the story-world, I will find them.
That said, here are the five remaining characters.
Dar Beauregard: The protagonist. Twin to Prince Alphonse, he once lived a life of ease and happiness in the palace. But due to something tragic happening which I will not give away because of spoilers (and also because it's not very well developed yet, hahaha), he ran away at the age of eleven. Since then, he's lived a rough-and-tumble life with the very lowest of the lower class. He's also become a very accomplished young thief.
Dar's a very amiable fellow, staunchly loyal to his friends and fond of amusing the ladies with his gallantries. He's also fairly handsome, with chocolate-brown curls and roguish brown eyes.
|So, it took me awhile to discover how great|
Azalea's Dolls is for character design...
Biff: Dar's best friend. He found him on the street the day he ran away, helped him out of a situation with some bullies, and has taken him under his wing ever since. Biff's the hero of the band of thieves Dar belongs to--think Tom Playfair or Robin Hood or someone similar. He's missing a front top tooth and likes to call Dar "kid."
|My sister keeps telling me he looks like|
Kristoff from Frozen. I can see what she means.
Alphonse: The Prince of Erdania, Dar's identical twin. The tragedies surrounding Dar's running away mellowed rather than roughened him, and he's basically your ideal young leader--good-hearted, brave, and generous. His favorite hobbies are hunting space-dragons and acting Shakespeare. There is a small scar on his forehead from a hunting accident a few years back.
|For some reason I didn't like the way|
the science fiction doll I designed turned
out, so here's a very anachronistic Raf.
And that really sums up the surviving main characters, although there are a few others, like Biff's girlfriend, Renna.
What does the plot consist of?
Dar's stolen lots of things in his life. It's kind of ironic that his biggest theft is the theft of something which once belonged to him--the crown.
A revolution has long been boiling under the nobles' noses without their knowledge. The lower class is sick and tired of having to go hungry and barefoot while the nobles use their power selfishly. If they have to overthrow the government with violence and bloodshed on both sides, then so be it. But first they're going to try to take it peacefully, by deception...and they think they have the key to do just that: Prince Alphonse's long-lost twin.
What is the setting?
It's a futuristic setting and takes place largely in space and on the planet Erda, particularly the floating capital city of Romaline and the revolutionists' hidden base. (A rebel base! It's Star Wars!)
|Image not mine.|
Who are the favorite characters in it?
For a long time Dar has been the general favorite, but in this draft he's giving me more stress than enjoyment because I want to keep him the old nonchalant lovable Dar while giving him the depth that ought to come with his new backstory.
Timandra is another popular character, and I'm pretty happy with her because I feel she's changed very little in the transition from Draft 2 to Draft 3...which is more than can be said of some people. *glares at Raf, who has been taking on many of Jude's characteristics*
Really, the person I've had the most fun with so far is Biff. Because he's new, I don't have to worry about being true to his old personality while improving his character. I can just run with him, and it's been a delight.
What is the favorite scene?
Golly, I don't think there is one yet. I've only been writing the thing for a few weeks and so far every scene needs rewritten again and again in order for the story to progress. (It's a very difficult, temperamental baby, this one. I feel like I'm writing with a scratchy pen running low on ink.)
I suppose my personal favorites would have to be the scene in the very beginning, because it was easy and fun to write, and a certain confrontation between Alphonse and Dar, because it was so satisfying to finally be writing something that flowed a little.
|Image not mine.|
Any themes of music for this work?
Well, there are a few works by Tchaikovsky that get me into a space-opera-type mood. And of course I've listened to the Star Wars soundtrack on occasion for inspiration.
But what I've really found helps me while I'm actually writing, for this book, is Les Miserables. I suppose it's the revolutionist mindset. Dar would certainly sympathize with Gavroche and Fantine and Jean Valjean! I wouldn't be surprised if he and Biff regularly break into Do You Hear the People Sing when I'm not looking.
How's it's progress?
*Lucy breaks down and weeps*
I suppose, word-count wise, it's over half-way through. I've stopped dividing it into chapters for now. That really isn't bad, only I'd wanted to be able to pound out a first draft in a week or two, work on Lillian throughout February, and polish this throughout March to be totally done by April 1. Now it looks like I won't be able to focus on Lillian as much as I thought...
|Image not mine.|
Oh....well....if you insist....
"Well, kid, we did it. She's all ready to go." Biff crawled out from under the spacecraft and wiped a smudge of oil from his face. He grinned, showing his missing tooth. "Didn't I tell you we could?"
"Ha! Scared, me?" Dar pointed at himself. "My dear Renna, you are looking at a man who has danced with death on a daily basis ever since he was eleven years old. Of course I'm not scared."
"You wanted to see me act Romeo?" Alphonse held out his arms, grinning. He looked ridiculous in his plumed hat and crimson cape, with a tin rapier at his side. "Dashing, aren't I?"
Dar smiled faintly. "You look like a fop."
"And you, brother, like an absolute vagabond. Where'd you get that shirt, from the trash pile? Come on, let's get you into some real clothes."
They had just begun whizzing through the balcony scene when a firm step sounded on the stage. Dar looked up to see a young man in military outfit, his hands on his hips, his rugged face serious under a shock of auburn hair. Raphael Novarex, age 22. First lieutenant pilot in the Erdanian space force. Friend to Alphonse. Brother to Timandra.
Dar groaned inwardly. How could he have been so stupid? He gave a rueful chuckle. "Well, at least I'm dealing with clever opponents." He leaned the back of his head against the seat, chafing his wrists against the rope. "You might even stand a chance against me."
"Hey," said Timandra. "There's that old refueling station. Raf, wouldn't that be a perfect place for—"
"You read my mind, Timandra," said Raphael. "That'd be a perfect hiding place for a hit ship."
He had failed them. But they wouldn't be ground under the heel of the bourgeois for long. Dar wasn't the only one who'd pledged his life to their happiness.
If they couldn't win a better life by deception, then they would win one by force.
"Look Alphonse." Dar spoke between gritted teeth. "Maybe what we did was wrong, but we did it for the right reason. There are worse crimes than stealing from royalty—like stealing from the poor. We committed a crime to bring an atrocity to an end."
"You're accusing the government of stealing from the poor."
"Yes! That's exactly what I'm doing! That's what this whole thing is all about. Say it, Alphonse—I'm a revolutionist!" Dar found he was trembling. He lowered his voice to almost a whisper. "If you'd lived through what I've lived through, you'd be one too. You'd do anything to stop the starving children, the widows worked to the bone, the girls living on the street. Come see it with me today—you'll join me tomorrow."
Well, not really....I've already showed you most of the results of my playing around on Azalea's Dolls. I suppose I didn't show you Renna, though. Here she is.
Note: I will be out of town this weekend, and so there will probably not be a Fatima post this Saturday.