Got on a bit of a roll, stayed up till after 1:00 a.m., and am now the proud owner of over 6,000 perfectly good English and a few nigh-unpronounceable Welsh(1) words arranged into something like a story, minus 1.5 scenes and a bit of connecting tissue. A good number of those words will no doubt need to be trimmed, and a few more conscripted in their places. It’s tough being a word.
One little bit I’m doubtful of: I have the British characters use the proper Welsh names for mythological things the first time they come up, but then have the Americans use the more common parallels thereafter – for example, there’s a Welsh version of the Grim Reaper called the cyhyraeth. He appears in a list of what our heroes are up against, the American then refers to him as the local version of the Grim Reaper – and that’s it. Is it off-putting as a reader to come across unknown, hard to pronounce words once or twice and then have them never used again? It seems cool to me, gives it a little flavor…
I’m liking so far how the story reflects the good cheer that’s almost always evident in Arthurian stuff – the Round Table is, after all, a sort of moveable feast, with knights clinking and drinking and feasting their ways around Arthur’s kindoms. Hoping it ends up with the right dash of plain goofiness, another near-ubiquitous feature of the tales.
The hard part, for me at least, has been to make the ultimate battle emotionally convincing, with the right amount of action. We’ll see, I suppose – that’s the major tidying-up that needs doing.
Don’t know how it works for more experienced writers of fiction, but at least in this case, I didn’t really know what I was writing until about halfway through. I had an inkling to retell the story of Lynette and Lyoness, but knew I couldn’t do that straight up, as it’s too long, too mature (after a fashion) and has way too much gratuitous violence (that’s another characteristic of Arthurian tales: knights errant tend to kill a lot of dudes in the course of their errant-ing.) It became an exercise in imagining what might happen 1500 years after the Red Knight is defeated and sent by Gareth to Arthur’s court. I liked the idea of a heroine whose love for her sister compels her to seek aid from the Round Table, and how she doesn’t get what she wants, but ultimately something better.
It’s a mini-hero’s tale, two parallel mini-hero’s tales, really.
Another issue with the legends: they do not have emotionally tidy resolutions, especially the Welsh versions. Some characters just disappear – Lynette is more plot device than damsel in distress, as it’s Lyoness who gets rescued and gets her knight in shining armor (after several cruel or pointless plot complications, at least in the eyes of a modern reader). So the most work, so far, has been putting some emotional content into the bare bones, and then ending it so that everybody is not left hanging – on the level of a juvenile.
One more evening of writing, then I’ll get my
victims betas (having 4 smart kids who have read a lot is a boon, let me tell you!) to give me feedback, revise, and done.
I hope. This fiction-under-a-deadline is a new thing for me.
- One of my friends grew up in Wales. He possesses the awesome superpower of being able to pronounce things like Llamhigyn Y Dwr and Cŵn Annwn right the first time. I think. He could be pulling my leg, how would I know?