caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)

Oh wait, they didn't.  This news brought home to me through my current whole-story, line-by-line critical pass over Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland.  I'm about half-way through that now.

- Luke's strategy in the Rising, on more careful analysis, involves entirely too much of: "Ha!  The nobles are used to summer warfare!  But this is winter warfare, so we can cunningly deploy tactics against them which will work even less well in winter!"

- If Dougal Dare-All really needs Luke to come up with the good plan Luke presently supplies him, he needs to be re-named Dougal Duh!-All forthwith.  They are supposed to be experts in totally different spheres.

- Neither Katy Elflocks nor any of her circle are supposed to possess any spark of military genius.  This does not mean they won't notice when a plan is slapped together entirely out of hope, cheek, plot wire and gaffer tape.

- And the fact that they're exceptionally good with hope and gaffer tape doesn't mean they won't insist on something more substantial at the core of it.

- In particular, neither Luke, nor Dougal, nor the former merchant-adventurer, nor the clever grange-clerk of Fairfields are going to involve themselves in a campaign whose logistics appear to have been delegated to the rats, rats, big as bloomin' cats, in the quartermaster's stores.

Katy ain't no Elrond, Fairfields ain't no Rivendell, and all their fellowship are well aware that Kateverse providence is somewhat less trustworthy than a prince's promises.  This is not the fairy-tale part of the story!  (At least, not on that overt a level.)

I'm seeing and sketching out solutions as I write, and trying to minimize the amount of new or magical matter in them.  The good news is that getting the reconnaissance and logistics right should simultaneously solve another problem: the narrative slackness of the important Fairfields arc, which was written in largely exploratory mode the first time around.  The less good news is that this exposes a need for even more re-writing than I'd expected.  Still, after all the time I've spent on the book so far, it would be a crying shame to send it out half-formed into the world like the proverbial unlicked bear-cub!

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
A small piece of news, and a couple of questions, as Killer-Kate speeds towards its conclusion:

My very different Wood of Weyre side-project is now showing as three linked adult* fairy-stories, one per generation, with the third providing a natural terminus. I wonder if together they would add up to a short novel? The Children of Venus sequence presently looks, in broad, like this:

La Grande Charmante and the Little Scrubber, or Cynthia Coeur-de-Verre: Twist on Cinderella (and when I say twist, I'm not talking about the minor detail of having a Princess Charming character, either; I mean supercoiled like DNA in a living chromosome). The solution of which sets up, for Cyndi's daughter,

Red Snow, White Fire, or Nevada Tout-le-Monde: Twist on Snow White, among several other tales, and a problem more fundamental and troubling than the original. Sorting this out, sort of, leaves the last word and the last dare to Nevette's daughter,

Sabella Splendiferous, or La Belle Sans Âme: Twist on Heart of Ice, which turns the wheel around, and practically writes the saga's only possible (non-horrible) conclusion.  How conclusive Sabs & Co. can or want to make it, and over how wide a radius, I can probably only learn in the telling.

There are villains in this story, but they are in no case the traditional villains, nor are they in any case the protagonists.  I'm not even sure yet how important they are to the grand scheme of things, considered purely in themselves.

First question: does this sound ho-hum, here we go again with the Twisted Retellings, or does the bare outline offer at least a suggestion of something different enough to entice?

Second question: is the French (which represents the courtly tongue particularly affected by the fairies, of whom Venus is to all intents and purposes one) obviously stupid in some way not clear to me?

* Definitely adult.  Definitely not porn or very explicit erotica, though the title of the sequence is a clue as to how highly-charged the numerous love-affairs that drive it will have to be, if the job is to be done remotely right.
caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 370 words.  Kate gives the Young Duke the first barrel.

Also several hundred words of the increasingly weird dual Wood of Weyre fairy-stories that are obtruding myself on my attention.  My Muse is veering between the Cinderella variant, and its Snow Whitey sequel a generation down the line, as each feeds back loopily upon the other.  (The Snow character's being the Cinderella's character's daughter is the least of the craziness.)  It's a bit of a distraction, but writing it until Cynthia Coeur-de-Verre and her friends get bored with me is the price I'm paying for any sleep at all, just at present.

Meanwhile, I return from half-term holidays to work, to discover the real world imitating the Wood of Weyre as heartily as it is able.  Nnnngh!

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)

The Princess out of Time: 480 words.  Theological discovery of the day - my Saturnists find the idea of 'eternity' somewhere between silly and blasphemous.  Their conceptualization of Faerie is... interesting: not necessarily especially insightful as a whole, but it's certainly got some illuminating new angles, and some interesting new candidates for the category.

Fairies best not irritated at your daughter's naming feast, Lesson One: Atropos.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
In other news, 500 lunch-break words of The Princess out of Time, the Kateverse's answer to Sleeping Beauty. It may or may not get finished: its main attractions are (i) it is writing and it occurred to me; and (ii) it's exploring a culture and a religious perspective that touches marginally on Three Katherines of Allingdale, but gets no direct screen time there, and no love at all from absolutely anybody.

Listen: they tell stories in Volkary, too. Jack Angrist Shallow was the best tale-teller of all those countries, and if you rub off the gloss the bad church made him put on it, no-one from the King in his palace to Katy in her wightwoods has ever heard a better!

But you can't ever rub off the gloss; nor is it yet clear to me just how much Joachim Angristus Schlau really believed in his national version of State Saturnism, and how much he was satirizing it - except that elements of both seem most distinctly present.

Volkary is a fairly large and near neighbour, about which I've previously showed a broad and regrettable tendency not to know Jack.
caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
It's International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, and I perform my wretched work!

Here is a Kateverse folk-tale from Cauldale. Some tales are told in some form across all the universe with human beings in them. But when one of those human beings is Kit Fox, the Red Witch of Alland, the moral is liable to degenerate spectacularly...

How the Wide World was saved from drowning in the sea that is the sky. )
caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 390 words. Lord Evil driven to his last bold throw. He's making half of it up as he goes along, and so am I. This can't in any way go wrong, especially if the Young Duke latches onto the thing there was never any chance of him latching onto because, oh, er, whoops. There are a lot of clever people in this room, and at least two epically impetuous ones, and I'm increasingly uncertain as to who's going to win this bout, and how!

The Popinjay: 450 words. Beauty steals the scene from Bright Young Thing, shuts it down, and embarks upon her own. She wasn't supposed to do that. Well, now I begin to understand her, and why she is the person to deal with the Beast-Thing by and by. There's a subtle perversity in her romantic and ingenuous spirit, considerably more disturbing than Money Spider's asocial calculation or Bright Young Thing's edge of cruelty. It's wickedly familiar, but I'm not sure I have a name for it. Not the usual thing that sets belles up with beasts, certainly - nearer to what Arthur Machen meant in The White People, when he discoursed of those great sinners who commit no named sins, and are even rarer and less detectable than great saints. Whether Beauty is heading for great sin or awesome sanctity or just extreme humanity, was always going to be - a matter of interpretation. At any rate, she's already much more formidable than I first took her for.

For my own sins - specifically, trawling YouTube before bed for a half-good version of Cassilda's Song out of The King in Yellow - I was repaid with gloomy and ill-remembered adventures in a decadent Venice. I would call this a step up from my Lankhmar City-Break the other night, except that when my alarm woke me, I found myself channelling Azathoth's internal monologue. As signs go, this is never a good one.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 750 words.  The detested scene finished.  Fiery Younger Sister's work is done...decisively.  This can't possibly be anything other than a victory for my protagonists, eh?  I do now suspect that, seeing how this has played out, the problem in the next chapter to which Kate is the answer isn't going to be quite as simple as I'd envisioned.  FYS can spark all the fire any rag-tag army could possibly need.  All the wildfire.  But that still isn't the same as heart.

Lob Lazy at the House of Silence:
 240 words.  I got my viewpoint character out of the pub, with only moderate struggle, and sent him on his way to collect his next plot token.  I even remembered what it was.  One of the others, with a certain thematic appropriateness, I have both forgotten, and neglected to write down.

Dreamer's Log: Lankhmar.  Just don't go there.  Don't.  I don't care how good a deal they're doing on EasyJet!

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 840 words, of the knife-fight between Fiery Younger Sister and a piece of very frisky scum indeed: nimble young tiger against heavy-pawed old black bear.  I may need to edit some of it for combat realism in the redraft.  Then again, I may not very much, because whilst FYS isn't explicitly supernatural, in her battle-taking she dances somewhere between the poles of Hu Sanniang and the Hound of Ulster, and I'm not sure how naturalistic one can profitably make that sort of thing anyway.

The ghastly resolution tonight, and I well done with it.

The Popinjay: 380 words.  Bright Young Thing may not be a wicked stepsister exactly, but I see the slander didn't just spring out of nowhere, either.  On the other hand, I don't think there are many other people in any world who could treat some of the things Beauty comes out with as sensible conversation rather than affected sentimental drivel, so it all turns the carousel.  I like carousels.  BYT and Beauty would like them too, if only either of them had ever encountered any.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 690 words.  Bringing Fiery Younger Sister's gruelling scene to boiling point.  FYS is reminding me of one of those cartoon characters who produce massive offensive weapons out of thin air at the drop of a hat.  She can't do that physically, but she can pull out of thin air a way to use anything offensively, because she really Just Does Not Care.

There's a limit to how much of that scene I can stand at once, so I skipped ahead for the rest of my wordage to put in the description of Secondary Villain's stronghold: Castle Carrowglaze, the Green Rock of the Blue Boar.  It's kind of a dump, but the setting ought to be worth something to a discerning buyer.

The Popinjay: 340 words.  Bright Young Thing is a very bad person.  A very good bad person.  This is probably why the family's sparkling cynic is also the only one of them who takes her religion seriously instead of piously and conventionally.  Not that the priests could appreciate that - or that Beauty does now.  Because Bright Young Thing is being a very bad person.

Lob Lazy at the House of Silence - 180 words, skipping ahead to the passage of chorus-like fairy-tale linkage between Second and Third Sons' Quests.  More fun with King Dead and Queen Rotten.  And I think this has given me the glory-and-trumpets linkage to follow Third Son's eventual... achievement.  Kateverse history does crop up in strange guises!

Part of the present productivity boom seems to depend on always having something to write opportunistically when the main line is too difficult or too harrowing to speed.  This hasn't worked before, and I'm thinking it has to do with the obvious failure mode: writing everything up to the difficult bit, until all yarns are tangled at once and choke off together.  But slow slogging progress on what's bogged down, with relief writing to keep the flow free elsewhere, may prosper better.  Slog the key, and play the oil for the lock?

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Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 2,000 words in two scenes, finishing Garcastle from the viewpoints of Bonecold Refugee and Hero-Father.  Yes, I did need to give the latter a turn after all, and I turned off the computer last night wondering how I was going to do that without diminishing him.  Seeing him from outside is one thing, but "he that has been what he's been"...?  Dangerous, dangerous to get the reader in too close to him.

And then as I was ready to drop off I remembered what kind of story this really is.

So this morning I got up, and wrote his scene in undiluted fairy-tale idiom, and that gave me both the directness and the distance I needed.  And left me the energy for Bonecold Refugee's simultaneous scene, too.

One more scene only, and this chapter's done.  All the big crunches are now just around the corner.

In further fairy-tale developments, Jack's wireless router went haywire, and he did this and that, and presently it worked again.  And a week later, Jack's wireless router went haywire again, and he did this and that, and presently it worked just as before.  And Jack thought, "I know what comes next, and it's probably not a good idea to wait for the payoff!"  So in the interests of remaining Internetted, I shall just be doing some techno-shopping Real Soon Now.

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Lazy Lob at the House of Silence: 2,000 words.  Took down Thuggish First Son, and good riddance.  Cunning Second Son is not only smarter, but - since even in a fairy-tale, I don't see any point in using ritual repetitions just to repeat myself - he's turning out to be simply more sympathetic, to the point where his necessary failure threatens to be almost tragic.  It's not that he's a bad man, only that he isn't good enough.  He's just discovered that his brother set off somewhere inadvisable.

I've received my first lessons during this as to how Norse-type cultures work in the Kateverse, where there are the Olympians, and other religions fail the reality test even when they are more sensible.  (There are two major antitheistic religions  I know about - the Northern Titanolatric one and the Southern transcendental one - but neither is in much doubt as to Whom it's supposed to be anti-.)  Making the Odin figure really Mercury with another funny hat on... changes the Nordic dynamic quite a bit, even when it's completely in the background.

The Northmen's take on Hades proved particularly entertaining when I smacked into it.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 190 words.  Linking matter.

Lazy Lob at the House of Silence: 1,430 words of yet another Kateverse folk story, inspired by legions of good-for-nothing folktale youngest sons called Boots, who always come up trumps.  I didn't ask for this one, it just came, with a little help from something Bonecold Refugee did in the main novel recently.  Nearly set Thuggish First Son up for his well-deserved fall.  This is the easy bit.  Cunning Second Son I'll need to out-think.

The World on Maltby Edge: An apocalyptic folksong from about the portion of Killer-Kate I'm writing at the moment.  Its in-world composer wishes the people were not so new fangle.  I made an audio this time, which singing for reasons of health and safety and rotten tomatoes I shall not inflict upon the public, but which shall save my forgetting what the blazes the tune was by tomorrow.

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The Popinjay: 430 words closing the Sister Scene.  Beauty has EVIL STEPSISTERS, but apparently not a flying pink pony.  I am going to have to ration the amount of quality family time these people get onstage, since I doubt I can get away with more than two or three scenes like this in a single story.  Also, I must remember not to try and drink fluids whilst channelling Bright Young Thing's conversation.

Me and my big mouth: Turns out it wasn't such a good idea to make jokes about dreaming Thomas Covenant: the Musical, after all.

Okay, it wasn't a musical.

And of course I didn't get to recruit James Stewart, and especially not Campaspe.  In fact, guess who got to play Our Blithe Hero?  Yes.  How right you are.

And the script seemed to be derived from some alternate volume of the Last Chronicles, Against Creator's Running Out of Money - the scene I was acting being an indefinitely prolonged "Thomas and Linden go to confront the evil powers at Revelstone, but first they must stock up on frozen waffles at Tesco!" slice o' not very much life. 

I and the friend who was playing Linden spent more time kvetching about the wallpaper script than we did actually rehearsing it.  And since, in the way of dreams, rehearsing it meant actually being inside the world it described...  Ah, Morpheus! Forgive!

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The Popinjay: 1400 words.  NONONONO DON'T PLUCK THE FLOWER!  Oopsie.

This ends the first section.  For the next bit I need to diverge from the traditional line of the tale, and go back to Beauty and her sisters, whom we shall call Money Spider and Bright Young Thing. 

Just because they're all sort of sympathetic and love each other, doesn't mean they get along...

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)

The Popinjay: 930 words.  Beauty's father wishes Something would stop doing him favours.

This is showing all the makings of a short novel.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland - 450 words.  The Young Duke and Glamorous Elder Sister find themselves at crossed stars, more through their virtues than their faults.

The Popinjay - 510 words of the enchanted castle, all of which I now see I must plane away and carve deeper.  I'd got from Charles Perrault to Tanith Lee, but I need to move all the way to Algernon Blackwood.  I doubt now it is even really a castle at all.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Not so bad going.

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: Council of Doom and its rather odd chapter finished.  740 words.

The Popinjay: Beauty's father has suffered the necessary inconvenience.  530 words.

I now go to bed in quest of further vision, or because I am a lazy sod, or something.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)

I believe I mentioned declaring a literary Kate-out over the weekend, and finishing the Council Scene of Doom by hook or by crook? 

Hah.  I did manage to extrude a megatastic 140 words, and to stumble upon perhaps the least romantic romantic set-up that has yet been committed to paper since Pierrette Publishing's* now legendary Patient Passion at the Clap Clinic (75pp., available at any good recycling plant near you).  I really wonder where this story is going.  Often.  Some hopes of moving beyond the CSOD tonight.

What I did manage was 1470 words of The Popinjay, linking up the two fragments of text that previously comprised it.  I'm increasingly uncertain whether this is more the Beauty character's story than it is her middle sister's.

* Whose other classic category romances include Surgical Appliance Adventure, Hot in the Sewer, Sex and Ducks and Hovis Rolls, and - in their one serious contribution to the fantasy genre - a strangely neglected vampire-shagger called Bathtime for Bathory.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)

Slightly more rested.  About 400 words of The Popinjay, covering Beauty's father's business trip.  Many of these, without any premeditation, ended up as a rhapsodic catalogue of the stuff he carries from his profoundly obscure hometown to a merely undistinguished market on the other side of the wild woods.  It is amazing how much better that carries the story over the leagues than the merely descriptive linking passage I was going to write instead.

This is, specifically, a full-on fairy tale without fairies or princes, or even any very notable role for soldiers and peasants and woodcutters.  It is about merchants and clerks, artists and physicians, diffident middle-class ingenues and howling madness from beyond the walls of the world.  And, I find, it is also about the abundance and kindliness and strangeness of those currents of life where silver is a nobler metal than steel.

And - to get back to the root of the original rose - where spells may be this thing or that, but promises are everything.

Which in turn, no doubt, explains why the trip turns out not to be any matter of lost and found argosies, but a necessary reaction to a very mediaevaloid credit crunch.  I swear I never planned this!

As to the main WIP, I have a serious Kate-out scheduled for the weekend, and shall oblige myself at least to finish the interminable council scene by one means or another.


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August 2015

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