Saturday, February 25, 2012

An Observation After a Week of Progress

So for all the stories in various states of undress, I added a new one in recent months, a collaboration urban fantasy. Since it's a collaboration, most of the work on it has been relegated to the meetings with my fellow writer. But that means I have about three to four stories currently running around in my head (four if you count one that I have completed but am not actually working on except in my head).

Now lately, my focus has been on editing Hounds, one of my urban fantasies, since the clockwork ghost story has been so tricky.

Here is my observation:

As I make progress on one, I am motivated to (and actually do!) make progress on other stories.

Although I'd been spending my free moments trying to rearrange and rewrite Hounds, as I found scenes to drop, or chapters to rewrite and combine, I had realizations about scenes and chapters for these other stories. As I edited that more, I wanted to write more, and spent more time on the bus writing the opening chapter of the collaboration...instead of listening to music and zoning out.

So my advice (as always, take with a grain of salt and "to each their own," since everyone's process differs), is that if you are stuck in one story, try switching to something else. It may help break through the block, and you can return to the first story with rejuvenation.

I don't switch from one to another every few minutes, but as I work on one, I keep the others in mind, and make notes of changes and new things that can help those others for when I do work on them, later that same day, or maybe the next.

Happy writing, everyone.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Beauty and the Beastly Boyfriend

I am looking forward to tomorrow night. For as long I can remember, I have enjoyed and then become enamored/fascinated/obsessed with fairy tales, and my favorite has always been Beauty and the Beast.

Although I read many different versions when I was a kid, the Disney film stuck with me because you had a young woman who was smart, bookish, and frankly, a brunette with a ponytail [as a kid, I was always on the lookout for characters I could identify with, not only in character traits I had or wanted to have, but physically as well, and there just weren’t a ton of brunettes that weren’t passive and mousy (I was already mousy enough)]. Anyway, Belle became the starting point of transitioning my love stories into a far too in-depth fascination.

So tomorrow night, Sunday. ABC has a new show called Once Upon a Time. Since they’re owned by Disney, they can use as much or as little of the animated films’ influence as they want, but in an article (with either Sci Fi magazine or Entertainment Weekly, I don’t recall which but they’re the only ones I read), one of the creators said they were trying to stay away from the Disneyfied tales. At most, they have only used a few names, like Pongo and Jiminy.

Now, as much as I love Beauty and the Beast in any form, the more I think about, the less I like the premise. This is a bit heartbreaking for me.

But when you deconstruct it, you have a beautiful girl, essentially forced (because she loves her father and would do anything to see him not die, what choice does she have once he asks her?) to leave home and go to the home of a man monstrous in appearance, sure, but also a monster in character. She must fall in love with this monstrous (in every way) person, so that he can be beautiful again. In the process, she changes him, he falls for her, and she for him, before she realizes she should never have left his side (despite her father dying, usually from illness). It reeks of Stockholm syndrome and/or an abusive boyfriend.

Although she tends to be a more active participant in her life (she has more agency than a girl relying on a fairy godmother/dead mother in a tree, or a girl sleeping through most of her own story, or one who doesn’t know not to buy from door-to-door creepy old sales-ladies), she gets swept up in her father’s mistakes and then “makes the best of it,” and never tries to find any way out of it.

Plus, who hasn’t heard a woman say at some point, “I can change him,” only to have that end badly? He may love her, but that doesn’t mean he won’t continue to be a jerk. And does it mean she loves him, or the person she’s turned him into, and is that true love?

So on this episode of Once, the Beast is played by Rumpelstiltskin. As soon as I saw the promo for this, I was intrigued, because it seems like it’ll play right into the idea of Beast as abusive boyfriend. Interestingly enough, the commercials never show Belle in the modern world, only in the fairytale land (looking a lot like her animated counterpart, for no discernible reason when Snow White and others get a drastic makeover), so I wonder if that’s just to keep part of the story a surprise for viewers, or to suggest something more sinister. It would be interesting to see if one version strongly played up that abusive relationship aspects of the story.