I am having a dilemma. And I think it’s one that not only writers who are pantsers or character driven can understand. It involves plot, and the most appropriate way of getting your story idea out into the world so it’s exciting and interesting.
For Seeking Space, my Camp NaNoWriMo project, I am doing a retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Ambitious? Not really, because I am under no illusions that it will be any good. It certainly isn’t going to magically come out as a perfectly publishable piece that will get me a farm and a pony and all the other nice things that come of winning the writerly luck lottery.
The problem is as follows. In Pride and Prejudice, the story is conveyed in a very different style to modern literature. No surprise, this is a part of the foundation of literature. It’s called a classic for a reason. Which is why the completely sensible and utterly marketable advice in The Fantasy Fiction Formula by Deborah Chester has me rattled.
How am I supposed to do a sci-fi retelling of a story that, when you get right down to it, has a main character we like because of her inner conflict and change rather than her impacts on the world at large? All the small things that escalate do so in part because someone doesn’t act, and then when things are at their worst, it’s not Lizzy who goes to the rescue. It’s Darcy. And yes, I like it because it’s an ‘actions are louder than words’ sort of moment, but it does mean that the main character isn’t the one who solves the issue. Which would not fly in a modern sci-fi. And rightly so. I love Anne McCaffrey‘s works precisely because things get done by the main character, and the small decisions have larger consequences.
Which leads to the point. How do you preserve the essence of a story, without becoming trapped in the nuance of the original? I’ve seen Mercedes Lackey do it time and time again in her Five Hundred Kingdoms series, but they’re all still medieval or fantasy, so similar rules to work within. My original is right out there…
So into the final few days of March I go, the original plot mapped out but my world building still a shambles, and no idea what the whole things is going to look like in my novel. Sounds about like a normal Camp NaNoWriMo, I guess. Lucky I have some practise.
And these cute monsters.