I’ve got a collection of sixteen-year-old Theo and Charlie moments that are slowly coming together in my head. I might even try to link them through the prompts. So, while this drabble can be read on its own and out of context of the novels, I’m going to hide it behind a more tag: spoilers for setting.
The video above crossed my Facebook dashboard last week and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it before. Glen Keane’s first animation since leaving Disney, called Duet.
For those who don’t have sisters who are animators, Glen Keane animated Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Aladdin, Pocahontas, the Beast (Beauty and the Beast), and Tarzan. Basically, he brought to life an amazing array of beloved characters. He’s a truly talented storyteller.
His ability to tell stories with, what is essentially well-placed lines (obviously, I say this with the utmost respect for animators), is amazing. He is a master of timing and of ‘camera placement’.
But what really pushes this animation above the rest is the music.
Music connects us to our emotions, it makes us feel things that would otherwise be just words (or lines) on a screen. Sometimes, people will say that their life should be punctuated with certain songs, because they mean something. Because of the emotion they portray.
In my life, there are songs that mean something. Dancing around the living room with my sister when I was seven is a Spice Girls’ song, sung out loud. Complicated by Avril Lavigne reminds me of moving from primary school to high school. A break-up was mourned and celebrated with songs by The Veronicas and Alanis Morrisette. Britney’s Toxic is symbolic of all my crushes on guys who turned out to be gay. Taylor Swift’s Love Song and All Too Well and basically anything she’s written is… well, she was singing my life from ages nineteen to twenty-one out loud.
These days, songs aren’t representative of my life. They are more “emotion reminders”. I can intensely feel something simply by listening to the right song, that has been played at the right moment while reading a book or watching a television show. The Vampire Diaries does teenage emotion so well. I wrote a large portion of the rewritten ending of Charlie & Cub listening to A Great Big World’s Say Something. Now I only listen to Say Something while writing Charlie & Cub. If I’m looking for something powerful, I play Infinite Potential–otherwise known as Matt Smith’s Doctor’s regeneration scene. And then you have the Harry Potter soundtracks. Or the playlists I made when I read Harry Potter fanfiction. (A Walk to Remember soundtrack for Cassie Claire fanfiction anyone?)
I wonder sometimes when music became emotion reminders in my life? Is it because I’m a writer? More likely, is it because I’m a creative? (I know my sister has musical emotion reminders as well.) Is it because humans have evolved this way? Is it just me? Am I thinking too much about this?
Yes, is the likely answer to the last question.
They used to represent a time in my life, now they trigger emotions. When did this happen, and why did it transform into this? Whatever this is or why I’ve developed this little quirk, I do hope it doesn’t go away.
A couple of things are happening right now. Firstly, I am terrible at making videos. (Note, if you see this on my website, the link won’t take you away–it opens in an overlay.)
Yes, I took the leap, and am trying to vlog about my writing process. I had hoped that it would keep me on track. Thus far, I haven’t really progressed much further between two videos and seven days. But I do want to write, which is better than two weeks ago.
I’ve embedded below some of the images I took in 2013, and these are by not comprehensive of the novels. I still need to gather images of Nazareth House, of Bay Tce, and of the Manly markets… But the captions explain a little bit more about where these images come into play in the novels. I try not to give too much of the story away in the captions.
This field is used in Book 3. It’s at the end of the cycling path, before the mangrove walk and Sam’s army comes here to ‘train’.
A character in its own right. Cub takes Charlie here in Book 1 and when I took this picture, it must have gotten new owners because I remember it much more run down. I added the cats.
The alcove that we called the Beach. An important setting for Book 5.
Theo’s happy place. He’ll watch the sun rise and set from the very top of this.
Book 3: Rohan and Charlie sit at this table reading the newspapers.
As a creative, I function better when juggling many different projects at once – different design tasks and processes stimulate me.
I couldn’t agree more about this. Currently, I am working on four different projects. I feel like this allows me to continue to be creative. If I think about something too much, I get frustrated and can’t figure out what is wrong with it. I feel like my brain slots everything into place if I ignore it for a bit. Subconscious thinking.
I’ve been working on a couple of new projects and I feel like it’s about time I share them.
The Charlie & Cub Chronicles. I’m still working on this novel. I’ve got one final plot problem (the Parents’ and Sam’s storylines have been resolved), which means I can then start on the re-write. I am very much looking forward to getting back and writing in this world again. I have been so very lucky with this story. My other ideas (which I’m not working on) are no where near as ‘beautiful’.
Papercut Labs is an online scrapbooking classroom. It should be launching in September. I am passionate about the scrapbooking community – even if I’m apart from the community, and not part of it – and I thoroughly enjoy watching the people I’ve met grow as artists. By extending into the classroom setting, I can meet the artists just as they’re beginning. I’m more an admin of these classes while I let much much more creative people be the teachers.
Letterpress magazine is my ‘fun’ project. It’s a small magazine–almost a zine–that focusses on typography, letterpresses, graphic design, digital fonts and how all these things come about. But the fun part is that a large part of this magazine is showcasing digital fonts and I’m asking creative writers to write fictional histories of the fonts. It’s quirky, it’s niche and it’s going to be beautiful. Sometimes I feel myself drowning in it, but then I just need to remember that it is supposed to be fun, and that creative writers are actually fun people. I can’t decide what the next step is: finding writers or finding graphic artists.
The fourth and final project is this. This blog. Being online. Making myself, as cliched as it is and as much as I hate to say it, a platform. I like blogging and I like being on social media. Blogging allows me to work through problems, make decisions on things I only have ideas and inklings about. I like to be connected. I like to give back. It makes my creative process less lonely. Because, honestly, it is just me.
I’ve been working on Charlie & Cub lately. Partly because this damn novel needs to be done. Partly because I can’t leave it alone–I can’t leave Charlie’s world alone. But mostly because I gave it to my first readers, and my husband is probably the best reader I’ve ever had. But he also pointed out some major flaws.
I have a character (Sam) who is introduced in Book 3, and is actually pretty important in Book 5, but he isn’t super consistent. He rebels against Charlie in Book 3, and yet falls over himself trying to help her in Book 5. He’s supposed to work as Charlie’s same-age frenemy. But I don’t really know who Sam is. I know what I want him to be, but who he’s turned out to be — a bit of mystery.
I have the Parents. And they are currently a much larger issue than Sam’s faulty character. As an orphan, Charlie has been moved from home to home all her life. Then she arrives at the convent-turned-orphanage run by these awful people. However, these awful people (The Parents) turn out to be more than just awful. They’ve been searching for Charlie. They’re a large part of Book 1 and Book 4 and a small part of Book 5, and all their parts need to be rewritten.
Because when I wrote my backstory, the Parents turned into something else. They turned into the Parents of Book 4, and those aren’t the Parents of Book 1, who are slightly different again from the Parents of Book 5.
I wrote my backstory after I finished the series.
I wonder if I wrote my backstory before, if I wrote the rules of my universe before, would I be in this trouble? If I had a consistent universe before I started writing, would I be struggling now to make all the elements to line up? Would my strings be all tied together?
I pride myself on being a planner. I don’t write anything without a dot-point plan, with a dot-point for every 500 words. But I also like my plots. I let my plots carry my story. I don’t tend to write character profiles. I don’t world-build — a little because I set all my stories somewhere I know very well. Charlie & Cub is set where I grew up.
Maybe being a planner with a plot-driven story isn’t enough. Reverse world-building is hard, but it’s not impossible.
The impossible bit is rewriting it back into a story that I’m in love with. Because my story is perfect (to me). I get lost every time I start reading this story. I worry about editing it any further without any help because what if I ruin it? It might not be the best story in the world right now, but gosh I’m proud of it.
But fate – or was it us? – had other plans for her.
This week, I’ve been editing Charlie & Cub. I’ve put myself on a tight schedule that I am already failing to live up to–but despite this failure, I feel the editing is going quite well. Each day, I put a chapter in my bag and head to a a cafe (usually a different cafe every day, just to spice things up) and edit that chapter. It’s currently taking me an hour per chapter, but this will change as the chapters start to become longer.
I have feared, sort-of but not exactly, starting my serious editing on the series. The main reason was that I knew what the first question I needed to tackle was. I needed to answer the question of voice.
In C&C, the story starts as a pseudo-prologue. A prologue that sits at the beginning of and part of Chapter 1. The prologue uses a very different voice* to the rest of the story.
The prologue is insanely important to the rest of the story. It needs to be in there. But it is told by a point of view that isn’t used again anywhere in the series. When I started writing, I think I was trying to be clever. I wanted to have a completely different voice. (Think of Markus Zusak‘s The Book Thief–a narrator kind of like that.)
But for the story, that kind of voice doesn’t work. The voice is not fast enough, it is not young enough, and is mainly a narrator that watches the story but very rarely participates.
When this prologue narrator does participate, it gets into a bit of trouble, but it uses a collective pronoun, and that makes it hard to handle. I am not a good enough writer with that kind of technical skill. (Yet.)
So I have left the prologue with its narrator as it is. I feel that it is important the prologue is told in that way. But I am trying to remove the remnants of this narrator from the rest of the story. The transition between the prologue and the real part of Chapter 1 is clumsy. I still have this ethereal quality of the writing and the text that I can’t seem to get rid of. The narrator still talks directly to you. But the narrator for the rest of the story is an omniscient third-person narrator. It’s not a real person, just a way to tell the story. The narrator is Charlie, but not Charlie too, because it observes things that Charlie doesn’t necessarily see. It’s a common voice and one that I feel very comfortable writing with.
It’s cathartic to write a blog post like this because as I’m writing it, I’m finding solutions to my problem. I can mash up Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 to become a single chapter (it solves my length issue, which is why they were split in the first place) and pull out the prologue so it becomes a real prologue. This would mean I don’t have to deal with the transition of the pseudo-prologue into the rest of Chapter 1, because the chapter break deals with it.
On the other hand, I can keep going with my editing as it is. I could also edit/write a parallel story but told from the point of view of my prologue narrator. Most of the story (especially the final three books) are told in the omniscient third-person narrator, so editing it into omniscient third-person is lessened as it was written with that narrator–unlike if I wanted to change it/edit it into the prologue narrator. My concern is that I will get to the end of editing the series and realise that I need to try it out in my prologue narrator’s voice and I’ll have to do the entire thing again.
But, I guess I won’t know until I’m at the end.
* Voice, in this context, means the tone of writing. It incorporates style and turn-of-phrase and beliefs and point of view. Essentially, it defines who is the narrator. Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City had a very distinct voice. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books have a very distinct voice. It is how something is told and by who–if Holly Black wrote the Harry Potter books, they would be very different books because Holly Black’s voice is very different. This being said, there are two voices at play–the author’s voice and the character’s voice, but that is a whole different discussion.