Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Guest Post: Wendy Sparrow~ Myth Me, Baby?

Today I have special treat, I have Wendy Sparrow and she will be sharing a tale. So, now I will turn the time over to Wendy and her post.

Myth Me, Baby?

When you write something that most people will see as a retelling of a myth, there is this pressure to reinvent the wheel. You want your story to stand out, right? You want it to be nothing like anything that has come before it!

Whoa, back up there.

Whether you’re an author or a reader, you haven’t seen an original story in your lifetime…and that is a fantastic thing.

Wait! Say what, Wendy?

Once upon a time in medieval Europe, there was a group of people called bards. They performed songs for towns as they travelled. The lyrics were sometimes fiction—sometimes historical events. Sometimes, they’d swipe really good plots from other bards and add their own little shine to it.

Imagine you’re in medieval Europe and you live in a town called…Frostedtown. (Okay, so sue me, I worked in a plug for my book there. Stick with the metaphor.) Now, unfortunately for you, the great bard…uhh Sparrow (it’s a good name) just heard this vague but amusing story about a cow and a duck. While you listen and chuckle a few times (because who doesn’t like a good cow/duck story?) you just can’t connect with the cow on a real level…and that duck is pretty self-involved. (Ducks can be like that.)

Now this hot bard with a fiendishly witty tongue—though, admittedly, a poor singing voice—hears what bits of the story work and what doesn’t and like a brilliant storyteller of their time—fixes it. Sparrow moves on to the next town—and the cow/duck story just slays them. They can’t get enough of it. The story evolves until when Sparrow returns to Frostedtown, the story is amazing. The cow now has a tragic backstory. The duck was born blind but receives its sight by doing a good deed for the cow. It’s not just a few sentences slung together and put to music. You toss money at Sparrow’s feet because, holy freak, that’s a brilliant story. (This wasn’t some subtle mental suggestion, by the way.) (Mostly because it really wasn’t all that subtle.)

Myths and legends are the cows and ducks of our time and writers the bards. Whether we’re using a plot that’s been used by scores of other writers or an actual myth or legend, we’ve filled in details it might have lacked the last time it was told. Or maybe instead of a duck…we have a misunderstood hedgehog. Never mind. Hedgehogs are cliché.

Most plots boil down to a single, solitary line:

Someone wants something, and they have a hard time getting it. 

What authors do with that line is where the story is. Stories evolve. Plots are living, breathing creatures that gain something each time a writer grabs them and wrangles a story out of them.

In Frosted, Jack Frost wants Kate, and he’s having an incredibly difficult time convincing his queen to return to him. Seven years ago, she fell through the ice into the Winter World, and Jack thought he had it made in the shade. His perfect queen was delivered right to his door. Kate may be imperfectly perfect for him, but she also has a mistrust of forever, so when he offers her the chance to return to the mortal world to say goodbye, she grabs it and runs with it…down to Florida.

Unfortunately, Jack can’t be anywhere that hasn’t dipped below freezing recently, so Kate is out of his reach…

Or is she?

The character of Jack Frost isn’t a character invented in the last century. If you thought I invented him, well, you’re cute, and here’s a twenty—you’re a doll. A heralder of winter has been a figure in mythology for a good long time. Now, my Jack Frost is a bit sexier than some of the other reincarnations of someone controlling the cold, but he’s still been done.  (Don’t snicker at that. It’s inappropriate.)

The plot of “boy gets girl” isn’t exactly a new one either. I’m convinced that on some level none of us wants to hear about loneliness—which is why Hades got his Persephone—Adam his Eve. You want the boy to get his girl. You’ll want Jack to get his Kate.

Whether nonfiction or fiction, the stories we retell are the ones when somebody wants something…and they get it. We want them to get it. We need that. Why would you retell a story where someone tries and tries and tries and nothing? That’s not a story. That’s laundry. And no one wants to hear about laundry.

It’s a great thing that it’s all been done before because it gives your favorite authors the chance to take something great and make it a cow/duck story that you’ll read again and again. You are one of the later towns to hear a story that gets better each time it’s told. And it will be retold…because, really, who doesn’t love a good cow/duck story?

(For the record, there are no cows or ducks in Frosted and for that I apologize. Go read it anyway and send me a tweet to tell me if Jack got his Kate.)

I would like to thank Wendy for sharing her post. If you like more information about Wendy or Frosted here's the information:

A bit about Wendy's novella, Frosted:
Seven years ago, Kate Finley fell through the ice into the Winter World and straight into the heart of its king, Jack Frost. Then cold feet set in and Kate ran from the one man who made her feel complete. 
Jack let his queen go back to the mortal world to say goodbye but she escaped out of his reach to sunny Florida. Now time is short, and he must convince his runaway bride to give him a second chance to melt her heart.

A bit about Wendy Sparrow:
At home in the Pacific Northwest, Wendy Sparrow writes for both an adult and young adult crowd. She has two wonderfully quirky kids, a supportive husband, and a perpetually messy house because writing is more fun than cleaning. She enjoys reading with a flashlight under a blanket—the way all the best books should be read—and believes in the Oxford comma, the pursuit of cupcakes, and that every story deserves a happily ever after. Most days she can be found on Twitter where she’ll talk to anyone who talks back, and occasionally just to herself.

If you would like reach Wendy you can click on any of the links listed:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads

If you would like a chance to win a lovely snowflake pendant just fill out the rafflecopter. If you would like to see what it looks like click on Snowflake Pendant

Thanks again Wendy you have been a super sport for coming today and creating your own top pick.

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