Saturday, October 6, 2012

Dead Men Tell No Tales

Or that's the way the saying goes. Do they? Can they?

Recently I began work on a neglected story that has sat for over five years. The reason it has sat, isn't because I didn't want to finish it, or didn't know where I planned to go with it, but because of where it was going, and I, in good conscious, could not change it.

Let me explain. I'm a pantser--kind of. All my stories are plotted out in my head, every detail. It's the way I work. Sometimes I'll write the ending first, (because I don't use outlines) so that the story is always moving toward it. The novel I'm working on now is no exception. My heroine takes a swan dive off a tower that sits two hundred stories high, and I do this in the first few pages.

Wait, you don't kill off the heroine of the novel, especially a romance novel. And there is the problem. This story could have no other ending, or could it? My heroine is a sociopath, and events that lead up to the swan dive, are the reason she dies. Plan and simple, I could not justify giving this story another ending. So I put it away. Let it sit.

Flash forward five years. My editor is looking for something different. I pull out my story, thinking there is no way in hell she's going to go for this. It doesn't have the prerequisite HEA, or happily ever after. It's dark. The heroine is a sociopath. It's in first person, the only way I could get the readers in Eva's head, and on and on.

Then she comes back, can you add a sub thread, start the story with a tale by a sub-character and then we can have the needed HEA to call this romance? You know, like a post card that says, "Wish you were here--not."

Say what? Then, as I often do, I let the idea sit and simmer.


Well, I've changed the first person story of Eva and Dante in a doomed society, into third. After I converted the text to third, I wove into the story a first person narrative of what was previously a sub-character, who recounts the fall of this world and the people in it. Her tale is that of a forbidden love affair, and not just of Eva and Dante, but of herself and another, where she believes all she ever had is lost, but in the end, she gets her HEA.

Bingo, I get to keep my swan dive and sociopath, and I can give my editor a different kind of love story with an unexpected ending that very much has the HEA she wanted. I'm doing a happy dance. My dead woman has told quite a tale, and I can't wait to share this with you.

But for now, meet Olivia, my narrator, who tells my dead woman's tale.

From her lips to mine, I swear this is how it happened.

I suppose before you can understand my heart, and the love I have had and lost, I must tell you the story of another. My name is Olivia Braun. I am the only surviving relative to the leaders of Europia, a legacy I am not proud of, but one I must set straight before I walk into the next life.

When I think of our society, I think of the bee. It is interesting how the restriction of one simple thing can determine whether a bee becomes a queen or a drone, and how, if the queen should be killed, a drone can take her place from the faceless ranks.

Like the bee, we all start out the same way, regardless what they tell you. It was a truth of nature many chose to ignore, and they did so at their own peril. For even a queen could be made.

I am not a child, though many would look at me and see that. Small and weak, so insignificant, they believe I’m this frail little girl. I am not. I am a survivor. I have lived through more than you can imagine, in a world where two wrongs make a right, and deciding which side of the line you stand on, is as important as taking your next breath.

For twenty years old, I now carry more weight on my shoulders than my father did before me, and I have loved deeper than he ever did, all in my short life.

So, let me tell you the story of Eva, and then I will reveal truths I have kept hidden. They will come for me up in this tower. There is no escape, but I have eluded death one too many times already. I know it is my time, and I am ready.

For I cannot continue on without him.

 Have a great weekend,
D L Jackson

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