Sunday, February 15, 2009

Big possibilities! Inspiration, anyone?

I had an interesting email this morning. "MK," he said, "do you know where you're going with the Legends novel, or are you doing this on the fly?"

It's not a bad question, but it does prompt me to wonder how much of the page people are reading! Because if you scroll down, the pedigree is Legends is given near the foot of the page, before the Research Tales.

On the speculation that many people haven't looked that far, let me quote the text here:

This story has its roots in the 1980s. About the time I signed with GMP, I was kicking around the idea for a massive novel -- the problem being, I had no time to develop it. At the time, one of my "literary friends" was Lane Ingram, who passed away some years ago. When Lane volunteered to develop the narrative from my storyline, I was surprised and very agreeable; and a version of it was circulated on a small scale, to a very appreciative audience!

Lane had no aspirations to be a professional novelist, which meant writing was fun, and remained fun, while I did battle with "style" and "technique." And then one day Lane was gone, without leaving much of anything to mark the place in the world which had once bee occupied by an individual who was large in every sense of the word.

Let's change that. I'm bringing LEGENDS "to the screen" in a form which preserves as much of Lane's input as I possibly can, while at the same time properly developing it, bringing it up to full professional standard ... cutting and trimming, correcting the errant, though enthusiastic, amateur ... polishing it to the professional sparkle you've come to expect from Mel Keegan.

LEGENDS will be Lane's memorial. Here's to you, kiddo, wherever you are: enjoy.

Lane Ingram passed away before GMP was sopped by by Prowler Press which was, in its turn, soaked in by Millivres and ... scrapped. Until the end, Lane hoped we could "do something" with this novel to get it into print.

I knew better, but I wasn't going to say so! Even the version which was developed all those years ago was way too big to be handled by any existing gay publisher. It was also way too steamy to be given an airing in that form. And, though I wasn't about to say it to Lane, it also needed a great deal of work done on it, to pull it up to the professional level.

The concept, story, characters, mythos, geography, research -- the bones of the piece were, and are, mine. Lane took them and put flesh on them, but the writing style was (and this is no mark against Lane!!) typical of the writer who has no professional aspirations. Lane was a focused on the "now" of the plot -- what was happening absolutely in the moment -- and on the characters. The original work is almost shorthand, brief to the point of sometimes falling back on the "sketch" from which it was constructed.

What am I doing with Legends, to bring it up to pro standard? Am I editing Lane?

It's more like trying to salvage the original spirit of the developmental work, and here and there hunting out a turn of phrase which was choice ... and building the novel up afresh from my old sketch -- which I still have! -- and the initial development of the piece.

To give you an idea of the process: currently I have about 25,000 words "on paper." There's something like 40% of this text online right now. Lane managed to pack the same material into about 5,000 words!

How in the world was that achieved?! Well, by dropping the backstory of two kingdoms, and omitting almost all of the descriptive passages which tell you what places and things look and sound like.

Why in the world was this done? Simple, guys. Lane had one real objective -- and I'm not going to knock it! The whole mission was to get Soran and Faunos together as fast as possible, and commence the steamy scenes ... and the steamier, the better!

Like I said, I ain't going to knock it! But when you haul a story out into the pro arena, and you don't want to be categorized as, published as, and shelved with, "erotica" ... you have to be careful what you say and how you say it. And how often you say it. And how soon you say it!

Don't get me wrong: there is NOTHING wrong with erotica. I've written tomes of it. Volumes. We all have. Some of us even have the guts to come out and admit it.

But as Legends continues, grows and matures, you'll soon begin to see the incredible depth, scope and potential of the work. There is so much in it that will be dismissed, if I don't trim it here and there, prune back the red-hot pages, and also properly develop the work.

Which leads inevitably to another extremely good question...

What's to become of all the sizzling scenes?! O...kay. Let me open the floor to questions here.

There's a couple of choices, and I don't at all mind inviting readers to decide how it goes. God knows, you guys are the ones I'm relying on to keep my bills paid, while I devote several hours per day to plowing through a gay fantasy novel that's more immense than you realise at this point!

I can prune the lot, cut it all back to MA15+ (ie., suitable for upload to an "open" blog) and call it good. I do intend to "hide" the more steamy scenes behind a little swatch of code that gives the first couple of paragraphs in, then warns that the rest of the post is a sizzler, and invites the reader to continue -- or not, if they prefer not to for whatever reason. Like, maybe the boss just stuck his head inro the office, and he has the nasty habit of standing at the water cooler behind your terminal, with his distance glasses perched on the end of his nose?!

The second thing I can do is to preserve Lane's original, sizzling scenes and package them as TXT files, add-ons, which you can download via a link on the MA15+ edited page that says, "Nice, but show me the sizzler!"

The third thing I can do is make the red-hot-chili-pepper version of the whole '"book" available as an ebook at the end of each segment --

Which reminds me to mention that Legends falls neatly into five parts, "Book One, "Book Two," and what have you -- but it is NOT a series. It's one novel. It's just one bloody great big novel.

So: let me know, guys. What's your fancy?!

For the moment, you might like to know that The Lords of Harbendane is enjoying very nice sales at Amazon and Payloads. I'm extremely gratified there. And Legends has made an excellent start, with a "core readership" of something like 125, after having been online for only about four days! Again, I'm very gratified. There's a lot more work to be done, but we're getting there.

For now, I want to "cheers" to Lane Ingram, who is probably laughing fit to break several ribs, in some dimension slightly "out of phase" with this one. All credit to you, kid: you did a good job, way back when, and the novel is polishing up a treat.

On that note, I'll leave you with a couple of links, as usual:

Chapter Six has commenced at Legends...
Relics of the hunt is my post at Digital Kosmos.

Ciao for now,

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