When Stories Evolve by Mae Clair

If you’re a writer, at one point or another, you probably had a story evolve beyond anything you anticipated. That’s pretty much how my new romantic suspense/mystery novel, MYTH AND MAGIC, became…MYTH AND MAGIC.

Many years ago—actually decades—I wrote a short story called RESURRECTING MERLIN. At the time, I was writing full-length manuscripts and had joined a local critique group for short story writers. Writing something under 10K was a challenge for me. RESURRECTING MERLIN was my first attempt.

I wrote a lot of short stories after that, but RM was always my favorite. A magical realism piece with a dark thread, the nucleus revolved around two young brothers, Tristan and Merlin, who played games of myth and magic. They spent many afternoons imagining themselves wizards who battled savage trolls and fierce beasts. That idyllic setting was shattered by a tragedy that forever altered Tristan’s life, causing an insurmountable gulf between him and his parents.

I won’t go into the entire plot, but it always rattled around in the back of mind. I didn’t want to leave it languishing in a short that I’d probably never use. So, years later, I took the core idea—an innocent childhood of mythical games fractured by an horrific event—and made that the heart of MYTH AND MAGIC. I changed the circumstances of the event, and now, instead of only two brothers, there were four friends—one a young girl who fancied herself every bit as adept with her imaginary sword as the three boys.

Most of you know MYTH AND MAGIC is a Halloween tale about weird happenings at a secluded corporate lodge. But that’s only half of the story. The time line in the present. You’ll also find several scenes where I turn the clock back to childhood, in order for my reader to understand the motivations of my characters. Particularly my hero and heroine.

Today, my Pump Up Your Book blog tour stop is with A Little Bit of R & R. Please pop over and say hello if you can. And I’d love to hear if you’ve ever had a story evolve from something small into the nucleus of a much larger work.

Book Cover for MYTH AND MAGIC by Mae Clair depicting a brooding old home at nightAmazon 
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14 thoughts on “When Stories Evolve by Mae Clair

  1. Interesting to find out how things evolve for other authors, too.
    It happened to me with Shadows of the Past. The idea sparked after reading a short article in a Romanian newspaper. I wrote a poem, The Ballad of the Priest and the Nun.You read the book and know what I am talking about. And then, I felt the nun’s story must be told in detail. This is how I wrote the novel.
    I already visited your host and left a comment. Best of luck with the tour!

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    • Ooo, interesting to know that about Shadows of the Past, Carmen! I think it’s fantastic you spun that whole book from a newspaper article and then a poem. I think certain things just lodge in our minds as writers and we simply can’t ignore them. They insist their stories must be told! 🙂

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  2. I love hearing how stories come about for other writers. I’m usually presented with a random scene, with the characters saying and/or doing something that intrigues me, and then I have to follow the trail of breadcrumbs they leave. If only it were a linear trail. LOL I also think sometimes we need a little bit of time to develop the writing skills the story needs, so it evolves when we’re finally able to do the story justice. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself while revising this current WIP. 🙂

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    • I like your reasoning, Donna. I have one of those WIPs that won’t leave me alone but I don’t think I’ve reached the point the story needs, so I’m still picking up occasional breadcrumbs, LOL. Those pesky characters are intriguing enough to keep stringing me along and saying things like “you’ll figure it out eventually.” Glad to hear I’m not alone in this. Of course, you no doubt have Endora nagging you, too! 😀

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  3. Like Donna, I enjoy hearing how stories start for other writers too. It’s so neat to hear there are people like me. I just read Janet Evanovich’s, “How I Write”, and I could identify with how she told herself stories when she was at home doing things. Recently, the voices in my head stopped due to so much going on in my life. I’m happy to say a couple new characters had a complete conversation and snippets of others in my head. This helps define who these people are before they appear on the page. I can’t wait to get back into a routine of writing again.

    Thanks, Mae for the great posts.They always encourage me and keep me thinking.Have a great week everyone!

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    • Hi, Mary! Great to have you pop in…I know how crazed busy you’ve been. Also glad to hear the characters are having conversations in your head–always a great sign for a writer. 🙂 Looking forward to getting back into our writing routine again. I’m almost ready to start my new one, too!

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    • Hi, Stanalie I’ve always had a soft spot for Resurrecting Merlin and am glad I was finally able to put a few of the story threads to use. Glad to have you drop by! 🙂

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    • I think that story was one of the rare one’s when I actually had the title before the story evolved. I’ve been toying with doing a book of shorts for several months ears (I have quite a handful). I will have to make it a project someday soon and add Merlin to the list!

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