My Writing: Weeping Willow

In my ‘Breaking Down Categories‘ post, I mentioned the three main stories I have been working on for some time (and am supposed to be currently working on >_<, in between preparing for some contests).  They were Weeping Willow, Father Time, and Gyti.  The next three Wednesday posts are going to be an overview of each of these stories, because I will refer to them and probably rant about them from time to time on this blog.

Weeping Willow was first conceived in 2008.  My husband and I were just married and then discovered right away that we were going to have to buy a new car because my transmission was about to die.  I dropped all of my on-campus college classes, because it was a matter of driving as little as possible.  The one class I did keep, though, was “Short Story 1”, because it was an online class.

One of the first assignments was to sit down and write out three different scenes for different stories – brainstorming, basically.  I don’t even remember what my first two ideas were.  It was the third idea that captured my imagination.

All I saw was a girl in a forest.  She was crying.  I knew absolutely nothing about her except the color of her hair, and that for some reason her entire world has crumbled around her, and I had to find out why.

Thus, the idea was born.

Weeping Willow Main Character

Isabel and her Wolfhound

Through the class, the story became more clear.  I learned that my character’s name was Isabel.  I learned that she was half-dryad, half-human; I learned she had no memory of her mother, and that her soul-mate had just been murdered by his brother.  The more I delved into Isabel’s story, the more entranced I became.  An entire world began to evolve, with an intricate reliance on magic.  Not just one kind of magic, but several.  Not everyone could work each type of magic, it is something you are born with.  Some are born with the ability to only sense magic.

The most common form of magic is elemental.  Anyone who is born with this talent has an affinity to one element, and most can only control that element.  Very few are able to control more than one element, and those few are the ones who train to become Elemental Knights.  Elemental Knights are powerful lord-mages who care for certain provinces – these are North, South, East and West.  Isabel’s father is the Northern Knight.

There are a few other kinds of magic, including black magic and blood sorcery.  Black magic is taboo, but not unknown, and it is the magic that anyone can learn to use whether they are born with the talent or not.  Blood sorcery is met with a death penalty, so those who use it are very quiet about it.  Only humans can use blood sorcery.  Mythical creatures have their own magical powers that are not connected to any of these.

Isabel, because she is half-dryad and half-human, and she will eventually discover that her conception was only possible because of blood magic, is a magical nexus of sorts.  She can use dryad-magic, all forms of elemental magic (because her father is talented that way), black magic, and blood sorcery.  This is what all her problems are going to be caused by.

There are at least three mythical creatures that exist in the world of Weeping Willow.  There is Death, and it is a single entity, and it can be bargained with.  There are dryads, and (with the exception of Isabel and her mother) they are a malicious, man-hating lot.  If they even talk to man, it is because they have a use for him.  There are Pukas, either black or white.  This is simply a classification, not an indicator of good or evil.  Pukas have some magical powers (they have an animal form that they can shape-shift back and forth from; certain powerful pukas may have more than one animal form), but they are also magical voids.

That is just a glimpse into the world of Weeping Willow, of course.  I can’t reveal it all here or there’s no point in you reading it one day!

Writing this story for a short story class was an interesting experience, though.  I had no idea of what the girl was going to tell me when I stopped to listen to her.  My first submission of Weeping Willow to my professor was given the response of “Is this a first chapter?  It’s okay if it is, you just need to let me know, and I’ll let you use it instead of a short story.”

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with that!  I did come to the realization that I had too much plot in the first draft of the short story, and so I ended up cutting out what was a vital part of it to me – Isabel’s fiance.  I chose to do it as a short story, rather than a first chapter, because I wanted to make myself work within the requirements.  I needed to know that I could do that and still come away with a finished story that I was pleased with.

I also knew that it was going to be easy for me to sit down later and turn Weeping Willow into a novel.  I had to wait a couple years, though, but that was okay because I didn’t know everything about it yet.  It wasn’t until November of 2009 that I learned what was so important about the wolfhound that Isabel’s father gave her.  If I hadn’t waited that time for the story to finish ‘speaking’, it wouldn’t be what it is today.

The first draft of Weeping Willow in novel format is finished, it was my 2010 NaNoWriMo and topped out at a little more than 86,000 words.  I just need to finish editing, and then do at least one rewrite.  There is a lot I need to add to it to make everything cohesive.  Right now it’s just the story of Isabel, which is okay, but some of the things that happen to her need more explanation.  It’ll get there, all in due time.

If anyone has questions or wants to know more about Weeping Willow, please let me know!  I plan to get a page up on the blog just for Weeping Willow stuff eventually.  By ‘eventually’ I mean ‘hopefully by the end of the year’. 😀

Also, just for fun, I’m going to do a little contest with these three blog posts (one each Wednesday, including this one, for the next few weeks).  I’ll post a little trivia test after I’ve posted all three of these story overviews, and from those who answer correctly (in the comments), I’ll randomly draw a name to win $10 in Amazon gift cards!

There is a little tiny requirement, though – you must subscribe to my blog to be eligible.  I promise not to spam your inbox or drive you crazy.  Actually, I’m not sure I can promise to not drive you crazy.  But I won’t do it on purpose.  I only post here maybe 2-3 times a week.  Sometimes only once a week :).

So, after I post the ‘Father Time’ and ‘Gyti’ overviews, keep an eye out for the Trivia Test!