Most of you know who this is about, but it was written for a different audience, so I don't mention her Highness, the Royal PITA by name.
I am embarking on a unique new adventure. One of the writers I mentor for is at a place in their education that they are ready to break out of short form fiction and exercises and move into the most difficult task of writing a literary novel. The writer is understandably scared and insecure. As I was trying to help find a good prompt worthy of an emerging great writer (one who continually astounds me), I stumbled onto an idea that had a beginning, a middle and an end. However it involved curses, alternate worlds, saviors, ghost-like chimeras and murders; not my normal genre.
After much discussion, we decided that the story of the Itzala was a good project to collaborate on. Our writing styles and methods differ greatly, so it will be a true blending of talent and education.
I am not sure you have read any of my opinions on the use and abuse of the short-short or flash fiction style. I am firmly a fan of it as a creative outlet and exploration of style, but it does not hold up (in my book) as a true genre. To tell a full story in 500 words or less, something has to suffer, and mostly that is the dimensions of the characters. The personalities within a short-short have to, by reason, be second to the action of the crisis and resolution. Hence most characterization is one dimensional.
Wherein, a long piece of fiction relies on full character development. In this soon-to-be-story, it is a foreign old lady who imports the curse of the Itzala into the United States and places our protagonist in peril. She was the germ that infected my mind with the simple idea of a little old lady who habitually asks, “How are you, dear?” What if that old lady had an ulterior motive, or even an arterial motive? ;) What is she really asking?
Today, across two continents, one ocean and at least one sea, my co-writer and I worked out the storyboard for the project. We defined the curse, how and why it is spread, the main characters and their background, the murders, the motives, the beginning, the end, a little about the locations, and some important allusions that will become embedded in the finished work. Just that, a skeletal map to follow, with no meat, no blood, no tissue, was over 1200 words.
It is exciting for me to be involved in a big writing project again. I’ll keep you informed as it progresses. It will be interesting to see which of us become the teacher and which the student. In the meantime, please be wary of any stray shadows.