Today is a research day, though I also realize I haven’t put up a blog in quite some time. I thought I might go into a little about how I am putting this Steampunk anthology together.
The idea came about after writing two origin stories for nursery rhymes for HCS Publishing’s anthologies. So far, I have made “Steampunked” origin stories for Jack and Jill, Little Miss Muffet, London Bridges, and Little Bo Peep. I am currently working on, and doing research for, Jack Be Nimble.
For all of the stories, I did research. Research, research, research. I’ll always stand by it. As an author, researching your topics, no matter what they are, is VERY important.
First: I tried to find any existing origin stories or ideas of where the nursery rhymes came from. So far I haven’t found much on any of them, which gives me a lot of room. Not that an existing origin story would stop me from creating my own, but it does help to know there isn’t a lot to compare my stories against.
Second: I try to find all of the stanzas of the nursery rhyme. Little Bo Peep was one of my bigger surprises. There are several more stanzas to that rhyme that what is usually sung today. In the case of Little Bo Peep it lead me to ending the story in similar ways the rhyme ends and (in my humble opinion) it worked out nicely. In the case of Jack and Jill, I didn’t use any pieces out of any additional stanzas.
Third: I find the key elements from the nursery rhyme that need to be part of the origin story. This part is always a challenge, but one I really enjoy working through. It’s a very different way of writing for me, but a really great exercise. For example for “To Fetch A Pail of Water” I needed the characters Jack and Jill, a hill, a pail of water, and for them to fall down one after the other. That may seem like an easy task for you, but it was hard for me at first. The more I do these stories, though, the easier it is for me to create something around these key elements.
Today I am working on “Jack, Be Quick!” I have already done some research saying there isn’t much of an idea of where it came from, and it’s a very short rhyme. I’ve picked out the character Jack, who is a very nimble boy, and I need to have him in a scenario where he jumps over some sort of candle stick or small fire.
My mind instantly went to a street urchin for a nimble boy named Jack. For a typical Steampunk London atmosphere, it’s perfect. A pick-pocket needs to be nimble. But what makes him important and where does the fire come in?
Well, to those reading this I will give you a small clue. A certain famous fictional character popped into my mind and wouldn’t leave. His presence takes this story were it needs to go, but also could over-shadow my story if I’m not careful.
Today my research is all about Sherlock Holmes; the life of an urchin; and clothes, housing, and money for the time-period.
Research, research, research.
Your reader may never know how many hours you put in to one minor character’s outfit, but having the accuracy is very important.
Off I go …