Sunday, January 21, 2018

Oh Dear, A Scumbag by Katherine Pym

I’m an author and as such, I watch people, scour life for opportunities that can be translated into a novel. So, what do you think of the following which I found in a local newspaper?

Dear Gene:
I’m married to a younger woman and she is pregnant. Her mother lives with us. She is close to my age. We have a lot in common (more so than my wife and I). I can talk to her about anything. We are falling in love. What should I do?

Answer : You are a scumbag. Find a cliff and jump off.

So much for hopeful wisdom.  But let’s look at this from a manuscript point of view.

Would this be a good story line for a murder mystery or is it too tedious? A murder of passion. Worked to death. Boring.

There is very little in this world that is original although I must say Harry Potter & the original Star Wars, Star Trek, Tolkien’s trilogy  were very original. It’s hard to come up with a magical premise without thinking of Harry or traveling through middle world or to the new frontier called space without those movie/television franchises coming to mind.

So how do you make an old story line more original? How do you make boring sparkle? Add more story lines with twists, throw in a red herring or two, but don’t get carried away. You’ll confuse the reader. They’ll get lost amongst all those bodies and, in a pet, throw the book against a wall.

Historical fiction is a rehash of all stories through the centuries. People make the same mistakes over and over again. What’s that phrase now? History repeats itself. We never seem to learn from our mistakes. “Well, that was his error. I’ll do it differently.” But the clues leading up to what one would do differently are the same as the ones from the past. The stepping stones are cracked but still usable. They are tried and true, worth another shot. (How’s that for a bunch of clichés?)

As an aside: I could write a story filled with clichés but then in a year or two, maybe three, depending on the usage of the clichés, no one would understand the story. “What did she mean by that?” “Haven’t a clue.” “So, why did she say it, then?” Shrug. “Haven’t a clue.” The book is thrown against a wall.

When Jude and I wrote of Sir David Kirke and his wife, Lady Sara, we found a story of real people (tried & true) but these guys lived in the 17th century (not as popular as the Anglo/Saxon, Tudors or the Georgian eras),  so a little more original. The story is of Canada, and its pioneers (not beaten to death), what they went through to make a working plantation successful (not like the American southern plantations that required slaves).

In Newfoundland, we have a fishing industry, icebergs that ships had to dodge, privateers (old hash but exciting so I’ll read it again), a temperamental king (yawn) who causes problems (sound familiar today?). Our couple struggle to make ends meet (boring) because of that king (harrumph), but we like David and Sara and their struggles. 

He calls her Twig, which we find humorous. His most romantic words are: "Twig, prepare to be mounted." (chortle) She gives him a look that makes him step back. (wonderful woman)

The setting is different (original), no white man/Aboriginal battles (refreshing), just about a couple who want to succeed in life during a tumultuous era of exploration and civil wars (exciting & almost original).

Pillars of Avalon, a good book as I toot my own horn. :D


  1. It is a good book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And I like your take on making old new again.

  2. Funny post; and the novel is a great read about characters I never knew existed (refreshing, indeed).

  3. Great Post, Katherine! And I've got to post a it with Christmas joy!