|Inventing an Opera
||[Nov. 3rd, 2011|09:49 pm]
International *Write Something* Month
So I'm trying to simultaneously review the novel so far (to "get in the mood" more or less), get something written every day, and start getting up a head of steam for visualizing enough ahead to get some momentum. (And, having just reviewed my outline notes, I have a lot of plot-threads I should be working in at the moment that I needed to be reminded of.)|
I really liked the posting at Making Light the other week about re-using your characters and story elements because it's something that I've noticed is making Daughter of Mystery into a far more interesting story than any of my previous attempts at novels. I think part of it is the plot-as-I-go aspect, because I can keep re-weaving existing threads back into the cloth -- or stick in virtual post-its at earlier points that say "Introduce element X here and then mention it occasionally until it becomes important." Keeping the detailed outline notes as ideas come to me has really helped on that end. So, for example, when I come back to the present point in the writing, I can go back to the spreadsheet and note that at the same time that the Mystery Guild is sorting out just what sorts of rituals they plan to develop, the Spring university term is starting (so the protagonists should be attending a different set of lectures), there are the first hints that Barbara is going to be intensely jealous of the time Margerit spends with the Guild, Barbara decides to start searching old church records trying to find some clue to her parentage, Margerit is going to start getting invitations to a slightly higher social class of events thanks to her aunt marrying a rather nice but penniless nobleman, and there are the beginnings of rumors of a Grand Council to discuss the matter of the succession (which Margerit is going to be oblivious to, not being of the nobility, but which is of vital importance for later events). Quite a bit to keep track of.
But today's fun New Thing is that I've decided I need to compose an opera. Well, not a whole opera. Just invent a composer and have them compose an opera that my protagonists will attend. Just recently -- for entirely unrelated reasons -- I was looking at medieval re-tellings of Ovid's story of Iphis & Ianthe. (Short version: to save her from being killed at birth, Iphis is raised as a boy. Believing Iphis to be a man, Ianthe's father decides to marry her off to Iphis. Iphis and Ianthe fall in love but spend an inordinate amount of time bewailing the assumption that their love is doomed because they're both women and nothing can come of it. A convenient divinely-mediated sex-change operation on Iphis resolves this problem and they live happily ever after.) Now, one of the problems I have in trying to write historical or pseudo-historical lesbian romance fiction is that I don't want to re-hash the whole "Oh, woe is me! How can two women love each other?" motif ad nauseum. And yet I'm typically working in a historical context where your average young woman would not be aware of the precedents and possibilities for same-sex love. So I'm always looking for examples -- and preferably at least somewhat positive examples -- that my characters might be aware of that could give them a Clue.
So having been thinking on the Iphis & Ianthe thing, and thinking that it would be exactly the sort of story that might end up in an early 19th century opera, a scene popped into my head of one of my protagonists doing real-time translation of the libretto for the other at a performance and getting this two-track effect where the words that she's translating are also what she'd like to be saying on her own behalf. Plus, there emerges a context for each of them to ruminate on the general topic. (They don't get to actually declare their love for about another third of the book.) The only problem? Nobody seems to have actually written an opera based on this story in the necessary timeframe. This may turn out to be a feature rather than a bug as it allows me to write my own libretto-fragments that suit the needs of the scene, rather than hunting through an existing work for something that would fit. Now I just need to invent a composer ....