Mr. Tracey is Falling in Love


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Can Mr. Tracey keep Miss Darcy out of this messy murder business? It may already be too late.

Gilbert Tracey may be falling in love. Just a little bit. I’m not sure yet, and he himself remains entirely in the dark about his incipient crush on the young lady down the street. I’m hoping for his sake that it’s just a crush and not true love, because she is destined to crush his amorous aspirations.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. I certainly didn’t have it in mind when I first started writing Gilbert Tracey, because, you see, I had no intention of monkeying with the plot. Rename the characters? Oh, yeah. But send them off on unforeseen affairs of the heart? Oh, no. So how did this happen? Continue reading


Why Re-Tell Old Stories?

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Today I want to talk a bit more about why I’m re-writing someone else’s story. The fact is, for centuries — millennia, even — this is the way storytellers learned their craft. They retold stories that had already been told many times. Why? Because the stories themselves were sound — they had survived the test of time — so the writer could concentrate on the telling of the story, not the plot. And, in doing so, he could draw out his own meaning from the events he recounted. This, after all, is what why people love stories — entertaining though they may be, ultimately they tell us something about life. At least, the better ones do. Continue reading

Getting to Know You: Appropriating the Story

When I decided to take on the challenge of re-writing another author’s story, one that was well-received in its own day (more later about why I decided to try this crazy experiment),  I knew that I needed to find a story that I could make my own, without have to completely re-imagine it. I needed a story that would not simply appeal to readers today, but one that would appeal to me — enough to keep me writing and polishing until my new version is in publishable form. But it also needed to be story in which I could see room for improvement — or at least room for me to put my mark on it —  lest the project result in little more than a lengthy exercise in technique.

So my task from the beginning was two-fold: to find a suitable story, and then to find ways to make it my own. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo Report: Success so far


So many novels begun this month — how many will be completed?

Yesterday National Novel Writing Month began and, for the first time in several years, I am a “competitor.” My writing project for the month is You Know What — my twice-told tale, which I’m calling (for the moment) Mr. Tracey Investigates. I missed the starting gun, however, so I didn’t begin my race to 50,000 words until this morning. However, I have completed the first scene of the first chapter of what I can now legitimately call my “work in progress” (WIP). Continue reading

An Experiment in Story(re)telling

Shakespeare pondering

The Bard pondering where he’ll find the plot for his next twice-told tale.

Shakespeare pinched stories from wherever he could find them — Gesta Danorum, the Decameron, Holinshed’s Chronicles, Plautus’s Lives, Sydney’s Arcadia, even his contemporary poets and playwrights — but no one ever called him unoriginal. That’s why I feel completely justified in an experiment I’m undertaking, which I call Twice-Told Tales. Continue reading