Inspired by a Legend
By Ruth Kaufman
I’m a pantser (meaning I write by the seat of my pants), not a plotter (who plans ahead by writing a synopsis of the entire book, or outlining scenes and/or plot points), so each story develops as I go. When an opening scene came to mind of a wounded man fleeing his enemies, I didn’t know who he was, why he was running or who was after him.
Eventually he let me know he was a Knight of the Round Table. Hmmm. That meant I’d have to take on the legend of King Arthur (KA) and his knights. A daunting task, because many readers know some of the tales first told hundreds of years ago and are aware of how they’ve changed over time. They’ve read the novels and have seen the movies.
Could I find a way to make the legend fresh and interesting, yet retain enough of the familiar and beloved elements to ground readers?
I hope what I learned helps you:
· Take some time to absorb what you can about the cast of characters and events that are in the public domain. Pay attention to significant variations, important themes, values and motifs. I already had a good grasp of and appreciation for KA, and had a shelf full of books of tales and analysis about him and his knights.
· Decide what and who you’ll retain, what you’ll let go, what you’ll change and what you’ll add. I decided to write about the unsung knights no one has heard about, giving me freedom to create characters from scratch. Another Arthurian author may, for example, choose to develop his/her version of Lancelot as a hero rather than make him a secondary character or not feature him at all.
· Worldbuilding is key. The time period and specific location you choose will impact everything from clothing to food to housing to technology or lack thereof. Late medieval England (my choice because I have some knowledge of and more than 200 books on the period) will yield a completely different environment than outer space or modern day. Be cognizant of the balance of description and the other elements of your novel. Too many details, no matter how interesting or cool to you, can overwhelm readers and bury the story.
· Choose an active jumping off point. Deluging readers with backstory to get them up to speed on everything you know about the characters isn’t recommended (some authors use prologues or frontmatter to share the bare bones of their legend). Perhaps your hero or heroine is taking her first step of a quest, or danger is imminent.
· Choose your tone(s). How dark or light will you go? Will you find a humorous angle? The TV show Once Upon a Time is a good example of how to do both when revisiting fairytales. And what will your intimacy level be...do you prefer sweet, hot, or something in between? If there’s any violence, how graphic will you go?
· How many paranormal elements will you incorporate? Will you take a “normal” legend and make it paranormal, and if so, what percent of your story will be devoted to that? Or will you use a legend that already incorporates magic, non-human and/or mythical beings, etc., and expand upon or limit the supernatural?
If you want to take on a legend, how do you find one? Just search “myths and legends” on Amazon to find compilations. A quick internet search led to many pages just for English characters: Wikipedia.
My Once & Future Love
(Unsung Knights of the Round Table #1)
Morgan ap Myrddin must rescue his father, Merlin, from imprisonment. But enemies have wounded him, draining his powers.
Annora of Amberton flees her castle to seek proof that she’s not a lunatic as her uncle declared when claiming wardship over her and her lands.
Morgan stumbles upon Annora’s cottage and enlists her aid. As he helps her in return, respect and undeniable desire spark. But he won’t succumb to the lure of a mortal woman as his father did. She’s wary of caring for a man who won’t discuss his past. When he tells her he’s a Knight of the Round Table, she fears he’s the lunatic. Secrets, danger and destiny thwart the power of love.
Northern Wales, September 1463
Flames of agony seared Morgan ap Myrddin. Blood, crimson as the dragon on his long-lost banner, streamed down his side, soaking remnants of the shirt pressed against his arrow wound to staunch the flow. He sped through the forest, cracking branches in his haste.
Heart pounding hard as a hammer on an anvil, he caught his breath behind a wide oak and leaned heavily on the rough bark. Amidst a shower of autumn leaves, he closed his eyes to focus his dwindling strength and energy on listening. What he sought lay beyond the wind swishing through the trees.
He sought the footsteps of his enemies.
Morgan’s ears, keener than those of any mortal man’s, strained to capture the distant sounds of an army on the move. The faint rumble, the subtle shaking of the ground beneath his feet told him what he needed to know. His enemies approached.
Never before, in thirty-two mortal years fraught with danger, had he come so close to being trapped.
Closing his eyes, he raised his arms to summon aid, to call upon his vast powers. Nothing happened. Nothing changed.
Icy needles of unfamiliar fear pierced him. “Taliesin preserve me,” he breathed.
No answer. His Mysteries had faded so, he couldn’t even hear the wisdom of his ancestors.
Morgan ran. He stumbled into a tree, dizzy from loss of blood. He had to move faster or they would capture him.
And his father would remain imprisoned for all eternity.
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"My Once & Future Love."
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All you need to do is answer this question:
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Ruth Kaufman’s Wars of the Roses Brides trilogy (AT HIS COMMAND, FOLLOW YOUR HEART and THE BRIDE TOURNAMENT) reached #1 historical romance on Amazon in the US, Canada and Australia. Her romantic comedy MY LIFE AS A STAR is the standalone prequel to MY LIFE AS AN EXTRA. Accolades include 2016 Booksellers' Best Award double winner (Best Historical and Best First Book) and Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® winner.
Ruth is also an on-camera and voiceover talent with a J.D. and a Master's in Radio/TV. Credits include independent feature films, short films, web series, national TV commercials and thousands of voiceovers. She presents workshops for authors and actors and is a comedic storyteller.
Connect with Ruth: Website • Facebook • Facebook: Ruth Kaufman Actor & Author • Twitter • Instagram • Amazon Author Page.