One thing I love about storytelling is the malleability. Rewriting my historical series has become an exercise in this. My intention was to spruce it up, minimize things like punctuated dialect, and bring it sophistication that comes from growing in the writing craft and simply living. It’s been a journey of discovery, envisioning and re-envisioning this project. While retaining the general structure of the story arc, I began to polish, develop, and deepen what was there.
Then I made a decision that required more change–to leave the make-believe town setting and use actual places like Colorado City, Colorado Springs, and Charleston and to incorporate the historical narratives of those places. Lots of research but worth it, I believe, for the richness it brings. I’ve had to adjust the plot for accuracy, and it’s yielded new directions as well. Still I felt bound up in what was on the pages before me–events from the original stories that I want to keep, and of course the people.
Everything I do in storytelling revolves around the characters. Even though this was my first venture in published fiction, I like these people. I want to do them justice. The first rewrite developed relationships between the leads and side characters that I’m very excited about. New conversations revealed aspects of these people who were there but not to this degree. And still I felt this friction between the old and the emerging.
So I took a bold step. I’m renaming the characters. My intention was to set this version apart from the former. But something else occurred. The new names unlocked the scenes in a fresh retelling. Yes, some of the dialogue and events remain–coexisting within the new. And I like that. Maybe I’m crazy and all of this is much ado about nothing.
You may be scratching your heads and saying why are you rewriting something old if you’re changing it so much? I’ll add the question: How much can something change and still remain? Clearly my answer is endlessly, though I do hope for a satisfying culmination.
The stories are different enough now that I want to avoid confusion with print copies of the original series that some of you have on your shelves and that are still circulating secondhand. Some have expressed disappointment and loss at the thought of these changes. But think of movie remakes. Each is its own thing, the same and different. One doesn’t wipe out the other. How many ways has Beauty and the Beast been told? So here I am telling my own tales differently. I hope this adaptation will not only find new readers but be a welcome variation on a theme for you precious diehards. Trust me?