My A-Z Blogging theme is to cover 26 touch-me-not categories of fiction writing. These are frequently the trouble spots which can be useful components of the story if handled properly, but when rushed through, can cause all kinds of trouble. While the genre is fantasy, the tips can apply to anything, from romance to literary fiction.
While exploring the ruins of an old castle, Mordekai and his sister Monique accidentally destroy an old tower only to find themselves in a different place, or time, entirely–with a mysterious princess on their hands who thinks ever noble’s name must begin with an “M,” among other absurd things. Mordekai isn’t about to admit to his real name, so he tells her to call him Sir Kai. Then, suddenly, a giant goat crashes through the wall and carries him off.
I: Inside Jokes
Monique waited until they were out of the castle and crossing the stone courtyard to pester Mural further. ” If there’s an army on the way…shouldn’t we be mounting a rescue for Mordekai instead of running somewhere to hid?”
“We are not hiding. And we are going to rescue the whole realm. I am sure Sir Mordekai would agree.”
Monique frowned but couldn’t argue with that. He probably would. Mordekai was probably loving every moment of his medieval adventure, and, provided he wasn’t in too much danger, it would probably prove to be just what he needed. The only question is whether I’m going to be able to coax him to come back home with me.
Monique followed the princess, despite her misgivings. She couldn’t help Mordekai at all in a strange land on her own, so for the time being, she had to follow the other woman’s lead.
Mural walked briskly past a wooden stable and turned the corner only to run straight into the arms of a tall man with decidedly prominent muscles. His thick, red mane of hair shone doubly fierce with the setting sun, and his steel grey eyes contained a look sharp enough to rival any sword.
He looked down at Mural. “Dropsy? What has the witch done to you now?” Then he held the young woman at arms length and gave her an appreciative gaze which made Monique eager to smack him right across his finely chiseled features. “No, you’re not Dropsy.”
“No, sir. I am Princess Mural.”
“And you’ll kindly take your hands off her,” Monique said, coming up quickly. The man seemed to ignore her warning glare, though he did back away.
“I must find her. Perhaps she’s in the castle. Or…do you have a moat?”
“No. But there is well over there,” she said, indicating a small building on the far side of the compound.
The man rushed away, muscles rippling. “Without so much as a thank you,” Monique muttered. “What a creep.”
“He did not creep. He moves quite well…though his armor seemed thin.”
What armor? The man wore what could only be called jeans, no matter what century one was in. They tapered to follow the contours of his thick, manly legs and were tight across his torso, and his button-down shirt flapped in the wind as he moved, the top five or six buttons deemed superfluous. He believes in displaying his muscular assets, regardless of the weather. She’d known guys like that, and couldn’t stand them.
“If you ask me, I think he’s crazy.”
“He has lost someone. I imagine the plight is a common one,” Mural said as she continued walking towards the outer wall, her direction indicating that they were aiming for a small door set in the stones. “The realm has not been safe since my uncle’s spell took effect. I only hope we are not too late.”
“To help Mordekai?
“No. To right the wrongs.”
Inside jokes are common in any fiction. Earlier, there were a few comments about wardrobes and ruby slippers that would only make sense for those who’d heard of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Wizard of Oz. Inside jokes can be a fun shorthand that you can share with your readers, providing humor and a greater understanding of your characters based on whether they like or dislike (or know nothing about) the cultural reference being made.
But inside jokes can be carried too far. I’ve read modern fantasy stories where many of the references were lost on me because I hadn’t seen the television shows in question. Similarly, there have been older works where I missed the joke because what was commonly read then is no longer common knowledge now (I’ve run into this in Milton, Little Women, and a number of other classics, where something that was meant to be funny just becomes a moment of confusion at best, and at worst a need to look at the footnotes). The inside joke only works if the reader has actually read or is aware of the source of the joke. Otherwise, your novel might be better if the joke is left out.
In this case, the joke hinges on whether you read Megan Morgan’s A-Z challenge from last year and still remember the character of Hawk MacHardcastle. Having him make a cameo appearance can be pure fun for the fans of Megan’s story, but I also tried to make the moment serve the plot as well, as it provides a chance to show Monique’s protective side in action and pairs her with Mural instead of pitting them against each other. But ultimately, such a scene should be high on the list to be cut from a final draft if the possible confusion outweighs the benefit of such humor (as it would here).
Until the next letter,
Copyright 2017 Andrea Lundgren
Photo courtesy of gratisography