Here it is at last in all its glory…
I am so excited to be releasing this!! It’s grown so much from when it first popped into my brain and I’m admittedly quite proud of it. I hope you all enjoy it. Thanks so much to Kassia for showing interest and buying me pretty pencils in an effort to make me write faster. I love her.
As a fun little … story within a story, (consider it a companion guide) I want to share the beginnings of this “one-shot” to perhaps explain why it took me so very long to get this done.
You probably should read the actual story first, though, because this has a lot of spoilers. So if you haven’t read the story yet: DO NOT CONTINUE THIS POST!!! I’m serious. It’ll make me huffy. Go back up to the link and read the story. THEN you may proceed. This boring explanation of my writing process is your reward for reading over 6,000 words I put together. Because that’s how I roll.
The Evolution of a One-Shot
An afternoon in (according to the create-date of the Word document) June, I was entering the mall and I spied several hooligans walking in before me. They were two adolescent males with pants sagging down to their buttocks and ornate belts that were evidently doing nothing for them. This got me thinking about the state of youth in our day. I thought, “If they were caught by Victorians in their current dress and with those hideous manners they’d be tossed into a madhouse. No one in that century would believe them mentally stable.” Then I giggled. And I thought it would make a great story.
When I decided to put it down into an actual plot I knew it wasn’t going to be chopped up into lengthy chapters. I wanted something short and sweet with a happy end. I also wanted to maintain an air of mystery throughout. I soon realized writing about a man in a nineteenth century asylum wasn’t going to be much use to me because I could always read Dracula if I so desired. Thus the “antagonist” if you will, would have to be female. It made more sense anyway after I thought about it longer. Men were allowed to do quite a lot of things in that century that would have been scandalous for a woman. So a woman in “men’s clothing,” shouting obscenities in the street would certainly cause more of a stir. Being further inspired by Dracula I got it into my head that it all should be written in the style of a dairy by the doctor overseeing her care; reminiscent of a Jack Seward chapter. (One of my literary loves. I want to marry Dr. Seward.)
Fleshing it out
Now that the patient was a female and the doctor a man, there was no way on earth it was not turning into a romance. Many of you may know how hopeless I am in this regard. (The new True Grit is a love story. Just thought you should know.) I don’t recall exactly at what point I decided on the title, but that fact alone means it came much easier than most usually do which made me excessively happy.
I read a lot on asylums and hospitals of the 19th century. I read up on specific cases, the general state of such institutions, and the medical knowledge of the times. I also studied favored authors (for Emma’s reading material), health and hygiene, the Victorian definition of a fever–which included a whole host of things such as cholera, scarlantina, typhus, and influenza–the source of such diseases and the cures that were used, and I even brushed up on Shakespeare and the origins of the kaleidoscope while I was at it. Neither did I neglect searching weather patters in London, circa. 1850 and the small creatures native to that region. (The boy with the snowball was originally going to be a comical squirrel. Except squirrels and Great Britain have an ambiguous starting point for their relationship.) This is one of my favourite–if not the most distracting–parts of writing.
For a while I was sure it would take just a few days of rough drafting, a day or two to flesh it all out, and maybe a couple more for editing. All in all it was supposed to take a week. (This is the part where we all laugh at me.) Pretty soon I wanted to expand it. I didn’t feel Emma was developing as a character at a proper pace. I thought of adding more literary references and quotes from things she might have found in his library to keep her origins a mystery. I wanted more of Dr. Lynsford… and the more I wrote of Dr. Lynsford the more he got carried away being sweet. I kept getting snatches of dialogue in my head and adding them to sections that needed expounding. Soon my one-shot had turned into a three-section-shot. Then four, then five…
Finally, I had ten sections to polish up. I still refuse to make them chapters because this is meant to be a short story. It runs together with breaks only for mandatory pauses. All the American-English words got swapped for British ones. During one fifteen minute interval of editing I added the “Miss” part to the title. I proofread it four times over, hastily wrote up a summary and released my darling into the wild where it is now open to the adoration or derision of anyone who looks upon it.
And there you have it. The journey of this short story.