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Swan Lake: Romance & Length

Note from Kitty: I was performing a cleanup of my old blog posts and I found a few that I had left in draft status for some reason but never published them?!? So for the rest of this month you are getting these “Kitty’s Attic” blog posts – I hope you enjoy them!


Normally when I write blog posts related to my books, I keep my posts focused on things like research and character development. However, because Swan Lake was such an unusual book for me in certain areas, I figured you guys might enjoy hearing about how it came together differently from manuscripts.

First of all, let’s begin this epic post with some background info. Beauty and the Beast was surprisingly difficult to write because of Severin and Elle. While I love those characters to death, and now I enjoy writing them because they’re married, writing a romance between them was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I have never before written characters who were so uninterested in each other. And the theme of two people who dislike each other and then fall in love is pretty common among the rest of my timeless fairy tales. Gabrielle and Steffen were fairly slow to come together, as were Rakel and Farrin. Heck, Cinderella hated Friedrich when she first met him!

Just about the only Timeless Fairy Tale I’ve written in which the couple fall in love with relative ease is Dylan and Callan from little Selkie. But those two still had a lot of drama to deal with, and it affected their relationship. Odette and Alexsei, however, were set on each other from the start.

Seriously, they have been the easiest couple to write to date, and I don’t hand out that phrase easily. Even though they both had other things on their mind (Odette for instance was always concerned about her people, and about keeping the princes safe) they drew each other in like magnets.

I actually wanted the book to be much longer. Originally I was planning for it to be at least 70,000 words. Instead, when I finished the first draft it sat at 58,000 words. I flushed it out, adding as many scenes as I could without creating extra/unnecessary fluff, and I got it up to 62,000 words. This makes it my second shortest fairy tale ever. (Beauty and the Beast 61,000 words.)

I considered trying to expand it or add extra subplots, but Odette and Alexsei wouldn’t let me! Whenever I tried to add a scene, or sketched out a new idea, those two would go through and muck everything up because they were so bent on getting to the end. It was actually kind of refreshing to have a couple that was focused on ending up together, but the same way it was oddly flustering being because I really wanted a longer book!

But, in all fairness, it is due to their personalities. Alexsei was created after I poured over the results from the “most wanted hero” poll I put up this January. The winning hero in that poll was the “overlooked good guy.” An overwhelming amount of you voted for that kind of hero, so I wanted to make sure that was the kind of male protagonist I created for Swan Lake. And that’s where the problems began.

You see, because I wrote Alexsei to be the overlooked good guy, and I made Odette crafty enough to see those who are often overlooked, those two hit it off immediately, and their personalities made it possible to keep them apart. Alexsei, though respectful, is very outspoken of his admiration for Odette because he’s the nice guy character type.  On the other hand, Odette is observant enough to notice him and value him for who he is.

So I guess this post, while explaining the length and taking a closer look at Alexsei and Odette’s relationship, is in some ways a display. It shows that the way a romance blossoms between characters will impact a lot of the book. Beauty and the Beast and Swan Lake are similar lengths, however, Swan Lake is a lot more action-packed, and the characters are a lot more driven to go out and accomplish things because they want to be together. The majority of Beauty and the Beast is me locking Elle and Severin in the same room and forcing them to interact.

So, what do you think, Champions? Was Alexsei a proper “Overlooked good guy?” I tried, but I’m not certain I hit it just right. I think it would be easier to make a true “overlooked good guy” archtype in a contemporary novel, so I may try that sort of hero again when I get around to writing another modern-themed book. Leave a comment below with your thoughts! In the mean time, thanks for reading, and have a lovely week!

Ebook reader on table displaying cover of Swan Lake

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