Friday, December 07, 2007

Horses Are Like Snow

There's something magical about watching snowflakes flutter to the ground, especially on a moonlit night where the stars twinkle magically behind the white flecks carpeting the ground and transforming the world. I love curling up with a mug of hot cocoa and watching the mesmerizing view as peace descends and all worries melt away.

But I hate dealing with snow. You know what I mean: the driving on slick roads, the shoveling, the wet boots, the cold hands, the lugging coats around and all that other miserable stuff.

If I could have a winter where I could just see it without dealing with it, I'd enjoy the season far more than I actually do.

With my current WIP, I've got a similar phenomenon when it comes to animals of the equine persuasion. Horses are beautiful creatures. I love watching them (or watching people ride them) as their muscles ripple and their manes and tails fly in the wind.

I do not enjoy dealing with horses, whether that's riding them or working with them in the writing world. Currently, my frustration with horses in the literary arena is of an intensity I cannot express greatly enough.

For a historical novelist, horses are a given. If you have characters go anywhere, guess what animal is pulling the conveyance? Unless you're lucky enough to be writing about a railroad, yup, it's almost always a horse. At the Journey's End had two wagon trains traveling for a good chunk of the book. I thought that was a challenge and that after writing those scenes, surely I had the horse stuff in the bag.

Besides, I have a friend who knows horses better than almost anyone, so I always run any relevant scenes by her. (She's saved me from looking really stupid many a time: "No, Annette, that would be a halter . . . and that body part is called a flank.")

So with Lynda behind me, I could manage simple horse stuff. I never went into great detail about what went on, but I wrote up enough to get the job done. Plus, after writing about those two wagon trains, surely I could handle whatever other horse scenes I'd ever need to do.


This WIP had the audacity to add a horse as a main part of the plot. (I say this because it wasn't my idea. The horse jumped into the story and stuck. I about died when I realized that I needed to hit the Internet on a major new research kick.)

To say that this mare has given me fits would be an understatement. Lynda has the horse pages now and recently called to let me know that there were several "big" things that needed changing. (When I get her notes back, I'll be hoping those "things" aren't issues that will necessitate revamping the entire plot!)

So I'm hereby pleading with my readers: If I ever flirt with the idea of including a horse as a main character again, stop me. Do whatever it takes. Confiscate my keyboard. Anything. Just don't let me go through this again!

Horses are for looking at and admiring, not for writing about.


Unknown said...

I agree. Horses are wonderful creatures, to be admired for grace and speed. Wish I still had the same confidence around them that I had in my youth.

Jenna said...

Ah, but see, you must go through the agony so that we, the reader, can have the pleasure of "looking at them" through your writing. Thank you, in advance.

Luisa Perkins said...

Holy cow. It sounds very complicated. I'm so glad you are meticulous about it, though! It makes for great reading.

Unknown said...

Annette - it took a while for me to stop laughing. Thanks.

By the way -- the six finalists for the Best Husband in the World contest are posted on my blogspot. Please pop on over, read through them (they really are wonderful men), vote and then spread the word far and wide. Merry Christmas!

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

How well I understand your anguish! I had the characters in my book walk on their quest just because I couldn't bear the thought of the research involved. Alas, I may have to rewrite that part.

Anonymous said...

Well, you did it beautifully. And I really enjoyed the way the horse's journey mirrored in a more dramatic way the struggles of both Tabitha and Mother Hall. So was it worth all of the shoveling then?


Amazon's famous Prime Day events are huge for so many reasons, and for bookworms, it's even better: books aren't high-ticket ite...