Watch out men, is Liz Botts going to scare you into hiding until March 1 or is Leap Year Day the idea of a great story .
Have you heard the legend that on February 29th women can propose marriage to men?
In fact the practice is encouraged. Apparently the whole world gets turned upside down on leap year days. As silly as it sounds, the premise makes a great lead in to a story, which Hollywood hijacked a few years ago to make a rather bland romantic comedy called Leap Year. (Original,no?)
I love using myths and legends in stories that I write. When I wrote my Christmas novella, Believe, I turned the Santa myth on its head. In that story the current Santa Claus is corrupt and scary and the elves are anything but jolly. Some people may not enjoy reading a story that goes against everything they know to be true about a mythical figure, but I guarantee my way was a lot more fun for me to write.
In my Halloween novella, The Hidden Door, I made up a local legend that served as the mystery the main characters solved. I based the legend in the novel on bits and pieces of fact from our local university. The headless gargoyle in my story has a real life counterpart on campus, and while the story in my novella had more exaggeration, some of the key elements were the same.
My young adult novel, In the Spotlight, has references to the theater superstition of saying “break a leg” rather than “good luck”. While the impact of using that myth remains small in the book, without reference to it, the book would have seemed incomplete to me.
For what it’s worth, I think paying attention to myths, legends, and superstitions is extremely worthwhile for a writer. You never know when the next tiny snippet will spark the plot of your next story.
Excerpt from In the Spotlight:
“You really want to know?” I replied.
“I do,” Josh said, crossing his arms and leaning back in his chair, that stupid smirk still
on his face.
“I put down all the girls you talk about because all the girls you talk about are…skanks. And I don’t like you. I could never like you because you are a conceited jerk. And you know what else? I thought that was because you were Mr. Big Man on Campus football star legend of the school, but it’s not. That’s just who you are.”
I stood up so fast my chair slammed against the wall. People from several surrounding tables glanced our way, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to get out of the cafeteria as fast as possible. As I fled I was acutely aware of all the eyes following me. Somehow I managed to make it to the choir room before collapsing into a chair.
A horrible realization hit me as buckets of ice cold air from the newly installed air conditioning system dumped on me from the vents in the ceiling. I liked Josh. But that was impossible because I clearly disliked Josh. You can’t have it both ways, I argued with myself. And yet, here I was nursing both the biggest grudge and the biggest crush of all time.
Maybe even bigger than the crush I had on Kyle. And how did that fit into all of this? I still had monster feelings for Kyle. Who wouldn’t? We were getting so much closer now that musical rehearsals had started. I mean, why would he offer me private coaching sessions if he didn’t feel something for me? I had a little suspicion though that Kyle might not be the only one with feelings for me. Why would Josh want me to be jealous of all his skanky little conquests unless he liked me, too? And did I want Josh to like me back? Just because he might possibly, potentially like me back, that didn’t mean that anything was going to happen between us. I mean, I certainly wasn’t going to make the first move, and if that little display back in the lunch room had been Josh’s idea of a first move, the two of us would obviously get nowhere fast.
And did I even want Josh to like me? Hadn’t I spent the past three years trying to get Kyle to fall madly, deeply in love with me? Or at least wishing that he would? How on earth could I focus on accomplishing a goal like that when another boy was taking up my time? Seriously, what was wrong with me? I felt like I was turning into Claudia. And speaking of Claudia, what was going on with her and Kyle anyway? One day they seemed to be in the throes of a heated affair, and the next day they could barely stand the sight of each other.