The Strangest Bird
Sarah asked Charlie some difficult questions about the project and the story. Charlie did her best to answer them.
How did tweetdnd begin, and how did it evolve into Strange Birds?
The very first TweetDND was because one night I was bored and I wondered what would happen if I posted a story hook. The story grew and it was a really great challenge to keep elements pulled together (characters joining in and out as people were online to tweet). Also, a great reminder that stories don’t have to be perfect, it’s ok to be spontaneous and share your work and most importantly to say “yes”. Having had a success with the first one I decided to do it again but explore a very different fantasy setting. How did it evolve? Saying ‘yes’.
What began your love of writing?
I’ve always really enjoyed writing (and reading). I remember when I was little I wrote an acrostic poem in Primary School about Christmas and all the teachers were impressed and I had to go and read it to the headmaster (which was terrifying), so that was the first time I thought "hey, I might be good at something!". I always liked making up stories and worlds – I think my love is more for storytelling and crafting than writing though. My relationship with the comma, for example, is extremely questionable.
How much of the events that take place in the story are planned before writing?
I definitely have some story pieces in my head but we don’t always get there or when we do we get there it is with a different emotional perspective which means things are always shifting. When I first posted the TweetDND I had no idea how it would grow into Strange Birds or how much further the story would go beyond The Flight (which is what we originally called it).
Do you find yourself surprised by the directions things take?
All the time. Sometimes I don’t have to even do anything and the story takes off in a whole new direction. The group is super imaginative and while I have some control over the overarching story the mini plots and arcs are very much spawned out of playing with our characters and running away on tangents. When Amber joined the mini session with Vermilion we had discussed nothing in advanced and she developed a whole additional part of the world through her ideas about magic. If you haven’t read The Witch and The Rose mini session, (it takes place in line with Chapter Nine but is a stand alone) I recommend it!
What is your favorite aspect of writing Strange Birds?
I think my favourite aspect is being able to pop on twitter and go: do you guys want to write today? And always finding that positive and inspiring energy. Writing can be very lonely and collaborative writing can be very difficult but the group is very generous so it makes it very easy and enjoyable.
What has been your favorite moment so far?
I have been trying really hard not to put in too many spoilers so I’ll be vague but the journey to The Capital had some really great dramatic moments – some emotional and some much lighter.
You have so many characters to write, who is your favorite and why?
I love writing Hannah at the moment, it’s mainly silly asides but animals give a really fun perspective on the world. Faye is a fun challenge and I don’t always get her quite right but not everyone is perfect, darling. I enjoy writing the little side characters that are just there for little scenes, the ones that might not make it into the novel (like the milkman from The Witch and The Rose). Oscar is a character that really surprised me and I didn’t expect him to be such a scene stealer and last so long in the story – I have always found children characters very difficult to work with but I think he turned out well.
What can we look forward to seeing in the future progression of the story?
MOAR DRAGONS. For a while the story was drifting away too far into the lowkin world which was my fault but I think we’ve corrected the misdirection we had and yes, I think there are going to be a lot more dragons in the future as Nessie and Ellwood press onwards with their journey.
What do you hope to see from the characters in the future?
I hope Ollie starts making better decisions – like Nessie I think he is torn between two worlds and still not entirely sure what path he is meant to be on. I hope we get some resolutions and also some more complications – the beautiful thing about the RP form is it is very much an open sandbox to explore and not be restricted by traditional narrative arcs. I think it should hopefully mean that when we get this turned into a book we can really pick out the best bits and sew together the magic.
"Some people long to fly just because they can't”