Rules of The Swithen

The goal of The Swithen is to offer a retelling of the Arthurian legends up until 1485 AD, that preserves the integrity of the original tales, but adds in context, psychology and motivations to make them compelling to modern readers. My commitment is to honor all events and story structure of the sources, and none of that can be changed.

So then, what are the rules? What can be changed? What about the old legends are set in stone, and what is fair game for revision or expansion? Find out below.

 

WHAT CANNOT BE CHANGED?

The structure and meaning of the legends
The point here is to illuminate what is already there in the legends, not to create something new, therefore the structure and meaning of the tales will remain unchanged.

The stories and events as detailed in the legends
These are the things that MUST happen, and cannot be changed. But there is a lot of room to expand the spaces between the events, and to choose which events to include where, to give each novel a shape and to illuminate relationships that suit the larger scope of the series.

The outrageous claims made in the sources
I am committed to preserving even the wildest claims of the sources, for example, that Lancelot single-handedly slayed sixty thousand people. Those are the stories as laid down, and the challenge of this series is to find a way to make sense of them as they are, not to change them to fit my meaning or purposes.

The characters
My intent is not to change any of the characters, but to offer an interpretation of them, and a deep delve into their psychologies and motivations, such that will illuminate and give depth to the larger themes of the existing stories. New characters and minor characters, however, are fair game.

WHAT CAN BE CHANGED?

Characters can be added or expanded
The stories, as told, are very sparse, however, and I consider that I can add new characters or enhance and expand existing minor characters to make greater sense, add shape, and help to humanize the story.

New events can be added
Actions or events that are not described in the legends, but might help further unify the story or make sense of the overall sweep, can be added, but existing events cannot be greatly changed.

Character psychology can be added
One of the most wide-open areas for shaping the stories is in the psychology of the characters, which is very sparse or nonexistent in the source legends. In the legends, there are very few basic emotions (anger, love, jealously, honor, shame), so retelling the tales with an emphasis on the thoughts and emotions of the characters offers me a lot of freedom to bend the story to my will, and bring out the most compelling themes.

Events can be emphasized or de-emphasized
While events cannot be changed, the importance of the event can be magnified in order to work better within the story or illuminate something about the overall work. Several extremely important events in the sources go by very quickly, and in numerous cases I will expand upon them in order to give them their proper prominence. Similarly, other events can be de-emphasized if they don’t contribute greatly to the overall story.

You might be surprised, as I constantly am, at the hugely important conversations and events that are there in the original works, but delivered without emphasis that would give it the proper weight within the story… at least to modern readers.

Anything with basis in the sources can be expanded upon
If it is mentioned in the sources, any of the sources, my belief is that I can expand on it. For example, the Lancelot-Grail says that Merlin still retains some of his demonic heritage and is subject to periodic fits in which he needs to hide away from humankind and work through his demonic anger. It is only mentioned in passing, and does not greatly affect the larger story, but it does have a reference in the sources, and thus I consider it fair game to expand upon and bring to greater prominence.

 

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