Sarah Rees Brennan (sarahtales) wrote,
Sarah Rees Brennan

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The Turn of the Story Master Post (plus new story)

Originally published at Sarah Rees Brennan. You can comment here or there.


I have been asked quite a lot of times a) what the heck the Turn of the Story is, b) how they are supposed to read all of it where is a post with all the parts! and c) why I have done such a thing.

So I decided to make a Master Post, so you could enjoy everything Turn of the Story related in one place.

I don’t know how to put up links on tumblr (I’m technologically incompetent, don’t look at me…) but I will link to this from tumblr, and I hope everything will be perfectly perfect from then on.

1. What is The Turn of the Story?

(Description cribbed off goodreads so as to get an objective description, and altered for elaboratin’ purposes.)

‘Elliot Schafer has been carried off to a magical land and called to fight… but he has no intention of doing so. He is a little disappointed by the facilities on the Border, but he gets to meet Serene-Heart-In-The-Chaos-Of-Battle, an elf warrior, and Luke Sunborn, an annoyingly brave human warrior native to the magical land he’s crossed into. There are also mermaids, unicorns and assorted battles and political issues, with Elliot alternatively using diplomacy and saying the completely wrong thing.’

I have also often called it the story of the grouchiest kid in fantasyland. It follows Elliot from thirteen to seventeen, and it is a story about fantasy lands and the horrors we don’t talk about in them, and the horrors we carry about inside ourselves, and also the hilarious things possible in a magic land and the beauty of friendship, I hope.

As to how I came to write it…

I had this idea for a book that was a romantic comedy with harpies, and when I pitched it a few places with no go (it’s a weird pitch!) I gave up on the notion. Then I was asked by Kelly Link to write her a story for an anthology, and I said yes because only a fool would say no to the magnificent Kelly.

I wrote the story. It was thirty thousand words long. I cut down the story significantly.

And there it should have ended. But the world of the story, and the characters of the story, kept preying on my mind. One of the main characters (but not the protagonist) haunted me, and his personality and voice were very clear to me. And I was having a tricky time writing anything at the time. So I thought… write a short story from Elliot’s point of view, talking about magical training camp! It’ll be fun. It’ll promote the anthology. This is a good idea.


FRIEND A: I’m really enjoying the book Sarah’s writing online.
SARAH: *guilty giggle*
FRIEND B: Sarah’s… doing… what.
SARAH: *cringing* It’s not a book.
FRIEND A: It’s going to be at least a hundred thousand words.
FRIEND B: You’re going to die in the gutters, Rees Brennan. Die in the gutters!

You guys can call it a story or a book, if you like. I admit it is book-length! I admit calling it a ‘short’ story would be a naughty fib.

And here it is, in all its very long glory:


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12

I hope you enjoy it!

2. Where Is The Sequel?

Since I wrote the story following Turn of the Story first, I always knew what was going to happen (sometimes distressing, if my poor readers wished a thing I had never thought of and knew was not on the cards… especially if it was a super good idea!) and a few things were not wrapped up in Turn.

The story following on directly after The Turn of the Story is called Wings in the Morning, is from another main character called Luke’s point of view, and is right now only available in an anthology called Monstrous Affections, which is filled by stories by like, Holly Black and Paolo Bacigalupi and Nalo Hopkinson, which are way more awesome than mine!

You can read some snippets from Wings in the Morning here and also here.

You can get Monstrous Affections here or anywhere you wish, or librarify it or borrow it from an anthology-lovin’ friend or find a used copy or whatever legal thing you like. 😉

If you wish for a signed copy, I am doing Monstrous Affections signings with several other awesome authors in the anthology (M.T. Anderson! How cool is that?) at:

McNally Jackson in NYC
Brookline Booksmith in Boston

So you can call and get signed copies from those shops if you wish it!

(I will sign anything people ask for, including Unmade, the latest book, of course. Love signing. Signing’s my favourite. My name’s so long, I keep people trapped and talk to them while I write.)

For those who read Wings in the Morning first and then came found me… I can only imagine your feelings. I am sorry. I am uncontrollable!

3. On The Subject Of The Sequel, Please Do Not Steal It

I have generally made my position on piracy clear: I agree with Seanan McGuire, I don’t like it, plus have you read Seanan’s free InCryptid stories? They are fantastic. I do not like piracy because as a writer people supporting my work legally means that I can eat.

As regards anthologies, writers don’t receive royalties for them, so eating is not my concern, but I do feel like a supremo chump for having written a free book and somehow made people think it’s okay to take other pieces of my work. Also I feel bad for my beautiful editors Kelly Link and Gavin Grant, who very kindly asked me to be part of the anthology and didn’t know what weird things I was going to do. 😉

4. Extras I Wrote For You

For the release of Unmade, I took requests, and one was a request for Elliot in the future which I wrote. To nobody’s surprise, though, it turned out super long and so I am still deciding what to do with it! But just so you know: it exists! There are libraries and battles and making out and misery.

However, I was also asked for a story about one of my favourite minor characters, Adara, and I was very happy to oblige by writing it.

It can be found here: Love from Both Sides and I hope you enjoy it!

Not stories, but for completists here are my thoughts on: elf marriage, writing more (which I have already done, lord, what a disaster I am), elf worldbuilding, and crossing the Border.

And here are Wings in the Morning spoiling thoughts on romance and also romance.

5. Extras To Enhance The Story That Other People Made

Mark Reads, the light of my life, has read up to Part 7 and thus there is half an audio book, basically, for those who like audio books! I adore Mark, who has also read much of the Demon’s Lexicon and the Lynburn Legacy, and I adore the super kind people who sponsored him to read all of them (Natalie began this lovely process, thank you Natalie)! It’s how I discovered Mark, and to be honest listening to his readings of my work has got me through some tough times. (So, the kindness of strangers has illuminated my life, and I think that’s beautiful. Also maybe I am deeply egotistical?)

Mark Reads Turn of the Story Part I, Video 1
Mark Reads Turn of the Story Part I, Video 2
Mark Reads Turn of the Story Part I, Video 3
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part II, Video 1
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part II, Video 2
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part II, Video 3
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part III, Video 1
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part III, Video 2
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part III, Video 3
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part III, Video 4
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part IV, Video 1
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part IV, Video 2
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part IV, Video 3
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part IV, Video 4
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part V, Video 1
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part V, Video 2
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part V, Video 3
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part V, Video 4
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part VI, Video 1
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part VI, Video 2
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part VI, Video 3
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part VII, Video 1
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part VII, Video 2
Mark Reads Turn of the Story, Part VII, Video 3

Here is a beautiful fanmix and cover made for The Turn of the Story, appropriately called ‘With A Little Help from My Loser Friends.’ Which clearly, now that I think about it, clearly should have been the title.

Beautiful photosets,, more beautiful photosets, and terribly beautiful photosets,.

Also very lovely art and cuties and grumps and rocking out and cute grumps. Also, a romantic song about strange elven courtship

(I know there is even beautiful more, and I love you guys for it, but I admit the world is going dark before mine eyes… I must finish this post…)

6. What Isn’t The Turn of the Story?

It isn’t fanfiction. I’ve heard it referred to fanfiction over and over, and it’s become pretty painful and unpleasant.

(Even though sometimes people are just confused–someone thought it was fanfiction of Lev Grossman’s the Magicians, and since I haven’t read that, that’d be an extra layer of odd–and most people don’t mean anything by it!)

Fanfiction can be an awesome thing: I know several fanfiction writers who I think are amazingly talented and should be published. (I know several other writers, some of whom used to write fanfiction and some who still do, and they are published and extremely wonderful.) I am not dissing fanfiction. This just isn’t it.

This story does not exist in a vacuum: it exists in a world where people insult stories by calling them fanfiction, or like fanfiction. (I’ve frequently seen people who write and love fanfiction do this, which sort of breaks my brain.) All my books have been sneeringly referred to as fanfiction, with the explanation that’s why they were bad and I was bad.

The story is a serial, but so is Susan Dennard’s Starkiller Cycle, or the Captive Prince, or many works by Charles Dickens. The story is free, but a lot of guys write free stuff (Cory Doctorow comes to mind) and his work doesn’t get called fanfiction. Girls’ writing gets called ‘fanfiction’ more than boys’ writing, e.g. I have seen Diana Gabaldon’s writing called Doctor Who fanfiction over and over, but I never see George R.R. Martin’s writing called War of the Roses fanfiction, even though… come on, where are my history buffs at? You feel me, am I right?

And this story has inspirations and references to same, most notably Tamora Pierce’s the Immortals series, but… all stories have inspirations. Do not buy into the nasty lie that girls’ inspirations make their stories ‘derivative’ and ‘fanfiction’ and not really theirs, and that boys’ inspirations means they are In Literary Conversation with Their Genre.

And sure, I once wrote (Harry Potter) fanfiction, but Harry Potter is not some sort of crack pipe I can’t put down, and I’d be a terrible writer if it was. You can totally think I’m a terrible writer if you like, but if you do this whole blog must be a trial for you to read.

Also, by calling something fanfiction, you indicate the characters aren’t mine. (Sometimes people just flat-out state the characters aren’t mine, or are in fact other characters.) This sucks for me, because… uh, they are mine, and I love them. (This is also why telling me you love someone else’s characters more than mine is hurtful. You can totally love my neighbour’s kids more than mine! But maybe go to her house and tell her that, and instead of coming to my house and telling me that while I weep softly and whisper ‘But I hoped you would like my little Jeremy…’)

I know the vast majority of you who might call it fanfiction aren’t trying to insult it, but after having been insulted a ton in that way, several times in the very comments of this story, I know you guys can see how it might be a sore spot and I know you wouldn’t be hurtful on purpose.

So. Now you are all way too informed about how I feel on this issue. Let us all be awesome to each other and not do this anymore, so I feel like I can write free stories in the future for you without having this hurled at my head. And also so I don’t make any other characters start yelling about how much they hate wizards, sorry Elliot, I might have been projecting a bit there!

Aaaand… to those of you who are just blinking in puzzlement going ‘why would I call it fanfiction???’ thank you for your attention. As you were. 😉

As proof that I truly don’t hate fanfiction, here is a link to Turn of the Story fanfiction, all of which I think is excellent and I was honoured to have written! (My favourite may be the Luke PoV of Part 1. Super sweet.)

7. Why Isn’t There A Link To The Next Bit At The End of Chapter Ten, Jerk?

Because I love school plays too much, and chapter ten is so long that livejournal (which has limits… cruel and restrictive limits!) will not let me add a link at the end.

It is not my fault. I am being cruelly boundarified.

I mean, it is my fault if you blame me for writing too freaking much, but the whole story of The Turn of the Story proves that I have a terrible problem there.

I know, it’s annoying! And I have been told it makes it harder to read. But you can always click on ‘the turn of the story’ tag to see all the chapters, and now you have this master post. So everything’s fixed now! Right, guys? Right?

8. What About Romance?

I tried to make The Turn of the Story have a satisfactory ending on its own: the character arc is Elliot’s, and the story is about him growing up and finding a place of his own, and I hope it does. However, there were limitations necessarily set on me by the fact I wrote Wings in the Morning first, and that means there isn’t a romantic resolution for our protagonist, though he is keen to make a romantic connection! Which… I think is okay, but… just to warn you.

And yes, this does mean there is a romantic resolution in Wings in the Morning. However, I make no promises as to whether it is the romantic resolution you want–not everyone ships the same thing, I could not make everyone happy! But I am sorry to those who were disappointed.

If you wish to know the romantic resolution but do not wish to/cannot yet acquire Monstrous Affections, there is a quote here that makes the romantic resolution pretty clear. Spoilers!

And I will be editing this post to keep it up to date, so if you have any further questions, please ask away! Or… comments or… whatever. I truly appreciate the response to Turn of the Story, and I do hope none of this came off as lecturing or unappreciative. I so hope that this Master Post is all you guys wanted, and that you find it useful.

(And now, to pack for Las Vegas. See you in Vegas, Vegas peeps!)

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