February 28th, 2006

Dancing Thru

Finally, characters have life (or lives!)

I've been floundering in putting together this silly historical novel for three years. I think one of the problems was it didn't have a character focus, and everyone we tried to put into it just didn't jell. More than living and breathing the time period (I considered it a Good Sign when a friend reading a few pages complained that I used too many period terms and concepts), I needed to live and breathe what made all these people tick. Before, it was more a storyboard, incidents but no voice.

Well, I finally got that focus a few weeks ago, and suddenly everything is falling into place like a network of dominos. Every day, I get a fresh insight, and the characters are demanding I write, because they have *stories* to tell! It just wasn't ready, before. I needed the historical canvas on which to paint them, and until that was complete, and I had a "main character" (who had been there all the time, but overlooked), it wasn't going to happen. One thing no one will ever be able to say about this book is that it isn't believable because it wasn't thoroughly researched. Takes a living history person, I guess... We write no book before its time, because we have to understand the time period intimately. Not like those historical novels that I throw across the room because I encounter some Really Annoying anachronism or lack of understanding. (I remember being 15 and writing a novel where the climate of England was very much like California. I still cringe to think I wrote almost 400 pages reflecting a completely unbelievable 16th century England, where gardens bloomed in January rains, and people tracked mud onto the Persian carpets on their floors, like some version of Renaissance Faire. I excuse that with naivity, lack of planet time to gain insight. But never again!) I've visited my sites, I've researched and researched, read works written in the time period, I've stood on the decks of period ships. I can Go There.

At the same time I've been researching, I seem to have gained an amazing collection of historical insights into the Revolutionary War, which is going to probably demand a nonfiction history book at some point. The more I find, the more it seems like there are entire chunks of untold history, which needs to be coherantly set forth. Works for me.
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