.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Genesis of a Historical Novel

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

endless fog

My heart is disturbed by various things, feelings about my life and world.

But I was OK this morning as I got to work again on my research keying over coffee (notes from A History of Technology and a reference book I bought last week, Peoples, Nations and Cultures, edited by John Mackenzie). Saw Kimmie out the door looking smart in her long black skirt and dark-green sweater, and headed down here to the office.

Lack of knowledge was the problem, I realized. I would not be able to keep writing until I knew more about the scene I was entering next. Back to the notes document. Yes: I saw that I haven't addressed the specifics of my upcoming scene. What exactly is the location? What's going on there? And my characters? What are their objectives? What is the conflict? Ach, it's work, work, work. I opened some research documents and read through those. Is this enough? Is it good enough to meet my standards?

I wrote suggestions, little paragraphs of possibilities. Things like:

How about their water and sanitation needs? What kind of public toilets or baths are nearby? Probably rudimentary at best. Habib may have set about building his own: an Essene bathhouse and latrine, separate from their residence, although not by the legally required amount. They may have put a water cistern on the roof--or two, one to catch rainwater, another to receive the water delivered by water sellers.

This type of guesswork always feels a bit unsettling, unsatisfying. That is, until something goes click and I feel I know enough to start writing. On this one, no click yet. So feelings of groping in fog, endless fog...



  • How well I know that feeling...and I thought I was the only one...d:)

    By Blogger Debra Young, at November 09, 2005 5:31 PM  

  • Welcome to the club. :-)

    But when some pesky details make click, it's a great feeling. Like when I found out the garrison at Vindolanda were Tungrians, a Germano-Celtic tribe from the lower Rhine, and the character, captured by the tribes and whom the Votadini leader adopts as heir thus comes from a cultural background that has some similarities. It makes it much easier to explain why he, a Roman auxiliary officer, accepts that offer.

    Your characters can be glad the microscope wasn't invented yet - cistern water on a warm summer day is pretty much alive. :-)

    By Blogger Gabriele C., at November 11, 2005 2:30 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home