Monday, February 12, 2007

No info dumping allowed

Elizabeth Chadwick's Write Here post (Number Nine) over the weekend was excellent, as one would expect from such a talented Historical Novelist.

One of the things I learnt quickly when taking up the writing again, but after accumulating a wealth of historical knowledge, was that the story should come first, not the history. Chadwick echoes this:

Remember [though], that the story comes first - always. The research is there so that when you write your story, readers will feel as if they are actually in the moment with your hero and heroine. With this in mind, don't dump the fruits of your research into the narrative as great long paragraphs. Use it instead as a means of experiencing your protagonists' world through their senses and their interactions with other characters and the world around them. You have to become your characters, and doing so is tremendous fun and one of the most rewarding parts of being a writer. See what they see, hear what they hear, touch what they touch, know what they know.

She's right on the mark, as usual.

PS Just seen the link given on the HNS email list pointing to Lynne Truss's article called You COULD make it all up. In some god-forsaken corners of history (no centuries named, no pack drill) one has to make it all up :-)

2 Comments:

At 10:54 pm GMT, Blogger Gabriele C. said...

Hehe, that's why I find it easier to write about the Roman Empire; there's always enough empty space left to fit in a decent plot. The Mediaeval saga never went the way I wanted until I added magic stones. :)

It's true, one doesn't need to see a place in order to write about it, but it helps me to visit places.

That said, can you find out when the birch pollen are going to fly in York and north of it? I'd like to travel in spring, but not with my nose not working. :)

 
At 8:23 am GMT, Blogger Alex Bordessa said...

Suspect we'll not be able to predict the birch pollen - things are so to pot with the weather :-( York itself may not be so bad. I think my hayfever is triggered by tree pollen and I tend not to have too bad a time here. Have gone to other places, out in the country and suffered like heck (tends to be May). Later on in the year, I don't have it half so bad.

One of the reasons I do re-enactment is so that I have a few insights into how things might have been done. And as for the archaeology, with its emphasis on physical remains (not just buildings) and being able to handle them ... Invaluable. Ah, I love a good cess pit ;-)

 

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