Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Working out a history

Yesterday I undertook a rather interesting exercise in respect of my WIP about Will and Amy. I’m at a point in writing the story where it’s really critical that I know what day it is. Yes, okay, that sounds silly, but from the day that Will attends the reunion to the big, tense conclusion I have planned is quite a short time span – just two and a bit weeks. Events happen in rapid succession, particularly after one dramatic event, and it’s actually quite vital that I have it clear in my head what day it is. Some things can’t happen at a weekend, for example. Or they might need to happen at a weekend.

So, I sat down with the document open in Word and a blank Excel spreadsheet open too, and set about putting the events on a timeline, so I had a quick visual reference and then wouldn’t make mistakes.

But after I’d done that, I realised that ever since the reunion had taken place in the story, I, or rather the characters, had been banding about dates and time periods that referenced their history. Couple this with the first part of the novel taking place in Will and Amy’s youth, and I realised that I also needed to timeline out their history. It wouldn’t do for some eagle-eyed reader to write to me upon publication to let me know that I’d said something happened after fifteen years when it couldn’t possibly have been that long ago.

So I set about searching what I’d written to pull together a twenty-year timeline of Will and Amy’s history. It really was a fascinating exercise. Shame no-one will ever see it, because events in their history are plot points in their present – and it would give the game away if I published the timeline here or included it in the book. Still, it was worthwhile doing – I now have a much clearer picture of what happened and when.

In a similar vein, I’ve been thinking about doing some map drawing. Westmouthshire, which includes the two large towns of Westmouth and Walminster, is a fictional place. It’s where Kissed by a Rose and my new WIP both take place. In fact, to some extent the place is as much a character in both books as the people. And in my mind, even though it’s not named, it’s also the setting for Charlotte’s Secret. To this end two of the key locations in Charlotte’s Secret is mentioned in my WIP. The WIP also includes references to Kissed by a Rose. So, to me, Westmouthshire is a real place. It exists in my head.

Trouble is, it’s getting a bit… well, big. There are now a whole bunch of locations, buildings, shops and residential areas that are mentioned in the tree books. The place is becoming more real the more I write. So, perhaps it’s time I mapped it out. It would be a nice thing to go on the website. It’s my plan to set all my future work in Westmouthshire, so maybe this map is something I should do.

I’m just not very good at drawing maps. Perhaps I should use SimCity to map it out. That might be fun. I just wish I could find the time to do it.

Both Charlotte’s Secret and Kissed by a Rose are available from the Phaze website, other e-book retailers and for your Kindle.

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