Break’s over; back on your heads.

I should mention, I suppose, that I have begun tiptoeing my way delicately through the beginnings of Midnight Never Come.

I’m tiptoeing for a lot of reasons. Frex, I know where the plot is going, but not how it’s getting there, which is a weird situation for me. (Normally I know where I’m starting, and I follow the plot to see where it goes.) Also, I’m only just now getting to know the protagonists; Invidiana’s been in my head for a good year and a half, but Deven and Lune are new to me. I had to rewrite the beginning of Chapter One twice, proceeding a little further into the scene each time, before I started hitting the right version of Deven. (And I still don’t think I have his first name right, though he seems okay with that surname.)

Also? Historical fiction is slow. There’s a bit of Received Wisdom that says something like, do your research, and then use twenty percent of it. I disagree. Use a hundred percent of it, and then go do more and use that, too — but only make a point of telling your reader about, oh, maybe three percent. If that. The rest of it should be used in a pervasive, background kind of way, but it should most definitely be used. I should be thinking, as I write, about how old Walsingham is in 1588, and what he looked like, and how he dressed, and what his family background is, and what he would be doing on an average day at Hampton Court, and that he and Burghley both studied at Gray’s Inn, and oh is this in the period when he and Burghley had fallen out with one another? And also about gentleman ushers, and the protocols of the presence chamber, and how one played tennis in the sixteenth century, and the recurrent problem at Court of how the kitchens ended up feeding more people than they were supposed to (because people would bring their families and servants and third cousins’ friends’ roommates, which they weren’t supposed to) and so regularly went over budget as a result.

I shouldn’t make a point of telling you about any of that unless it’s important to the plot. But I should mention in the natural course of things, if it’s relevant, and I should be keeping it in the back of my mind all the time, so that the shape of the story I’m telling flows through and around it.

. . . which is hard.

My hope is that it will get easier as I go.

Anyway, I can’t remember who I ganked this icon from, but lots of people have it. Seems a pretty appropriate work-in-progress icon, especially since I think this novel will have all three, concurrent and consecutive.

Today’s work: rhetoric, I suppose. The love and blood will come later.

0 Responses to “Break’s over; back on your heads.”

  1. eclectician

    Where on earth is the icon quote from? And are you coming to 5th reunion?

    • Marie Brennan

      Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and no. I might have tried, but I’m not bopping off to Boston for a reunion mere days after bopping off to London for research. Neither my brain nor my bank account could handle it.

      • mastergode

        Man, RaGaD was such a freaking good play. I actually performed a monologue from that play in my Oral Interpretations class, many, many years ago. =)

  2. kmousie

    I’m very good at waving metaphysical pom poms and offering other kinds of moral support, so I shall do that for you. *waves pom poms*

    I also want to tell you that my dear friend devoured Doppelganger and cannot wait to read Warrior and Witch. I’m taking it to her tomorrow. And we’re both psyched as all get-out for Midnight Never Come!

  3. mastergode

    I should be thinking, as I write, about how old Walsingham is in 1588, and what he looked like, and how he dressed, and what his family background is, and what he would be doing on an average day at Hampton Court, and that he and Burghley both studied at Gray’s Inn, and oh is this in the period when he and Burghley had fallen out with one another?

    That sentence sums up why I will never write historical fiction. Unless it’s when I’m 70, and I’m writing about a time that I actually lived through. Because let me tell you, I’m just not willing to put forth that much effort for something that would likely come out sub-par, or at the very least, that I would never be happy with.

    However, there are plenty of people who write historical fiction, so it’s certainly possible. I wish you the best of luck! =D

    Also, did you see your picture in the latest Locus? πŸ˜‰

    • Marie Brennan

      My life would be easier if I were writing the sort of historical fiction that didn’t involve any Famous Personages. And indeed, my life will be easier when I write those kinds of scenes. But any time Elizabeth or Walsingham or Burghley or Hunsdon shows up — that list being in decreasing order of famousness, I would judge — I have to stop and consider. every. detail.

      Thank god there are only a tiny number of people in the world who even know that someone like Charles Blount was a real person, let alone anything about him as a person; I can make him up more or less as I please.

      • drydem

        good old Chas Blount, how’s he doing nowadays.

        And I’d steal the icon, but surprisingly, I tend to write about Love and Rhetoric without blood.

    • Marie Brennan

      Oh, and yes, I saw the picture just tonight.

  4. mrissa

    And this, in a nutshell, is why I have not yet revised Copper Mountain to my satisfaction. (That, and it’s a sequel to an unsold book, so motivation is not at an all-time high on that front.)

    Also, eee, concurrent and consecutive! Me too, in my current project! Yay! (I’ve never had all three concurrent before. It’s a little scary.)

    • Marie Brennan

      I presume the nutshell in question has to do with historical fiction? I doubt you have issues of not knowing how your plot is getting places with a book that’s already written.

      The concurrence, I think, will happen for me when the politics and espionage (those count as rhetoric, right?) collide with the backstabbing betrayal and the girl cooties that are all over this book. (It will amuse me greatly to see what happens when people get suckered into the novel by the espionage, and only find out later that it’s also full of squishy heart stuff.)

      • mrissa

        Yes, specifically the historical fiction and research question. Moving home to Minnesota has given me a lot more ability to read stuff about Finland in the middle of the twentieth century, and that tripped me over a lot of the stuff I’d written — things went wrong enough before I had that research that I had to rewrite once and will have to throw out a lot of that stuff in the second rewrite because it will have been a step towards the stage where you’re including everything but expositing very little of it, not the end result. Sigh.

        Politics and espionage count as rhetoric when they’re done right, at least!

        • Marie Brennan

          Should I worry about the fact that I actually followed what you meant by that extremely long sentence? I’m not sure it says good things about my chosen line of work and what it’s doing to my brain . . . .

  5. kmousie

    I discovered, through a conversation over at that your LBR icon is the work of . πŸ™‚

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