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.