Not *again*.

Dear Book:

I hate you.

No, really. We’ve gotten to that stage of the writing, the stage where I really just want to light you on fire. It happens almost every book (except for the rare ones that just sail straight out of my head — of which you are SO not one), but this time, I really, really mean it. Why? Because I just figured out that I could solve about 90% of my pacing problems . . . by moving your start date back three months.

This falls into the category of “annoying change” rather than “major seismic upheaval,” since most of what I have to do is change the dates on scenes. But that’s about 100K worth of scenes I have to re-date

FUCK I just realized that doesn’t work.

Because there’s a scene that has to happen on a specific date, and that specific date is before what I thought would be the new start date. But there are other events that have to happen on other specific dates, and SON OF A BITCH I HATE YOU.

<beats head into desk>

Never again, people. Never again. I am so very done with this historical fiction thing, where I can’t just decide when stuff happens because history says otherwise. I’ve been doing this for four books, and I will never subject myself to it again*.

I’m sure I’ll find a way through this. But it is going to cost a lot of pain and suffering along the way. (It already has.) And right now, I kinda want to light the book on fire.

No love at all,
Your Writer.

*Of course I’m lying. It’s like childbirth. In a few years, when I’ve forgotten the pain, I’ll probably decide this is a good idea again. But right now, I mean it.

0 Responses to “Not *again*.”

  1. swords_and_pens

    Yes, lighting the book on fire. Oh so been there. Not looking forward to being there again on the current book because, you now, it’s shaking out JUST like the first one in this series, which will be a goddamn nightmare to revise. Nor does it help that the narrator like to wander all the fuck over the place. *glares at the document file*

    So, yes. I get this. Loads. And paper makes such good kindling….

    (Great post, btw.)

  2. mrissa

    See, you say that about childbirth, but I’m pretty sure the numbers of children I am likely to have include one, zero, and noooooo other numbers. So I was pretty likely to have taken you seriously on this front also, and then the childbirth thing? Not going to un-convince me.

    I’m likely to keep writing historical fiction, though, so I’m glad you’re suffering with me.

    Wait. That might not be the nicest thing to say.

    I like your historical fiction, so I’m glad you’re miserable?

    Um. It’s apparently not my morning for nice.

    How about ‘there there, dear’?

    There there.

  3. wadam

    I’m sorry for your troubles.

    Does this mean no followup set during the blitz? Or Elizabeth II’s coronation? There is so much to be said for the onyx court in the 20th century.

    • Marie Brennan

      None right away; I’m sure of that much. I definitely need a break from this kind of effort, one way or another. Will I come back to it? Possibly; if so, what I’d like to do is one during the Blitz, and one in the modern day.

      But not right now, kthxbye.

  4. Anonymous



    (Just thought you might need a bit of a supporting argument)

  5. aulus_poliutos

    Tell me. Timelines, events, ‘a Roman would not act that way’, characters stealing the book (yes Arminius, I’m looking at you. Stop smiling) ….

    It’s manageable with the Romans because we don’t have that many sources*, but there’s a reason my Mediaeval stuff turned into some sort of alternate historical Fantasy – I simply could not make history and story meet. Now there’s magic stones, Ker Ys and Cantrer Gwaelod are real, and the names of places and secondary characters based on historical ones have changed, though it’s still pretty much 12th century Europe. If Guy Gavriel Kay and Jacqueline Carey can do it, why not I? 🙂

    * For the Varus battle, it’s basically Velleius Paterculus (few details, strong pro-Tiberian bias) and Cassius Dio (writing 200 years after the event), for Germanicus’ campaigns it’s Tacitus (very pro-Germanicus bias) and Cassius Dio, for the Batavian revolt that will feature in the second book it’s Tacitus, same for the third (Agricola in Britain).

    • Marie Brennan

      I am currently yearning after doing the Kay and Carey thing, where I get to grab the general look of a period and place and then run off to secondary-world territory with it.

      • aulus_poliutos

        It makes things a lot easier. The only problem I had when I decided to run off to secondary-world territory was that I needed something special to justify the move, some magic, something ‘different’ from the real thing. It took me some time to come up with a solution by merging KINGS AND REBELS with another idea about the Lost Realms (the legends that surround places like Ker Ys, Vineta, Avalon). I made those real and the centres of powerful magic before they got swallowed by some big nasty flood. So there’s some magic in my world now, some legends and all that fun.

        Maybe you can play that trick with your next trilogy. 🙂

  6. green_knight

    The moment you write one book, and it’s perfectly logical, and works perfectly well, you get the same problem.

    I’m currently learning to program so I can create the timeline application I need in order to sort out the mess that is my shared-world novels. I have certain events that take place twice a year. I have things happening at these meetings- everybody who attends is there, things get said. Inbetween, people are travelling around and doing other stuff.

    I have three different stories in that world with overlapping characters. They cannot ride five hundred miles in two days. They cannot be in two places at once. They cannot learn, aghast, something that in another bookset two years earlier they’ve already encountered. A world-moving event in one book needs to shake the world in the others. Etc etc.

    • aulus_poliutos

      Ouch, that sounds as bad as historical fiction. 🙂

    • Marie Brennan

      I’ve got both layers of problems, though: the stuff I established in previous books, and the stuff history has established for me. If this were a secondary-world story, I could change around the dates of the Fenian bombings (which only happen in this novel, not the previous ones), but as it stands I can’t.

      Though admittedly, the thing that made me start swearing in this post was in the category of “things I did to myself.” If I’d made a certain non-historical event happen at a different time of year, I could have shifted the events of this book, no problem.

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