Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Book Progress Thanks to the Snow!

Robin Williams' character in The Dead Poets Society film said 'Carpe Diem - seize the day'. So when I was snowed in at the weekend, I took the opportunity to get stuck into my writing. I'm pleased to report that I got loads done.

Writing a history book is not like writing fiction. With fiction it all comes out of your head and as long as the ideas keep coming, you can keep writing. You may have to do some research to get your facts right, but mostly you can just write and tidy it up later. I can't do that.

I did write the bare story as I remembered it from my earlier research, to use as an outline. But the first draft is more like doing a jigsaw puzzle than writing. I'm constantly reading as many books and online resources as I can and piecing together little snippets of interesting information to fill out the basic story. I try to do it in a linear way, working my way through the events, but I'm always finding something that refers to an earlier point that's worth putting in.

Then there's the endnotes. I made the mistake in my first book of not referencing my facts, which was picked up by the academics of the Historical Association who beta read for me. Going back through and putting the endnotes in was a nightmare, so I'm making sure to attribute everything as I write. But it does slow down the writing process.

So actually, I don't feel very creative when I'm writing the first draft. It's just slog, finding all the facts and sifting all the opinions. I try to write it all down in an easy-to-read style, but the real storytelling comes once all the facts are there. Another reason why I was glad to get so much done on the snow days!

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