Saturday, 30 June 2012

What Stories Should We Tell?

I know that I've already mentioned that I'm writing my first novel but my mind is always searching for the next big story. I'm afraid it's impossible to switch off and I have no control over it whatsoever. Clearly that will be the subconscious department. Darn it's tiring.

So, what will be the next big story? There are so many to tell and I'm speaking here of historic tales - it's always historical I'm afraid because that's the way I'm programmed. Yes I've thought about writing thrillers or murder mysteries or even sci-fi, but it's just not me. I haven't even been able to get to the end of a Terry Pratchett novel as yet simply because it's not my thing. That said, he's a brilliant writer but we can't love everything we read, can we? We can learn from it however.

So, where do you look for inspiration? Books, programmes, films & the internet are all good resources. Some sections of history might be well known but if you look closer there's often something that has been overlooked - a person or an event which when explored gives rise to something of particular interest. So, where do we find such stories? They don't just happen along - not often anyway. I generally spend hours, days and weeks researching a particular period or event. When I get an idea, that leads to many more weeks/months of research. The idea has to grab you; be indestructible and you have to feel compelled to tell that story.

The thing is, you have to know every detail such as how did people live back then? What did they eat? What jobs did they do? Transport? How did they dress? The list is endless and you have to bring that era alive in your work. The most important factor is to remember that whilst you have invented characters and action, real events and places must be depicted truthfully - you can't change history - not unless you're Terry Pratchett ( it's something to do with his quantum theory & disappearing down a different leg of the infamous trousers of time!). 

The hardest thing I've found is that writing historical fiction takes a long time - although it depends upon your output ability and overall time dedicated to the craft of course. It's the research time you have to factor in. But then it's such a satisfying and fulfilling process and I wouldn't have it any other way.