Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Where to start?

I have committed to finally buckling down and writing the historical fiction novel that has been rattling around in my head for I don’t know how long. At first it was just a kernel of an idea but over the past few months it has grown and evolved.

But here’s the thing – unlike historical romance…uh, wait…this is going to sound wrong so hang with me while I try and explain what I mean… in historical romance, the setting is historical, but the main focus is the romance. In historical fiction, the history almost becomes a character in itself. And by virtue of that fact, there is a lot more research that needs to be done and a lot more description of the history that will make its way into the historical fiction novel. That’s not to say you don’t do a healthy dose of research when you’re doing an historical romance, it’s just a bit of a different animal. At least for me, especially since I’m dipping my toe into unchartered waters. I hope that came out right.

My story is to take place in a small fishing village somewhere in England beginning around 1780. So right from the get go I am in a new time period, a new setting, and using characters many rungs below the social economic ladder than I write about in historical romance. And while I love the grit of being able to delve into this side of things, I’m a bit stymied as to where to start.

I’ve decided that while I’m revising Salvation Falls and Invitation to Scandal, I will spend part of my time doing research for The Tangled Garden. But when I look at all the things I need to research, my head starts spinning and things go black. Where to start, not just as far as what topic to pick first but where do I go to get the info? The library would be the logical choice and I plan on jumping across the harbour to the Halifax Library where they house all the good research books. But the problem with that is that the books there are usually non-circulating. And thick. So how do I get the info I need without taking the books with me? I’d be sitting in the library for eons reading/searching for the info I need.

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with the daunting task ahead of me. So I have decided to…drum roll please…make a list. I figure if I can break it down into 8 sections, I can do one topic each month. Surely that should get me started. Then, once the 8 months are up and the revisions indicated above are completed, I should have enough info to get me at least started on the first draft.

Now, the question is…what are the 8 topics and which one do I start with??


Melissa Marsh said...

I love the setting and the time period - it sounds fresh and original.

I had the same overwhelming feelings when I started my wip - and I think you've got a good plan. Break it down, take it in chunks. And you don't have to know every single detail, but just enough to make it realistic. (But you probably know that already. *grin*)

Tess said...

Cool. I too have an HF book or two rattling around.

As for research - you can see if your ILL librarian can get those non-circulating books from libraries that DO allow them to travel around :) I know my ILL gal Beth is amazing at getting stuff for me. Can't imagine yours is any different. Hmm, I just check the HPL web page and they order ILLs for books not in the HPL catalogue. But you could explain the situation and see. Our system in BC is different - I can go to a central provincial catalogue online and request things for myeslf. Then Beth receives the requests and fills them - if not from within BC, then from elsewhere in Canada. I'd definitely talk to someone at the library. Sorry for the long rambling comment.

Rene said...

I know what you mean. I think it is wise to section off the research. I have a couple of historical novels in my head but the level of research is so daunting, I've held off. I also tend to get lost in research and never get any writing done.

Annette Gallant said...

You come up with the best titles, Kelly!

Anyway, the new book sounds really interesting. Having grown up in a fishing village, I'm interested in reading what one was like in England back then.

michellewillingham said...

Good luck with the research, Kelly!

Julia Smith said...

When did this story come to you? It sounds divine!!

And yay about the soon-to-be puppy!

Kelly Boyce said...

The original idea probably came to me about 2 years ago, but in the past few months, shortly before Christmas it began to gel together as a story and the other characters in it, other than the heroine, came to life. Now, I just have to find the time to get the story told!