1. furzepig
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    furzepig Member

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    furzepig's progress journal

    Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by furzepig, Feb 4, 2016.

    I so wanted to give this thing a snappier title, but I couldn't think of one. :(

    In reading through others' progress journals, I ran across Catrin Lewis's wonderfully concise and organized project listings, so I'm stealing the format. This is what I'm working on:

    Working Title: The Champion
    Genre: Fantasy
    Format: Novel
    Setting and Time Period: An alternate-history version of 17th century London
    Premise: A privateer and a professional duelist fall in love against a backdrop of brewing war and court intrigue.
    Currently Working On: Research and plot development. Just at the moment, my research focus is on A) details of daily living in 17th century Spain, and B) how Early Modern English spies went about their business. I have about 1/3 of the plot done.

    Comments: There's actually no magic or mythological creatures in this fantasy novel. The only reason I know it would be classified as fantasy is the existence of novels like Ellen Kushner's "Swordspoint" and Guy Gavriel Kay's "The Lions of Al-Rassan." Basically I wanted a historical setting, but didn't want to be shackled by historical events.

    What I Did Today:
    • Made a bibliography for 17th century Spain
    • Made a bibliography for Elizabethan/Jacobean spies
    • Read ch. 1 of Kay's "The Lions of Al-Rassan." (The beginning is a little slow for my taste, but as this is the ur-example of what I'm trying to accomplish, I really need to read this book.)
    • Read ch.'s 1-8 of Amanda Quick's "Slightly Shady." (I'm reading this one to sharpen my romance skills. The balance of romance vs. other plot elements is about what I'm aiming for, and it's romantic suspense historical, which is close to what I'm doing. That said, I am near the end of my patience with this book. The characters are annoying, among other things.)
    • Read ch. 1 of Nora Roberts' "Blood Magick." (Another romantic suspense historical, this one with fantasy elements. So far, it's much better than "Slightly Shady.")
    • Blocked out about the first third of the novel. Little detail yet--mostly "X hates Y. X tries to kill Y."
    • Went stark raving mad
    I'll feel much better when I get the plot all the way outlined. Plotting is my weakness, and I feel like if I can get that down, I can handle the rest of the elements. Problems with the plot caused me to put this project on hold for 6 months, and I'm worried this will be yet another false start. Part of the problem is that my potential plot elements are limited by the setting I've chosen. I want a spy running around, but what would that mean in this milieu? I don't . . . know? Everything grinds to a halt, I go back to the books to research.

    This is taking a long time. :(
     
  2. furzepig
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    furzepig Member

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    Very productive day today! :D
    • Got a full working outline of the novel done
    • Updated character sheets
    • Came up with a list of place names
    • Did background reading in the novels I'm mining for ideas
    I could probably start a draft of chapter 1 tonight, but I'll probably wait until tomorrow, when I'm fresher.
     
  3. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This is why I admire historical writers - I'm far too lazy (and worried about getting it wrong) to write something that far out of my own experience. I know I'd drive myself mad having to check every.single.detail for historical accuracy.

    Are you planning to traditionally publish this? I only ask because the genre seems a little uncertain, and you'll need to pick one to pitch it as. From what I've seen, this can't be more than three words so a historical romantic suspense fantasy wouldn't cut it.
     
  4. furzepig
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    furzepig Member

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    I love the research, though. For whatever reason, I actually prefer reading nonfiction.

    And I'd be extremely happy to publish this traditionally, but as you say, it might not work out. I think in marketing it to agents I would call it "fantasy," and then add that it was in the style of certain well-known authors. That way they'd know there is an audience, however small, for this kind of thing. I'm reading deep in sub-genres to try to pick up on how other people have handled stories like this.

    Speaking of which, I found this fantastic outlining guide for writing a romance arc. The links to the sheet (it's an Excel document, of all things) are maybe 3/4 down the page: http://jamigold.com/2012/11/write-romance-get-your-beat-sheet-here/

    That's the kind of information I need . . . I haven't written many love stories, so it's extremely helpful to see what the bones of such a thing might look like.
     
  5. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Interesting link! I realise I've followed much of that in my plot outlines, though I didn't follow (or even read) any kind of plotting guides. So I can vouch for it working for me.
     
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  6. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sounds like an interesting book. You might consider this historical fiction if the setting is accurate, but the story is fiction, involves fictional people and things that didn't happen.. as long as you write them as though they could have. Sounds like that is what you are doing.
     
  7. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lindsey Davis did this with the Marcus Didio Falco series... fictional Roman detective, solving whodunits set amidst historical events, like the Boudicca rebellion in Britain. The people and the actual whodunit were fictional, but plausible. It qualifies as historical fiction... remember the fiction part!
     
  8. furzepig
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    furzepig Member

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    Well, I want to involve some of the major movers and shakers of society, such as kings and highly-placed aristocrats, and it's very hard to do that in my period. Tons of things are known about the activities of real monarchs in the 1630's, and they don't want to play along with my little game. :p So my portrayal of society in general is going to be historically accurate, but there are going to be a bunch of non-existent people running around, such as Edmund III of England. It's kind of an "inspired by real events" sort of thing.
     
  9. furzepig
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    furzepig Member

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    A reasonably productive day. :)
    • Finished a draft of chapter one and part of chapter two
    • Did a lot of research into night life in 17th century London. In particular, I wanted to know how seriously people really took the curfew. The answer appears to be, "It depends on how much money you had." My favorite factoid was about the Southwark night watchman who decided to make his job a little more profitable by shaking down pedestrians for money. What were they going to do, tell him to arrest himself?
    I also saw "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," which was phenomenal. All the good bits of Jane Austen, with ravening zombies livening up the boring bits. :D
     
  10. furzepig
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    furzepig Member

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    I'm still pecking away. Managed to finish a daft of chapters 3 and 4. I'm still enjoying the research way more than I am the novels I'm trying to read. This is sort of a problem, since I'm going to have to read enough to get a good idea of the market I'm trying to reach.

    The more I write of this novel, the more I suspect it's going to end up as a romance . . . the romance arc seems to be where all the tension is coming from. That's fine, but surprising, since I only rarely read romances.
     
  11. furzepig
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    furzepig Member

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    I haven't posted in here in a while, but I have kept working on my project. Today:
    • Edited chapters 4 through 8
    • Did research about 17th century naval tactics
    The last few days have been largely taken up with research. It sometimes takes a surprisingly long time to find answers to some very basic-seeming questions. One question I wasn't able to find an answer for: When the Queen banishes you from her presence, exactly how far away from her do you have to stay? Can you be in the same city? The same county? (The answer is probably, "If you have to ask, go farther away.")
     

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