Progress is precious

Hey everyone,

I’m still working on the plot on ‘MI’ and I will be for some time to come. his part is actually very research-intensive and it’s painstaking, but this is the part I have to make sure I get right because it will be much more difficult to change things once I get this down and start writing to it.

In the research I’m looking for historical patterns as I follow various European noble families, watching to see which families are aligned together and which are in competition with each other; which families are aligned with the thrones of different kingdoms; where dynasties come together and separate again, and furthermore how these families interact with the Papacy as the power of the Vatican struggles against the Orthodox Church and then the Ottoman Empire, eventually coming to dominate European monarchies for hundreds of years.

There will be a huge payoff if I can get this right, but it’s going to require really drilling down into the history of these families in a period where not a lot is easily accessible. Wish me luck!


7 responses to “Progress is precious

  1. Did you ever try contacting the Vatican to see if you could search through their library?

  2. Nice suggestion, Marie. Way cool if you can pull this off, Tristan. Fingers are crossed.

  3. Tristan – Because you have so much imagination and talent, I am concerned about the direction you have taken with your writing.

    As you know, my novels contain many accurate historic details associated with the town I live in and the hotel at its heart. I do a lot of research and try to include historic details wherever possible, as long as they fit into my storyline. But my novels include historic inaccuracies, too. Some are intentional, to make a better/more interesting story; others are to incorporate a complicated historic event into the story, without distracting my readers from the fictional storyline by introducing a lot of names/facts that are not critical to the story.

    I admire historians who devote themselves to accurately recording the past. Personally, I like to read historic non-fiction. But the huge difference between those who write fiction and those who write history is that historians do not, as a rule, have much use for imagination. As a matter of fact, they spend their days weeding out all ‘facts’ that can’t be proved.

    You are writing fiction, not an accurate history of the ancient families of Europe. So, while I admire your attention to detail, you must believe me when I say that your readers will get distracted and will stop reading your work if you include too many historic names/details that are not critical to the story at hand. Readers don’t care if you fudge historic details, especially because as you say, the historic facts are extremely hard to come by. They are reading fiction because they want to be entertained by someone with enough imagination to carry them away from the real world for a little while.

    I worry if you get too bogged down in historic/genealogical research, you will suffer from analysis paralysis… and worse, when you do write, out of your eagerness to share all that you have learned, your writing will become dry; filled with names and family associations that can be distracting/boring to your readers and create lots of backstory that is not germane to your central storyline.

    My older brother is an excellent writer. In fact, he’s one of the most talented writers I’ve ever read. But you can’t buy anything he has written. That’s because he has 20+ manuscripts that he started, but never finished. Every time he started writing a novel, he became engulfed in historical research, and then lost his original enthusiasm for the story. Other than a few short stories, he has never been published. I don’t think this will ever change for him. I don’t want you to fall victim to this fate.

    Take a look at the books/TV series “Game of Thrones.” Although there are a lot of clans/families and kingdoms identified in that series, none of the characters or lands they mention are real. Still, by using generalities that are historically accurate, the stories keep the viewers riveted.

    You are one of the most talented writers I’ve ever had the pleasure of getting to know. You possess something you will never find in your research books… imagination. That is what your readers will value about your work. I want you to discover the pride of finishing a book. I want to read that book.

    As Stephen King says, “If you want to call yourself a writer, write something.” I hope this makes sense to you.

    • BonSue,

      Thank you. I appreciate very much what you’re saying and I feel a sense of relief from reading your advice. It does, indeed, make sense.

      Historical fiction appeals to me because both history and fiction are among my personal passions and historical fiction relies upon both historical accuracy and creative storytelling. I’ve been unwilling, heretofore, to sacrifice one for the other, treating them as separate aspects with it being possible to maximize both.

      But I suppose it might be more helpful to envision them both as extreme points on a single scale with a pendulum swinging freely between them; that by being willing to be less dogged in my determination to be without error in my recounting of history in my story that I am making it that much harder to just write a good story.

      I do want to strike the right balance. I realize that if there are historical errors they cannot be glaring ones. But you’re right. I can’t be so focused on historical accuracy that I leave no room for just telling the damned story.

      Thank you for helping me to not trudge too far down a dark road that, for all its appeal to my passion for history, would leave my novel smothered by that darkness.

      • Tristan, do your research, but let the story lead you. No one can say what is the absolute right historical fact, because history is passed down by the victors. I’ve always wondered what was passed down as history by the people who lost the war. Our Native American Indians are a perfect example. Growing up we were led to believe that they were savages and had no rights to the land that the white man wanted. We know better now. Write, but let the spirit of the story take you on the journey. I do this with my “Lilith Escapes” episodes. I don’t know what the girl is up to until I sit at my computer. Good Luck.

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