Thursday, November 22, 2012

History lessens

One of the problems of historical fiction is that there is going to be some dude who knows more than you do. There'll be some guy who knows that your pirate has the wrong pistol, the wrong bandanna, the wrong rigging, the wrong haircut; you have to know all this just to pass on the basics.

So when my hero is in the streets of some Caribbean town, it's which island? Say Jamaica. So Port Royal! But no. Port Royal was destroyed in an earthquake in 1692 and didn't become again anywhere important. So maybe Spanish Town? But it was inland, why would he be there? Why would she?

So I know I need to know more about Spanish Town.

And maybe it's Kingston, but this is a transitional period, and I'm not sure it was yet the kind of place he could meet a lieutenant's wife in.

So I need to read a history of Jamaica.

No big deal. I've done a lot of reading. Not the kind of nitpicky research some writers claim to do, which seems to me the sign of someone who has taken "that guy" too much to heart, and has decided to become his rival. Just enough to know enough, and to keep it fun to think about.

I know it seems to take forever but the actual writing will be easy, and since I've been back from the UK, the real work of writing has been going on. Ideas have been coalescing, a better plot slowly forming, the characters becoming clearer to me as I thought some things through.

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