Another CWIL meeting, another Jacobethan shopfest This time it was music and movies: a CD of Dowland songs and DVDs of “Shakespeare in Love”, “Stage Beauty” and Kenneth Branagh’s “Henry V”, courtesy of a ‘3 for £20’ offer 😀
By happy coincidence, someone at work is selling 2 tickets for a trip to the Globe Theatre on the 24th, which I had previously failed to sign up for in time. It’s to see a production of “The Winter’s Tale” in Elizabethan costume (tho’ not one of their all-male productions, sadly). Of course I snapped them both up, so Richard and I can go.
Before tonight’s CWIL meeting I combed the shelves of Borders for non-fiction books for my research. In the end I bought 4 paperbacks: “English Society 1580-1680” by Keith Wrightson, “The Age of Shakespeare” by Frank Kermode, and “The Tudor Housewife” and “Pleasures and Pastimes in Tudor England”, both by Alison Sim. That should keep me busy for a while!
Yesterday’s expedition was very productive of research material. I took lots of photos of the Tudor portions of the buildings and of the farm animals (Tamworth pigs, Norfolk Horn sheep, etc). The guide book turned out to be rather basic, but between it and my memory I think I can piece together a good enough floor plan for use in writing.
Since the “30 Days” technique makes world-building on the usual fantasy scale pretty much impossible, I have decided instead to select in advance a period that interests me and research it intensively during the pre-writing period. That way, my subconscious will have plenty of material to draw on when it comes to the actual writing. The period I have chosen is roughly 1550-1650, mainly because one of my favourite bits of previous writing was about a group of strolling players. It’s a familiar setting for fantasy fans, but just different enough from the standard medieval world to be interesting, especially if I include gunpowder (which often gets omitted from fantasy worlds regardless of their “historical” period).
As it happens, we were planning a trip into Suffolk this weekend, so I have arranged to include a trip to Kentwell, a Tudor manorhouse with lots of reconstructed interiors and farm buildings of the period. This will give me at least one potential location; if I exploit the “crucible” concept fully, it might even be my only location!
Although not part of the “30 Days” method, I have decided to use the preparation period to do some background work. The method allots only two days to developing an outline before embarking upon the actual writing; two days to brainstorm characters, plot and setting! This might be OK for contemporary fiction, but a fantasy novel needs a lot more preparatory work. It would be very easy to churn out a novel set in a generic quasi-medieval world, but that’s not likely to catch the eye of editors and agents.
I have also booked two weeks off work in October, as I suspect I will find the intensive schedule both tiring and a distraction during work hours. Besides, I have to use up some of my remaining holiday allowance before Christmas or lose it entirely.
It’s a sobering thought that, after nearly thirty years of writing, I still haven’t finished and submitted a novel, never mind having had any fiction published. I don’t relish the prospect of spending another thirty years being equally unproductive – drastic action is needed!