16 March 2007

How history (along with my husband) saved my plot...

History enriches my writing in so many ways. It also proves very helpful when I run into plot problems. Take yesterday, for instance.

I was almost ready to chuck my current wip. Seriously. I've been through several plotlines for my heroine and nothing was working - I thought I had something last week, but in working through things, I discovered it just wouldn't work. The plot was full of holes and totally illogical. Not good.

My husband (wonderful man that he is) first said "Well, maybe you should just chuck it. You wouldn't be the first writer to throw out a story that wasn't working." I sat and thought about it for a few minutes. It's one thing to say it myself, quite another to hear someone ELSE say something so drastic.

Once I was calmer I said "I'd chuck it EXCEPT I think there really is a good story here somewhere." and then went on to explain the exact problem. Sean listened and agreed that my plot as it stood wouldn't work (I love that he's so candid), then suggested another angle I'd never even thought to tap into. Something that was historically likely and to his mind, entirely possible. He's a historian too and though he doesn't know that period in as much detail as I do, he picked up on the obvious solution to my problem.

Now I'm not saying in a contemporary story there aren't elements in the current world that can't work the same way, but for me the thrill was being able to tie yet another aspect of French Revolutionary history into my story. To my mind, it will give it more depth and ground my story more firmly in the period. All very important things. And that's one of the main reasons I so love writing historicals - combining history and fiction.

How about you - have you ever chucked a story? Has history ever saved your plot?


Camilla said...

Many, many times! It's also saved my characters because I frequently cobble together the lives and quotes of famous and non-famous people from my time period to flesh out my characters.

jennifer said...

just wished i hand't chucked them so completely 10 years later i think of how i could have fixed it, but by then its long gone.

DeborahBrent said...

Yes, I have put one in the drawer. There are elements there where it could be a good story. I got so burned out writing it, I just put it away. I may take it out again, someday.