A Lesson Learnt

This week I’ve had cause to re-write the beginning of my third book. There wasn’t much wrong with the original (in fact I rather liked it) but my last field trip to Stratford proved that the actions I’d contemplated and planned wouldn’t work within the setting I’d given it – the roads, pathways and positioning of buildings and junctions simply weren’t placed correctly to execute my scene.

Part of the problem is that I wrote this based on the memory of my first visit, with the assistance of a local map and Google Earth of course. However, there is no substitute for the real thing and when hubby and I returned and acted out (not literally!) my piece, I realised that it just wouldn’t work.

It’s probably obvious to most that setting a novel in a real place needs to bear some kind of authenticity. As I said, I’d written this scene from memory after my first visit there before Christmas. But unlike the area that you live – where you walk, drive, peruse on a daily basis, it turns out that I wasn’t as familiar enough with the location as I imagined.

Never mind. There are many times we write scenes, paragraphs, sentences that we put our heart and soul into, that we edit and hone down until they feel right – only to take them out at a later stage. So many times I’ve wanted to run to the metaphorical waste paper basket and retrieve my scrunched up balls, smooth them out and fit them back in somehow. Of course that wouldn’t be right. At the end of the day, it’s not about writing beautiful poetic prose for the sake of it, it’s about weaving a story. And if it doesn’t fit, it has to come out. I guess that is all part of the journey of novel writing. Although maybe next time, I’ll make sure my scene is tried and tested before I put it to paper.

10 thoughts on “A Lesson Learnt

  1. My last book was vague about where it was actually placed (in its first draft) for exactly that reason! Now I can go back and work the setting in with a little more detail after some research. 🙂

  2. Don’t beat yourself up in search of exacting verisimilitude!! (lol)

    Remember, its YOUR story, and its fiction, so if your heroine can walk at the speed of Usain Bolt sprinting, it doesn’t matter!!

    The Michael Caine film “Get Carter” was filmed in Newcastle, and, as it happened I was working with a bunch of geordies when it came out. Lots of them said variations of That’s wrong” and “You can’t walk from X to Y!” – didn’t stop it being a great film though (even for the aforementioned geordies)


    • Hi John! I had to check the dictionary for verisimilitude, lol. Interesting comment. You are very kind. I just wanted to try to make it as real as possible. The juxtapostion of setting a mystery in a wonderful setting like Stratford is very exciting, as long as I make it believable, but you are quite right, it is my story and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of opportunity to place my mark. Thanks again 🙂

  3. You are correct Jane, location description is so important. The things I see here in the states are sometimes very different than what you see. When I read what you write it transports me to the the UK – a place I’ve never been. I appreciate all the details you put in your writing for that reason.

    • Hi Tammy. Thanks for your kind comment. When I read your books, I really feel the setting of your home town. Getting it right in such a well known place like Stratford feels so important to me. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  4. On the contrary, when you’re a big-time author, you can build your worlds anyway you darn well please! And when you get bigger than that, the town’s people bulldoze the place and rebuild it the way you wrote it. *smiles*
    I hope you’re doing well, my dear friend. *hugs*


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