A lot of historical fiction focuses on big events and famous people—those names and deeds that are well enough known they might intrigue an audience. There are certainly events which have gripped my imagination. The eruption of Vesuvius is one, and that’s why I wanted to include it in at least one book.
However, the flip side is that it’s not the event itself which fascinates me. It’s how such a big event affected your regular, average person. Makes me wonder
Once you start seriously developing your writing as a craft, you realize you need more expert feedback than your mother can give. So you set your course and sail into the waters of critique. No matey, this is not a mythical land. But any critique group is populated by writers with deadly weaponry. Your well-intentioned critiquers will bear down on you, cannons blazing with a heavy shot of RULES!
As they blast their way through the hull of your manuscript, you might wonder where you went wrong. What dangerous waters have you sailed into? How can a good pirate like yourself save your manu-ship from total annihilation?
First, let me assure you that your first draft sucks. Everyone’s does.
Second, let me reassure you that it can be saved. And your creative side can be saved, too. How?
I guess the first question is really this: What is the Flux Capacitor?
…it’s what makes time travel possible.
And that’s all you need to know.
What a great bit of storytelling! The entire Back to the Future franchise rests on the ability of Marty McFly and Doc Brown to travel through time in their suped-up DeLorean. But do we really need to know how time travel works? Nope. We just need to know that it does.
Therefore the Flux Capacitor makes time travel possible and it also makes the story possible. All without being explained in the slightest.
So the real question of this post is: What makes a story possible? What is it that a plot relies on to make all the action which follows it make sense? If you are writing a story, do you know what is special about your story which allows it to happen?
A hardened military veteran is not uttering said phrase.
Neither a priest nor a prostitute nor a plumber.
Even if all of them were women.
This is the third part in a series on finding your way past writer’s block using history. Part One: Setting and Action and Part Two: Character may also interest you. For Part Three, we delve into the deep waters of dialogue. This is not intended to be a ‘how to write dialogue’ article. Rather I hope it will help you over some of the hurdles that I have experienced in trying to make dialogue interesting and revealing.
That was me hitting the next wall. I made quite a dent, but couldn’t make it all the way through.
In case you missed it, this post is a continuation of a series on overcoming writer’s block. Part One was all about setting and action. This post focuses on how to use a little historical research to create characters that leap off the page.
The great thing about characters is that you are not necessarily limited to your story’s time period. People of all types lived during all ages.