The state of play

Posted: November 6, 2011 in The WIPs - Nevill

Ok, back with the Nevills after being lured away by a particularly demanding selkie. Now that her story’s down, I’m leaving it to stew in its own juices for a while, dragging myself away from moonlit beaches and fake medieaval politics and back to the real thing.

I spent last night and this morning reading through the 80 odd pages that I managed to hammer into the new shape and structure. (The next task is to do the same with the 60 odd pages left of the old shape and structure.) I’ve got as far as the arrest of the duke of Somerset.

I’m finding that Maud’s voice is much stronger and more fully developed than Thomas’s. She’s a sweet little thing and, just at the moment, a little overawed and timid. I don’t think that’s going to last much longer! At the moment, she’s caught up in the whirl of Nevilldom, as well as the utter joy of sharing a bed with a young and energetic husband. I’m trying to avoid the cliche of  Sex-as-misery, in regard to her first marriage. Men in their sixties aren’t all hopeless and selfish lovers. But Thomas explodes into her life (do try not to follow that thought too far!) and ‘Wow!” has replaced ‘Meh” in her vocabulary.

I need to get inside Tom’s head and I have only one thing to go on – his part in the discussions and negotiations that backgrounded the Act of Accord. It’s not much, but it will have to do.

I’m intrigued by the family dynamic between the (so far) three Nevill brothers. (I’ve left George safely in Oxford while I try to figure him out.) There seem to be two ‘leaders’ – Richard and John – though in different spheres. Thomas isn’t a follower, though. As a thought experiment, I’m imagining what things might have been like had he survived… And he’s still caught in the middle! Warwick’s loyal deputy, John’s partner in (literally) crime. It’s quite sad that he’s been so neglected by writers of all stripes. Too many times I’ve come across the Jolly But Doomed Uncle. This is the guy who took the duke of York aside and persuaded him to stop demanding a coronation, for Pete’s sake!

I’ve deleted several pages of a subplot that I thought worked fine. Reading it over, it became clear that it was far from that. It muddied the water, so it had to go.

Most of the pieces are in their starting positions. I just need to establish the relationship between Thomas and his uncle, the duke of York. Then I shall light the blue touch paper and stand well back.

The biggest difference between working on Nevill and the fantasy pieces I’ve done (one to publication) is that there is a great deal of discipline required for HF. People, places and events are real. My scope to Make Crap Up is extremely limited. There’s room to speculate on the dynamics of Thomas and Maud’s marriage, based on what little information there is (ie, none – I don’t even know where they lived), but I need to make sure that my ability to spot a dud sub-plot remains sharp and my willingness to delete several pages doesn’t fail me.

  1. Philippa says:

    I for one am absolutely delighted that your scope to Make Crap Up is extremely limited and I would be even more pleased if your scope was reduced to absolute zero. These are real people who lived interesting lives, please don’t demean either them or yourself by writing rubbish.

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