A few days ago, while lounging on the terrace, an image on a poster I had seen many years ago flung itself into my mind.
I knew at once that this image would be the source of a new novel. I immediately hit the internet and got copies of the image. Then I began to reach out and searched for all the relevant information concerning the character in the image.
Whoopee. There was hardly anything.
This might give you pause. Having little information about the person who you’re planning to use as your next protagonist is surely something of a problem. Not a bit.
It gives me a huge amount of freedom. There’s hardly anything known about him. It gives me the opportunity to develop him in terms of personality, what he does, who he relates to and how he views the world. I started to write about him, using the first person and then the third person. The first two attempts looked stale.
The next step was to find the sort of people who he might have come into contact with. Two or three were obvious because he was involved with English kings. Others took a little more detective work but soon I had three more central characters. One of the three was just a name, the second was wonderfully enigmatic and potentially sinister.
The third was relatively well documented already.
I wrote a third piece with the third character meeting the protagonist. Great. They related well and, even more important, I had found the voice and general characteristics of my protagonist.
Today I have got down to the essential for the historical novelist.
This is getting a fix on the events which took place in the period of the protagonist’s life. This by the way is a moveable feast at the moment. I have already altered his date of birth to make him five years younger than I had originally planned and I might alter it yet again in light of the chronology I’ve found.
Undertaking this trawl of events can throw up surprising things which are well worth noting down. A couple of strange new taxes. A woman who was punished terribly for speaking her mind. A riot which put recent riots in perspective. I was most surprised at my reaction to one of the two kings in the novel. I shall remember that feeling of surprise and keep it as a central perspective of my protagonist.
Next step is to find the antagonists, some love interest and then the conflicts which will inform the novel.