Motivations, Inspirations, Imaginations…And Characters. A Journey Care Less and Content

Strolling

Foreword

You know how it goes. You have this idea for a topic, and you start off. Then some allied aspect else occurs to you, which begs to be added on, which in turn leads you off down an interesting lane and somehow the original topic is behind you, round a bend somewhere and you are there, scratching you’re head wondering ‘So?… How did I get here?’

The intention was to write about World Building and how the one which formed out of my work was a place I liked to revisit, just to be there. Then the theme became something else. Here was another writer wandering through This, That and The Other. For no other reason than ‘Just Because’….

The books which are part of the post are not mentioned because there is no intention to publicise them. You’ll find enough information in earlier posts. The subjects of this post are creativity, inspiration and motivations. Anyway back to that start…

The Beginning

Sometime ago I promised myself ‘Tone down on the politics. Concentrate on the writing. Be at one with your creativity,’………………..

The next day……

Back on the soapbox or picking fights on Facebook. Will I ever learn?

Learn what? To desensitise myself against thing which get under my skin? Remove some part of me?

Well, maybe not picking on an easy FB target and ridiculing them. Maybe ‘They had it coming. Taste of their own medicine. See how they like it,’ Are not worthy and mature reasons, perhaps those sentiments border on excuses. Weighing down someone’s ‘one liner’ with three paragraphs of International Relations Theory and History? Maybe that’s showing off a bit. Overkill much?

I tell myself my political and social comments should be addressed to Word Press where generally the standard of debate is higher.

The fact, though, the political part of me, is one reason why I write fiction as I do; the challenge being to try and tone down the preachiness. A character sounding off on some political issue in the middle of an action episode sounds ‘odd’. A lesser character taking up half a chapter on observations on an injustice just spoils the narrative and detracts from the plot.

Yet there is nothing wrong with placing your opinions or views in a narrative, the characters will let you know if they think you’ve been too wordy. Those lesser characters’ two or three lines of conversation will suit just as well.

On reflection my views were one of the driving forces and at the same time a bit of a challenge to fit in neatly. I loathe the latent misogyny trying to slither back into our cultures. Thus was more than happy with Three Strong Women characters appearing. Prejudices on the grounds of race, religion, adult consensual choices tend to be a red flag, so those who embrace any or all of these prejudices would truly hate my trilogy. Sometimes a mischievous part of me nurtured on Facebook would snigger while whispering ‘If anyone hates this part. Good…they got it coming,’.

Another motivation and this is not criticism just personal taste, I did not wish to read anymore grimdark or ‘gritty’. The real world had enough of that for me. Happy endings and good folk running rings around bad folk was my intention.

In addition is a little fantasy of the whole trilogy being on a public forum where I would wait for the inevitable feeble whinge that is it is all ‘woke’, whose users are such easy targets…. (Ah but there I go again. Looking for confrontation)

Yet as I go treading into more dangerous and delicate yet related ground; it has been an observation that there is more than one way to receive criticism or even ire for portrayals of characters outside of your own social, ethnic, political, belief system grouping. This observation, and the word is stressed comes from reading commentary from those whose group is portrayed, in a sympathetic or positive light and yet is perceived by the commentator as not being the correct portrayal. My own conclusion is in this fraught world where colonialism, in the European sense has died out and the old Cold War alignments disintegrated and social norms are altering it is for many people or peoples essential their group are portrayed accurately and in a balanced, mature context. Of course my get out clause being; ‘These books take place in a Fantasy World. Not this one,’, though human natures being what they are it is unlikely this response would be seen as satisfactory. Never mind… ‘You can’t win them all,’ . And anyway folks this is a world of my characters and they led me through allowing me to explore (or was that witness?) all manner of the possibilities.

Characters eh?

One advantage, or salutary warning is once you let your characters in on the act and they start to influence you, the pace of writing picks up until the creative or speculative processes reach a velocity which leaves all caution behind. In a very paradoxical, maybe cussed mood, the lack of sales encouraged me and them onwards. We reached the ‘What The Heck’ Stage, followed by ‘C’mon Rog’. We just have to go this way, you know parts of the back story have been building to this. Remember the sub-text kiddo,’. This of course led to other directions for taking the main narratives too.

Maybe the final result would seem to some a vainglorious mash-up of genres, sub-genres and styles. And there would be no argument from me. In my defence this is what happens when the driving forces within you set the imagination in movement and in turn you feel confident enough to let the narrative take control.

Should the whole work come to public attention and there is consequential criticism of the plot line, characters and result, let it be so.

For I had far too much fun putting the whole together to regret. (apart from those stupid persistent typos and a few instances of getting the names wrong- sometimes you can be too indie).

And now I am learning restraint and economy on a monthly Blog Battle*, which is as much fun being very instructive, while keeping my interaction of Face Book to a minimum.

*

BlogBattle

https://bbprompt.com/

On Getting Your Work Noticed (Just an Observation)

The end of an edit / re-write beckons; approximately 11.5% of some 248,000+ words left to ‘listen’ to and ponder over. Word is not happy with the weight I have placed upon it, pretending to lose the Dictionary additions, altering margins and spacing at random intervals, changing the Spellcheck to another language, failure to comprehend any literary constructs apart from business speak; the usual protests against an unprofessional artistic use of its programmes. BUT my trusty memory stick is ever at my side reminiscent of a faithful hound, lest Word pulls its most evil of tricks and crashes the whole work (which it dallied with back in July).

Thus this will conclude a work in three parts which will in total tally up 600,000 + words and has taken somewhere around six years to complete. A time in which edits, proof-reading and re-writes were all done within my own bubble. Thanks to Amazon Kindle and the free-book promotions I guess about 30 folk have Volumes I & II downloaded and a big thanks to those kind folk who also purchased copies (probably about 10 sales). If Volume III bumps the totals up by 33% that might be in line with my expectations (based on the previous performances). Sometimes those figures were disheartening but were unlikely to be the sole cause of the low mood, more symptomatic of a general lassitude, my late father used to refer to this as ‘being at the bottom of the wheel’. Outside of the central character of a mid-twentieth century swashbuckling or ‘happy’ musical film, who does not experience these times?

At this stage a writer facing such results will have reached a crossroads of some sort of another. Their outlook will be dependant on amount of the effort they have previously put into their marketing, networking, assistance, outside editing and beta-reading to name but a few of the preparation and research strategies available to them.

For some despite their very best and diligent efforts in these areas, their work still fails to gain recognition and a despondency sets in. This is very understandable. They may well decide writing is not for them and seek other paths. Whether this was the right choice or another promising writer was lost to the caprice of the market, we will never truly know; this sort of judgement belongs as it were ‘to the ages’.

For others there can be an analytical response, they shrug (after a period of flushing out the disappointment) and ‘go back to the drawing board’. Maybe, they think, the work needs some tweaking, nay complete overhauling. Records of advice: friendly, editorial and beta will be consulted, the work re-read (a painful process at times) and the writer returns to the battle carrying out that very delicate balancing act between others input and how they, the writer, wishes the narrative to go.

Some will decide, they do so love writing, but maybe they chose the wrong genre or wrong style of narrative. They start again, maybe using the very bare bones of the first work. This happened to me, twice. First attempt was grim, bloody (and also unreadable). The second attempt, set in the world of my current books at an earlier time was comedic satire, the volumes are now a source of folklore and history in the current works. This third is a mix, one might say real as can be found in Fantasy. 

I stood at the crossroads and looked back over my shoulder. Had I utilised any of those aforementioned strategies and resources in my journey. Yes, but due to the vagaries of life met with three sources whose advice or commentaries were not to my liking, and hereabouts there are some strong opinions retained on their competencies and ability to use perception, but we shall move on. I was glad of the observations and reviews by Audrey Driscoll https://audreydriscoll.com/  Berthold Gambrel  https://ruinedchapel.com/  and Rachael Ritchey https://rachaelritchey.com/ Each gave support, advice incisive and constructive and was taken on board in future efforts. Those who indulge in throwaway criticism would do well to stay away from me, their comments get analysed, critically…yes one is not supposed to indulge so in kicking back at a bad review…. I have nothing to lose, there would be ramifications for the throwaway reviewer.  

And there came the decision. If my work was currently not surfacing into public attention amongst the many thousands of efforts by unknown writers and my approach to all the strategies and resources was idiosyncratic, nay even shambolic and I was using the massively populated medium of Amazon Kindle, then what was there to lose in going my very own way? The books could be recorded for the public to find, there would be some gratification there, and at the same time all creativity, imagination and experimentation could be utilised just for their own collective sakes. Thus I gave vent to all manner of writing about varied circumstances, maybe some had no business being in a book seriously put together with sales in mind as a benefit; some might send editors and beta-readers into much head-shaking or saying ‘WHAT???’ Let it be so. I have enjoyed this veering off at tangents, exploring issues narrative, and it is all mine.

At this juncture let me say this is not an attempt to mask vanity with an air of assumed artistic superiority or the self-indulgent woeful stance of someone ‘suffering’ for their art. No this is just me, writing as I write, for a particular  purpose, and because the whole project will not let me be until it is concluded this way. To put it another way for those starting out or those having doubts:

Writing about my approach as one you should follow is not the reason. It would, quite frankly be irresponsible for me to contend this is worthwhile way of ‘doing things’. Not so, the above words are tailored to illustrate my position and current view of my own work. For advice on the matter of publishing, please, please seek out others. Going Complete Rogue is generally a bad idea. 

As long as the writing does not mask an agenda promoting Hate, Intolerance or questionable politics I wish everyone well with their writing. Published conventional or self-published, the writer’s efforts are to be celebrated, another record in the great endeavour writing, another statement ‘I was here’.

That you strive at your work with the conviction you have as much right as any to do is enough for me.

Meanwhile, nearly a year after the original narrative of Daughters of Circumstance. Arbiters of Consequences was completed, still working on the final ‘publicationable’ document? But of course.  

And Thus Is Completed The Narrative

Another Launch (Persistence Doesn’t Always Pay, But It’s Satisfying)

Musings on Writing (Another series). Important Reactions to Use on Suitable Occasions

Getting to know Characters- Arketre

As Daughters of Circumstances. Arbiters of Consequences,  Volume III of my trilogy The Precipice Dominions draws closer to its final edit Matt, the artist who carried out the evocative cover of Volume II Our Skirmishers of Lace, Steel and Fire has started work on the latest volume for me. Here is Arketre, even with just a few simple lines of a sketch he has brought her character.

Arketre by Matt Continue reading

You, The Writer. They, The Characters. And The Blurring Lines

Blog posts, articles and entire books have been written about how a writer should approach the creation and maintenance of characters. Then there is the other industry where folk examine famous works of literature and the characters therein from all sorts of angles; along with the motivation(s) of the author.

So then.

When you have passed the toe-twiddling stage at the water’s edge of the sea that is your project and are now wading out, determined to swim to the other side…

Opinions please:

At some stage is there part of you in one or maybe a few of the characters, reflecting various personal moods, views and the rest of the complexity of the average person?

Or.

Is there a little secret part in which you indulge in living through the character’s life. A place you can go to to shake off the usual frustrations of the daily life? Be someone else

Or.

Are you The Supreme Being of the world, moving everyone around as you see fit on a Four-Dimensional chessboard?

Or.

Having introduced these folk  to a narration are you now running after them waving a document and crying after them ‘Plot! Don’t forget my plot!!’, only to have at least one of them turn around and smiling benignly say ‘But dear writer. Have you not read the sub-text? Do keep up,’  

Or.

Is it a case of a combination of all or some of the above?

Pinnacle of Creation? (An exercise in speculation and perception with figures)

Foreword:

The two pivotal ‘dates’ are based a very broad scientific estimates; the latter being arrived  on a possible assumption that ‘nothing else happens’, which in our Universe is stretching it a bit.

The maths are replete with rounding ups and downs to suit the narrative. This is therefore not a serious mathematically based socio-environmental statement. It is a speculative musing intent on giving one sense of perception of ‘Our’ place on this planet.

 

Most of us will be familiar with the old saw about the history of Humanity being placed in the context of a 24 hr clock. I never cared for this, because it was based on the assumption that at midnight there was no need to go any further because we had arrived…yea! And the 77 seconds it took for us to get there was all you needed to know.

If we ignore this monumental piece of vanity and consider a possible Life of the planet Earth, we see a different alternative. So let us look at the figures

Age of Earth to date                           =                 4.5 billion years

Remaining Life Expectancy of Earth  =                 7.5 billion years (then falls into the Sun)

Total Estimated Life of Earth             =               12.00 billion years

24 Hour clock

1 hour                                               =        500,000,000(0.5 billion) years

Each quarter on clock (1/4 of an Hour)=       125,000,000 Million years

Each minute on a clock (1/15 of quarter)=         8,333,334 Million years

Each second on a clock (1/60)            =                138,890  thousand years  

 

So now we have arrived at the rough figure of 138,890 years per second, let us consider Humanity in the scheme of things. Now I am not going to inflate us with the arguable time we’ve been around, scratching, surviving, hunting and gathering. I am going to fast forward to our much vaunted ‘civilised ‘period which is when we started to farm, build communities, tear up the land and fight wars. This is estimated at 12,000 years ago. Divide that figure by 138,890 and you get a time of 0.0864 of a second. That is all we’ve racked up so far and even if we concentrate at making things right and double that it will still only be .0.1728 of a second. Still a long way to go to get to the magic 1 second. 114,890 years as an estimate.

Some might say we have achieved so much in such a short space of time. I would argue, let’s just count another 0.00864 (1,200 years) of  a second before we start celebrating our speck of existence.

Conclusion: If these figures unsettle you, then feel free to find another interpretation. Scientists, Historians, Economists and Sociologists do this all the time.

Addendum: If you are a writer, don’t be discouraged by this, you are part of the Quantum World and must work on the Planck Scale
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck_units  

Just for Marketing and Giggles – The Controversially Aggressive Approach

Portrait Angry older man screaming on white background

WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH THE LOT OF YOU!!

Laughing Guy

You’re just gonna love this, aren’t you folks?

shy-man-party

Words fail me.

Portrait Angry older man screaming on white background

Listen to me willya! This book has been out for one month, there’s been a advertising campaign and still you an’t buying it!! WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU PEOPLE?????  Ohhhhhhh I know what it’s all about. All those social media types with their Youth Orientation and what is ….’Trending’, so anyone who is not in the right profiles gets ignored. It’s just like what happens to me, Pete and Burt when we asked the Town Council if we could play our Kazoo renditioning of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ on the 4th July three years back, and they turned us down because it might have been seen as ‘disrespectful’……. HA!…Disrespectful! They just didn’t want three old guys strutting their stuff that’s all! And don’t think we haven’t noticed they have not replaced that old omnibus of Dick Tracy cartoons in the town library which they removed because ‘they’ said it was in need of repair….HA!! What AND happened to the ‘Smokey Stover’ collection???….They still won’t answer that question!!    I tell ya, it’s a pretty sorry state when an ordinary guy who’s lived an ordinary life, not making a fuss or being on ‘Reality TV’ can’t get his book noticed…Just ‘because’. You take Burt, who spent ten years researching  and writing up a three volume commentary on the History of Pot Roast and did anyone take it up? Did they…Huh? I mean, it’s POT ROAST for pity’s sakes, y’ can’t get more patriotic or basic roots of culture  than POT ROAST!!!  And then you can’t get anything controversial  published unless you’re already well known or some sorta wacko that a bunch of TV executives found. Me an’ Pete collaborated on two volumes being critical of folk of high profile irrespective of politics, gender, race, religion or which baseball team they followed titled ‘And Here’s Another Idiot’ followed up by ‘It’s You Stupid Lot that Make Them Wealthy’. I mean how controversial can you get? But did anyone give us a sniff! Did they? Hah! Nnnnooo because in their eyes we were 70 year old nobodies, with no profile or ‘Twitter’ accounts! I tell ya, it’s The Living In A  Stacked Deck scenario all over again!!! 

PuzzledErr…Excuse me. But…err…What’s the book, and have you read it? 

Doffing a hat

Oh I can help you there young lady.

Of Patchwork Warriors It’s on that Kindle device  

Portrait Angry older man screaming on white background

I was gettin’ there! I was gettin’ there!!!    Laughing and pointing

Just catching his breath…That’s all

Portrait Angry older man screaming on white background

I heard that Charlie Smerhoffer! You and your stupid easy going attitude! Well, let me tell you, when ‘they’ come and take away all those Short Story collection you read at the Library and replace them with ‘Controversial’ drivel written by any yahoo who’s got a PROFILE and a bank account inversely proportional to the size of their brain then don’t come moaning to me about it!! 

Pondering twoI’ve read all the posts on this topic and I’m still none the wiser. 

Confused person on Brexit

Yeah, I printed them out and collected them in a binder. It still didn’t help.

Portrait Angry older man screaming on white background

THAT’S BECAUSE YOU SHOULD BE BUYING AND READING THE BOOK!!!!

Vintage engraving of a victorian era professor or schoolmaster reading a book.

But you see, my dear sir, there is an inherent flaw in your argument. For surely the whole purpose of these whimsical marketing endeavours is to raise the profile of the work in question and thus encourage the individual to purchase a copy. Thus by your last statement you have created a contradiction in that, if a person were to purchase a copy of the said volume, then there would be  no need to read the marketing. Ergo your previous comment is void of any substantial meaning.

Little girl sticking tongue out. PNG - JPG and vector EPS (infin

Naaah! Stop being mean to Gramps!

YEAH!!!!

Wives and lovers exasperated-11451246Oh great. Another marketing classic.

Haughty response 4

Awww don’t worry, I’m sure Ms Blue Collar is on hand to save the day.

Meanwhile……

ITALY-FRANCE-WEATHER-FEATURE

Pondering oneNo sales since the 21st of Feb then? 

WIN_20201130_14_37_57_Pro‘Come what come may,
Time and the hour runs through the roughest day….’

Furtive…Uh-oh that don’t sound regular.

WIN_20201130_14_37_57_Pro

 

‘If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well . It were done quickly’

worried-manQuoting Shakespeare’s MacBeth…to himself….That will not end well.

WIN_20201130_14_37_57_ProBear like I must fight the course.’

Pondering oneYou might want to miss the next post folks….

Just for Marketing and Giggles- The Bandwagon Advertising Approach

Just for Marketing and Giggles- The Advertising (Emotional Appeal ploy) Approach

A Song as a Political Measuring Stick

Shearwater are an ‘indie’ band of the USA, originating in Austin Texas, and basically revolving around songwriter and vocalist Johnathan Meiburg, someone with a haunting and expressive voice, weaving evocative images on a myriad of subjects.

Shearwater

I have been a fan of their music since 2011 when I chanced upon their fourth album The Golden Archipelago

GOLDEN

Within Meiburg’s writings are expressed elements of concern about the environment, social injustice and politics and you can therefore guess a Shearwater album is not required listening amongst the followers of the current occupant of the Whitehouse.

Back in 2016 (pre-election days) was released Jet Plane and Oxbow Meiburg said he wanted to try and make a protest album which was not ‘dumb or preachy’… the latter wish being a difficult task since by its nature a protest song tends to the preachy anyway.

Preamble and Foreword

When I heard this first, we were still in the second tenure of President Obama and hoping that the Democrats could ‘swing it’ once more. By then I had grown into a role of defending the USA as not the Great Satan and cause of all the world’s ill, of course hands were not clean, of course the Iraq invasion had been a fearful blunder and any military intervention in Afghanistan is always a questionable move. My defence (British  spelling) of the USA was that to assail the USA for every mis-deed was to ignore what Russia and China, to name but two were up to. Indeed in those days it was almost an article of faith of the British Left that it could never be ‘Russia’ it had to be the ‘USA’ and let’s pretend Assad of Syria was only defending himself against The West (The Useful Idiot syndrome as beloved by all dictators- but I digress).

Anyway back to the album:

Arguably one of the most striking songs is ‘Quiet Americans’, a lament against American policies and public acquiescence in general. Whether Meiburg took Graham Greene’s The Quiet American  QuietAmerican

As a source for the title I cannot personally say.

I greeted the song with mixed feelings, but to give you a fair idea of what I am on about here is the very striking video and the lyrics.

Lyrics:

I can’t help it, if all the world is ending
All the life is gone while you’re calling up this name
Where are the Americans?

Your dim cultures, your hands and eyes that wander
Stumbling down the road
Or collapsing on parade

We’re lying alone in the Eastern land
Slipping in the morning hours, the only sound
From the lantern covered hills, the only light
From the day yet to begin, the only sign
Of the guns and silhouettes
The only sound, the only light

Only, only!

Done with silence, we’re disconnecting lives
Pull out the lightning dust
At the mention of his name
Wither the Americans!

Take the memories out, hide the evidence under
Piss on the world below
Like a dog, that knows its name
Where are the Americans?

I’m calling on the run tonight
Feeling the remaining hours, the only sound
Are the bells upon the hill, the only light
Are the lanterns in the wind, the only sight
Screams the rust off the rails
The only sound, the only light

Only, only!

The only light is the day yet to begin
The only sight are the lives in silhouette
The only sound is the rushing of the wind
The only light is not the only life

Only, only!

(Footnote: You may interpret the images as you see fit, many folk read many messages)

Commentary

So in that glow of the Obama presidency, the mockery of the Ridiculous Right and the hope that we were still progress, a light which shone and illuminated the intolerance and oppression within the other Big Powers Russia and China I was thinking ‘Nice song Johnathan I do like it, but give your nation a break. It’s not that bad,’

It is dreadfully embarrassing when even after 60+ years on this planet and 50 of them spent following politics and reading histories you can still be found to be naïve and dreaming.

Here we are in 2020. And the rational amongst us, with any sense of the necessity of a nation united if it is to survive hoping, even praying that even someone as not very charismatic or of visibly towing intellect such as Joe Biden can bring down that colossus of ignorance, vanity and ineptitude, the one who sits in the Whitehouse due to a freak of the USA’s voting system, Trump.

Trump himself is an individual of small character and even less ability. Put him in a room, alone, with no audience and just one person of average determination and intelligence and after a short while Trump would storm out with all the dignity of a four year old having the TV switched off or video game taken away. You see Trump is not the issue. It is the bloc of voters who have created a creature of their own imagination and wish fulfillment who loathe the opposite of their views so much, who were so angered by ‘One of Those People’ being in the Whitehouse that they would choose a most obnoxious and inflammatory creature to be their voice simply to get back at the opposition. And that is all he is, The Mouthpiece.

Thus when I look back at the lyrics of Quiet Americans and bear in mind there is still a vast swell of folk who are willing to tolerate this ridiculous state of affairs either by tacit support or self-isolation from the virus of ignorance and bigotry I have to say in all contrition:

Mr. Meiburg. I apologise. In my vanity I forgot, it is you  who are living in the USA, not I. Your comments are thus quite understandable. In fact in post-Brexit and the wake of the UK’s 2019 General Election it is possible to import your song and transpose ‘Britain’ for ‘American’…..Though I am still working on which word to replace ‘Quiet’ with.”  

 

Musings on Writing- Don’t You Hate It When….2

Don’t you hate it when…

Frustration

You have invested time and muse to create this character of whom you are justly proud and feel this might well be the one who will get you noticed, even if a modest way…..

And then…..

You innocently browse what’s going on in new books, or media etc Surfing

Only to find…….

Rage

A successful, well-known, and beloved by many author has created almost the self same character in their latest work……. now on display on many GoodReads, Literary Critic’s Column etc.

OR

Is the central character in a new streaming.

Of course you are entitled to react:

Melodrama Girls

In various ways….

fed_up_woman-620x412

Gefühle-Die-Leiden-des-jungen-Werthers-676x884

Victorian image

Yet take comfort gentle writer

Young woman, finger on lips, looking confused surprised

For if you can come up with something as good as the successful, beloved, etc, etc author, then you must have a pretty cool talent working on there.

Repair thereforeSea Captain

Woman determined

Dear writer

And

Tweak so no one will really notice

Wink

Successful, well-known and beloved by many types of authors do it all the time. 

 

A Cathartic Interlude.

Let us all be honest for a variety of reasons being they political, social, work-based, domestic or literary we are prone to a build of pressures which can be volcanic in their potentials and should be released in a controlled way

This is not the first time I have voiced this opinion…..

Thus, let us never underestimate the value of a good, old fashioned.

 

Big Raspberry

In the direction of the aspect which is annoying you at present.

And remember the louder, the longer, the better you will feel afterwards.

Thank you for you time and attention……

(This has been a Public Service Announcement) 

 

Artistic Licence. All You Need Is Confidence (or Determination)

Any subject, any genre, any style, no matter how assiduous your research and effort, you run the risk of annoying a pedant (put that mirror away lad and concentrate on the post!) or someone who has delusions on the breadth of their knowledge on a subject, genre, style etc, etc, etc. As these folk will be so pleased they have the chance to go on at great length to you or even better the world about the mistake you made.

Now yes, a writer must make an effort. Having a motorcar in a novel set in the mid 19th century does indicate ‘not trying very hard’. (Steampunk of course gets a free pass these days)  Henry VIII biding one of his wives farewell before riding off to the Battle of Bosworth Field 1485 (he was born in 1491) is just stupid. Whereas you can work an ahistorical scene where Charles I and Oliver Cromwell have a discussion; having Cromwell say:

‘Get real Charles! The people need a democracy! Like now, man’

People will find it lacking something……unless of course you are doing satire or very off the wall humour in alternative Universes.

This does not mean you have to be hemmed into a place which leaves your imagination and general creativity stifled into something narrow and dry. To assist here I give the example of a new high profile film:

The_King_poster

The King (2019 Film)

Now this revolves around A Henry V of England ( famous for Shakespeare, Agincourt etc), I write ‘A’ for the reason that both historical and “Shakespearial” as devotees of both might well go spinning off into the higher regions of the atmosphere when they hear about this.

The film has Henry as being a fellow who liked a bit of fun (as did Shakespeare’s Henry) and kills rebellious Hotspur (just like Shakespeare’s). Historically Henry (Then Prince of Wales) followed his dad (Henry IV) around putting down rebellions etc with sword, not frank and open discussion. Hotspur did die at the Battle of Shrewsbury and the winning side got to write the account, so keep an open mind on who killed him.

In The Film the larger than life Shakespearean character Falstaff figures as something of a mentor to Henry and sage advisor when Henry gets to invade France and gets to fight at Agincourt. In Shakespeare Henry IV Part 2 he gets ditched by Henry (now the V) as now a low life beneath him, Henry now being grave and austere. (In the hands of good actors the scene is at one sad and chilling). In the play Henry V he only gets an aside on account of being dead off stage (in reduced circumstances). History records one Sir John Fastolf, who was nothing like Falstaff and got the blame for losing the Battle of Patay against the French, who had Joan of Arc of their side, so you can’t blame the guy really.

In the Film Henry does not want to fight the French in France, he would rather stay at home, doing ‘stuff’, but due to all sorts of pollical skulduggery is manoeuvred into others’ cunning schemes whereby he is obliged to invade France. Here he reluctantly beats the French. In Shakespeare’s Henry V he invades France because it makes for a good plot and lots of rousing speeches. Historically Henry invaded France because he wanted to get back the lands that belonged to the Plantagenets who had been sort of French and he reckoned he should thus be King of France. His invasion and treatment of the civilian population would now qualify as war crimes, but ‘Business as Usual’ in those days.

Now, as you can imagine  Historians and Shakespeareans will be hopping up and down and for once sharing cause at the outrageous misuse of material.  Let us not bother with these possibilities.

Let us look to The Film:

Firstly you will notice it is called THE KING. It’s about A ‘king’

Thus we have a plot when a prince in A land called England becomes A king; the 5th one to be called Henry and gets drawn into fighting a war with A Royalty of A land called France and later on realises he has been suckered into the war.

That’s it. All you really need to know.

I have not seen the film, I may never see the film….actually curiosity makes me most likely to get a DVD to see how it goes. The point is there was a great deal of artistic licence used with both facts and previous dramas to get where the film arrived. And in these terms this is all that matters. Henry does not stab his father to death to gain the throne, (Yes, I know Mr Martin, I’m should you would have made sure he did). He does not ride into France on a fire breathing dragon (cool idea though?). Nor does he meet, fall in love with Joan of Arc, then tragically is obliged to betray then slay her in battle at Agincourt (I bet Marlow would have loved that one). Thus although historical credibility is stretched it is not unto ridiculous lengths. Artistic licence is used and hopefully the average viewer who has no axe to grind with history or classic drama will like the film.

I would thus urge you all the bear in mind this film when you are fretting over whether you should be doing what you are doing with a plot where history or ‘classics’ or ‘facts’ come into play. You are the captain of your own ship and can steer into any harbour you choose. It’s not only people with ‘big’ names who can play fast and loose.

In conclusion when was the last time you saw a film which stuck remarkably tight to the historical facts or the original book/play?

Artistic Licence and also interpretation.