Monday, March 13, 2017

My Struggle to Bring Life to My Historical Novel by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey


To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday Books We Love Ltd is publishing twelve historical novels, one for each of the ten provinces, one for the Yukon Territory, and one combining the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. We Canadian authors were asked to pick one of the provinces or territories to write about or to do the research on for a non-Canadian author. I chose the Yukon because I have been there twice and love the beauty and history of the territory. The following is a quick summary of some of the struggles I have to bring life to my novels.

Struggles to bring my story to life.

I have written in many different genres, non-fiction, mystery, romance, and historical and in each one I have had to make sure that my characters are multi-dimensional, my story plot is fast paced, and my setting is exciting. Readers what to identify with the main characters so they have to be believable and likeable. Readers want action in the story so the plot has to move along at a good clip. And readers want to learn about the place where the story is set, so it is important that I know the setting itself. This is much harder in a historical novel because that setting is no longer readily available in the way it was in the time period I am writing about. So this is where non-fiction books, museums, archives, and paintings or photos of that time come in handy.

     In any novel it is important to make sure the plot moves forward, the characters grow, and the setting is described at the same pace but, for me, it isn’t necessary to write that forward movement in sequence.

     I imagine I am like most authors in that I never write a book in the order that the reader will read it. As I am writing the first chapter, later scenes develop in my mind and I will jot down notes on them. When I come to a standstill in the progress of the story, I turn those notes into the scene. That way I seldom have writer’s block. And it gives my subconscious mind a chance to work out the next stage in my story.

     Sometimes I have an idea as to the ending of my novel but I never write it down because it is subject to change at the whim of the characters for, although I am the writer, it is their story.