Best in Show / Books / Character Development / Fergus Findlay: Drover / Sullatober Dalton / Uncategorized

Spin-offs from talking heads

I went off for a wee break visiting the flower show in my old village and a bit of a think about getting onto my character’s heads. It proved worthwhile and I got back to my old method of putting myself in the physical situation and looking round at what I see and what I am doing. In one instance my hero, Fergus Findlay from ‘Drover’, was in a Glasgow ballroom in 1820 with the elite of the city and I realised they would be merchants and people with factories. As the setting was the insurrection of that year it did more than give me the scene, it let me understand what the character would think of the gathering and that added a layer to the situation, which I hadn’t imagined. I was going to write ‘a layer I hadn’t thought of.’ but that would be ending a sentence with a preposition and ungrammatical and would have to have been ‘a situation of which I had not thought.’
The other incident is where one character takes a letter from a spy without knowing it. I had just assumed that when someone asked you to take a letter for them, you didn’t enquire into its contents or its reason, you just helped out but my mentor, Lorraine Mace, pointed out that in times of trouble you would certainly be suspicious and reluctant. I don’t entirely agree but it led to a nice way of exposing the spy and a little twist to the plot and a lifting of the tension.
What’s really annoying me is that I had thought the whole thing was fairly tight but Lorraine has seen gaps in the thinking and opened opportunities I didn’t see. Her comments have also turned a quasi history book into a human story that is beginning to fascinate me in a way the original didn’t. I think that is because what I now call the draft was falling between the stools (sorry about the cliche and I can’t get the little sign above the ‘e’) of historical accuracy and a good yarn.
Hopping round the heads