This week I’ve had cause to re-write the beginning of my third book. There wasn’t much wrong with the original (in fact I rather liked it) but my last field trip to Stratford proved that the actions I’d contemplated and planned wouldn’t work within the setting I’d given it – the roads, pathways and positioning of buildings and junctions simply weren’t placed correctly to execute my scene.
Part of the problem is that I wrote this based on the memory of my first visit, with the assistance of a local map and Google Earth of course. However, there is no substitute for the real thing and when hubby and I returned and acted out (not literally!) my piece, I realised that it just wouldn’t work.
It’s probably obvious to most that setting a novel in a real place needs to bear some kind of authenticity. As I said, I’d written this scene from memory after my first visit there before Christmas. But unlike the area that you live – where you walk, drive, peruse on a daily basis, it turns out that I wasn’t as familiar enough with the location as I imagined.
Never mind. There are many times we write scenes, paragraphs, sentences that we put our heart and soul into, that we edit and hone down until they feel right – only to take them out at a later stage. So many times I’ve wanted to run to the metaphorical waste paper basket and retrieve my scrunched up balls, smooth them out and fit them back in somehow. Of course that wouldn’t be right. At the end of the day, it’s not about writing beautiful poetic prose for the sake of it, it’s about weaving a story. And if it doesn’t fit, it has to come out. I guess that is all part of the journey of novel writing. Although maybe next time, I’ll make sure my scene is tried and tested before I put it to paper.