Writing frantically to fill my commitments for FanstRAvaganza was the best thing I’ve done in terms of moving Gisborne along. As a quasi-regular upload to the blog in the past, such lack of commitment to the narrative was not a good thing. Despite the fact I loved writing this story more than any other I’ve done, there were always other writing commitments. Kindle edits, edits of a fantasy manuscript to be sent to London, writing blogs… oh and Twitter, Facebook, and the now famous and much-loved Austen #A4T contributions.
But writing for the blog tour was interesting. It forced me to immerse myself so heavily in Gisborne’s and Ysabel’s lives that for two weeks before the event and apart from #A4T, I lived and breathed nothing else. The story’s now going right where I want it to and I’m immeasurably happy with the response from all those who read it.
BUT… in reading back over my printed manuscript sometime ago, I decided it was time to start the edit from that first rough draft. The printed second draft is changing. For a start, I’ve scrapped all mention of Robin Hood, Much, the Nightwatchman and anything that connects the story too readily to the BBC series. Guy’s father is still a former Crusader and leper, but he never returns and Ghislaine, Guy’s mother, was never burned in a fire. As you now know.
In addition, it occurred to me that the story might have even more pace if I change it from the convoluted backstory told by Ysabel to Beatrice, to a simple linear style where we begin in Montrachet with Ysabel’s grief and then continue right through to the end… whatever that may be. I haven’t done that yet as it’s a huge decision. The story’s already quite vibrant with emotion from the very beginning and I don’t want to compromise it. It’s the kind of thing I’ll need advice on from a professional editor.
I’ve also been researching the historic detail far more than in those early uploads. The early chapters of the printed draft now have the same soupcon of flavour that the latter chapters presented. I’m betwixt and between how much historical verisimilitude to provide. Being a story about a legend, I think the emphasis on history may be that little bit less than if I were re-telling the story of say, Eleanor of Aquitaine. But again, an editor may say the reverse in which case I’ve even more work ahead.
And of course, there is the fleshing out. All of Gisborne is written off the cuff, so as I read back I may add more. (or delete more) For example, the last upload for FanstRA has already changed by being more highly charged at the end with a ‘show’ of the struggle between Ysabel and her captor (whom we now know is Guy).
The hardest part of all after FanstRA is that most fans seem to want Gisborne to have a happy ending. One of the best things this last week has been reading everybody’s interpretations of the character of Guy as acted by Richard Armitage. He is such a dark man, such a traumatised, bitter and difficult man that it is very hard to imagine a happy ending without seeming cliched and twee. All anti-heroes however, display glimmers of light… of redemptive possibilities. It’s why I love the anti-hero so much. The scope for a three dimensional character is so much greater.
I have an ending in mind. It may or may not be happy. But I’m hoping it will be right for the story. Not for the fans or for Guy, or for Ysabel neccessarily, but for the story. Time will tell.
And to finish on perhaps a not so happy ending: the next upload of Gisborne (next week) will be the last. If I want to take this to any form of publication, it must now be withdrawn and developed professionally to that point. From my heart as a writer, I can’t thank you enough for your reactions and I will look forward to letting you all know when it hits the stands. Be patient (unlike Ysabel) and stalwart (maybe like Guy?). Cheers.
(Images courtesy BBC/Tiger Aspect Productions)