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)
Many thanks for the background of your writing and the processes. Hope to hear more as you go on.
It’s a pleasure, fitzg. I’ve always been shy of writing about my own processes for fear they would be denigrated by those who have been in the industry longer and are much bigger sellers.
So you have given me a little confidence for which i’m grateful.
I feel so honored to have seen this story grow and grateful you shared your thought process! As such I will carefully contain my excitement until publication and as you know you have my full support to follow the story line as needed as far as the main character is concerned!
Dear Fanny, you’ve been one of the original fans and as I’ve said before, you are almost singlehandedly responsible for me moving on from one mere upload on the blog, to turning it into a story via Wattpad and then really running with it via the blog. In addition, you began my e-publish education!!! Lots for me to thank you for!
Re the e-publish thing, I’m sure I would have stayed a print-publish only author, if you hadn’t enlightened me. The Stumpwork Robe moves little numbers every day… much better, and easier, than the print sales.
Thank you for letting us know the development of the story.
Please don’t be overly cruel to Guy of Gisborne. I have a soft spot for the bad guy as well. I know as an author one has full power over life and death, but please, could you show a little tiny bit of mercy? ;o)
Just do not let him jump from a high building like ‘nobody’ in Spooks 9. I am looking forward to your story, however you create the ending !
It’s a pleasure, CDoart. And I promise… no jumping from the battlements, I swear!
As I said before, I love your writing style and the richness of the characters. Personally, it doesn’t matter if endings are happy. I prefer they keep the integrity of the story, come what may.
Thank you for sharing the process which fascinates me as a newbie. I’ve read books in which authors try to explain ideas and what we are journeymen should or should not do. But your blog is the first time I’ve seen the process as it’s happening. Amazing. I have so many questions but remain content for you to tell as you see fit.
Can’t wait until the next chapter.
Judiang, thank you for the compliment. I’m going through a bit of a crisis at the moment… wondering if my style is better to suited to hist.fict than fantasy. In fact I should take the latest fantasy ms and turn it into a hist.fict. Better readership and engenders such a good feeling in me as I write.
It’s funny that you say you are a newbie. I consider myself such an ingenue in the whole writing thing. That first draft is such an instinctive thing. One tends to write from the heart. It’s only later, when you move on to subsequent drafts that you find out how little you really do now about the craft (hence editors being such a valuable part of the writing life) and that’s whne you get tied in knots of your own making!
Ask any questions you like and if you want you can email. We can sink or swim together!
I mean ‘how little you KNOW’ not ‘how little you now’. That sort of proves the need for an editor!
Lady Mesmered, thank you so much for sharing your journey with Gisborne from its conception to the present day. For me, reading your thoughts on the process of writin, in this and your previous post has been just as absorbing as the stories. themselves
On the subject of happy endings, I know I have seemed guilty of pressurising you in this respect. But I think ultimately you must know better than I do what is the most worthy conclusion for the story and the characters. The thought of them tripping through sun-lit fields of happy ever after somehow does not ring true..
But it would be wonderful if you could find a way to give a ‘’traumatised, bitter and difficult man’’ a modicum of peace.. And Ysabel the strength to cope with what that might entail. Maybe that is all I meant when I asked you to be gentle…
As to how we your readers will find the strength to wait for this wonderful project to reach its conclusion as a published work, I have no idea! I am sure it will be worth the wait.
But meanwhile, whatever are we going to do without him?
‘A modicum of peace…’
‘And Ysabel the strength to cope with what that might entail.’
‘When I asked you to be gentle…’
Three compelling pleas.
Let me say this: Ysabel and Guy have more of a relationship with me than any other characters I have ever written about. Whether that’s because I’m writing in the first person directly through Ysabel’s eyes, I don’t know. But because of the total intimacy with them both, I doubt that I can be anything but gentle, but how that eventuates is a whole other story…
Thank you again Giselle, for the support. To be honest, I’m not sure how the blog will cope without Gisborne uploads… it seems to have been part of the fabric for a long, long time and without it, it will be like the disappearance of a best friend.
My last line needed something of a tongue-in-cheek emoticon, I think.
We will all miss getting new chapters of the wonderful story, but this blog of yours is far more than just Gisborne. Despite his reprehensible habit of stalking in and taking over, wherever he goes.
I Wish You Tremendous Success with your story and with getting it published, i can’t wait to own this book and to read it many times to my hearts content
Butlers_girl Thank you. What will happen is that it will be published as a print novel with the publishers of my existing titles (YWO.com) and distributed through Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and all the other major online retailers as well as local bookstores (but as POD it will need to be ordered through them via the ISBN)
It will also be available as an e-book as the trend is toward that form of availability. As to time-frame? Oh my gosh. So much to do. Finish the novel would be a good idea! Edit. Line-edit. Cover design. Preparation of PDF format for the publisher. Publishing time. Distribution. I would say 12 months with good luck and a fair wind!
Dear Mesmered, I already wrote you during the RA weekly celebration, asking you to carry the story soon to publication, both to an happy or unhappy end, as I perceived unhappiness in your characters. Just think that we will be waiting for the story to end for a too long time, weeks, maybe months.
Is it very hard for me to detach from your characters, and this is the reason for a question: how can you cope with your story –as your bonds with both Guy and Ysabel are very strong – and stop creation in order to attend everyday tasks (family, house, friends)? Is it easy?
Many thanks for carrying this Middle Age spell to our lives!!
Hello again, Lady Cassia. And its my pleasure to bring the Middle Ages to you.
In respect of the time frame: see above. You are right. Months. Under normal circumstances a novel posted like this would have been finished and so the time frame to availability would have been much less. But Gisborne was never normal. It started as a bit of fun… but then stalked into my mind and took it prisoner and I have been obliged to run with it.
You ask if it’s difficult to detach. That’s such a good question and I would say yes. Ysabel is my closest friend right now. Everything she does is part of me. I feel like some Divine puppeteer. What I think is what I write and what I write can hurt or hinder or cause great pleasure to Guy and Ysabel.
The hardest thing for any writer is the way one has to move from one novel to another over a short timeframe. For example, if you read the next post, you will see that my last piece of work before Gisborne has just been returned to me and I am about to enter THAT world (with Finnian who is based on RA and with Lalita yet again) This while Guy and Ysabel are close by waiting for me to carry them forward.
I often go into daily chores with my characters. Sometimes its possible to work at daily life and not see it because of where one’s head is. But then some thing… a sound of a bird, a wave, the dog licking my hand… will ground me into the present and I’ll realise I must stop thinking and enjoy what’s around me. Besides, all those experiences go into making a writer’s characters believable!
So exciting to see your process–and I look forward to seeing the next incarnation! Regarding happy endings–I think my favorite endings are not neat wrap-ups with rainbows and fanfare, but the point at which there is a bend in the road and there’s the potential for redemption or change around the corner. The bittersweet but honest sort of ending 🙂 I’d like to see Guy with an ending like that–potential for happiness, but also potential to lose it. That’s just me :)–can’t wait to see what you create!
Endings: gaaah! Like with movies, its impossible to please everyone. And in all likelihood I may upset at least 50% of the readership.
But I shall be frank! At the moment I have two endings. Both have their own degree of emotion. But which? That’s the thing. This is where the book really needs an editorial carried out!
I’m new to your blog and haven’t had a chance to catch up with your FanstRAvaganza posts yet. Reading this post, I get the feeling that your novel is kind of … Gisborne’s story? A book about him? What a wonderful idea! That sounds like a book that would be heaps of fun to read. 🙂
Hi Traxy, welcome. And of course, you’re name is very familiar through FanstRAvaganza! Certainly I based Gisborne on the Guy with whom we are familiar… but as I edit the manuscript, I want to distance him as much as is possible from the BBC’s Guy.
It’s a fine line between knightly and not and erring to the latter. I also wanted to avoid saccharine sweet tears and softness. That would never work for me. Gisborne is a nearly 30 something whose bitterness might gradually be eroding his better side. Until he meets Ysabel. Whether a growing interest in her can redeem his character is a moot point and will be shown in the final chapters. But this mustn’t be anything like Guy and Marion either. That’s a challenge in itself. I think we can safely say Ysabel won’t be falling on Guy’s sword!
I have also based the character of Finnian, in A Thousand Glass Flowers (due for print and e-publication later in the year) on the essence of Richard Armitage. He has a way of acting which enables me as a writer to allow very visual nuances to creep into my characters. I’ll be eternally grateful to his portrayals over each of his works, that’s for sure.