Saturday, February 21, 2015

Work in Progress


Library of Congress
These snowy days have been perfect for making some good progress on the Civil War novel (working title THIS WAS THE WAY OF IT.) And I've at last gotten a handle on the personality of one of the most difficult (unsympathetic) characters -- to the point that he's talking to me like the others are.

The novel is fiction, of course. But it's based on real people and real incidents in my county. I've spent the past few years getting a grasp on the various versions of what happened -- and there are various versions, believe me. In the end, I simply had to go with what seems to be accepted by most folks as the probable truth and tweak it here and there to make a good story

I've just finished a chapter set in a Rebel camp  and I spent a lot of time on the internet, looking for the little details that will bring the story to life -- like these tents with chimneys topped with barrels in the picture above from an informative site HERE.


I hadn't realized how many photographs there are from the era -- these are from various collections in the Library of Congress. Itinerant photographers made this a very well documented war and these photos provide a wonderful resource that helps me to visualize the people and places I'm writing about


Some of these photos make me smile -- look at those four guys showing off! And others -- like the picture below of an apprehensive looking, very young soldier with his Bowie knife -- break my heart. 

These are the stories I'm trying to tell -- not the dry facts of battles and skirmishes, but the effects of this conflict on the people -- soldiers and civilians on both sides.

Don't ask when it will be available -- don't even ask when it'll be done. When the characters have finished with me, I reckon. At this moment they're crowding around me and jabbering in my ear, eager to tell me just what was the way of things back then.



10 comments:

Ms. A said...

Certainly good weather for you to be staying indoors and getting to know your characters!

Barbara Rogers said...

How interesting, Vicki! I am amazed how soldiers lived, since most of what I've read had to do with the battles. I'm currently looking at the lives of some of my ancestors that lived in those times, and also finding interesting photos. Of course I want to hear what your characters say, and am patiently waiting for the birth of your next book.

Brian Miller said...

ha. you did better than i...this last week has not been productive at all...and now it is snowing again...ha...sounds like you though have the tiger by the tail...

Jean Baardsen said...

Sounds like it's going well! Just curious - are you writing by hand, typing into a computer, or using some voice recognition software? I've been writing, and I find I'm most comfortable doing it by hand, and then typing from those pages into the computer.

Vicki Lane said...

Brian -- all I have to do on the snowy days is let dogs in and out. You, on the other hand, have kids to deal with.

Jean, I write on the laptop. I have occasionally written by hand (once on a plane returning from Europe) but the faster I write (and when it's going well, it's very fast) the more illegible my writing is. And then it takes AGES to transcribe to the computer.

Frances said...

Vicki, I am glad to see this update on your novel's progress. I think I can imagine all the research you've been doing and the many directions it may have taken you and your characters.

Switching topics...on this morning's television news coverage of this winter's big chill, I saw some film of the city Madison River. Really large blocks of ice jostling each other as they went with the flow.

Do stay warm! xo

Stella Jones said...

Those pictures are something else, aren't they. I'm glad you've had the opportunity to do your research. Enjoy the snow while it's there but I hope you can soon get out in some warm sunshine.

Jim Egerton said...

You have whet my appetite and honed my imagination for the next Vicki Lane book. I can't wait!

jennyfreckles said...

Wonderful photos and I love your description of how it feels, writing a book. I look forward to reading it one day.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

The soldier in the last photo looks so young. Love your phrase "until the characters are finished with me." I can't wait to read this one. My great-grandfather fought in the Civil War and has a marker on his grave, even though the years have badly damaged it. His uniform was in the attic for years until my great-uncle "cleaned the attic out" one day. Think of the the stories those uniforms could tell if they could talk. We were lucky enough to see the reenactment of General Grant taking Vicksburg one year. It's amazing how hard those people work at portraying their characters. Stay warm.
Sam