You know when you read a novel and you wonder how on earth the author came up with such a great ending?
Well, I don’t really have that problem (although there are plenty of others), because I already know how my book is going to end. Lucky me, you might think and I guess it is quite useful to know what’s going to happen. Takes away some of that worry when you have a great idea but absolutely no idea what to do with it.
The problem is that the reason I already know what is going to happen is because it’s already happened, for real, a hundred or so years ago. I know exactly what happened to my main character. I even have a photocopy of her death certificate.
(Yes, she dies in the end. But as this is the most well-known fact about her I’m not too worried that I’ve given it away here.)
The challenge is to write a story that isn’t really about the real story I have in front of me. I’m attempting to write around the truth, to approach it in such a way that I can bring it to life while still bringing my own, very much made up touches to it as well. I want to re-imagine the context in which my character’s story takes place. I want to look behind her story, if you like, to imagine the impact her story had on this context, and the impact of the context on her story.
And this, I am finding, is tough! There’s a fine line between clinging to the facts and fictionalising what happened. Too much either way and I won’t have written the book I would like to write. I want to do justice to the truth (or at least my version of it) but still write a novel.
And knowing what happens to her in the end? Well it’s certainly a challenge to juggle the above and still arrive with the ending intact.
I’m not there yet.