Yes – it’s the novel. Again. But the fact is, you see, that there is this rather grim thing happening in June 1594 – historically happening, I mean. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, because while not directly involving my hero, it has two sets of ties to his circumstances – one practical (and historically documented), and one, shall we say, psychological…
Which is why, again and again, I’ve tried to fit it in my timeline. And, again and again, I’ve come to the conclusion that it can’t be done. June 1594 is a tricky time for poor Ned. All sort of things happen to him, and he comes through with flying colours – mostly – but truly, to add the Grim Thing on top of all the rest would end being either too much or a throwaway.
Not that this prevented me from yet another attempt during last weekend – but, once more, I had to give up. I’m all for multiple layers and complexity, but truly, f it has to be meaningful at all, the Grim Thing would be too much.
“A pity I can’t have it in late 1597,” I sighed to myself – and… epiphany!
You know the kind of happiness when a plot piece falls in place so perfectly, adding just the touch you missed? That kind of happiness, yes.
You see the hitch, don’t you? June 1594 is not October 1597 – and no amount of telescoping can make it even remotely close. If this were a one-act play, now, I might at least toy with the notion… but a novel? And one otherwise quite faithful to actual events? No, forsooth!
It’s a shame, though: it would add so much to the story – and after all, the story is a novel, right? A novel. So I’ve decided to break my own rules for once. The only question is, break them how? Shall I just brazenly move the Grim Thing to October 1597, and explain in the Author’s Note how this bit of accuracy was sacrificed on the altar of Story? Or shall I mention the actual Grim Thing’s practicalities in passing in 1594, and make up a similar episode to place where I need it, with its psychological effects on my hero?
I rather think I’ll play it safer and go for the second option – but, as I said, I’s dithering.
What do you say, o Readers? What would you do in my place? Did you ever face this particular dilemma? What did you do?