I’ve just reviewed the copy edits for Entertaining the Sombrevilles. The book will be published in less than a month. It still feels surreal that it will be out there, for anyone to read. I don’t think I’ll fully understand that until it’s actually happening, to be honest. But for now I’m just happy that it’s so much cleaner and in every way better, now after the copy editing. Thank God that there are other people helping me out with the manuscript. I’m so grateful for that.
In less than a month November is here, and for me and many others that means NaNoWriMo is coming. I’m starting to get nervous – research is going slow, and I honestly don’t want to rush it or burden myself too much. I’m no Superwoman and I never will be – I need my sleep and I need to do other things apart from work every once in a while. I don’t want my writing to feel like a chore, but some parts of writing are more difficult to get through. I feel like I’ve bought too many research books at once, so just looking at the research shelf stresses me out…
But I’ve read about half of the first book now and I’ve learned so many things. Some parts of 18th century life are very hard to understand (like giving babies physical punishment ><) but there are so many things that are similar. I love imagining what people’s lives were really like back then. History is so fascinating!
Today I’m off to Sweden’s largest book fair, Bokmässan. It’s honestly just like Christmas for book lovers, and I’m really excited about it. The fair lasts for four days but I will only be going today – which is a bit depressing, since there’s so much I would have liked to listen to. I don’t care much about the big names, tbh, but I have my usual set of fave lgbt and/or horror writers who will be there. Let’s see if I can make it without buying any books this year – I always make that promise to myself and I never keep it.
This week I’ve written a few short stories, btw. I’ve realised I crave actual writing and storytelling on a regular basis, or I get restless and depressed. Doing outlining and research just doesn’t give me the same sense of accomplishment. Now I can go back to my research books with some new energy!
Right now this book is what keeps me company in the evenings – “English Society In The 18th Century” by Roy Porter. Such an interesting read! I’m underlining everything, or pretty much everything. I’ve always loved history , and the 18th century has been my favourite era ever since I was six or so. It’s such an interesting mix of old and new, of things we recognise and things that are foreign to us.
As always, what pains me the most about this century (and all centuries before the 20th) is how hard life must have been for people. The life expectancy was 37 years, Porter writes (in 1700, I think?), and a lot of children never lived past five years of age. He writes that parents of that time weren’t very affectionate with their children and that putting distance between themselves and their offspring might have been a way of protecting themselves from too much grief if the child died. That’s foreign to us today, in the rich part of the world, but it’s still harsh reality for parents in many poor countries. And it’s only been a hundred years or so in my own country, since people were starving and children dying here as well.
There are so many stories to tell and so much I’d like to use in my story, but I can’t fit everything in there. And naturally, since I’m writing romantic fiction I can’t be historically correct about everything. No missing teeth or unwashed bodies here. 😉
So far, Porter has also mentioned roast beef about five times and written about how it was the favourite dish of the Brits and how the country squires feasted on roast beef and beer. I guess I need to mention someone somewhere wolfing down roast beef, to make things more authentic. My boys do need to eat every now and then, after all.
Right now, I’m doing the last three character sheets I need before I can go into the next phase of novel prep – research. I have a lot of books lined up and I’m looking forward to reading them. In a way, research feels a bit like studying for school, but without the stress of grades and exams. And you get to study only those things that you love.
I’m still working on those character sheets though, and today I thought I’d share with you the template that I normally use. For the most important characters of the first book in the series I did a much more extensive sheet, about ten pages compared to this one, which is about two pages long. I’m glad I did those ten pages for my MC’s, but for the rest of the characters it was a bit much.
Here’s my template:
Basic Character Sheet
Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Where does he/she live?
Is he/she tidy, messy, or average?
Family? (Romantic relationship, children etc):
Whom does he/she look like?
How does he/she dress?
How does he/she speak?
Comfortable with physical contact?
Most significant childhood event:
Five good traits:
Five bad traits:
Optimist or pessimist:
Introvert or extrovert:
Which person in his/her life would the person most want to emulate?
Which person in his/her life would the person least want to emulate?
What is his/her biggest secret?
What makes him/her angry:
What makes him/her embarrassed:
What makes him/her scared:
What makes him/her laugh:
What makes him/her cry:
What pains him/her the most:
Motives (why that goal?):
Conflict (what is keeping them from reaching that goal?):
Do you find character sheets useful?
(Feel free to use this template or be inspired by it, if you like!)