Sunday, 8 November 2015

How do you write - 2


spiders work overnight
 Yesterday I didn't think I was going to write very much on how  my writing was done. Today I am thinking differently, hence the figure 2 in the subject line.

Today I was editing a chapter in my wip in which the hero attempts to escape Edinburgh when it is attacked by the English in 1544. There is possibly an irony in that he is English, but the love of life is Scots, and he wants to take her back to England. First of all, they have to get out of Edinburgh, but the gates have been closed - to keep the English out. Then I wondered why I was telling my characters to ride for the West Port (gate) when they wanted, indeed needed, to ride south. Got out the atlas, checked the city of Edinburgh map and made sure it was on the west-east axis that I'd remembered. (Well, of course it was - but these things suddenly sound doubtful when you are in the middle of writing a scene!)
But, I thought, shouldn't they have been heading for the South Port?

That meant searching for the map  of Edinburgh in the 1540s that I remembered using. I couldn't find it in my "research" collection files. Lots of maps of Dublin, past and present, west coast of Scotland, but none of Edinburgh. Grrr. Maybe I hadn't kept a photocopy of the map after all. Back online, I found the required map and hastily checked for gates. Hampered a trifle by the fact that the names were in Latin, which I never did at school, and that the map was very small, I successfully enlarged it so I could see it fantastic detail, but then couldn't figure out a way to print at such a huge size. I found that the key in the corner of the screen had the names in Latin, certainly, but when I looked at all the listings, they were in Scots as well. Since that's English as near as damnit, I was flying.

Then I realised the map was for 1580. Hastily moved back to the one for 1540 and discovered there was a south gate that by 1580  had disappeared - therefore I didn't have a name for it. The wretched gate was there in 1540, I could send my characters through it, but I didn't know what to call it. There are four other gates, all named, present in 1540 and still there in 1580 - but not the one I want. Still, if it has disappeared that long ago, who will know what it was called? At least it was there. I'll say it is the gate at the end of  x street. And that little bit of research has taken the best part of an hour and half.

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