Voyages of Discovery

The process of editing, having a second or, if you’re really lucky, a third pair of eyes scrutinising your work is a valuable experience. It picks up any extra hands; she’s already holding his hand. Do you mean his other hand? Those repetitions; could you look at the number of ‘gazes’ ? And any pesky time anomalies; Two weeks? I thought this was supposed to be the next morning? It’s also a useful reminder that you can never know enough about your characters; what they do, where they live, and, most importantly, what they want (or think they want!) – you don’t have to regurgitate all of that information, but you need those details very firmly fixed in your mind.

As Move Over Darling comes closer to publication, I’ve put the splurge that’s currently Book Three to one side to do some research. I know that two strangers are about to find themselves offshore in a small boat and I know that Little Spitmarsh, my sleepy seaside town from Turning the Tide will reappear somewhere along the way. The broad-brush strokes are there, but it’s time to fill in the details.

Following up a line of research, I took one book off my shelf that can never be replaced by an ecopy. One Summer's Grace is Libby Purves’s absorbing and frequently moving account of sailing round Britain with her husband and their two very small children. Our copy lived on Veryan, our old wooden boat, for many years. It’s survived a couple of soakings and being flung about in rough seas with only the loss of its cover.



Picking it up again, I was transported back to the past. Lily and Rose were older than the Purves children when they started sailing, but some of the challenges they faced were just as daunting. With that book in my hand, I thought about the dreadful passage back from Cherbourg, where Lily was Tom’s only crew left standing, our dinghy sinking under us at Alderney, running aground in the Beaulieu river and the time the two girls lay in their bunks laughing and pretending to be asleep whilst Tom and I had a heated discussion about the best place to berth. Those moments have been woven into the fabric of our family. They’re times we look back on and laugh about. I suspect with Lily about to get married we’ll be doing a bit of reminiscing about the past as well as looking towards the future. 

When we were very young; Rose at the tiller, Lily scanning the ocean!

And so, after several rounds of edits which have been such a useful prompt about attention to detail, I know that my new characters have their own stories and memories. Now it’s up to me to discover them.

Comments

Jane Lovering said…
What wonderful memories your girls will have! And such a fascinating setting for more novels...come on, edit faster, I'm desperate to read the book!
Maggie Christie said…
Gosh that's brought back loads of memories for me too of days sailing with parents and sister. It's one of the reasons I loved TTT so much so please do write more books with boats in!
Fennie said…
You know my views on sailing. With a spot of moral courage the Creator might have edited the oceans out of the Book of Genesis and we could then drive, or bike or even walk to Cherbourg. Too much repetition of water. But I suppose the stuff is all right in books. And wherever would you otherwise put the fish?
Pondside said…
We once had a sailboat, but not for long. TGD and I had very different ideas about what constituted a 'good day's sailing'.
I loved the description of the much-read book.
Frances said…
Oh Chris, I know nothing, nothing about sailing, but as a voracious reader, I do know a bit about books that show signs of not having a diligent editor.

You know how most of the books I now read are borrowed from a marvelous library. I am too well bred a reader to ever make a mark in a library book, but I do enjoy coming across some penciled marginal notes sometimes left by other diligent readers. It's sort of encouraging to realize that someone saw a glaring omission/error and just could not resist a notation.

Since many of these books are first editions published many, many decades ago, it's fun to think about when that pencil mark arrived on the page.

xo
Flowerpot said…
Oh it's exciting at that stage isnt it Chris? Makes me laugh thinking about your sailing exploits can well go along with those. Blog update over at mine x
I love those incidents that merge into the family history and get repeated at get togethers.
Patsy said…
Getting someone else to read your work is vital - we can never catch all our crazy mistakes ourselves.
Cottage Garden said…
Research must be the real fun bit of writing Chris and to bring memories to life whilst doing so can only be a bonus.

I have made a note of One Summer's Grace by Libby Purves, it looks like a great read. I didn't know she sailed but I do listen to her on Radio 4 and love her programme.

Good luck with the editing.

Jeanne
x
Cait O'Connor said…
Good to catch up with your life Chris and so pleased that everything is going so well for you.
Chris Stovell said…
Thanks Jane - they have some rubbish memories of those times too, but we gloss over those!

Mags, on the list - doing lots of research for a sailing book 3!

You are to sailing, Fennie, what I am to Am Dram!

Pondside, I suspect that Tom and TGD would agree on a good day's sailing... and it wouldn't be ours!

Frances - Tom and I can't share books because he will write all over them *feels faint* whereas I like to preserve mine. Once Summer's Grace is special though for all the memories it holds of those times,so it always has a place on the shelf. All the same with 'that' library as your local, I bet you've made some very interesting and unexpected discoveries!

Sue, if we ever meet up, I'm sure we'll be able to swap some colourful sailing tales!

Debs, it seems from your blog that your family have got plenty of good and interesting memories to share.

So true, Patsy - and congratulations to you!

Jeanne, it's a lovely book and you don't have to sail to enjoy it. It's particularly poignant reading about Libby Purves's small son in view of later events. I'd forgotten how wonderful a writer she is too, so it was a great pleasure rereading this.

Cait, how kind of you to stop by, thank you.

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