Earlier this week, I was involved in conversations about foreshadowing and setting on a writers' list I frequent. I got to thinking about how I use foreshadowing, and corrinalaw
and I batted the topic back and forth.
I'm trying to pay attention as I write this draft of Satisfaction, to see when I layer in things that will be foreshadowing (things that I already recognize as foreshadowing, I should say) and to see if there's a pattern to the layering. I guess what I'm doing is that, as I write, I see all sorts of fractal possibilities with each decision made by the characters. I can glance down each and see if any of them hold potential to work with the overall themes of the book as I know them, and if they do then I choose to include those layers.
Who I chose for bosun's mate in Satisfaction
is one of those fractal layers that stayed. The new bosun has to have a mate to help with the implementing of discipline. Discipline is, in part, at the end of the lash, so when the new bosun (who's Dutch) turned up with a bigger, more aggressive countryman, I gave him a rope belt with a big, nasty knot at its end. It's just a detail of setting when he's first introduced, but I know that there'll be nastiness with ropes later on, so it's also foreshadowing, depending on how he uses it. Plus there's the verses of the What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor, (at least) one of which involves the lash and many of which have potential to lead to scenes in this story. So, layers equal foreshadowing.
And setting equals foreshadowing, too. There is a significance to every setting; the work is in figuring out what that significance is to the person narrating the scene. If a character is leading a bunch of others escaping down a corridor in a secured compound, the choice of corridors matters, both to the characters and to their interaction. One of them chose this route. The others have a reaction to the choice, and to the route. They are living in your setting.
It's not what the corridors look like, in other words, but what the corridors mean to the characters. If they mean safety, or concealment, you describe how hard it is to see the characters in them, how they can work their way up to corners unobserved, the texture of the floor that enables them to run silently, that sort of thing. If they mean imminent capture, you describe the lighting, the noise the walls and floors are echoing around, the positioning of cameras. All of those things might be there - the lighting, the cameras, the positioning of the corners, the texture of the floor - but what you choose to describe is determined by what you want to convey to the reader.
Research has been limited because my available time has been rather compressed lately. I'm still doing minor readings on the city of Charleston ca. 1720 or so, not so much that I think the story will end up there as for the sense of place and time the information gives me. Port Royal had already experienced the first of its series of horrific earthquakes by the time of this story, and while it still existed as a city it was much reduced from what it had been. There are no existing buildings anymore for me to get this sense of place from.
(And hmm. There's one of those fractal layers I was talking about, above. Port Royal as a city crumbling around its residents' ears. One of the themes of this book is the clash of two societies and their mores (which are not the same as morals, but have things in common with them). So, when I do get to describing Port Royal, I need to describe the elements that will show this crumbling of the old regime.)
I had to do some research on bowsprit rigging, which drove me back to my notes from The Sailing Navy List - All the Ships of the Royal Navy, Built, Purchased and Captured, 1688-1860
, by David Lyon. (All hail Interlibrary Loan; this book is in extremely limited circulation, and purchasing an available copy is just not feasible, though I'd love to have one.)
I also did some research into older building techniques in the Caribbean. (Hint: the islands aren't really rock, or at least the Bahamas Islands aren't, and that's where the scene is set.)
Work on Satisfaction is ticking along at a respectable pace; thus far, I've made daily quota for novel_in_90
, though getting back into the swing of daily word count was not easy. I've put up about 6000 new words in the first week of solid work on it, and the story's becoming fun again, thank whoever. I did not relish the idea of slogging through this story if I couldn't get it to be enjoyable...and while I understand there's something to be said for the discipline of writing even if you don't think the story is exactly enjoyable at the moment--as in, revisions for an editor, which I can hope to be doing at some unknowable point in the future--that isn't a lesson I want to practice right now.