Friday, November 11, 2011

Research and Details

Golem is set in the real world, even if it is Fantasy.  It's also set in a day and time where a lot of the details were just not recorded.  And, sometimes, I get stuck.  I want the details to be right, but even with the research I've done, I don't know the details.

This is the biggest reason for blocks that I'm finding with this year's nano.  Other years, I didn't have enough conflict, so I made a conflict list.  The peasants from the interior of Russia came to Odessa looking for work.  The Japanese/Russian war created a recession, so there was no work.  The peasants blame the Jews.  Conflict.

The research that I have done shows that the different peoples met in cafe's.  Peasants had a beer beside University students and shopkeepers ate their supper at the next table.  That's a good place for showing that conflict.

But now the details come into play - what did they eat?  soup? sandwiches? pot pies?  What did they drink? ale? vodka? wine?

I have a friend who's been stopping as she writes to research those details.  It's taking her awhile, but it seems to be working for her.  I haven't been able to find the details, though.  I've just wasted time.

NanoWrimo's creed is "Just Write", so I'm trying to go with an educated guess and I'll fix it later.  At least I'm getting words.

Here's a snip:

"Everywhere you go, you trip over more Jews."  I glanced over to the man who was speaking.  He wore old trousers and the kind of tunic that peasants wore, stained and badly repaired where it had torn.  He was a big man with loose folds of skin hanging from his neck and big, beefy hands that curled into fists.  He was also looking at me, pure hate pouring from him.  It stole my breath.

Another big man, with a jet black beard, laughed.  "You trip over your own feet, Misha."

"I'm serious.  I can't find a job because they're all given to these damned Jews."  His eyes never left me and I took two steps away, backing into someone else's chair.

"I'm so sorry," I murmured and started to weave my way toward Yakov and Avrom.

"You can't find a job because you drink your paycheck."  I was still close enough to hear them.

"No.  It's because Jews, like that girl, have all the jobs."  It was easy to hear him - his voice got louder as he got angrier.  I wanted to curl into a ball and hide underneath the tables.

His friend with the beard roared with laughter.  "That girl isn't going to beat you out for a job hauling crates in the warehouse.  IF she works, she's more likely to work in her father's store and no one's ever going to hire you to be nice to customers.  Eat something and calm down, Misha.  I didn't come here tonight to get started in a fight."

Yakov had seen me, finally, and he stood.  I rushed over and wrapped my arms around him; I didn't care who saw.

"Rachel?  Are you all right?"  His arm snaked around my shoulders and he looked down at me.  "Babele?" he added in a whisper.

"I'm all right," I whispered into his chest.

"One of the peasants yelled at her."  Avrom had stood and was looking over my head toward the man called Misha.  When I looked, he was frowning, but digging in to a bowl of soup.

How do you handle the details?

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Dark and the Light

I almost scrapped Golem as my nano project.  Really, I almost tossed all the prep and started over with the Sci Fi Bunny.  And it's all the fault of the research.

I'm setting Golem in a very real place, with very real history and very real.  And very, very not Happy Ever After.  Anyone who knows me knows that I go more for the sweet and less for the horror.  But there are parts of this story that *has* to be almost if not Horror.

Because 400 people, 300 of them Jews, died in a riot where very angry people focused their anger on those people who were different from them.  Jewish homes and businesses were destroyed.  Jewish women and children were beaten.

I knew that *my* story would have a happy-ish ending, but it couldn't completely be very happy, because I won't be rewriting history.  I just didn't think I could spend 50,000 words with such a depressing story.

In talking things over with a friend, she suggested that I write the sweet part of the story for a bit and maybe I'd feel better about it.  I tried and she's right.

But I'm coming to the conclusion that the story is stronger because of the contrast between light and dark.  You care more about the dark because you care about the characters.  And I, at least, care about the characters because they're really very sweet.

A short snip:

Mr. Grabel walked into the study, twisting his hat in his hands. "I don't want to be any trouble, Rabbi."

"No trouble," I said.  Mr. Grabel was a large, imposing man, but with my father, he acted like a young boy.  "The kettle is on already.  Do you take milk?"

He smiled shyly, even though his middle daughter was my best friend.  He'd known me all my life.  "A little honey, if you have it.  Thank you, Rachel."


Nano – Three days (I haven't really written much tonight): 5,832 words

Plan for this weekend: Spiders!