This past summer I participated in the GoodReads Love Has No Bounds Event. People choose from a selection of pictures/prompts to write a story about. I wrote Playing For Keeps for the prompt I picked. That was my second attempt at a contemporary story and I was very satisfied with the outcome.
In June, an emergency call went out for prompts people were unable to complete. I took on an emergency call for an historical Scottish Laird Shifter. I had 30 days to turn in the story which sounds like plenty of time until you plan it out. I had three days of research, two weeks to write the story, and then ten days to work with an editor to polish it up.
Did I say already that I don't know anything about Scotland, or the topography of the highlands, or kilts? How about I didn't understand until too late the effect an historical (even in an alternate universe)would make on the words I used in the manuscript. I had to give a best guess to how much or how little the landscape changed in 1000 years. Did the houses have fireplaces? How did they cook their food? What type of food did they eat? What types of cloths did they have? Were there knights? Did Scotland have castles in the highlands? What was the forest like? Why was Scotland considered poor until King David? What do you mean some of the Scottish kings preferred to speak French? How old are the tartan patterns?
What I actually knew was embarrassingly little. But I forged and rolled with it. Because there are shifters in the story, then technically it is an alternate world and some aspects would have to change to accommodate the supernatural.
Then the plot I picked, which I thought would equal 20k tops, turned out to be much bigger. I made the decision to complete the relationship piece and then go back and finish out the storyline once I completed Striker.
I had no idea how much I got wrong until I came back to complete Fated.
So there I was researching castles and dwellings when I came across a reference that implied King Malcolm IV was not present at the Battle of Renfrew. Noooo. I made a trip to Half-Price Books and raided their reference section on Scotland.
So I dug and dug until three weeks later I came to the conclusion that I had too many things wrong. Depending on which history book I read, Malcolm was either a good guy or a bad guy. It seems that feudal system of his grandfather, King David I, was both loved and hated. He, Malcolm, and Malcolm's successor, William all spoke French and thought of themselves and Frenchmen, not Scottish.
Malcolm was king for a little over a decade, crowned when he was about 12 years old. Everybody wanted his piece of the pie and there was battle after battle as Malcolm continued to institute and up hold his grandfather's ideas and policies.
Somerled, King of the Isles was approached by some powerful men who wanted to put another person on the Scottish throne and they asked for his help. One thing led to another and bam we have the Battle of Renfrew. And the battle wasn't led by Malcolm. Nope. The High Steward Walter fitz Alan led the battle and won the day.
Other things I missed? Well, lets see. Fitz Alan's army was predominately Scoto-Norman knights and men-at-arms. Their numbers weren't as substantial as Somerled's 15,000 but their superior armor and weapons gave them an advantage and Somerled's army was--well, they were practically slaughtered. One of the history books recorded exactly how Somerled died and how his first born son died next to him. (Really sort of poetic.) And yes, in some of the books Somerled was considered a hero trying free Scotland form the Norman influence but in other texts he was reported to be greedy for the kingship of Scotland since the Battle of Renfrew was his second attempt to wrestle Scotland from Malcolm.
There was a castle there called Renfrewshire, recently built by Walter fitz Alan.
Even though some clans claim that they can trace their tartan pattern back a 1000 years, kilts weren't mentioned in any written text until around the 16th century. *head desk* Essentially, the texts on the first recorded kilts described them as belted cloaks. Is that something I can use?
Thane was not used until 14-15th century, not quiet sure exactly when. All I know is that it wasn't used in the 12th century. I finally found the title designations for David's feudal system, in Scottish Gaelic nonetheless, which I also discovered that even though the highlanders would have used the Gaelic term, the kings had them translated over to French-Latin. So to make things more difficult, if Ewen is in the company of the king's nobles he would use the French titles and if he's with his men he would use the Gaelic.
There were so many little things that I didn't catch. I realize that I only had three days of research before, and this is fiction, with shifters, which flips everything into an alternate universe but still--I felt AWFUL that I had so much wrong on something that was only supposed to be a place and time to begin the story. Aside from the beginning, the rest of the story takes place away from the overall political intrigue. The plot is about breaking the curse after all. But to fit Ewen and his kinsmen into that time period I ended up changing some of Ewen's history in order to put him in favor with the rulers and nobles. Even Roi's background got a makeover because I hadn't realized the Irish Catholic influence on the isles was as deep as it was.
My plan to have Fate and Destinies finished by the end of November was scrapped. This week felt I had enough research under my belt to begin making the changes and adding actual word count. I can't even guess when it will be completed but at least I'm writing on it again.
If you haven't read the free read, Fated, just keep in mind that it's ALL made up. Ewen and Roi live on a different timeline. And when it comes to Fate and Destinies it will be like reading a different story--for the most part. I'm keeping a good portion of the scenes that didn't have to be altered but they will be spread out so the relationship doesn't feel rushed.
In a couple of days I will have an excerpt for y'all since the Prologue is pretty much finished (at least I don't think that I'll be adding anything to it right now).
Thank you for stopping by and reading!