about writing and life and God

Helping to get it right

on June 12, 2013

My heroine’s story had become so gripping, I have been concentrating on it for a while. But now it’s time to weave in the other threads, and to do that I need to re-immerse myself in those characters’ lives.

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The romantic interest is a fictional character whom I’ve inserted into the real-life evangelist team of the charismatic and much-loved Jock Troup. This man’s contribution to revival in Scotland as well as Yarmouth demands that I get my facts right and do him justice. 

I thought I’d gathered most of the relevant resources and so set myself to re-read my research notes. A chance mention that Troup and his team stopped off briefly in Inverness on Tuesday 3rd January 1921 sent me to the internet for more detail. To my delight, I discovered the Aladdin’s cave that is the online British newspaper archive. It’s cheap and easy to use and I’ve spent a most rewarding afternoon trawling the index for articles about Jock Troup’s mission campaigns in Fraserburgh and Dundee, before he returned to Wick.

Weaving real-life people and happenings into a work of fiction is a delicate matter. You need the freedom to tell your story while simultaneously being true to theirs.

My greatest joy this afternoon was the discovery of wondrously detailed reports in the Dundee Courier of December 1921. The unnamed reporter deserves my deepest thanks. He/she provides almost word-for-word accounts of  Jock Troup’s sermons, fly-on-the wall descriptions of the scenes and the other people there, as well as full records of what they say. This is priceless for what I’m trying to do: I can now ‘see’ where my characters are living out their story. Even better, I’ve a much better idea of what was going on around them. Hopefully this will lend depth and richness to the telling!

At the very least, it gives me more confidence to write the based-on-real-life bits!


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