The Finer Points of Re-writing

When you a significant change to a story, even something as seemingly innocuous as the back story, it is important to think about the knock on effects for the wider story. As I have said before, my novel is a medieval world in the future – a situation that has come about because of the philosophy of an anti-technology Christian church the grew up in the shadow of a devastating nuclear war between Uncle Sam the the Russian Bear.

Cue last week, and I’ve decided to change the back story from a nuclear war in 2050 to one that followed the Cuban Missile Crisis. This seemingly minor change opened up the narrative, including giving a bit more weight to the anti-Catholic sentiment of the church being a very conservative offshoot of the Church of England. But it also had knock on effects for a lot of the remaining narrative. For example, the funeral procession of a public figure was included generally so the reader could get a feel for what London c2547 would look like. I had to remove references to the locations of the following:

HMS Belfast – decommissioned light cruiser now a museum ship, part of the Imperial War Museum facilities.

commons.wikimedia.org

  • Tate Modern (which was given its “Modern” name in 2000)
  • HMS Belfast (which went into permanent dock on the embankment in the 1970s)
  • The ruins of the Oracle Shopping Centre (which still stood because Reading is a deserted city in this world) – the centre was built in 1999
  • Excavations of the embankments to build a new dock revealed part of The London Eye (built in 1999)

These are the ones I have come across so far and no doubt I will spot more as I continue to edit. Little things like that make all the difference. It is all well and good researching the big things but lots of small errors can also niggle the reader.

Thankfully, I wrote this novel before The Gherkin (2003) and The Shard (2012) were built so there were no references to remove in the first place. I will certainly need to research the recent history of The Tower of London to make sure later events make sense in context of the situation at the citadel in the 1960s. By this time, it had primarily been a tourist destination for the best part of 100 years; however it still houses a regiment today and the Crown Jewels have been protected there since Queen Victoria’s era.

Keep reading for updates!

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