This post is by Nancy Jardine.
Full length novel completed. Own edits thoroughly done. Manuscript is ready for next stage. What might that be for you? Me? I’d be focusing on finalising: 1) Title 2) Tag Line 3) Blurb 4) Synopsis… before submitting to a publisher. I find it incredibly difficult to do those last stages even though, by then, I know my story inside out. So how do I decide on what is the gist of it? – gist: main points; general ideas; general picture; substance of the thing…
I want the person who reads my submission to immediately know the essence of my story. I want the main highlights to be pointed out but not the full happenings. I want to get across the impact of certain developments in my story and strategic moments within it where my characters are faced with situations that they love being in/ hate being in/ or perhaps need to change to reach the finale of the events.
Like my story writing I’ve been realising that my recent cruise holiday to Greenland, Iceland and Norway was quite similar. Sailing to those places meant a lot of water to cross before setting foot on the land. The days spent at sea were part of the preparation for the on-shore events and were the background to strategic and particular moments.
My last post on this Wranglers blog mentions what led to my husband choosing our cruise. Those details can be found HERE However, part of our advance planning was also booking our on-shore trips. From a wide range of options, we chose on-shore activities that would allow us to experience the essence of Iceland and the parts of Norway that we visited by using different travel methods. In Reykjavik, Iceland, we booked a Tuk-Tuk ride to experience the old city. Actually the old city is neither large, nor very old, but a 3 wheeled Tuk-Tuk is a novel way to ride the cobbled streets.
At Akureyri, Iceland, we booked a 4×4 ride across terrain that a normal coach wouldn’t be able to travel on, the idea being to see hidden waterfalls and ancient ‘ghostly’ places. At Eskifjordur, Iceland, we booked a coach tour that would take us to tiny seaside towns where we could visit a small fishing museum, and a rocks and minerals museum.
At Alesund, Norway, we booked a long coach tour to the interior where we would take a short train ride on the famous Rauma Railway which goes past the incredible Trollstigen Mountains. At Olden, Norway, we booked a short coach ride to the brand new Cable Car which goes to the top of Mount Hoven Loen (opened spring 2017).
Can you see the Gryla the Troll frowning up there at Dimmuborgir, northern Iceland? There’s a folk tale on my blog about this psychopathic troll!
There was only one port of call on Greenland to the tiny coastal town of Tasiilaq, the largest settlement in eastern Greenland with a population of 2,000 people.
For this shore trip we opted to just take the tender ashore and wander around for a while to explore on our own. This was a good choice since it was around 4 deg C/ 40 deg F, a little windy and showery, so a short visit was just fine. From my vantage point up the hill as I took this photo I was still 105 km from the Arctic Circle!
Like writing a novel those were our original on-shore plans but plans have a tendency to be derailed. Thankfully, not literally – the Rauma train was a lovely little ride! But… due to horrendously bad weather as we sailed from Greenland eastwards to Iceland the captain had to seriously change our plans. We experienced 36 hours of continuous Force 9 Gales with intermittent gusts at 10 and 11. That means Force 9 winds around 55 mph; Force 10 storm gusts of up to 63 mph; and Force 11 violent storm gusts of 72/73 mph. Those Beaufort scale numbers of wind speed sound insignificant when compared to the hurricane winds recently experienced in the Caribbean area but at sea even violent storms are pretty scary.
I’m so glad my husband and I are very good sailors so the huge swells didn’t affect us at all, though that wasn’t the case for some cruisers. It also became clear that although those gales are a nuisance to all on board, most of those who return again and again to cruising don’t suffer seasickness. At mealtimes, the restaurants were still pretty full and the wait staff carried on regardless and as though the shifting floor wasn’t happening. They still carried trays at their shoulder stacked with 9 heavy and full dinner plates and the beautifully presented haute cuisine never slipped a fraction on those plates. During the whole cruise, I was highly impressed by the quality and presentation of the food and professionalism of all staff, including the ‘turn down’ room service. (BTW- My husband was glad it was his Jardine Tartan Trews Outfit that was packed and not his kilt! )
But back to those Force 9s…As I battled with my camera on our tiny balcony on Deck 8 the Bridge Deck, I thought about the driving force our little ship needed to plough through those huge breakers. Later that night, after dinner, as I watched some of the breakers splash up to the windows of the Observation Lounge on Deck 9 of 10 decks on board it also made me think of the exhilaration needed to drive forward the plot of an adventure novel. I knew that my current WIP was lacking some of that exhilaration and I resolved to change that when I got home. I’m now working on that every chance I get.
The impact of the storm force winds meant huge delays to our arrival on Iceland, so in essence we experienced a much longer sail time. We missed our scheduled ‘slots’ for berthing at the ports of Akureyri and Eskifjordur. The best our captain could do was to get us a late berth at Akureyri, half a day late. That meant changes to all the various on–shore tours that had been booked but we were so lucky that Icelanders are very resilient and adapt well to whatever weather is thrown at them. Instead of tours beginning at 9 a.m. with lunch included, they shifted tour times to start at 2.30 p. m. just after we docked. The longer tours included dinner instead with a very late arrival back to the ship which was now booked at port overnight (This ‘overnight stop’ was not on the original itinerary but meant less battling of the continuing high seas for the captain and bridge crew).
My husband and I didn’t get our 4×4 trip because the poor weather on Iceland meant off road driving was too skittery and dangerous. We went on an alternative long coach tour that proved very good considering it rained all day and the mist lay low across the landscape so visibility was vastly reduced. Dimmuborgir, the home of the Trolls, was fabulous as were the out of this world geo thermal ‘mud pots’ at Namaskard.
I was gutted; I admit it, when our captain informed us that we had to totally miss out our stop at Eskifjordur. The knock on effect of waiting for a new berthing slot at Eskifjordur would have made us too late to stop at 2 places in Norway. The weather was expected to be better in Norway so it was a ‘no brainer’ for the captain to make his decision. He had to ‘cut out’ what wasn’t going to be viable. And…that’s exactly what I’m going to have to do fairly soon in my writing—there will be a lot of slash and burn and removal of unnecessary scenes.
The gist of my cruise experience? Be adaptable. Be prepared to make changes. Be flexible about the outcomes that are achievable. Those things apply just as much to my writing.
How about changes to your writing or to your ‘life/leisure/vacation’ plans?
You can read my Cruise Diary blog posts on my BLOG and see a lot more of my photos of my experiences on Greenland, Iceland and Norway. Whether I can use my experience in any future writing remains to be seen…
Nancy Jardine writes historical fiction, contemporary mysteries and time travel historical for early teens. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the Scottish Association of Writers and the Federation of Writers Scotland. She’s published by Crooked Cat Books and has delved into self publishing.
You can find her at these places:
Amazon Author page http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere