Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Remember When . . . People Moved Fast?

Between Ring of Secrets and Whispers from the Shadows there's a gap of 34 years or so. Substantial when you consider how characters age, but in terms of changes in the world itself between 1780 and 1814, it's fairly simple. Fashions changed quite a bit (bye-bye powdered wigs! LOL), language became slightly more modern. But technology underwent no huge changes. They still traveled by ship or horse, and that was pretty much it.

But between Whispers from the Shadows and Circle of Spies, I have a gap of 51 years. And it was a busy half-century! I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the differences of this world, the world of 1865. The world where we now have telegrams to communicate so very quickly. Still not as fast as cell phones, granted, but a message got to someone within a day rather than weeks or months. For that matter, people got themselves moved in a day instead of a week or month!

As I was reading a diary of someone involved in intrigue during the Civil War, that hit me over and over. That this guy just hopped a train to New York from Washington at the drop of a hat. That a trip to Canada was no big thing. That it wasn't any more difficult to go from Baltimore to D.C. then than it is now. (Maybe easier, given the traffic these days, LOL.)

In terms of my story, this means I have the ability to make it cover more distance more easily. That I can send my villain out and about for a week and then back when I need him. That messages can come on the day of an event without it being coincidence. Though not quite instantaneous like our world so often is today, the pace of 1865 was so much faster than in previous generations--and that's both overt and subtle. I'm have a lot of fun trying to integrate the mindset that came along with it, too.

The realization hit me pretty solidly at the tail end of my writing retreat, when I paused to think, "Hey, my family in this thing owns a railroad--I should probably incorporate trains!" And when I sat back to think How?, oh the images that came! So we're looking at a showdown on the rails. Not Western-style, with gun-slingers jumping all over the cars and dodging tunnels, but the climax is going to be on a train. And someone's going to get tossed out of it.

And he-or-she is only going to survive it because of a friendly local who helps out. Which brings us to a fun bit. ;-) Have you generated your spy name yet? YOU SHOULD!! I'm going to be pulling from this list of names to name some of the minor characters in Circle of Spies, and you might just see yourself in there! Not necessarily as spies...but you never know. =)

1 comment:

  1. It is very fascinating to see just how much or little things change over the years. From fashions to language to food and transportation to technology to anything and everything. What a great post. I am so looking forward to reading this series!

    My "spy name" is Liberty Winters. Or just Libby Winters. I love it

    Katie S.