I found writing a historical novel very, very hard.  Like, hard. Hard to keep my narrative eye in the moment; I always felt I was lifting my gaze from the scene in front of me, writing it from a position of privilege — the future, where everything had already happened.  Month after month, I struggled to make the events of this book feel as though they were really happening — anywhere, at any time.

I had been writing in the past tense.  Finally, in desperation, I decided to try the present tense.  This is the first section I wrote in the present — Clyde Tombaugh, driving into Burdett to pick up supplies for his homemade telescope in 1928:

I found it worked — I could know only what my characters knew, at the moment they knew it.  It worked, for whatever reason.

In the selection above, the material in red made it into the book.  Everything in black got cut.  And the phrases in blue were added sometime later.

The more you write, the more  you have to work with.  It’s always easier to cut than to add!

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