Here is a partial list of things I need to know about to get a good start with Six (as I’m going to call it for now. Maybe the title really will be Journeys End, but maybe not).
1. I have to decide when this story starts. Right now it looks like 1822, spring through fall.
2. Character list. As this novel takes place almost exclusively in Paradise, I have to review everybody who has lived there in the past (still living? moved away? doing what?) and newcomers (children born, families who have come to Paradise since Fire Along the Sky).
3. Sketch of the village, and who lives where. New buildings, etc. Farmsteads with family names.
4. World situation 1820-summer 1822. Major wars, sociocultural advances, technological changes since 1815, especially those that may effect Paradise.
5. National, local and state changes in politics, culture, technology since 1815.
Examples: the Panic of 1819:
The Panic of 1819 was the first major financial crisis in the United States. It featured widespread foreclosures, bank failures, unemployment, and a slump in agriculture and manufacturing. It marked the end of the economic expansion that had followed the War of 1812. (Wikipedia)
The life of Denmark Vesey, who was hanged for planning a slave rebellion in the Carolinas.
Popular (and often unfounded, outrageous) opinions, for example, regarding Native Americans:
FORT SNELLING. June 1838. Morality and Chastity among the Indians.
In many customs the Sioux are closely allied to the Jewish nation; indeed, a work has been published in America to prove that the Indians were originally Jews.
I pull dozens and dozens of bits of information like this together, and they all sit in my head, along with the characters. The conflicts that will drive the story derive in part from this kind of background work.
Tomorrow I’ll post about the prep work for the primary characters. For each of them I have to figure out how old they are now, what physical changes we’re looking at, the household in which they live, and how the households relate to each other in a variety of ways. I’ll post some of the material for Curiosity — but nothing that could be construed as a spoiler.