20,000 words into my novel based on the life of Alexander the Great and I’m beginning to realise what a mammoth task I have set myself.
I’ve also realised that, of course, Alexander did not exist in isolation.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, there was the influence of his father, Philip II (a man who, historically speaking, has been somewhat eclipsed by his son’s achievements) and of his mother, Olympias. There were his friends and Companions (in a Macedonian military context) his teachers (Aristotle, for one) and, naturally, his enemies.
Twenty thousand words have taken me to one of the pivotal moments of Greek history — the battle of Chaeronea in 338, which was Philip’s victory rather than Alexander’s, and to the historical point where Alexander’s story begins.
Even so, I’ve had to make a few difficult narrative decisions. Even Alexander’s early life is filled with incident (some of which may be true and other aspects may simply be pro-Alexander propaganda) and there is always the temptation to put everything in. To do so, however, would — I have no doubt — result in a massive tome of no interest but myself.
And. in a sense, all fiction regardless of genre hinges on the decision to include or exclude, does and incident or scene advance the story or is it simple navel gazing on behalf of the author?
I have also come to realise exactly how much research is going to be involved (and how much fun it can be) and equally the danger of allowing too much of it to show.
Twenty thousand words done, about another eighty thousand to go. I predict a certain amount of blood, sweat and tears over the next few months.