One of the most frequent comments/complaints I get about Where Daffodils Bloom involves the “gaps” in the story-line. Some readers are simply sad that they didn’t get to hear what happened in those holes, and others are annoyed with the “unnecessary” jumps. I’m writing this post to explain a little about why those gaps exist, and mention an idea I have for filling them in.
First: Why the gaps?
There are a couple of places in the book where multiple years go by in a matter of a few chapters. In the first half, this happens between the engagement and Fred’s return to England a couple of years later. In the second half, this happens between the wedding and Fred and Lily’s arrival in Canada. Both of these sections cover multiple years with a only a few chapters to break them up. So…why?
There are basically three distinct reasons.
From start to finish, the story stretches over a total of 14 years (1944-1959). It’s impossible to cover that much time in a single book without some significant jumps over the less important segments.
To get around this, many authors who write biographical novels will compress the story-line, changing the dates of events so that they happen closer together and thus allow a more seamless time-frame for the book. I chose NOT to do that (except in one very specific instance, noted in the Afterword) because it was important to to me to be as accurate as possible with the facts, and not move dates and events around willy-nilly.
To flow well, novels need to follow a certain pace/story-arc. Important highs and lows in the character development need to happen at fairly defined intervals. If an author wanders off in their writing, sharing interesting details and meandering scraps of story without any real movement in the character development, most readers will start to yawn.
#3. Missing Information
As I’ve already mentioned, it was my goal to write a book that was as accurate to the facts as possible. There are multiple time-periods in the course of the book which Fred and Lily simply did not leave us many details about. While other sections generated many family stories, these years are equivalent to the “dark ages” in history. We simply don’t know much about what happened in them.
I would have had to invent a LOT of fictional material to fill in the gaps, without any real knowledge of what actually happened there. In the interest of making the book as true to facts as possible, I chose not to do so.
Were any known facts left out?
You’re probably still wondering if there are pieces of the story that I left out, even though I knew about them.
The answer is…yes. There were certain family stories and details that simply did not make it into the final book (a few were in chapters that got cut when I trimmed the word-count down, and others were never written down in the first place).
For instance, there were some childhood stories that didn’t get into the book, since the story-line starts with both Lily and Fred as adults (though I referenced a few of them). There are also fascinating details about Lily’s uncles in WWI, which I just barely hinted at, and a few scattered stories here and there that I simply ran out of space for in the book.
So the question is, what becomes of those stories now? Should they be written down? Or left as family memories?
Some of my readers have begged for a sequel to Where Daffodils Bloom. And although I highly doubt I will write anything like a full novel, I am at least considering putting together a small companion book, (perhaps just in ebook form), that would share some of these missing stories.
What do you think? Would you like to find out more about Fred and Lily’s childhood? Are you curious about Lily’s Uncle George, who was determined to join the military even though it didn’t want him, and her Uncle Henry, who lied about his age in order to get into the trenches? (Spoiler alert! One of them never came back.) Would you enjoy the funny anecdotes about Lily’s first experiences in America, trying to read menus and find bathrooms in a country that calls things by different names?
Should I write a “missing stories” companion book to Where Daffodils Bloom?
Let me know in the comments!
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