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Does this sound like a good story?

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Mythica
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Does this sound like a good story?

Post by Mythica » Thu February 21st, 2019, 6:40 pm

I have no formal education on writing, but particularly when I'm doing my genealogy research I come across true stories that seem so perfect for dramatization, I get the urge to write about it. Trouble is, I've always been more of a visual person - I feel like I can create great scenes in my head, but then when I try to put them to paper... ugh. So before I spend loads of time giving it a try, first let me ask if the plot/premise even sounds any good, or whether I just think it does because they're my ancestors. I almost feel like there could be a series of 2-3 stories/books.

Part/Book 1?
Jean de la Montagne was a doctor, linguist, and French Huguenot (Walloon) in Leiden, Holland in the 1600s - he and a group of Huguenots went to (what is now) French Guiana to explore areas for potential settlement with the Dutch West Indies Company. While there, they are abandoned by the ship which brought them there, and the leader of their group, Jesse de Forest, who was like a father to Jean, died of a fever ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jess%C3%A9_de_Forest ). When it became clear their ship would not be returning for them, they began building a boat to take them to the Caribbean Islands where there was more ship traffic and they'd be able to find one to take them back to Europe. But their project is interrupted by a war between native tribes the Yaos and the Mays. Jean fought with the Yaos against the Mays but was soon appalled by their cruelty and withdrew by telling them his group were out of gun powder. 3 weeks before their boat was due to be complete, a ship arrived and took them to the Caribbean (St Vincent) where they boarded another ship that finally took them home. All of this is factual and detailed in Jean's surviving journal of the journey - the last entry he writes "On the 16th of November we arrived at Flushing— for which God be praised."

Part/Book 2?
Back in Leiden, he married the daughter of Jesse de Forest, Rachel. Sources claim that they then went to Tobago for a few years, but this is contested by the fact that one of their children was baptized in Leiden while they are supposedly in Tobago. For the sake of dramatic license, I really want them to go to Tobago - it's not impossible they returned to Leiden for the baptism, right? I'm theorizing that there was no Walloon priest in Tobago to do the baptism. So supposedly, while in Tobago their first child died, Rachel gave birth, they go to Leiden for the baptism, and then back to Tobago where Rachel gets pregnant again but this time she returned to Leiden to give birth. I think she refused to go back to Tobago because 2 years later, Jean returned to Leiden too and they never went back. I suppose if this is unrealistic, it can be removed.

Part/Book 3?
A few years later, Jean and family went to New Amsterdam (now New York City). Jean became the only Councillor for the Director-General of New Amsterdam ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willem_Kieft ) - usually, the Director had a larger council which voted on issues and the majority won, and the Director only had the swaying vote as a tie-breaker. But because he only chose one Councillor (Jean), this meant that the Director's vote always took priority, meaning he could overrule Jean on anything. This seems like an abuse of power to me, so I thought it could be an eventful part of the story. For example, Native Americans began attacking the settlement, and Jean voted not to retaliate against them because the settlers like him who lived at a distance from the fort would have no protection, but the Director ignored him and ordered all nearby natives to be slaughtered. The natives then fought back with even more attacks and fires. Jean's property was spared at first, but later that year the natives attacked and destroyed/burnt his property - he and his family escaped with only what they could carry in their flee. This same year, Rachel died and it's unknown whether she was killed in the attack or not. Some say it's unlikely because such an event would have been recorded somewhere and there's no known record of it, but again, I think I can use a dramatic license here and include it. Jean was given a military command position and lead several attacks against the natives for a couple years before he became a member of a peace committee which finally established a truce with the natives that lasted for ten years. It was broken when the natives attacked the settlement again, and Jean again urged pacifism and this time, his advice was heeded because there was a new Director ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Stuyvesant ). Their non-retaliation seemed to dissipate the matter and the attacks stopped for a few years. Jean was made Vice Director of Fort Orange, but then the Esopus wars began ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esopus_Wars ) and Jean's daughter and granddaughter were abducted - they were returned (I assume ransomed) one month later. Not long after this, New Amsterdam was lost to the English and became New York. Jean was forced to resign from his position as Vice Director of Fort Orange and make an Oath of Loyalty to the British government. However, he drops out of records at this point and it's suspected he returned to Holland, where he presumably died around 1670. Again, all of this is factual apart from how Rachel died.

Phew. Sorry that was long, I was trying to summarize the best I could. There's actually a lot more details and lesser events that could be used too, these are just the main events. Would any of this make a good story? Any advice on how to go about it? TIA

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Madeleine
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Re: Does this sound like a good story?

Post by Madeleine » Fri February 22nd, 2019, 4:54 pm

It certainly sounds a good story, and you've got background to go on, however I can't advise on the writing aspect! Good luck if you decide to give it a go, it's a period of history that doesn't seem to be featured very often (especially in the UK, the US market may of course be different).
Currently reading "The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper & "The Christmas Egg" by Mary Kelly

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Mythica
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Re: Does this sound like a good story?

Post by Mythica » Sat February 23rd, 2019, 12:34 am

Madeleine wrote:
Fri February 22nd, 2019, 4:54 pm
It certainly sounds a good story, and you've got background to go on, however I can't advise on the writing aspect! Good luck if you decide to give it a go, it's a period of history that doesn't seem to be featured very often (especially in the UK, the US market may of course be different).
Thanks, I hope I can do it justice but it's probably a pipe dream.

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