A Certain Time

Well, I’ve decided on a specific time period for my WIP (hurray). The height of the Battle of Britain, 1940.

This provides its own unique challenges.  Most of my other stories have a hazy, indefinite time period. One is set some time between 1793 and 1805, most in the latter half of the 20th century.

This WIP, having its set time frame, means that I just can’t make up too much stuff. Research, lovely research; no sarcasm here, I love it. Weather, and of course the dates/times of actual battles. I’ll have to make sure it feels like its the summer/fall of 1940, probably by referencing newspaper articles, popular songs, and, of course, speeches by Winston Churchill.

I’m thinking about the plotting and having my characters experience personal turmoil while the war is raging on around them. There’s some potential there, especially once the Blitz gets started.

16 thoughts on “A Certain Time

  1. Hi Beth. I’m a WWII buff. My father landed in France on D-Day, 3rd wave, Utah Beach and walked across France to Germany. One thing to check in your research is the distance round trip the Spitfire can fly from a base in Brittan. I know that during the Blitz they were used primary on defense. Later, as the Germans ran out of aircraft, they supported the bombers from England to the continent then picked up the bombers again on their return to England. I don’t think they would have the range to escort into Holland until they had airfields in France again. BUT I may be wrong. When range is given it usually is for one-way, not out and back. So you may need to use half the number given to get the two way range. Just a thought. Good luck with your project!

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    1. That’s really interesting! WWII is so interesting; I wish I learned more about it in high school. That’s what independent research is for. 🙂

      I’ve decided to remove Holland from this story (I’m still thinking that the Resistance will work its way into a different story); my pilots are going to be defensive. I’ve found a lot of information about the Battle of Britain and my interest was piqued!

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  2. It IS interesting. I spent 3 years in London from 69 to 72 and it was still all they talked about in the pubs. Great people and they went through hell. One wonders what would have happened if Hitler would have kept bombing the airfields and the radar sites instead of switching to bombing London. We might all be speaking German now.

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  3. A book I can highly recommend, if you can find a copy, is The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood and Derek Dempster, first published in 1961 – pretty much the definitive book on the Battle of Britain, mostly due to the fact the people like Dowding, Parks, Milch and Galland were still alive.

    It goes through the battle day by day, mentioning weather, actions, losses and so on, as well as technical and other information.

    And while the Spitfire is perhaps the most beautiful plane ever built (and the sound of those engines is amazing), don’t go forgetting the humble Hurricane, which actually performed the bulk of the work during the BoB.

    Probably not going to be a big issue, but a pet peeve of mine is most movies/shows now days get the wrong Marks of Spits in the BoB. I can be a bit pedantic about minor technical issues like that 😛

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    1. Wow! Thank you for the suggestion; I’ll keep my eyes peeled for a copy. It sounds exactly like what I’m looking for.
      I’m a stickler for detail as well (obsessively so at times). There have been times where I’ve had to stop watching a movie because the uniforms were wrong…

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    2. That’s because most “sruviving” examples are Mk V and above, while most of the planes during the Summer-Fall of 1940 were Mk I-IIs. They might even try to use a Seafire or two. But then again, with modern CGI that should not be a problem (if they do the research, of course). I think the time would be ripe for such a movie. One of the things that movies fail to convey is the spatial dimensions of air warfare, let alone the speed.

      And don’t get me started on weapon effects. I hate big kerosene fireballs. Impressive, yes, but the reality is far more interesting.

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  4. Doing a bit of research on the Battle myself, but for a script about the Battle. Research is vital. As a military buff I want to get the details right, even if a future audience won’t detect most of them.

    Great blog btw!

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  5. Docudrama of sorts. Trying to capture the essence of the Battle and it’s place in the large history of the war. Starts at Dunkirk (with an explosion of German artillery on the dunes among cowering BEF, Belgian and French forces) and ends with the Liberation of Paris.

    I’m thinking that the key historical figures should remain intact but other characters representing the civilians, pilots, royal auxiliary should be amalgamated. The bridge between these separate subplots falls on the “Researcher” a member of the Canadian Armed Forces who came to London to research the role of Canadian airmen in the Battle but became fascinated by the “big picture”. The Research doesn’t speak, but through his notes, typing and research material links the different strata of the story, hopefully in a cohesive whole.

    A lot to put in 120 pages and the research is extensive to say the least.

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  6. Beth, what internet sources are you currently using? Are you on any particular forums? I’m looking for good Medieval forums, and although I’m *cough* a few centuries behind you, I was wondering if maybe there are some good forums for historians which’d have threads or sections on different eras…. Know anything based on your own research?

    Thanks!

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    1. I haven’t found any forums; mostly I’m using books as sources, and I found a very good compilation of anecdotes from the era on the BBC website. I should find some, though!

      NaNoWriMo.org has decent forums, one specifically for historical fiction (kind of dead, as November is still a few months away).

      I haven’t delved too deeply into Medieval forums, but here are a few sites I’ve pulled up.

      http://labyrinth.georgetown.edu/
      http://www.british-history.ac.uk/period.aspx
      http://eudocs.lib.byu.edu/index.php/Main_Page

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  7. Thanks Beth!!! I appreciate it.

    I’ve never done NaNoWriMo, but now there’s an extra incentive. 🙂 We’ll see.

    But I’ll check those sites out. I think I’ve gone into the first, but not the other two. Thank you! 🙂

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      1. Though my NaNo novel was no good, the experience was a lot of fun; I’m planning on writing a good chunk of the WIP this November.

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