Charles Web Journal

My blog is intended to show how I construct and write a historical novel. It will be a journal of my daily writing activity, as I write a new historical novel.

Location: Evansburg, Alberta, Canada

I am a retired school teacher with a B. Ed in English literature a B.A. in History. After a long career as a teacher of English and history, I now write historical novels based on Canadian history.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Character Goals and Obstacles

For the past several days I've been considering my characters goals and obstacles. Of course, impediments to their wants and desires is essential to any story so it is with the people of my story. These goals can be physical, mental, emotional, psychological, and environmental, but for an intriguing story they must be difficult to achieve or attain.
Every character in my novel must have these conflicts or there is no story, so I spend a great deal of time on each character because these goals must be in keeping with the background, the personality, the culture, and the environment of each individual.
Often as I write these goals and obstacles change as the characters change. Again that is what a good story is about: change, change brought about by circumstances, influences, and success or defeat.
I go through each and every character that I have visualized as part of my story listing their desires and the impediments to these desires, particularly as they impinge upon my protagonist.
Now its time to compose an outline for the story that will be a summary of the novel. This is the "telling" part of preparing for the "showing."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Characters' Goals

Today, I took a close look at each of the characters that I previously listed and decided what each wanted out of life--not vague general desires but specific ones.
I looked at their immediate goals and intents as well as their long range plans. This is always an interesting task as it makes me get to know my protagonists and antagonists more thoroughly. It makes my studied what motivates them, what makes them do what they do and why.
It's the beginning of their development.
Tomorrow I will look at the obstacles they face to achieve these goals, these wants, these intentions, and that will lead to the plot.
Slowly the story line is developing.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Location, location, location!

Today I spent most of my writing time listing the locales--the cities, towns, areas that I expected my characters to frequent, especially my protagonist who is a drifter, moving from place to place in the Province of Alberta.
Although I have a vague idea about some of the locations, I know I will have to do much research for the details. I've decided that my story will cover from 1905 to 1925, so the setting is quite different from today.
Related to the locales are the events that occurred at that time and in those places.
My list was quite extensive and I may not use all of the them, but that will depend on the progress of the story, the personality of the the main character, and the history of the period.
Tomorrow I will be defining my main characters' goals!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Today I listed all the characters that I expected to encounter in my story. I divided it into Major and Minor characters as well as historical figures that I expected to meet. Of course, the major characters were my protagonist and his antagonists, which proved to be many.
At this point I only listed the characters; I did not bother with descriptions, physical, psychic or otherwise. That's for a later stage in the planning. Although did not elaborate on each character, I did give each one some thought.
Since most plots are character driven, they require a great deal of scrutiny. Each will eventually have his or her separate character sketch including a timeline profile.
For now they are merely names that of themselves must be carefully chosen because they have to fit the character.
Tomorrow its the setting!

Monday, November 07, 2005

A new novel

Today I started a new novel. It too is a historical novel based on the history of the Province of Alberta, Canada. It's actually a continuation of the series that I've already written ending with the creation of the province in 1905.
The idea for this novel has been germinating for a while, but no exciting premise came to mind.
Finally, yesterday, an idea, a germ of a theme for the new novel struck and filled me with excitement.
Today, I started planning it.
To start, I develop the intial germ of the theme by writing a description of what I had in mind and from that I composed a single sentence that it the crux of what the novel will be about. With this in mind, I will not develop the characters, the setting, and the plot.
That's the beginning!
In the meantime, I'm also promoting my latest book, The Venturers. I've had two signings and two reading and next week I'll be doing another reading in Edson, a city one hour west of my home.
You can check the novel out at

Monday, October 17, 2005


Hey! I didn’t realize that I’ve been away so long. I haven’t done much work on my novel because I’ve been busy promoting my recently published novel, The Venturers. I’ve had one signing and have been featured in two newspapers.

Next week is Library Week here so I’ll be giving readings at two different libraries. As well, I’ve been sending out press releases that has resulted in an interview this Friday.

So, although I have not done much with my latest WIP, I have been busy, but that’s hardly an excuse for not blogging.

Well, I do hope to be more consistent and to get back at editing the latest.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Still revising

Today I continued scrutinizing the work for any sentence that begins with “There”. To me that indicates a poorly constructed sentence that can be greatly improve by eliminating that word and restructuring the sentence usually making it stronger.

Next, I’ll go through the work each chapter at a time checking to see that it has a conflict of some sort. Without conflict, whether it’s physical, emotional, or psychological, the reader will soon lose interest. I like to leave a chapter with a cliffhanger; that always excites the reader’s attention, but of course that’s not always possible.

At the same time, I look at each sentence carefully to try to improve it as I read along.