I’ve been reading through Time for Tea again, in preparation for a new fix-the-typos-and-ugly-cover-lines edition, and recollected along the way that Alec, one of my early-stage beta-readers, put together a lovely floor plan for Evensong, Hector Armitage’s house, which I present here for your perusal. (Click to enlarge.)
Alec extrapolated, based on research about the needs of a household the size of Evensong’s, to decide how many servants needed to be accommodated. Eighteenth-century English servants didn’t yet fit into the rigid hierarchies of the Victorian period – hence Mrs. Hartley, who is both housekeeper and cook, a duality of roles that would never have passed muster a century later, and Lewis, who manages to be butler, valet, and smuggler’s lieutenant to Armitage. They both get lots of help.
Anyway, I found the plan very helpful in the latter stages of writing the book. Speaking of visual aids, another beta-reader asked recently if I’d taken a photo of the Lego scene I put together to help me write the climactic cliff-and-beach scene in Chapter 26 – if I did, I’ve lost it, but you can imagine little figures representing all the characters, and bits of furniture for the scenery. And a boat, and its illegal cargo. I recommend this method to writers who are still unsure of their ability to organize multi-character action scenes.