The Last Spitfire: finished

Messerschmitt 109E by Mark Postlethwaite
Messerschmitt 109E by Mark Postlethwaite

I mentioned a while back that I was writing a story for a friend. Well, it’s finished!

A glance out of the window confirmed that there was just blue sea below him. A faint haze on one horizon that said there was land, but which land…

His stomach felt like lead.

It had to be England. It had to be. He couldn’t have come that far.

He glanced at his compass, but it now wasn’t moving at all – he tapped it again, but the ball didn’t shift. He couldn’t be sure whether it was right. Was North really that way? It was pointing off to the side of the haze, but then the south coast of England did curve. Well, it was obviously wrong…

“Ho hum, on a wing and a prayer,” Will said to himself, and turned the Spitfire’s nose towards the horizon.

I did debate when I first started the story about the lines between historical reality and fiction, the problems of using real events and characters, the writer’s dilemma between inserting a fictional character and how rooted the story should be in reality. I ended up using a fictional central character, but everything else is ‘real’ – if not entirely accurate, but I admit I’ve avoided getting bogged down in details. It’s the story that matters, and because I’m never going to do anything else with it – it’s not getting submitted, published or read by anyone other than the requester – I’m not as paranoid about historical detail as I would otherwise be. I have fact-checked, and Sam and I have spent quite a few hours on the internet checking RAF uniform colours, bases, radio transmission distances and the layout of a Spitfire cockpit…but if it’s wrong, I’m not going to worry.

So it’s finished; I’m not entirely happy with it, but then it’s not my story. I wonder if this is how ghostwriters feel? They have to write to someone else’s character and plot, someone else’s vision. I think I found it quite difficult to pull a workable (for me) story out of an action plot. I certainly struggled with the dogfights! But hey ho, it’s practise, and I did enjoy doing it.

So! Onto the next project…