Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Working towards an ending . . .

I've been writing the rest of Moira and Dylan's story (introduced in Standing Stones) for about a year now, using many strategies to draft (freewriting, outlining, scaffolding, hero's journey). I'm happy about the overall progress (about 80% done with the first draft), as both Moira and Dylan face nicely dramatic challenges. 

Yet, I don't yet know how this story ends.

I've got the cover. I know my characters, their conflicts, and the resolution -- at least the inner resolution. 

The historical backstory is relatively clear. Many people left Ireland for Scotland and the rest of Europe in the wake of waves of cholera epidemics, well before the potato famine that led to the Clearances in the 1840s.

When people left Ireland for Scotland, they encountered quite a bit of prejudice. Called 'Irishers,' these people, many of them Catholic, already vulnerable, scrabbled to make a living, even when they had good skills.

Did they have a reason to stay? The first waves of Irish immigrants to the United States tended to settle in the Northeast. Here's a snippet from the Library of Congress:

Between 1820 and 1860, the Irish constituted over one third of all immigrants to the United StatesIn the 1840s, they comprised nearly half of all immigrants to this nation.

These Irish had to pay steerage, so those who immigrated were not the poorest, but they tended to be from rural areas. Where did they settle? As they got off the boats that brought them to this new land, they tended to stay where they landed. Were there jobs? Not so easily found. So they shared housing and resources where they could, living in overcrowded tenements and saving money to bring their families from the homeland to their new home.

This sketchy background doesn't sound like a 'happy ever after' ending for Moira and Dylan. It sounds like 'from the frying pan into the fire.'

Here's where I'm stuck. Does Moira and Dylan's story end with the dream of a new life in America -- or the reality?

Readers and writers, please feel free to give me your opinion! 2021 has been tough enough without me getting stuck on this ending! Thank you!


  1. Reality and the struggle for a new life. Please a hopeful conclusion

    1. Thank you, Sally, for your friendship and encouragement. The best days are those when we have hope, right?

  2. My dad's story is several decades after Moria's and Dylan's, but I want to share it anyway.

    He was born in Germany in 1915, and following WWI, life in Germany was a true struggle. His family had little to live on, but were able to scrap together enough that his father and oldest brother immigrated to America in 1923. My father, his mother and other siblings followed in 1924. The settled in Chicago as that was where his aunt was already living.

    When the Great Depression hit, the family didn't think it was so bad. He always said that the poverty they survived in Germany was way worse.

    I think that a happy ending isn't about finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I think it's about being together as a family and knowing that some day, some how, yes, things will become easier.

    Don't know if this story inspires you at all, but I'm sure you'll come up with the perfect ending. I can't wait to read it.

    1. Thank you, Chris. Yes, this story is inspirational. Have you written your recollections down for family? Sometimes, the 'now' seems overwhelming, but, in reality, not so much when put into context. Even if the context is staggering. I keep thinking of all those people who are so cold just now in Texas. And how many losses and struggles we've all faced during this pandemic. You said it perfectly: Together as a family, we support each other and hope that our efforts will bring that easier future. Exactly inspirational. Just what I needed to hear. Thank you again.

  3. That's awesome that you're nearing the end of your manuscript. What an accomplishment. I always prefer a happy ending, but you know best how your story should end.

  4. Hi Beth! Because I read the two first books in your series, I know what “steerage” means. :-) I think the story Chris recounts is similar to what Moira and Dylan face. (So, I guess they decide to move to the US?) And Mac and Deidre in a way - a new start, a new life.

    There can be glimmers of hope and positive aspects in this that create somewhat of a happy ending. The fact that some of the challenges are less harsh than in Scotland could be elaborated and focused on, for example. Happy writing! You’re almost there. Great cover. All of them.

  5. Can it be about the children? Are there children that will reap the benefit the price the parents pay to enter a new world, a new culture. Is not our story about what our parents endured? Food for thought?

  6. When you come to America it is always the hope for a better life. it is worth the struggle and expense just for the chance to live here. And as has been stated above, happiness and success is not about hard times, which is part of being human. It is about keeping family together and facing challenges together. I am sure that this story will be a triumph! I look forward to reading it. You are so focused when you write. I admire that about you! You'll do it! Can't wait to read this one!