10 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, Breathing History
Introduction: I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This was my 21st novel and through this blog, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel beginning with http://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.
I'm using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I'll keep you informed along the way.
I'm writing about sources of historical research and how to make historical research. These apply to any novel or any subject you might wish to study. Here is a list:
1. Primary source documents or artifacts
2. Secondary source documents or artifacts
3. Tertiary source documents or artifacts
Generally, when I study an era, I'm not certain that a book will come out of the study or the era. For example, I've been studying Japan in around 1000 CE for years, and I haven't written a book yet. I intend to, but the culture of ancient Japan is so unique and different, I have difficulty fully articulating the power of its uniqueness and difference. When I begin to write, I'd like to write a novel that gives a strong feeling for the time and culture. It cannot be just a Japanese caricature over a Western framework, and it cannot be a Japanese framework that Westerners can't understand.
This is the real problem with writing historical fiction. Many (if not most) historical fiction writers really don't understand the history they are writing about. They place their concept of the ancient world on a modern framework. You can't do either and have historical fiction. What you have is a modern novel in a historical setting.
What a great writer of historical fiction does is to place the reader in the history...real history. Not the author's view of history, or the modern world's view of history, but rather the true history of the times. History needs to breathe reality--the reality of the times.
I'll explain more about historical study tomorrow.
I'll explain more about tension and first scene development. I'll talk about characteristics that make a bad first scene/chapter eventually.
I'll repeat my published novel websites so you can see more examples: http://www.ldalford.com/, and the individual novel websites: http://www.aegyptnovel.com/, http://www.centurionnovel.com/, http://www.thesecondmission.com/, http://www.theendofhonor.com/, http://www.thefoxshonor.com/, and http://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.