14 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, a Clean Slate
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
Everyone knows that people always had money, they always sat in chairs, they always ate food cooked in pots, they always had metal, they always had clothing, they washed dishes, they had dishes. Everyone knows these things and none of them are true. They are obviously not true--then why in almost every historical novel, do you read about doing the dishes, sitting in chairs, using money, eating meat, washing clothing, hiding under tables, etc., etc., etc. Shoot, half of humanity thinks Jesus made furniture, the other half doesn't even know what furniture is.
That's the point. In history, it is best if as a writer and a historian, you assume humans don't have anything, and then only add those things you find in primary historical documents and artifacts. If you start with a clean slate and only add in those things which are found in primary sources, you will write "real" history. And I hope your point is to write "real" history--if not, then don't bother. I don't want to waste my time on your book--it won't prove itself in time or history.
If you start with a clean slate, that is you assume that humans don't have money, don't have tools, don't have metal, don't have money, don't have clothing, and all, then you add in all the pieces you can find in primary documents, you will begin to place the details of history in your writing. You still won't have captured the culture necessarily or the feel, but you will have made a wonderful beginning. So let's put together a list of the how to begin to write from your study:
1. Primary sources (secondary second)
2. Clean slate
3. Add in only what you find from primary sources (secondary next)
4. Cultural awareness
5. Historical feel
I'll write about cultural awareness tomorrow. By the way, Jesus didn't make furniture, he made plows and yokes.
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/.