15 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, Cultural Awareness
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
If you do get the history right--that is the details as well as the basics--there is another piece of history that needs to fill out your works. This additional part is cultural awareness. Here is the list of how to study for writing a historical novel.
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
Just as people in the ancient world did not have all the wonderful things we take for granted, their lives, culture, and society are not just different, they are remarkably different. We falsely imagine that the rest of the world is culturally just like we are--if you have this view, you have never traveled. Your thoughts about the world could not be further from the truth. Just as language separates understanding, culture adds the grand canyon to that gulf.
Cultural awareness is the author's awareness of cultural differences that allows him to adequately communicate those differences in his writing. This is one of the greatest deficiencies in historical fiction. Many historical fiction writers get the big history correct. A few get the details right. A very small number have cultural awareness.
In terms of cultural awareness, an author is a translator. She takes an ancient culture that is nearly unknown to us and turns it into a living breath from the past.
I'll write more about cultural awareness tomorrow.
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/.