17 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, Cultural Awareness Differences
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 develop your target period 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
Yesterday, I ended with this, "You don't have to be absolutely knowledgeable of these cultures, you must be aware of them and their differences." This is the absolute point about cultural awareness. Notice something very important here--if you don't know about the cultural details, that is the historical details, you can't understand the cultural differences. For example, if a certain ancient culture doesn't have money (and most of them don't until 600 BC), you can't get the concepts of market and trading right in that culture--you don't know the cultural differences, and you are doomed to failure in writing historical fiction.
To understand a culture sufficiently, you need to understand something about their language, their economy, their religion and gods, their foods, their drink, their entertainment, their government, their marriage customs, and all. You can't just assume their culture is like AmerEnglish culture and move on from there.
Even when I write about Britain and British culture, I am very careful of words, actions, and incidents. British culture is not the same as American culture. As an author, you must depict these cultures properly if you wish to have any hope portraying any other culture. Notice that the chief difference between American and British culture is the words. In Britain, a trunk is the boot, a flashlight is a torch, an elevator is a lift. There are many words and phrases you will find in Britain you will not find in America and vice versa. I place many of my novels in the countries I've lived in and visited frequently: England, the USA, Greece, France, Germany, Turkey, and others.
In countries where the language is absolutely different, there are both less and more problems with cultural awareness. I'll write more about that 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/.