23 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, Cultural Study
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
Cultural immersion is the means to begin to get another culture right in your writing. Once you have experienced and understand one different culture, learning about others gets easier and easier. You have to take the leap and immerse yourself in a different culture. I also recommended that you learn the language for the culture you are targeting.
So, if you wanted to write about Anglo-Saxon culture (my science fiction series is loosely based on Anglo-Saxon culture), this is what you should do. First, you need to recognize that the culture is dead. There are remnants, but it is a dead culture. The language is dead too. That makes it easier, the language and the culture haven't changed since the end of the society (about 1066). First pick some cultures close to Anglo-Saxon. The best to look at are British, German, and Norwegian or Icelandic culture. Icelandic is my pick because the culture is considered moribund. Norwegian is a bit more dynamic.
If you know the English language, you now need to study British and ancient British language. This is easy because most British Literature classes will get you there. You need to study German and learn to speak it. If possible, you need to visit Germany and Britain and get some cultural immersion. If possible, you should study Icelandic culture and visit the country. Icelandic culture is considered a great source of information for Anglo-Saxon culture because of the similarity of the sagas and other literary and cultural forms. Icelandic sagas are very available for study and give some great clues about Anglo-Saxon life. Finally, you need to learn some Anglo-Saxon and read everything available. There isn't that much, and it is all worth the study.
These are some of the basic steps, and these are the steps I took to prepare to write The Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox (3 published science fiction novels) and Dana-ana (an unpublished, as of yet, novel).
I'll write more about cultural immersion and cultural study 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/.