My Favorites

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Development - Historical Study, even more Language and Historical Feel

30 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, even more Language and Historical Feel

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

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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website and select "production schedule," you will be sent to

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
4. Quatriary

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

How can you improve the construction of a novel so the language and culture won't overwhelm your readers.  I already mentioned a couple of very important considerations.  First, you must introduce the terms in the writing.  Don't tell--show.  For example, when you introduce the term gladius (a Roman short sword).  Have your characters receiving their muster from the Roman quaestorium (the Roman
equipment issue, storage, and smithy).  The following is this scene:
              As Portius lectured Abenadar, they walked past two other buildings as large as the barracks of the Decimus Cohort.  The first smelled of men and the second of horses.  In the center of the camp stood a smaller two-story building.  Half of the lower level was open and a large smithy filled it.  Portius took Abenadar to the enclosed half of the building.
            “This is the quaestorium and that is the forum,” Portius pointed to a twin building about 50 feet to the north.
            A split door marked the center of one wall of the quaestorium.  Portius knocked on it and after a moment the top of the door opened to reveal an armory and storeroom.  Abenadar was more intrigued by the man who opened the door.  He was ancient and grizzled.  As hoary a veteran as any Abenadar was likely to see still in service.  The man was very tall, but bent with age.  His skin was deeply scored with scars and wrinkles.  They faded into each other and accentuated the sharpness of his nose and cheeks by creating parallel tracks down his face.  His mouth almost disappeared in the profusion of canyons of skin.  As the veteran spread his large hands over the bottom half of the split door, Abenadar saw his hands were as scared and misshapen as his face.  In spite of his frail appearance, he moved with combat quickness, and his voice was sure, “Portius who is this, and what do you want?  Have you already broken the pila I issued you yesterday?”
            “No Piso,” Portius addressed the ancient legionnaire, “this is the new librarius of the Decimus Hastatus Posterior Century, Abenadar of Natzeret.  He needs a kit and armor.” 
            Piso leaned over the edge of the door toward Abenadar and squinted, “He is tall.  He will have to be fit, but I have armor for him.”  Piso didn’t open the door.  He handed a mail hauberk over the top, “Here is his lorica hamata and his belt.” 
            Abenadar examined the armor Piso called a lorica hamata.  It was formed of fine iron rings woven into one another and sewn to a leather jerkin. 
            Portius said, “Put it on, Abenadar.  Let’s see how it looks on you.”
            Abenadar glanced at Portius and then with perplexity at the armor.
            Portius laughed, “Here, let me help you.”  He lifted the bottom end over Abenadar’s head and pulled it down.  The lorica hamata clung to him, but it wasn’t too tight or too loose.  Portius pulled the shoulder flaps from the back to the front and attached them with their hooks and an iron ornament.  An extension of the mail around the loose square collar covered Abenadar’s shoulders.  The leather jerkin that undergirded the rings extended beyond the mail in wide overlapping strips.  All of the edges of the armor were finished with leather.  The whole garment reached down to Abenadar’s lower thigh.
            “Now you’re starting to looked like a legionnaire,” Portius clapped him on the back.
            Piso nodded in wry approval then disappeared for a moment.  He returned with a helmet.
            AbenadarPiso.  It was polished bronze and shaped like a half sphere.  An inch above the lip at the front of the helmet, a thin bill projected three quarters of an inch.  Below the front bill and even with the lip, another bill, this one three inches long, projected from the back of the helmet.  An empty clip projected from the very top of the helmet.  On all the helmets the legionnaires wore, Abenadar noticed this projection held a plume.  On either side of the helmet, large side plates protected the face, and thin bronze stays ran from these to the long bill at the rear.  The inside of the helmet was covered with a thick leather pad.  Abenadar tipped the helmet onto his head and said, “Where’s the plume?”
            Portius stepped up to Abenadar and fitted the sides and braces to adjust the balance of the heavy helmet on Abenadar’s head.  As he tugged on the leather straps, he said, “When you have finished your training, after the legion’s training officer, the Praefectus Legionis awards you the plume of a fallen legionnaire, then you can wear a legionnaire’s plume, but not before.”  Portius half-turned to the old man in the quaestorium, “Piso, you always seem to fit a man with just a glance.  How do you do it?”
            Piso cackled, “If you’re still alive when I get ready to leave the Emperor’s service, then, and only then will I teach you my secrets.  For almost 15 years, those secrets have kept me the quartermaster in the officium.”
            “Phew, Piso, at that rate, you will still be quartermaster when I muster out.”
            Piso cackled again.  Over the top of the door, he handed a sword, the gladius and scabbard.  These were quickly followed by two pila, one light, the other very sturdy.  Piso tossed a pair of heavy sandals to Portius who passed them on to Abenadar.
            “Here,” said Portius, “is a real pair of sandals, your caligae.”
            “And, the rest of the issue,” said Piso.  “Here is his basket, bucket, axe, leather strap, sickle, and chain.  All one size,” he quipped, “The last is also.”  Piso handed a large rectangular shield through the top of the door, “Your scutum will keep you in the land of the living—if you learn to use it well.”
            Abenadar took the shield from the old man.  It was made of curved laminated wood backed with metal reinforcements.  Attached to the back were a leather loop and a strap.  A long hanging strap was connected to the top and bottom of the shield.
            “You may have to adjust the straps of the shield to yourself,” said Portius, “How do the caligae fit?”
            Abenadar knelt over still tightening them, “I think they will be fine.  They are comfortable enough.”
            “They better be.  You will be marching most of your life in them.  Come, thank Piso.” Portius whispered to Abenadar, “You always want to stay on his best side.”  Then he continued more loudly, “We have one other place to go before you will be fully outfitted.”
            Abenadar nodded to Piso and thanked the old man.  Then he and Portius picked up the rest of Abenadar’s gear and walked across the yard to the forum.

This is the means to introduce many new terms. These words are also in the lexicon at the end of the novel.

I'll write about that tomorrow.

I'll repeat my published novel websites so you can see more examples:, and the individual novel websites:,,,,, and

No comments:

Post a Comment