13 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, more Writing Real History
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
I've read very few historical novels (unless they were somewhat modern) that got the details of the past correct. In some cases, they might have the basic history right, but few capture the actual details of an age, and fewer still capture the feel of the culture and times.
In my opinion, it isn't enough to have the basic history correct, you must also get the details right as well as the "feel." The devil is in the details. I've written about novels set in ancient times before. It is astounding how many modernisms are in these novels, movies, and stories. For example, in the Roman and Greek world free men and women always--did you get that--they ALWAYS reclined to eat. Only slaves sat up or stood while eating. This was also true during the Old Testament period and may have been true of the Egyptians. The number of books with free people sitting is legion. In fact, in a real historical work (like my novel Centurion) you can indicate the status of a person just by the way they eat and approach their food. In Centurion, Ruth (the main female character) sits at the hearth while Adenadar eats--she considers herself a slave. Abenadar has to call her to come to the table with him. This is also unusual, because women generally didn't eat with men. I use this incident to show you how much Abenadar cherishes Ruth. As an author, I don't want to have to tell you these basics of history--they should be well known, but they are not. These basics about ancient life are not known and most writers have no idea about the details of history at all.
I've written about other mistakes historical fiction writers make. To me it is sad as well as an indicator of the lack of scholarship among these writers. This is one of the reasons I'm trying to explain how to study about history. This way, you might not make the basic mistakes. As you think about writing about the past, start with a clean slate.
I'll explain more about starting with a clean slate tomorrow.
I'll explain more about tension and first scene development. I'll talk about characteristics that make a bad first scene/chapter eventually.
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/.