16 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, more 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 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
I find that most historical fiction doesn't get to the details of history; they therefore can't get anywhere close to the awareness of the culture. All cultures have a feel. For example, if I placed you in Paris, France, the feel of that culture would be significantly different than Midwest USA, or of New York, NY for that matter. There is a subtle culture to every local in the USA. There is likewise a cultural difference, whether subtle or not, between Paris and Lyons or any other area you choose in France. Just as language divides people, cultures are unique and specific. To write about these different cultures you must be aware of them and especially aware of their differences from the culture you are writing for.
Most of you will be writing for the generic American English culture. You need to be aware, as I already mentioned, there are many American cultures and there is British, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, South African, Indian, etc. English culture. All these cultures of English speakers are subtlety different. There is, in addition, class cultures within these cultures. For example, high class British culture or wealthy American culture. Other language and country cultures are more different than English language cultures. Likewise, ancient (past) cultures are different than any modern culture.
You don't have to be absolutely knowledgeable of these cultures, you must be aware of them and their differences.
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/.