29 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, 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 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 write about cultures. Because culture is my focus, I use language and language differences as a means of setting off those cultures and differentiating them from one another. You realise there can be a problem here. The problem is that in today's world you just can't use other languages willy-nilly. Most people only know one language. To use language effectively to delineate culture, you have to use tricks to indicate when another language is being used. There are lots of ways to do this.
As I mentioned yesterday, in my published novel, Centurion, I used Aramaic forms generally for names and places. This is not so unusual to an English reader because they are names. Additionally, I provided a lexicon in the back. I also used Latin terms, which are also in the lexicon. Because the Latin terms are not as familiar, I explained them when they were introduced, and I occasionally reintroduced them. Here is a couple of means of establishing a language difference in a novel. The first is to use foreign names and place names. This gives an exotic and different feel to the writing. The second is to introduce foreign words and phrases--as long as you introduce them and explain them.
I have to admit for my novel, Centurion, about half of my readers really liked my approach to language and about half didn't. Those who didn't like the approach still liked the novel. I will also confess that since I am very serious about historical fiction, I thought the approach was the best way to keep the historical feel and cultural awareness alive in the novel. For those who didn't like the approach, as an artist, I think it was necessary. Now, I do have ideas how to improve the novel for those who weren't as enamored with the style as some others.
I'll write 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/.