12 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, 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
Most modern historical novels are not historical at all--they are modern novels in a historical setting. You might ask what I mean by that--everything goes back to real history. When an author studies history with the only bias being the eyewitness to the events, that author can't help but write "real" history. Unfortunately, most authors have already made up their mind. They have already decided who the good and the evil characters should and will be, and among those evil (or good) characters is the culture or the society.
Like my examples, yesterday, some cases in history are obvious, but most are not obvious. Each side of any conflict, whether domestic or international, has their reasons for conflict. In my opinion, the actions of the Nazis, Japan, or the USSR in history are unequivocally evil and wrong. On the other hand, most people living in those cultures and societies did not see them as evil or wrong. For an author to portray the world in terms of black and white when it isn't, is foolishness. Likewise, for an author to not portray issues factually and accurately is equally bad. The ultimate point comes to this--show us and don't tell us.
You didn't imagine I would bring up this very critical maxim of writing--did you? First, to show us the true culture and society, you must understand it well. Second, if you show us the culture and the society you will not "tell us" the culture and society. Third, in your novel, it is the culture and society that you portray in which all the action occurs. You must get it right, or you will produce a false picture of the past.
I'll explain more about historical study 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/.