6 June 2012, Development - Historical Study, Language and Cultural Feel in Science Fiction
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'm writing about the themes I've used in my science fiction novels, and primarily, I'm writing about how they support and interact with history, language, and culture. Ha...I bet you thought culture, history, and language had nothing to do with science fiction. Although many writers don't get it, the cultural aspects of science fiction make it more difficult to write well than historical novels. The reason is that an author who writes science fiction must endeavor to create a universe that doesn't exist. That universe must feel real. The only way to achieve this is by using real human culture and either stitching different ones together or designing one of your own. Jack Vance is a pro at this--perhaps the best. That's why he is also a wonderful fantasy writer as well.
I'll mention the second novel in The Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox, The Fox's Honor. The theme is about honor and the universe is based in Anglo-Saxon culture. In The Fox's Honor, the main character, Devon Rathenberg is set on achieving three goals: he wants to win the heart of Tamar Falkeep, he wants to begin an early insurrection to protect the house Imperial, and he intends to die in the process (of forcing an early insurrection, not in wooing Tamar). The theme is honor. The problem is that Tamar can't be won ethically in their culture, but she is willing to give up her honor to love Devon. Devon doesn't expect Tamar to be willing to lose her own honor and to risk her life to save his. The end of this situation is an extremely complicated problem and a promise of marriage. The promise is one that shouldn't be kept and the problem involves the nobility. In any case, the novel's theme is one of honor broken and honor regained. It is much different than The End of Honor even though is it about honor and in the same universe. How can that be?
I'll write more about this 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/.