4 June 2012, Development - Historical Study, Themes in Language and Cultural 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
The theme is the most important consideration in a novel. I've written before that my first consideration is to entertain and this is true, but the centerpiece of every novel is the theme. Let's just say, you don't have a novel without a theme. Everything within the novel must support the theme, and everything comes out of the theme. For example, in The Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox, the theme is honor. Each novel looks at a different kind of honor and delves deeply into what honor means. Because honor is the theme, I chose an honor based culture as the basis for the universe of the novel. I could have chosen Japanese Samurai culture or an Aryan culture, or I could have made up a culture without any basis. I chose Anglo-Saxon because I knew the most about it, and it is not well known by most people. Knowing about it allows you to write intelligently about it. Not well known gives you the ability to show and makes the novel more unique. I suspect the number of novels written with Anglo-Saxon culture as their basis is numbered in the 10s. I don't know of many, especially in the modern era.
The theme drove the culture and the theme drove the plot. Everything came out of the characters, but that is the act of creating the novel. If you remember back to how I described the creative process for Aksinya. I made the point that the initial picture was the creative foundation for the entire novel. I went into great detail about how the development of the characters drove practically everything. What I didn't tell you is that the initial idea for the theme drove the creation of the characters. The initial picture was a stop action of the theme, and every item in the picture supported the theme.
As I said about Aksinya, the theme was temptation. The picture at the beginning of the novel was a temptor and the tempted. The theme of The Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox is honor. The picture at the beginning of the first novel, The End of Honor, is two people of impeccable honor who are about to have their lives shaken completely apart.
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/.