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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Development - Historical Study, Methods of Language and Historical Feel

31 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, Methods of 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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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
4. Quatriary

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

Like yesterday's example from my published novel, Centurion, you should bring in the terms and cultural ideas gradually and through showing.  Through the novel, you should reexplain the terms when it makes sense.  It also helps to have a lexicon. 

In this manner, I tried to keep a strong Roman historical feel through the Roman portions of the novel.  I also mentioned that in this novel, I used Aramaic names and place names for the Aramaic speakers.  In this way, I kept the cultures separate and allowed the reader to understand and appreciate these two cultures.  This is just one method of handling language and culture in a novel.

I used a similar technique in my published novel, The Second Mission.  The Second Mission is about Attic Greece and Socrates in 400 to 399 BCE.  All the names and places were Greek, but I didn't use many Greek or non-English terms.  I did provide a lexicon.  The point was that I was working in a single culture through the entire novel.  The most important work in this context was displaying the culture.  The entire cultural feel came from the differences with AmerEnglish culture.  I achieved this because the main character was an accidental time traveler--so the reader saw the world of The Second Mission through the eyes and comparisons of an AmerEnglish person.  This is one of my favorite methods for showing culture.

I'll write more 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/.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Development - Historical Study, even more Language and Historical Feel

30 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, even 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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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
4. Quatriary

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

How can you improve the construction of a novel so the language and culture won't overwhelm your readers.  I already mentioned a couple of very important considerations.  First, you must introduce the terms in the writing.  Don't tell--show.  For example, when you introduce the term gladius (a Roman short sword).  Have your characters receiving their muster from the Roman quaestorium (the Roman
equipment issue, storage, and smithy).  The following is this scene:
              As Portius lectured Abenadar, they walked past two other buildings as large as the barracks of the Decimus Cohort.  The first smelled of men and the second of horses.  In the center of the camp stood a smaller two-story building.  Half of the lower level was open and a large smithy filled it.  Portius took Abenadar to the enclosed half of the building.
            “This is the quaestorium and that is the forum,” Portius pointed to a twin building about 50 feet to the north.
            A split door marked the center of one wall of the quaestorium.  Portius knocked on it and after a moment the top of the door opened to reveal an armory and storeroom.  Abenadar was more intrigued by the man who opened the door.  He was ancient and grizzled.  As hoary a veteran as any Abenadar was likely to see still in service.  The man was very tall, but bent with age.  His skin was deeply scored with scars and wrinkles.  They faded into each other and accentuated the sharpness of his nose and cheeks by creating parallel tracks down his face.  His mouth almost disappeared in the profusion of canyons of skin.  As the veteran spread his large hands over the bottom half of the split door, Abenadar saw his hands were as scared and misshapen as his face.  In spite of his frail appearance, he moved with combat quickness, and his voice was sure, “Portius who is this, and what do you want?  Have you already broken the pila I issued you yesterday?”
            “No Piso,” Portius addressed the ancient legionnaire, “this is the new librarius of the Decimus Hastatus Posterior Century, Abenadar of Natzeret.  He needs a kit and armor.” 
            Piso leaned over the edge of the door toward Abenadar and squinted, “He is tall.  He will have to be fit, but I have armor for him.”  Piso didn’t open the door.  He handed a mail hauberk over the top, “Here is his lorica hamata and his belt.” 
            Abenadar examined the armor Piso called a lorica hamata.  It was formed of fine iron rings woven into one another and sewn to a leather jerkin. 
            Portius said, “Put it on, Abenadar.  Let’s see how it looks on you.”
            Abenadar glanced at Portius and then with perplexity at the armor.
            Portius laughed, “Here, let me help you.”  He lifted the bottom end over Abenadar’s head and pulled it down.  The lorica hamata clung to him, but it wasn’t too tight or too loose.  Portius pulled the shoulder flaps from the back to the front and attached them with their hooks and an iron ornament.  An extension of the mail around the loose square collar covered Abenadar’s shoulders.  The leather jerkin that undergirded the rings extended beyond the mail in wide overlapping strips.  All of the edges of the armor were finished with leather.  The whole garment reached down to Abenadar’s lower thigh.
            “Now you’re starting to looked like a legionnaire,” Portius clapped him on the back.
            Piso nodded in wry approval then disappeared for a moment.  He returned with a helmet.
            AbenadarPiso.  It was polished bronze and shaped like a half sphere.  An inch above the lip at the front of the helmet, a thin bill projected three quarters of an inch.  Below the front bill and even with the lip, another bill, this one three inches long, projected from the back of the helmet.  An empty clip projected from the very top of the helmet.  On all the helmets the legionnaires wore, Abenadar noticed this projection held a plume.  On either side of the helmet, large side plates protected the face, and thin bronze stays ran from these to the long bill at the rear.  The inside of the helmet was covered with a thick leather pad.  Abenadar tipped the helmet onto his head and said, “Where’s the plume?”
            Portius stepped up to Abenadar and fitted the sides and braces to adjust the balance of the heavy helmet on Abenadar’s head.  As he tugged on the leather straps, he said, “When you have finished your training, after the legion’s training officer, the Praefectus Legionis awards you the plume of a fallen legionnaire, then you can wear a legionnaire’s plume, but not before.”  Portius half-turned to the old man in the quaestorium, “Piso, you always seem to fit a man with just a glance.  How do you do it?”
            Piso cackled, “If you’re still alive when I get ready to leave the Emperor’s service, then, and only then will I teach you my secrets.  For almost 15 years, those secrets have kept me the quartermaster in the officium.”
            “Phew, Piso, at that rate, you will still be quartermaster when I muster out.”
            Piso cackled again.  Over the top of the door, he handed a sword, the gladius and scabbard.  These were quickly followed by two pila, one light, the other very sturdy.  Piso tossed a pair of heavy sandals to Portius who passed them on to Abenadar.
            “Here,” said Portius, “is a real pair of sandals, your caligae.”
            “And, the rest of the issue,” said Piso.  “Here is his basket, bucket, axe, leather strap, sickle, and chain.  All one size,” he quipped, “The last is also.”  Piso handed a large rectangular shield through the top of the door, “Your scutum will keep you in the land of the living—if you learn to use it well.”
            Abenadar took the shield from the old man.  It was made of curved laminated wood backed with metal reinforcements.  Attached to the back were a leather loop and a strap.  A long hanging strap was connected to the top and bottom of the shield.
            “You may have to adjust the straps of the shield to yourself,” said Portius, “How do the caligae fit?”
            Abenadar knelt over still tightening them, “I think they will be fine.  They are comfortable enough.”
            “They better be.  You will be marching most of your life in them.  Come, thank Piso.” Portius whispered to Abenadar, “You always want to stay on his best side.”  Then he continued more loudly, “We have one other place to go before you will be fully outfitted.”
            Abenadar nodded to Piso and thanked the old man.  Then he and Portius picked up the rest of Abenadar’s gear and walked across the yard to the forum.

This is the means to introduce many new terms. These words are also in the lexicon at the end of the novel.

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/.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Development - Historical Study, more Language and Historical Feel

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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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
4. Quatriary

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/.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Development - Historical Study, Language and Historical Feel

28 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, 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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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
4. Quatriary

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

In the past, you could gain some degree of historical feel through the use of foreign language in a novel.  It was patently common to see French, Greek, Latin and sometimes German in English and American novels.  French novels sometimes included snippets of English.  In an age when there was an expectation for the educated (at least educated well enough to read a book) to understand other languages, the inclusion of a bit of another language was the norm.  Today, people are not educated nearly as well as the poorly educated of the past.  Any touch of French (unless explained or translated) will become an unassailable mountain to your readers.  In fact, I've had problems from some readers about the level of English that I use in my novels--they claim they need a dictionary at hand, oh well.

In spite of this, there are ways to incorporate language to produce historical feel.  In my published novel, Centurion, I wanted to capture the historical feel of the Levant in the first century.  At that time, Greek, Latin, and Aramaic were the common languages.  They were the common languages much like English, French, German, and Italian are the languages of Switzerland.  The trick in Centurion was to convey to the reader when a speaker was speaking Greek, Latin, or Aramaic.  My solution was to use the Aramaic pronunciations (spellings) for names and places when the speakers were using Aramaic and the Anglicized forms when they were using Greek or Latin, for example, Miryam for Mary.  Further, when the characters were speaking Latin, I had them use the correct Latin terms for an object and not the common English, for example, gladius for short sword.  The solution was very elegant, and I think the novel captures the historical feel through language, along with other methods. 

I use language differences to some degree in all my novels. 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/.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Development - Historical Study, more Historical Feel

27 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, more 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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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
4. Quatriary

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

What exactly is historical feel?  Historical feel is the quality of a historical novel, where the reader strongly can detect the culture and history within a novel yet feels immersed in the writing.  It would go without saying that the history and the culture must be right--otherwise the reader may have an impression of historical feel, but with no basis.

Historical feel means the reader can tangibly note the differences between the culture(s) portrayed and her own, but that she accepts them.  Just as in the concept of sustained suspension of reality in a great fantasy novel where the author creates a world that is not based on the principles of reality (magic, time travel space travel, and all), but the author's world has such a powerful quality of reality that the reader is completely sucked into it and completely believes it.  This is the power of great historical literature.  When the history and culture is completely accurate, and the reader completely accepts the reality of the history portrayed and yet realizes it is a completely different time and place than his own.

This duality of acceptance and perception of differences is precisely the feel a great historical novel should convey.  The means an author uses to achieve this should be based in all the regular tools in the author's writing skills but with the very critical addition of historical study and cultural awareness.  An example of an author who gets this right is Alan Bradley.  His Flavia de Luca novels are set in the 1950s in England.  I haven't noticed any historical irregularities in his very tightly developed novels.  He is well studied in the period and his knowledge of the culture is very good.  His works are well set off by his use of descriptive language that helps convey the feel of the times.  His use of language in conversation sets the tone for the culture which is much different than today.  He does take a couple of cultural issues out of their full context and applies modern morals and ideas to them, but I'll forgive him.  I'd rather have historical novels that don't ever compromise with the truth.  Still, his novels have strong historical feel and much of that feel is due to the way he uses language.

This is something I wanted to achieve in my novel Centurion through the use of language.  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/.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Development - Historical Study, Historical Feel

26 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, 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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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
4. Quatriary

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 whole reason for this cultural study is to produce true "historical feel."  If you notice, the first step in the process of study to write a historical novel is to produce historical accuracy.  The first step is to get the history right.  Many authors don't even get past this step--they write horrible historical fiction that is more fiction than historical and that is simply a modern novel in a historical setting. 

The next step is to understand the culture in the historical setting you wish to write about.  This is broadly "cultural awareness."  The point of cultural awareness is to understand the way the culture and society respond to the world it exists within.  With cultural awareness, you can write authentically about the history, times, and culture.  You can get all the details right.  You can write without having to know every single nuance of the history of the times because you understand how the people act and react in the time and place.  This is very important because we don't have that much data about everyday life in many ancient cultures.  The more you can understand the culture, the better you can portray it.

The ultimate point of cultural awareness and historical study is to produce writing that has historical feel.

I'll write more about historical feel 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/.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Development - Historical Study, even more Cultural Study

25 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, even more Cultural Study

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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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
4. Quatriary

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

To be able to understand another culture you must be willing and able to immerse yourself in it.  To be clear, immersion means you actually experience the entirety of the culture.  You must eat the food they eat, act the way they do, discuss the subject they discuss, speak their language, dress like they dress, and all.  The question becomes, can you understand a culture without going to these extremes?  Based on the writing I've seen, the answer is an absolute, no. 

Then, the next question is how do you study a culture that is dead?  I gave that answer in the last couple of days, but I'll be less specific and more general.  To understand a dead culture, you must first gain your basic education in cultures--you must experience and immerse yourself in another culture.  Almost any different language culture will do.  I suggested the use of a similar culture to the one you wish to study (that's why I immersed myself in German culture).  Second, you must learn the language of the culture you wish to study.  You don't need to speak it, you just need to understand it.  That means you can generally translate it with a pony and dictionary.  You need to understand the details of it compared to other languages.  Third, you need to study the literature and writing of the culture.  If there is too much writing to reasonably read, you need to study the subject matter you intend to write about.

I'll add another example.  One of my novels is about Socrates and set in 400-399 BCE.  To study this dead and ancient culture (ancient Attic Greece): I learned the language, I translated the five Socratic dialogs I wished to focus on in my writing, I read all the Socratic dialogs, and I read every piece of Greek writing I could get my hands on from the period.  After I read all the primary source documents I could get, I read all the secondary source documents, and the tertiary documents from the period.  After that, I moved to documents in other languages from the time period (mostly primary documents).  

I'll write more about cultural immersion and cultural study 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/.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Development - Historical Study, more Cultural Study

24 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, more Cultural Study

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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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
4. Quatriary

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

Yesterday, I described the steps I went through to study the Anglo-Saxon culture so I could write  write The Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox (3 published science fiction novels) and Dana-ana (an unpublished, as of yet, historical fiction novel).  Those steps were very intensive and took years of life and experience.  They also required that I live in different countries.  If you really have a desire to write historical fiction, you need to be ready (or find an occupation) to live in different countries and to be immersed in different cultures.  It isn't enough to visit these countries.  The problem with visiting is what happens and happened to many who went to the Soviet Union and to modern China.  Those countries were/are under tyrannies.  They would/will not let you know what is really happening to the people and within the society.  It was/is impossible to understand the culture without living in it.  You can tell how many were/are fooled by these countries by reading the procommunist ideology that came out of the USSR and out of China today--from journalists and others.

The same problem, as well as others, exist with just making visits to other nations.  If you go on a vacation to Italy, I assure you unless you make your own way, you will not experience the culture and the people.  When I lived in Germany, I travelled on some German led vacation tours of France and other countries.  I assure you, a German led tour of France will ensure you only get German food, German style wines and drinks and plenty of other Germans to enjoy France with.  I discovered that I had to break away from the German tours and make my own tour--then and only then could I get into the culture of France.  This isn't a German problem, this is a cultural problem.  American or British led tours that I've participated in are the same, and French led tours to Germany find French food and companions.

If you haven't been immersed in at least one culture other than your own, you will not be able to immerse yourself in others very quickly--you cannot do it in a seven, fourteen, or month long vacation.  If you are already familiar with cultural differences, you might be able to.  I have been able to get into other cultures pretty easily, but that is due to my past experience and professional training.  There is also a problem of comfort and desire.  You have to want to immerse yourself, and you have to work at it.  It is too easy to fall into your own cultural patterns.

It can help if you are already familiar with the many different American cultures (Northeast, Southern, Midwest, West, Northwest, and all).  Each of these are different cultures in their own right.  The problem with many Americans is they travel to the Northeast from the South and still order chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes.  Or they visit Florida and don't eat fish because they don't like fish.  If you are interested in studying cultures, you have to leave your own likes and dislikes (your cultural blinders) at home.  I mentioned before, if you enter a smoking culture, you need to accept a social cigarette.  If you go to a culture that eats raw fish (shashimi), you need to eat raw fish.  If you immerse yourself in a culture that eats raw meat (steak tartar), you need to eat it.  Only through cultural experience can you hope to learn and understand another culture.

I'll write more about cultural immersion and cultural study 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/.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Development - Historical Study, Cultural Study

23 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, Cultural Study

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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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
4. Quatriary

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

Cultural immersion is the means to begin to get another culture right in your writing.  Once you have experienced and understand one different culture, learning about others gets easier and easier.  You have to take the leap and immerse yourself in a different culture.  I also recommended that you learn the language for the culture you are targeting. 

So, if you wanted to write about Anglo-Saxon culture (my science fiction series is loosely based on Anglo-Saxon culture), this is what you should do.  First, you need to recognize that the culture is dead.  There are remnants, but it is a dead culture.  The language is dead too.  That makes it easier, the language and the culture haven't changed since the end of the society (about 1066).  First pick some cultures close to Anglo-Saxon.  The best to look at are British, German, and Norwegian or Icelandic culture.  Icelandic is my pick because the culture is considered moribund.  Norwegian is a bit more dynamic. 

If you know the English language, you now need to study British and ancient British language.  This is easy because most British Literature classes will get you there.  You need to study German and learn to speak it.  If possible, you need to visit Germany and Britain and get some cultural immersion.  If possible, you should study Icelandic culture and visit the country.  Icelandic culture is considered a great source of information for Anglo-Saxon culture because of the similarity of the sagas and other literary and cultural forms.  Icelandic sagas are very available for study and give some great clues about Anglo-Saxon life.  Finally, you need to learn some Anglo-Saxon and read everything available.  There isn't that much, and it is all worth the study.

These are some of the basic steps, and these are the steps I took to prepare to write The Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox (3 published science fiction novels) and Dana-ana (an unpublished, as of yet, novel).

I'll write more about cultural immersion and cultural study 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/.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Development - Historical Study, Cultural Immersion

22 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, Cultural Immersion

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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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
4. Quatriary

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

To gain cultural information you really have only two choices: cultural immersion and cultural study.  For ancient cultures your only choice is cultural study although there are some tricks you can pull in cultural immersion to get good data.

How do you go about cultural immersion.  If the culture you wish to write about exists, study the language, study the culture, and go visit.  If this is your first immersion visit, you'd best live there for a while.  I've discovered that without actually living in a culture long enough for it to matter, you aren't going to get any understanding of the culture.  The reason is that culture shock takes a while to get over for the first time.  After the first culture, others will not be so difficult.  I lived in Germany for a few years.  I know German well enough that most Germans think I'm Austrian.  It took a few months to become fully assimilated.  The Germans were great, I took a while to feel completely comfortable.  Even then, although I wasn't really there to study the culture, I learned some of it the hard way.  For example, I had no idea my landlord invited me to his daughter's wedding because he expected me to be one of the honored guests.  German's still view class as an important determinate in life.  Because I was a lieutenant, they invited my wife and me to be at the head table with them.  We had no idea and skipped out after the wedding to go wine probing with some friends.  That event drove home for me more than any other the enormous differences in cultures and how they affect people in the world.

I also lived for a while in Spain, Turkey, Greece, Italy, England, Panama, and Honduras.  I additionally visited most of the countries in Europe, North and Central America, plus some in Asia.  After the first immersion, the others were much more easy.  You might ask, what is immersion anyway?  Isn't it just visiting a country.  The answer is no, not at all.  You don't need to speak the language, but you need some degree of knowledge about it.  The point of immersion is to live like and with your hosts.  It does help to know the language and for your first experience, I suggest you definitely know the language. 

So, the first step is to learn some of the language and use what you have learned.   The second is clean slate.  Just like the means of studying a culture, you should not assume the culture is like yours--it isn't.  Third, be always aware of culture.  If you are oblivious to it, you won't get it.  The point is to get it--that's the point of immersion after all.  Eat everything they serve you, and only eat what the people eat.  It does you no good to eat AmerEnglish cuisine in a foreign country.  If you can't get out of your AmerEnglish skin to that degree, you shouldn't travel anyway.  Drink the drink they drink.  If they offer you a cigar or a cigarette, smoke it.  Every culture explorer should enjoy a smoke now and then.   

I'll write more about cultural immersion and cultural study 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/.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Development - Historical Study, Cultural Awareness Differences Why

21 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, Cultural Awareness Differences Why

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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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
4. Quatriary

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

Novels about real culture and cultural differences would sell very well--the problem is there are so few of them.  If most authors can't get the most basic details of history right, they certainly aren't going to come close to properly depicting cultural differences.  When a publisher finds the rare jewel of a novel that does get culture right, they will definitely want to contract that book.

If you didn't notice, getting cultures right is very difficult.  Just as most historical fiction isn't historical fiction at all, they are mostly modern novels in a historical setting, most historical (or other) novels about other cultures is a fantasy in a foreign setting.  Most novels don't come close to getting other cultures right.  In fact, many novels don't even get sister AmerEnglish cultures right.

In the near past (19th to early 20th century), most writers were able to communicate culture and language across the page of a novel.  Additionally, most readers were able to understand and appreciate those cultural differences.  The reason for this was travel and experience.  Most writers before the mid to late 20th century were multilingual and trained in Latin and Greek.  They read in foreign languages and they were travelled.  Today, many authors are not experienced travelers or classically trained.  The result is most of them and their readers don't have much appreciation for other cultures or language.  The ubiquitous nature of English makes travel much less of an experience of cultural enlightenment than a training tool for other cultures to become more like AmerEnglish culture.  You can cap that with a broad propensity of many travelers to isolate themselves from the cultures they are visiting. 

So, what are you going to do about that?  I'd recommend not writing about any culture you haven't studied well.  This returns to the basis of my latest blogs--study of the period and culture about which you intend to write.  It helps to immerse yourself in the culture in question.

I'll write about cultural immersion and cultural study 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/.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Development - Historical Study, Cultural Awareness Differences Similarities

20 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, Cultural Awareness Differences Similarities

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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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
4. Quatriary

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

So, what features do human societies have in common?  You really have to go to the most basic human desires and needs to find them.  Human cultures share the need of food and drink.  The foods and drinks they consume, the way they get them, the way they prepare them, the way they consume them are all different between cultures.  For example, Asiatic cultures use chop sticks.  Many ancient and not so ancient cultures eat with their hands.  Some societies eat exclusively with one hand or another.  In some cultures the use of the left hand indicates insult or pollution.  Most European cultures eat with utensils that range from forks, knives, and spoons of all types and varieties, but that wasn't always true.  Early Europeans up to the late Middle Ages ate with their hands and perhaps with a knife.  They gradually moved into all types and varieties of utensils over time.  You can almost determine the time in history by the types.  You can definitely determine the level of cultural aristocracy by the types and number of utensils.  Alan Bradley indicates the social level of his heroine Felicia DeLuca in just this way.  It happens that his novels are set in the 1950s.

I haven't even begun to look at an area of interest different than how people eat.  Everybody eats--they just don't all eat in the same way.  I hope you got the point.  Every culture has sex.  Dependent on the culture, they get there and they participate in it in different ways.  It is silly to portray human sexuality as forever the same. 

All cultures raise children, none of them raise children in the same way.  In Western cultures it was not unusual to routinely beat girls and boys in school and at home until the 20th century.  This isn't that uncommon in other cultures today.  All cultures raise children differently.

So, if cultures are so different, why do we get all these books where foreign cultures look just like AmerEnglish culture?  I'll give you a couple of thoughts.  The first is this.  Modern AmerEnglish people know the real world is more like Rudyard Kipling's depicting of Indian culture and not a reflection of AmerEnglish culture--they just don't want to believe it.  The idea that people are really different scares them.  They want to repeat the lie to themselves and their children that the world looks just like they do.  The second reason is like unto the first, books about real cultures won't sell... or that is the perception of publishers.     
I'll write more 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/.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Development - Historical Study, Cultural Awareness Differences

19 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, Cultural Awareness Differences

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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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
4. Quatriary

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

To get the culture, you must get the language.  That is the beginning, but that isn't everything.  Language is only the beginning.  In the comparison of AmerEnglish cultures, you might imagine that moving between cultures with completely different languages might be easier than cultures with very similar languages.  You would be wrong.  The problem is that an English speaker can pretty easily recognise the differences between American, British, and other English speaking cultures.  This is because many of the most observable difference are based in language.  This also applies to different British and American cultures that are differentiated by accents.  Did you notice that accents can differentiate cultures?

I hope you are getting the point.  English cultures are differentiated by accents as well as other parts of speech.  You can imagine how different an American Southern culture is from a Northeastern American culture or a Scottish culture.  The differences between a French speaking and an English culture is at least as great.  In other words, a French speaking culture can't be depicted as an English speaking culture that just happens to speak French.  The culture is different.  The people in a French speaking culture have different views, actions, responses, and expectations than those in an English speaking culture.  That isn't to say that they will not have similar views, actions, responses, or expectations, but depending on the culture, they may be extremely different.

For example, the motivations of a Russian communist are significantly different than an English capitalist.  The motivations of a German Nazi are significantly different than a Hindu swami.  The motivations of a German of any blush are significantly different different than any Indian Hindu.  The motivations of an Indian Hindu are much different than an Indian Muslim.  That isn't to say individuals in many cultures might share some similar motivations or ideas--there are things that all humans share.

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/.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Development - Historical Study, Cultural Awareness Language

18 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, Cultural Awareness Language

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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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
4. Quatriary

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

Language, more than any other characteristic, delineates culture.  That is not to say that different cultures can't share the same or similar languages--just look at AmerEnglish culture.  You just have to recognize that culture mainly begins with language.

Look, you generally know a person is French if they speak French or have a French accent.  It is always possible for a person to speak French if they are not French, but less likely that they will have a French accent.  If I describe a person having a French accent, you immediately assume they are French.  If I tell you they are speaking French, you immediately assume they have some background in France or a French speaking country. 

All my historical novels begin and end with language, and I'm not speaking about English.  In The Second Mission, the focus is ancient Greek.  In Aegypt, the focus is French and ancient Egyptian with Berber and Lybian tribal thrown in.  In Centurion, the focus is Aramaic, Koine Greek, and Latin.  In these novels, the languages represent cultures and the cultures change with the languages.  Cultures begin and end with language.  A major step in cultural awareness is to study or understand the language of the culture.

I'll write more about culture and language 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/.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Development - Historical Study, Cultural Awareness Differences

17 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, Cultural Awareness Differences

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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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
4. Quatriary

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

Yesterday, I ended with this, "You don't have to be absolutely knowledgeable of these cultures, you must be aware of them and their differences."  This is the absolute point about cultural awareness.  Notice something very important here--if you don't know about the cultural details, that is the historical details, you can't understand the cultural differences.  For example, if a certain ancient culture doesn't have money (and most of them don't until 600 BC), you can't get the concepts of market and trading right in that culture--you don't know the cultural differences, and you are doomed to failure in writing historical fiction.

To understand a culture sufficiently, you need to understand something about their language, their economy, their religion and gods, their foods, their drink, their entertainment, their government, their marriage customs, and all.  You can't just assume their culture is like AmerEnglish culture and move on from there.

Even when I write about Britain and British culture, I am very careful of words, actions, and incidents.  British culture is not the same as American culture.  As an author, you must depict these cultures properly if you wish to have any hope portraying any other culture.  Notice that the chief difference between American and British culture is the words.  In Britain, a trunk is the boot, a flashlight is a torch, an elevator is a lift.  There are many words and phrases you will find in Britain you will not find in America and vice versa.  I place many of my novels in the countries I've lived in and visited frequently: England, the USA, Greece, France, Germany, Turkey, and others.

In countries where the language is absolutely different, there are both less and more problems with cultural awareness.  I'll write more 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/.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Development - Historical Study, more Cultural Awareness

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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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
4. Quatriary

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/.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Development - Historical Study, Cultural Awareness

15 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, 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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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
4. Quatriary

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 study 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

Just as people in the ancient world did not have all the wonderful things we take for granted, their lives, culture, and society are not just different, they are remarkably different.  We falsely imagine that the rest of the world is culturally just like we are--if you have this view, you have never traveled.  Your thoughts about the world could not be further from the truth.  Just as language separates understanding, culture adds the grand canyon to that gulf. 

Cultural awareness is the author's awareness of cultural differences that allows him to adequately communicate those differences in his writing.  This is one of the greatest deficiencies in historical fiction.  Many historical fiction writers get the big history correct.  A few get the details right.  A very small number have cultural awareness.

In terms of cultural awareness, an author is a translator.  She takes an ancient culture that is nearly unknown to us and turns it into a living breath from the past.

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/.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Development - Historical Study, a Clean Slate

14 May 2012, Development - Historical Study, a Clean Slate

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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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
4. Quatriary

Everyone knows that people always had money, they always sat in chairs, they always ate food cooked in pots, they always had metal, they always had clothing, they washed dishes, they had dishes.  Everyone knows these things and none of them are true.  They are obviously not true--then why in almost every historical novel, do you read about doing the dishes, sitting in chairs, using money, eating meat, washing clothing, hiding under tables, etc., etc., etc.  Shoot, half of humanity thinks Jesus made furniture, the other half doesn't even know what furniture is. 

That's the point.  In history, it is best if as a writer and a historian, you assume humans don't have anything, and then only add those things you find in primary historical documents and artifacts.  If you start with a clean slate and only add in those things which are found in primary sources, you will write "real" history.  And I hope your point is to write "real" history--if not, then don't bother.  I don't want to waste my time on your book--it won't prove itself in time or history.

If you start with a clean slate, that is you assume that humans don't have money, don't have tools, don't have metal, don't have money, don't have clothing, and all, then you add in all the pieces you can find in primary documents, you will begin to place the details of history in your writing.  You still won't have captured the culture necessarily or the feel, but you will have made a wonderful beginning.  So let's put together a list of the how to begin to write from your study:

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'll write about cultural awareness tomorrow.  By the way, Jesus didn't make furniture, he made plows and yokes.

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/.