Chuck Sambuchino writes:
“There’s a funny sort of tension that occurs when writing historical fiction: Is it possible to achieve total historical accuracy while still telling a great story? Can’t one do both?”
I say yes if you follow the tips he gives in his article. Here are just a few – an important few that I am following in writing my next novel IJIN.
Have fun with the research, but do your homework. This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Borrow some good reference books. Become comfortable with the time period. Try to understand both the larger scope of the period, while examining aspects of daily life. This will help create an authentic backdrop for your novel.
After several months of haunting libraries, I finally found the books I needed online. They have become the cornerstone of the real events experienced by real people in the period. As for the historical period itself, I had that covered since I am a World War II aficionado.
Let the characters engage with the historical details. This goes along with that “show don’t tell” truism writers are told all the time. Rather than just dumping a bunch of facts on the poor reader, let your characters interact with these details with all these senses. Let them smell the offal dumped onto the cobblestone streets. Let them squint in the fading light of the tallow candles. Let them feel the tingling sensation as the physician places a leech on their bare skin.
Or in other words – bring the fiction into the historical events and visa versa.
Allow your characters to question and explore their place in society. This will help reveal the larger political, social, cultural context of the time. What were the expectations for women? For sailors? For criminals? How did people from different parts of society interact with one another?
My main thrust with this rule is the experience of the American teenage boy against the backdrop of World War Two Japan.
Let’s see how I do.
September 2, 2014
Chuck Sambuchino writes:
We’re moving along.
My publisher sent me drafts of the book’s layout. I am very pleased with the font style and chapter headings. Headings are very safari font looking.
The marketing rep is doing a fine job pursuing the marketing plan I asked for. We are waiting now on responses from the Black conservative organizations, authors, politicians, columnists and celebrities on my list.
Hope to see more of the cover design soon.
July 31, 2014
For five days, starting on August 9th and ending on August 13th, BLACK SUN – Book Three of the Chronicles of Jeremy Nash – will be FREE on Kindle Amazon.
Pick up a FREE copy and if you like the action/adventure story, buy the first two in the series.
I’ve been thinking about the name of the book I’m writing now called Gaigin. A while back, I realized that a book by James Clavell had the same name. The title of his book was Gai-Jin.
Though nothing like Clavell’s book, I toyed with the idea of keeping the same title – without the ‘-‘ in it. I figured with such a popular author ‘s work being searched for online, my book would pop up next to his.
But we must be ethical in this business and I’d rather be known for my own writing and not someone else’s – no matter how famous they might be.
So……I’m changing the name of my book to a word similar to gaigin – ijin. It means the same thing – foreigner, alien, or outcast in Japanese.
So IJIN it will be.
That time worn advice is given to all new authors. But I disagree.
I say write what you CAN know. That means, learn what you need to pursue a story idea.
I write in many genres. Some say authors should stick to one and be known for it. I’d rather be known as a Michael Crichton. I want to write stories that interest me no matter what the genre.
So I’ve written techno-thrillers, action/adventure, SyFy and speculative fiction. My next two books will be general fiction followed by a ‘What If ‘historical thriller. I want to give my readers a taste of many genres in hopes they would enjoy my work. A good story is a good story. Its purpose is to entertain the reader no matter what the genre.
Do you agree?
The final days of Edgar Allan Poe have inspired more conspiracy theories than JFK and Elvis combined.
There are over 26 theories including rabies, diabetes, epilepsy, carbon monoxide poisoning, alcohol dehydrogenase, and cooping.
But let’s examine the facts.
Matthew Mercier writes that it was a common practice in our young Democracy to abduct isolated people during city elections, ply them with liquor, and then force them to vote multiple times. (The democrats were stealing elections even back then).
This would explain Poe’s deathly state when found in a Baltimore tavern – which doubled as a polling site – and the fact that he was wearing clothes that were not his.
June 15, 2014
Ebooks on course to outsell printed editions in UK by 2018.
The ebook will overtake the paperback and hardback as Britons’ preferred format for reading their favourite novels by 2018, according to a report. The UK consumer ebook market – which excludes professional and educational books – is forecast to almost triple from £380m to £1bn over the next four years.
Over the same period, accounting group PwC predicts that sales of printed editions will fall by more than a third to £912m as the UK population’s reading habits become dominated by tablets, with 50% of the country expected to own an iPad, Kindle or a similar device by 2018.
Nigel Newton, the chief executive of the Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury, said the surge in ebooks had fuelled a “golden age of reading” in the UK.
Writing an historical drama like Gaijin has two challenges. It must be a good fiction story and it must adhere, more more or less, to historical fact.
“If the purpose of converting historical events to a dramatic format is to interest the widest possible audience, then forgetting why it is done makes the effort useless. ….. Although historical accuracy and dramatic effect do not always clash, inevitably they will. Then which set of values should prevail? If the story is going to work and hold the interest of the audience, the values of drama must prevail. … that is not easy to do.”
Not easy to do. How true.
As I write Gaijin, I am boxed into the historical timeline I’m writing about and timeline of the historical characters. A pure fiction story has no such restriction. The universe is mine. I can create any timeline I wish. Not so with historical fiction.
I not only have to write into the historical events and historical figures as they unfold, but I have to make those events and character interactions dramatic through the actions of my fictional characters. Like a fiction story, each scene I write – I call chapters scenes because I want to project images in the readers minds like a movie – must have either tension between the characters or conflict. Each scene of almost any movie must have some kind of tension or conflict between the characters. if not, it makes for very dull entertainment.
The challenge is to make an historical fact – dramatic. If not, I’ve written a non-fiction historical tome – not very entertaining as a story.
I keep the rules above in mind every time a I write a scene.
First, do the research on the historical event
Second, what choose the characters for the scene.
Third, create tension of conflict between the characters.
As the quote above says – it’s not easy to do.
June 12, 2014
The best way to thank an author for a well deserved reading experience is to write a review.
But this is so infrequent, authors wonder why. Reviews sell books! People who want to spend their hard eraned money want to see what others are saying about the story.
So here are some simple prompts to help you fill in that review with the needed 25 non-repeating words required by Amazon. No-one is asking you to produce a literary masterpiece, start off with things you liked, didn’t like or a mix of both about the book.
I liked this book because -
it reminded me of -
it made me think about -
it made me so scared I couldn’t sleep for -
it made me feel homesick for -
it made me more aware about -
Just express your feelings about it.
So if you’ve read one of my books and haven’t given it a review, please take a few short minutes and go to Amazon and review it.
I would deeply appreciate it.
A publisher hopes to garner early reviews before doing a full bore marketing effort. But sometimes, those early reviews are not what is expected–even for beloved novels.
Here are a few.
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE – Maurice Sendak
“A pointless and confusing story” – Publishers Weekly 1963
LEAVES OF GRASS – Walt Whitman
“it is no discredit to Walt Whitman that he wrote Leaves of Grass. Only he did not burn it afterwards” – The Atlantic 1867
WUTHERING HEIGHTS – Emily Bronte
How a human being could have attempted such a book without committing suicide before he had finished a dozen chapters is a mystery” – Graham’s Lady Magazine 1848
HUCKLEBERRY FINN – Mark Twain
“No better than the dime novels that flood the blood and thunder reading population” – The Springfield Republican 1885