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A Writer's Guide to History series

Discussion in 'World Building' started by MUP, Apr 4, 2013.

  1. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    There are lots of books on these very topics. They range from the scholarly to the fluffy, but there are plenty of them. They of course are not aimed at the fantasy writer, but in some ways that's an advantage, as you can find the most surprising things in them. Just looking at my own shelves I see these:
    Daily Life in the Age of Charlemagne by Pierre Riche
    Everyday Life of Medieval Travellers by Marjorie Rowling
    Life and Leisure in Ancient Rome by J.P.V.D Balsdon
    Elizabeth's London, by Liza Picard
    The Stuart Age, by A.F Scott

    And literally hundreds more. "La vie quotidienne" has fascinated scholars and popular writers alike for generations now. In fact, some of the older ones (pre WWII and especially pre WWI) often have wonderful stuff precisely because their history is a bit shaky.
    J. S. Elliot and MUP like this.
  2. MUP

    MUP Acolyte

    This is brilliant feedback - thank you, it's exactly what we need to know because, as you write, there is a difference between what a fantasy author needs/wants to know about a period and what a historical fiction writer may need to know, or what the general interest reader may want to know. Thanks again.
  3. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    Just putting this out there. In my setting, I'm drawing on cultures from India eastward, all the way to Japan, with a very little from the Philippines and Indonesia. I'm deliberately not matching fantasy cultures A, B and C with China or Japan or Mongolia, but instead, drawing parallels here and there from each of them. I'm also not locked into a time period - different branches of technology have progressed differently, so I can still surprise my readers even with seemingly mundane things.

    For all the details of my my setting to work, I needed to research:
    - Agricultural techniques, irrigation techniques, and even greenhouses (for things to work in Tibetan-like landscapes).
    - Family life, city life, and travel.
    - Professions, especially unusual ones, that people could undertake in this society.
    - Nobility/Governments.
    - Unusual Items found in these cultures but unusual to ours, including things like the Netsuke or Prayer Wheels. When I isolated "unusual objects" as a topic it really made a difference in the research and my whole understanding of what was going on came alive.
    - Warfare, weapons, army management, and so on.
    - Mythology.

    Now, I couldn't expect all that in one book. But what I would find really useful would be, maybe, if you fictionalized a "typical" family, and then narrated their day, offering footnoted pictures of their home or a chart listing their cuisine as they went along, and slipping in real world letters and events as if they had been part of that family's experiences. And then maybe you could do the same thing for a warrior, or a traveler, or a city official, or a noble, or a handful of people in different walks of life. I think that would be really cool, and I think that would be a good way of getting inside the head of what a fantasy writer is looking for.

    Oh! And back to the original question, ontop of Wooing, Cursing and Crime... add bullying or harassment. What are some of the more petty things people would do if they didn't like each other?
    Chilari likes this.
  4. MUP

    MUP Acolyte

    Thanks Devor - I love the idea of us having an 'unusal items' section in each title. We will definitely be including case studies of different society members' lives, so it's very useful to know what it is that people wish to learn from them. Thanks again.
  5. Dr.Dorkness

    Dr.Dorkness Minstrel

    That kind of books would be very helpful. All the other members before me have posted some interesting cultures and era's. I myself am very interested in various religions and pantheons in the world, like the Norse mythology, or Greek and Roman, but also the shinto budists of Japan. Shamanism would also be interesting or the things that the native americans believe. So religion and folklore would be my main points of interest, from all over the world, and how people would incorperate this in daily life. Perhaps even Prehistorian people would believe.

    Also how would smoking and drinking fit in different types of soceities, like the native americans or hindu. Or even the origins of beer and mead, and how the hell was wine invented or whisky?

    I could help with some local folklore, in the south of the Netherland bordering to Germany and Belgium. which is an ofspring of the Germanic folklore. (this would be what people in my province believed in around 1700 and 1800.)

    Anyway, it all sounds interesting and I look forward to seeing how this project works out. Good luck.
    MUP likes this.

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