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Senior Project: Civil War Historical Fiction

Discussion in 'Research' started by Phoenix, Sep 22, 2013.

  1. Phoenix

    Phoenix Troubadour

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    Hey everyone! I'm a Senior in high school and I have to do a Senior project (you fail if you don't). I decided I would like to write for mine. Sadly, they killed the idea of a Fantasy story, but they said I could write a Historical Fiction. I decided I would write about the American Civil War as I could talk about the Battle of Shiloh in my research paper (it happened relatively close to where I live). I'm having trouble coming up with my story though.

    I'm thinking about writing about a rich family in the North, who move down to the South before the war. There are three brothers in the family. The oldest can remember the North, but the other two are born in the South. When the war begins, the oldest brother wants to fight for the Union, but the middle son is more inclined to the South because that is where he grew up. The youngest son wants nothing to do with the war and just wants to take care of their mother, who is sick (the dad has died a few years back). After the argument, the three split going their own ways. I want the story to mainly focus on the youngest brother and his struggle to keep the home safe. The middle brother will eventually desert and come back to the farm, with a group of friends, after the war turns bad for the South. Later, a group of Union soldiers, who are a part of Sherman's March to the Sea, come to the farm. Their is a fight between the two groups and the middle brother is killed by the oldest brother, who was with the Union.

    That is all I have right now. I wanted to go for the tragic feeling of war and what it does to the families in it. Anyways, I would love to hear what everyone thought about this! Thanks!
     
  2. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

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    I guess I have a few questions:

    Is it going to be a novel, novella or a short story? (How many words)? I think your idea has merit but is going to take a lot of words to tell properly, and you may be biting off more than you're interested in chewing. You mentioned in your research paper...a piece of fiction isn't necessarily research. Do they mean historical fiction as a story based on someone who actually existed, or a fictional story set in a time in history, and being accurate to the dress, language, customs, technology, etc.?
     
  3. Lord Ben

    Lord Ben Minstrel

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    Sounds like about 600 pages of story in there. Be careful making it too complex.

    There is a gravestone near my great grandfathers in Wisconsin for a Civil War veteran who died in the Battle of Chickamauga, I think he was 19 if memory serves me right? I remember in my youth going to visit the graves and imagining what his life was like. My town now is about 500 people but in those times it was a stagecoach Inn, store, and a feed mill to drop off the grain for the farmers. The nearest railroad is the town I went to high school in and that's 12 miles away and I'm not certain it even went through during the civil war or if it was built after. The war was on US soil but for some kid in Wisconsin it might as well have been on the other side of the world.

    Whatever the history books say the reasons for war was why did he go do it? Did his country mean a lot to him despite him probably never leaving home? Did he care about states rights? He probably knew a small collection of people German/Dutch was (and still is) the biggest "racial" rivalry, did he have a care about slavery or was he worried about all the Germans coming to take good Dutchmen jobs?

    I read a lot of Historical Fiction and that's what I enjoy about the genre. The ability to take something from history and boil it down to what one or two people felt about it and their personal experiences.

    I saw your location you had listed and did a quick google search and found some units that had a lot of men from your area of the country. McNairy County, Tennessee | Learn | FamilySearch.org

    If it were me, I'd just pick a unit from there like "13th Regiment, Tennessee Infantry, Company F - Captains John V. Wright, Dew Moore Wisdon, G.W. Churchwell - "The Wright Boys" - Men from McNairy County.

    Then just imagine you were one of those farm kids who joined "The Wright Boys." How did it get formed, how did you train, what happened to you, etc? Do a bit of research and put it into a story perspective and you'll ace it most likely. It's going to be more about the research, a simple bio tale works pretty good.

    I'd love to see more of it as you go though.
     
  4. Phoenix

    Phoenix Troubadour

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    Sorry, I should of been more specific on those points. My story is going to be a novella. As for the research paper, that is something separate that has to be a part of my presentation. The story is going to be about fictional characters in a historical background.

    Thank you Lord Ben for that information. It would be easier to write about a unit, as I could look up the information to see where the unit moved and what they did. However, I also like my original idea :/ Kind of torn now.

    Anyways, where do you think I should continue my research on this project? I've read the Red Badge of Courage but that is about it. I don't know where to go from there.

    P.S. I plan to post the full story when I'm done with it, right here on mythic scribe :D
    P.
     
  5. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

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    Two other books you might consider (Novels):
    Soldier's Heart by Gary Paulson (it's short and not at a high grade level but has some accurate information about battles and life of a soldier)

    and

    Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, which is about battle of Gettysburg.

    You should look at the technology, clothing/dress, methods of farming and such to make the home life and farm, etc. realistic.
     
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