17 June, 2011

Historical Fiction

So, I've been thinking about my next projects.  Maybe a little over achieving, since I still have to finish my latest one, but I like to start a bazillion ideas and then pick one or two to focus on.  Keeps things fresh.

Anyway, I was thinking of doing something in the historical fiction genre.  The problem is trying to pin down something, an era or event, that I'm like 'yeah, that is so cool, I want to spend hours and hours reading about it, so I can make up a story about a person who didn't exist and meld them seamlessly into events that actually did happen.'

This gets easier as the event gets further and further away.  Writing about ancient Babylon should be easier, I think, than the civil war.  But then again, the sheer amount of information collected about the civil war, for example, provides a richness that me making up names and crisis for Assyrian peasants can't quite match.  Real life is always more interesting than one thinks.

So, what should I focus on?  I have always found the French Revolution interesting.  But that was mostly men standing around making silly laws and yelling at each other.  The whole mass murder 'gullitine thing' only happened for a little while.  Other than that is was men running around the country side defacing churches and killing their neighbors.  Look it up; it was a Jacobin mess.  And i can never come close to the awesomeness that is Scarlet Pimpernel.  If you haven't read it, do.  It's great.

Ancient Greece is fun, though it is rather popular right now.  Rome is always a hit.  Gladiators, you know.  Medieval Europe is...boring.  Dark Ages for sure.  Ivanhoe?  Sa-nore.  Sorry, Sir Walter Scott, oh, father of historical fiction.  Parzival is just as bad.

China.  Now that is a cool place.  I love Chinese history and art, which sounds weird, I know, but the way they use space and lines...it's goosebumpy.  And there is so much of it.  Thousands of years of history and legends.  Hmmm...Mulan is my favorite Disney movie/folk tale.  I should find a cool battle between warlords and write a story about that.

This all reminds me of a class I took in college.  Prepare for tangent.

It was my final quarter, just before graduating and I was finishing up my core classes.  It was so good, I almost changed my major.

It was a geography class, all about how the area a people live in shapes their lives and how they do business, how they think, etc.  It was fascinating.  The professor was amazing.  He could stand and lecture for an hour without notes with the most interesting insights and stories.  Awesome.

He'd been to all the places he told us about, doing whatever it was geographers do, anthropology, maps, ecological surveys, the like.  He had these slides from all over the world.  He'd been to China several times and showed us the pictures he'd taken there.

He taught us to look at a picture and see everything about it.  One I remember well from a region in China was a sweeping view of a valley, full of farms and little rice paddies.  There was a rail track laid through the middle of it, raised above the water and mud.

This professor asked us what we saw.  We pointed out all the farms, the tracks, the hills, the season, the weather, etc.  Then he asked us what was odd about the power lines running along the tracks.  We looked and looked and couldn't see what he was getting at.

Then he pointed out that, though there were little huts and houses along the tracks, the power lines didn't run to them.  Those people had electricity within twenty feet of their doors and cooked over a fire and lit their houses with candles.

Back on topic.  I think China would be an interesting study for a historical novel.

That sure was a rambling way to say that.