February 21, 2015

Finding Inspiration in History

I'm a history nerd. I just can't help it. Since I first discovered historical fiction in the first grade, I was set on a path that has led me to today.

It's probably not that surprising then, that after months of wracking my brain to find a name for the island / kingdom in my Historical Fantasy that I began to look towards history for inspiration. A few days ago I stumbled upon an article on Medievalists.net. I found the name "Thule"  which is not new but it's new to me. I already enjoy giving subtle Medieval references that fellow nerds, historians and medievalists will be able to appreciate and I wanted to use an older name but not have it alter my story into reimagined / speculative fiction. (Danes, Northmen, Vikings, Franks, Saxons, Goths, etc. they all carry their own rich histories that do not fit well into a historical fantasy already based on fictional cultures.)

Having now found the name "Thule", I feel relieved. That nagging feeling of incompleteness no longer eats away at me when I toss and turn in the dark of night. I can't explain why but it was the same anxious feeling I got before I settled on a city name for where Roger lived in To Be Determined. Even though I figured I would never publish the Noir piece, it felt incomplete and I knew there would be no peace until I found this missing name. I eventually settled on a fictional city based on San Diego and life made sense once more.

So, I'm getting back to my fantasy piece now and am combing through the themes and language to take it from a trio of settings in the forest, village, and castle and to transform it into something with more vivid visuals and earthy settings. It's important to me that the supernatural elements do not overpower the natural ones though they often reside in close proximity.

 In my opinion, nothing ruins a fantasy piece quicker than a ridiculous imbalance and unbelievable premise.I think I've said elsewhere though, I am writing it more as a piece of historical fiction with fantasy than the quintessential Fantasy Fiction.

As I've stated in previous posts, I'm a fan of Charles Dickens' writing style and I have a tendency to take a more sensual approach. Ironically, I am finding these details are easier to add in my fantasy piece than they were in my Noir one (though perhaps it was because I was concerned with keeping it historically accurate.)

As I am rereading the fantasy I'm actually surprisingly pleased with how it is coming along. I was nervous that, once I saw it with fresh eyes, a million flaws would pop off the page and overwhelm me but it is actually much better than I was expecting (though you may or may not agree with me).

I suppose this may have something to do with the fact that I am far more comfortable writing in this archaic style than I was in the more modern style that I adopted for To Be Determined. It probably also has a lot to do with the fact that I work much better as an outliner rather than a so-called "organic writer" (which is not to say that I don't leave myself some options and gaps to fill along the way). While I was (and still am) dreading my revisions and edits for To Be Determined, I think the process will be far less gruesome for my fantasy piece especially considering the fact that I've been editing along the way.

So, it's February which means April is that much closer and with it, Camp NanoWrimo. After seeing the not-so-impressive quality of the work I produced in November, I've been trying to decide whether I want to participate in this next session. I think if I do I will definitely need to go in armed with an outline and if I can finish Book 1 in the series, I will perhaps use the time to add 50,000 words to Book 2.  Hmm ... there is still much to consider.

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