How historical do you want your historical fic?

Discussion in 'Historical Fiction' started by Martin Gill, May 4, 2016.

  1. MWagner

    MWagner Well-Known Member

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    [gets on soapbox] So a Hellenic city much larger and more cosmopolitan than Athens, the birthplace of classical philosophy and science, rebels against the Persian empire, whose regional capital is a day's ride away. Without the protection afforded by the Aegean Sea. Without any delusions about the power of Persia and what it did to rebellious states. Then fights a desperate war with sieges, triumphs, epic naval battles, betrayals, and calamities.

    And this rebellion is virtually unknown, even among amateur enthusiasts of the classical world. Why? When Herodotus himself was an Ionian Greek? I guess losers don't make for compelling subjects (the population of Miletus was enslaved after the rebellion). [gets off soapbox]

    Funny, but I've modelled one of my protagonists on Aspasia. She must have been an exceptional personality.

    180k words into a first draft that I expect to hit 220k. First book in a planned trilogy.

    How about you?
     
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  2. aThenian

    aThenian Well-Known Member

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    It sounds fantastic source material. Why unknown? - because no Thucydides or Homer to write about it? (Did Herodotus write about it?)
     
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  3. MWagner

    MWagner Well-Known Member

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    Herodotus did write about it (though the Ionian revolt took place a decade before he was born). He doesn't go into a lot of detail, though. Presumably there was more of an audience for an account of the struggle of Athens and mainland Greece, as the population of the leading Ionian city - Miletus - was enslaved after their defeat. Herodotus sought out the patronage of Athenians, and in fact unsuccessfully applied for citizenship. It's not hard to imagine why he would present Athens as the protagonist of the Greco-Persian wars.

    You're fortunate in your chosen subject matter. We just know so much more about Athens than any other Hellenic city of antiquity. Most of the works of Ionian Greek writers were lost.
     
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  4. The Big Peat

    The Big Peat Well-Known Member

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    Interesting to see people going Greek. I feel that, given how monumentally influential and well known Ancient Greece is comparatively speaking, its incredibly under represented in mythology. One of my nascent WiPs is going for a lot of Ancient Greek, but more myth than history.

    Also, thank you for introducing me to the Ionian Revolt.
     
  5. Brian G Turner

    Brian G Turner He's a very naughty boy! Staff Member

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    I'd love to read more fantasy inspired by the ancient world. Hope you'll both consider putting something up in Critiques when ready, to see if we can help. :)

    I came across it early in research - but I also noticed the Ionian Greeks pretty much get ignored in lieu of the Dorian Greeks.

    Not as much as the Byzantines. :)
     
  6. The Big Peat

    The Big Peat Well-Known Member

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    Err, thats meant to say fantasy, not mythology.

    Anyway, yes, Byzantines also very underrepresented, but not quite as iconic either. I can't think of anything so simultaneously iconic and ignored.
     
  7. aThenian

    aThenian Well-Known Member

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    Interesting concept. Maybe we should have a competition! <Struggles to think of anything>
     
  8. aThenian

    aThenian Well-Known Member

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    Yep, will do - just haven't been brave enough so far. Some of it probably won't seem very Ancient Greek. but maybe I'll post a naval battle - what do you think?
     
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  9. The Big Peat

    The Big Peat Well-Known Member

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    There is a case for the mythology of Ancient Egypt I suppose.

    And please give us something in crits :)
     
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  10. Brian G Turner

    Brian G Turner He's a very naughty boy! Staff Member

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    To get the most out of Critiques it's best to post the first 1500 words of the novel itself. It's the best introduction to the story, and will also show up any short-comings.

    It can be deflating to get constructive criticism, especially at first - but, honestly, it's the best sort of feedback you can get, because it can help push you into making the story stronger - not least through little issues that were overlooked, or even suggestions that can be used to improve some part.

    Your setting should come through at the start. You don't need to use any overt references, but anyone who reads historical fiction/fantasy will notice the little details. :)

    Which reminds me, I'm sure we had someone submit something a while ago that involved training/running and was set in some form of Ancient Greek setting, and was quite good - but I forget now who posted it. :( [EDIT: Just ran a search a search - it was MWagner. :) ]
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016
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  11. MWagner

    MWagner Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, that was me. I've substantially re-worked the opening, and added the dreaded prologue.

    I do have a short-story that I'm ready to offer up for critique, though it's not a historical fantasy.
     
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  12. Justin Swanton

    Justin Swanton Well-Known Member

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    If I can jump in at this late stage: I published a novel on late 5th century Roman Gaul (the downfall of the realm of Syagrius). When writing it the single most important thing for me was - as another poster said earlier - to keep the characters in the mindset of their time and still make them sympathetic to contemporary readers.
     
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  13. svalbard

    svalbard Well-Known Member

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    What is name of the book? I have an interest for that period and you do not tend to see much about Syagrius.
     
  14. Brian G Turner

    Brian G Turner He's a very naughty boy! Staff Member

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  15. Justin Swanton

    Justin Swanton Well-Known Member

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    That's it. There are some more Amazon reviews here. One of the reviewers calls the book a satanic mind bender so you have been warned....
     
  16. The Big Peat

    The Big Peat Well-Known Member

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    Amazeballs.

    Have you read any of his other reviews? They're quite something...
     
  17. svalbard

    svalbard Well-Known Member

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    Downloaded.
     
  18. Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

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    That review would be hilarious if it wasn't so scary!
     
  19. Justin Swanton

    Justin Swanton Well-Known Member

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    Seems reviews like that really get a book moving ;).
     
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  20. JoanDrake

    JoanDrake Well-Known Member

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    Well, it isn't called Historical FICTION because everything in the book actually happened, is it?

    A major thing to remember too is that most of the actual histories we have from that era are largely speculation anyway. While it's a few centuries earlier, that remains a major reason the Arthur stories are perennial, nobody really knows what happened for a fact (they don't even know where Camelot was for sure), so you can say whatever you want.

    You mentioned Ragnar Lothbrok and if you're referring to History Channel's VIKINGS rather than the actual Saga it is partially based on that's a good example. VIKINGS had the siege of Paris like a year or so after Lindisfarne, which actually happened in 794 and Paris was in 856, also they had Rollo invading Normandy contemporaneous with Paris but it was more than a hundred years later and nobody knows who Rollo really was, though they're pretty sure he was no relative of Ragnar, who himself is possibly not a real character but a composite of several people.

    OTOH, from what you say I don't think you're writing Alternate History either, which is a subgenre all its own. AH is all about the Alternate, rather than the history, coming from just one "Point of Departure" and then trying to be highly accurate to a world all its own. Its devotees, of whom I am one, can be even geekier than regular history aficianados.

    Write, know the age and be true to it but never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017 at 3:51 PM
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