Thursday, July 7, 2011

Researching for writing

Well, back into it.... I’ve really kicked off into the second book, Days of Reckoning out for agent review. I’m expecting a flurry of form letters in the near future. Not to be deterred, I’ve decided to bash on through with the second novel, carrying on the exploits of Reckoning and throwing in some new characters. I’ve found myself really getting into some of the new points of view, particularly Sokuru, who had a very minor appearance in Reckoning. I’ve written five chapters from his worldview in no time flat.

One of the problems I’ve hit is the limit of my research on oriental and far eastern cultures. One of the biggest problems was the cultural norms of samurai japan, which I’ve largely taken into account while writing the Ochra Cycle. One thing that I know some will pick at, despite the fictional nature of the Realms of Ihr’Vessen, is the caste structure of the J’in Empire. The easy out of course is that this is a fictional setting. Notwithstanding this, there need to be enough reference points for a reader to grasp.

Samurai have largely been presented in modern media as an upper class of people, born into their station. Peasants remain the same through birth, with no possibility for improvement. There seems to be no room for advancement or movement between classes; the only exception to this being a samurai’s fall from grace to become ronin, which is still oft-times simply portrayed as the lowest of the upper class, still better than a peasant. This is mostly indicative of the Edo period of Japan. I’ve made the conscious decision that this doesn’t quite match the vision I have for the J’in Empire, at least not at the period that Reckoning entails. The Sengoku period seems more fitting, given the social movement possible, as well as the absolute anarchy produced by the warring states across Japan.

Another aspect I’ve been having fun researching has been the ancient techniques of war from the Chinese. From the very beginning where defences were largely limited to ditches and burms, reinforced with stakes, to the more elaborate castles and leading ultimately to the Great Wall of China. Most of this leads into the limitations my writing has faced with Nights of the Assassin. Once I clarified certain points, ideas abound!

All to say that researching has put a crimp in the amount of time left for writing. This of course is countered by the fact that I’ve added a slew of new ideas and plot points to Nights of the Assassin and the remaining books in the series.

The writing is flowing again.

And I’m loving it.

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