Thursday, May 10, 2012

How to Write a Medieval Novel: a practical guide no. 2

So! you're characters are riding through the countryside, or they come out of their doorways - and.... what do they see? Good stories, where ever they're set need worlds that are believable and often it's the variety and authenticity of the little details that really lift historical fiction, and give the reader the illusion that they've immersed themselves in a real world in all its facets: with farmers, clerics, travellers, pilgrims, knights or huscarls all mingling in a way that feels real. Of course no one has been to the Middle Ages, so how do you bring this level of detail to your story? The written sources tend to be a little bland on these little everyday details for almost any period because chroniclers don't see much noteworthy in the 'everyday.' There are a few places where you can find these details. Aelfric's Colloquys are a good example. Fancy catching a whale today lads?! Check out Ann E. Watkin's translation here But luckily the monks who illustrated thier texts seem to have had a penchant for putting the everyday in the margins of the holy, profound, sacred and heroic texts they were illustrating.

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