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how can i write a medieval fiction

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Mon Sep 11, 2017 4:23 am
wetumbrella5 says...

i luv writing about medieval times. and i read about it. but i don t know why i am more talented at writing contemporary stories

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Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:07 am
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Rosendorn says...

It's likely familiarity.

Medieval setting stories require a certain amount of research for you to understand the feel of the times. You have to build up a world in your head about what they do for fun, how they live day to day, the food they eat, their routine.

Meanwhile, with contemporary stories, everything is right there in your life. You can have familiar life milestones, familiar narratives. There's slightly less research to do. The plots can form in your own setting and you can run with it.

I wouldn't call that familiarity "talent." While some people do have certain skills that makes it they start slightly ahead of the curve, certain instincts that can't be trained, most of what people call "talent" is really practice and time spent learning.
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Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:34 am
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ardentlyThieving says...

Honestly, I know it sound trite, but the best way to get better at writing something is to practice writing it! Maybe don't go straight into the deep end with a full length novel, but try some short stories or one shots.

Or come find an open medieval/fantasy rp or storybook over in the storybooks tab! That'll give you a way to practice, while collaborating so that you don't have to try and do everything yourself.
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Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:23 pm
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Kaylaa says...

I have to agree with @Rosendorn here--it is likely familiarity. For the reasons that Rosey explained, you have a better grasp on the real world than the world in medieval times because you live in present day. If somebody were to live in medieval times, you'd bet your bottom dollar that they'd probably have a easier time writing their own time instead of our current time.

This of course doesn't mean that somebody in present day can't write about medieval times or vice versa (though it's a little hard to write about how we end up in the future in the past because we in present day know more than the past does). This only means that it's harder to write about what we have to research which is why a lot of people suggest to write what you know.

Just my thoughts on the matter!

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Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:55 pm
CarryOnMrCaulfield says...

You need to do research - a LOT of research. The Middle Ages aren't as cut and dry as film depicts them to be. The entire period spanned just over one-thousand years. The word "medieval" itself is incredibly vague. The term could refer to one of four completely different time frames, each distinct from one-another, both aesthetically and culturally. There were the "Dark Ages", which lasted from roughly AD 400 all the way to 1000. That is six hundred years. A lot can happen in that time. When the Dark Ages began, Rome was still a thing. Sure, the (Western) Roman Empire was nothing more than a rump state being overrun by Huns and vandalized by the Vandals, but there were still emperors all the way until 476. The first 400 years of the Dark Ages alone were so chaotic that, aside from records in the Byzantine Empire and monks, no one even bothered writing many things down. The first true kingdom was not established until shortly before Charlemagne, who would eventually go on to become the first Holy Roman Empire (which managed to last all the way until Napoleon, despite it being the stupidest "country" ever to exist). Knights did not exist in the way that you or I picture them today; there were no large cities, no trebuchets, no fancily-dressed kings and nobles, and none of the countries that exist today were even close to being established. Hell, England and France were not known as "England and France" back then. They were just post-roman territories inhabited by multiple arbitrarily established kingdoms, many of which had no clear border. Feudalism wasn't even a political concept yet...feudalism: the most disjointed societal structure known to man, was not even around. I just wanted to point that fact out to emphasize on how bad things were. The sad part was that many people in Italy still went about their lives as if the Roman Empire were still around after it had already been dissolved. From 500 - 800, people were too busy fighting each other, fighting invaders, fighting Muslims, and just trying to survive past winter that there was no time to build castles or devise chivalric codes of social conduct. Ironically, this is when the Arthurian Legends are depicted to have been in the writings of Geoffrey of Monmouth and later medieval English writers. Monmouth, who lived during the "High Middle Ages", basically wrote of the past through the lens of the much later era in which he (meaning Monmouth) lived, although this was mainly for romanticism's sake. In reality, King Arthur, if he even existed, would have been a celtic (or possibly even half-Roman Celtic) who defended England from the Saxons. No Holy Grails or damsels or any of that stuff. It was all dark, gritty, dirty, and chaotic. Good old Emperor Chuckie changed that after creating the Paladins, the first knightly order, and taking kingship of the Frankish Empire, its western side becoming proto-france. Stability was restored,and this is when you begin to see the rise of actual kingdoms, feudalism (eww), knights, nobility, and advancements in architecture, meaning that you would see a common rise in the construction of newer castles and cathedrals. This entire era is often overlooked by people when they think of the Middle Ages, and it was a decisive period when it came to shaping the future of European geopolitics.

The High Middle Ages are what I assume you are referring to when you say "Medieval". That is generally the first image that comes to mind. Here, you see cities begin to grow, dynasties being established, knights going a'questing, and when the Catholic Church tightening its iron grip on all of Europe. This is when the crusades happened, Robin Hood allegedly lived, and when architecture was at its finest. Even then, you would not be able to recognize any of the languages spoken. English would sound more like a weird German/French hybrid...and that is 11th century German and French, which, themselves, are nothing compared to how those languages are today.

There are the "Late Middle Ages", which saw the rise in trade, urbanization, guilds, and the first democratic elements being adopted into government. Succession wars broke out, trebuches were used, and sieges were a common practice. France and England were always at war with each other, and with themselves. Noble Houses and titles like "Baron" and "Count" were invented to show status. Towards the beginning, the Black Death happened, wiping out a large percentage of Europe's population, but they recovered easily. New religious movements sprouted up as the Protestant Reformation began. The Spanish Inquisition notably happened at this time too. The most important part about this period is the rise of modern banking. The modern western economy was born here, as was proto-mercantilism. Some of the money from this era still exists today in the coffers of the British Royal Family and those damn Rothschilds. Basically, if you want a visual image, think of Game of Thrones and you'll get a basic idea of what this time was like. G. R. R. Martin based "A Song of Ice and Fire" on fourteenth and fifteenth century England. This would probably be the easiest time to set your book in, since we know a lot about this time as opposed to the others.

Finally, there is the Rennaisance, which is arguably not even medieval at all, but a gap era between the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period. This is when modern art and philosophical literature began. Imperialism and mercantilism began here as the Age of Exploration kicked off. If you take a look at it, you notice a clear societal transition. Medieval elements of feudalism, politics, and aesthetics are still very much present, but things like diplomacy, economic structure, social lifestyle, and the arts of the Rennaisance are much more reminiscant to how those things are today.

So, long story short: the Medieval Era was not a single age, but rather four. Each age saw drastically distinct characteristics from one another, such as in architecture, social demographics, languages, national borders, technology, lifestyle, and political structure. You can't all merge them into one, unless maybe if you are writing fantasy. Other than that, I highly suggest, if you want to write historical fiction, that you pick one of these periods and stick with it consistantly. It will probably be a bit difficult and you will find it challenging due to constrained limits, but it can be done, and has been done well in contemporary literature.

Think about it like this: 1600 through 1920 are generally seen as being referred to as "The Early Modern Age". Even in those three hundred years, a lot changed. Just compare the many, many differences between the time of World War One and the era of early American colonization in terms of culture, warfare, dress, architecture, politics, and industry (those last two being most important of all). You know how you view society as being different from back then and how much stranger it must have been? Well, just imagine how strange society in the sixth century must have looked to someone in the fifteenth century. Weirdly enough, both are lumped into the same historical epoch, being the Middle Ages/Medieal Era.

If you really want to get an idea of what medieval histfic should look like, I highly recommend that you read "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follet and its sort-of-sequel, "A World Without End". "Pillars" takes place in 12th century England (Higher Middle Ages) and "World" takes place in the 14th century (Later Middle Ages). A new one set in Elizabethian England (16th century) to wrap up the trilogy is set to come out later this year. The only historical innacuracy I found was in "Pillars" (set in a somewhat more nuanced era when compared to the Later Middle Ages). In the book, the British commoners, or the Saxons (Brittons of mixed Celtic, Danish, Jutish, and, of course, German-Saxon ancestry) were their own distinct culture with their own distinct language. With a few exceptions, they generally did not have much political power and were part of the peasantry. There was no middle class. The Saxons were essentially an occupied people. Their overlords were the Anglo-Normans, who had immigrated over the past century or so to England from France, specifically from Normandy, where the people were of mixed Frankish and Danish heritage. England was a unified country then, sure, but the culture divide was vast. You were either a Saxon or a Norman. They were just as much different castes as they were different peoples, and, aside from the military, both cultures pretty much stuck to themselves. Relating to "Pillars", there are, naturally, given the fact that it takes place during the "Great Anarchy" civil war in the mid 1100's, the book is chalked full of both Norman and Saxon characters. In the book, they speak to and understand one-another as if they see themselves as being part of the same country. The occupying Normans who ruled spoke mostly French, and the Saxons did not. As a result, many of Follets characters would have been unable to understand one-another due to that language barrier that took at least another century to close. However, that was most-certainly done for literary purposes, because the book would be no fun if everyone was running around not being to understand one another, just like a laughing orc in Elwyyn Forest who, to a human warrior, is just saying "Kek".

That post was longer than I thought it would be. It took me like an hour. Either way, good luck on your book. I hope this helped. You should really do some more of your own research though and not just base everything on the brief breakdowns above. You will need detail to pull this off, and historical context, and reading "The Pillars of the Earth" IS a MUST. I am being serious when I say this. It will help tremendously. If you are going to write a book about the middle ages, you need to be familiar with literature of the same genre. "Pillars" is the epitome of medieval historical fiction. Do your research, stick with it, create a compelling story, and I am sure that your own will be great.

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Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:49 pm
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Kale says...

On a slightly different tack, it might be helpful to ask yourself why you enjoy reading and writing about the Medieval periods and what it is about them in particular that draws your attentions.

I think it might also be useful to note that nonfiction is a genre of writing, and if your interest in all things Medieval is more academic or informative, you might be trying to write stories when an essay or series of essays would be more effective.

Then there's also perception to consider. I haven't read any of your Medieval themed writing, but what makes you believe that it's worse than your contemporary stuff?

(Hint: it might not actually be)
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