Saturday, November 17, 2007

Day 17

No writing immersion today. I elected to spend time going through old notes, hoping to put together an outline. What I discovered was troubling. The reason my "epic" has never worked out, is because these hundreds of pages of notes, scene outtakes, etc., that I've written about share very little in common. I have at least a dozen different ways to begin the book, all of which have strengths and weaknesses. Likewise for plot lines, although the plot lines are pretty weak. There is an overall understanding of what needs to happen, but complete disagreement and disorganization on how to make it happen.

I don't typically write on the weekends, so I may spend tomorrow doing similar work, but this time just putting together an outline that will get me to 50,000 words.

Below are some terrific research books on the Middle Ages that I stumbled on. They're geared toward young adults, but they do an excellent job in dealing with their topics.

Tina Morgan, editor of the Fiction Factor e-zine, has this to say about research in her "World Building" chapter (one of the better chapters in this excellent reference) in The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy:

Most writers have a limited amount of time to research all the facts they need to include in their stories, so how do you find what you need in a quick and easy manner? One solution is to read non-fiction books aimed at a mid-grade level audience. The facts are given in very simple easy to follow answers without a lot of extrapolation to slow your research.

I'm a visual person, and learn much better with diagrams, pictures, etc. I need to *see* what I'm reading about in my mind in order to fully grasp it. So much of what I've read regarding the Middle Ages hasn't quite sunk in. Now, after seeing a diagram of a medieval manor, I can go back to, say, Joseph and Frances Gies works and understand what I'm reading better.

Each book is exactly 32 pages long, and every page is colored to resemble parchment, and the drawings, all full-color, evoke the period beautifully. There are so few reviews for the books on Amazon in this series; I'm surprised that more haven't stumbled on them.

They are all part of a larger collection: "Books in The Medieval World Series" by Crabtree Publishing Company

Life in a Castle
Medieval Society
Medieval Towns, Trade, and Travel
Medieval Medicine and the Plague
Manners and Customs in the Middle Ages
Food and Feasts in the Middle Ages
Life on a Medieval Manor

The following book isn't in the same series, but I happened on it in a store one day and was surprised at the depth it went into. It, too, is geared toward young adults, but like the books above can be helpful for a writer looking for a clear, diagrammed view.

The Big Book of Knights and Castles

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