August 22, 2011

Day Six {Genre} and Day Seven {Project}

As you will no doubt realize if you've seen the list of the Fifteen Day Challenge writing questions, I am taking liberties and skipping a couple of them. Day Six has to do with one's "bucket list," but I don't have one and therefore can't answer that; Day Eight is supposed to be a video about books or writing, but the only one I know of is Julian Smith's "I'm Reading a Book" and I can't stand rap. So I'm going with the questions I can answer.

day six: your favorite genre to write in

Earlier this month I wrote a post on diversity in which I pointed out the advantages of both reading and writing in many different genres to stretch the imagination. I am currently reading my father's dissertation on biblical economics, and in learning a little about the basics of Capitalism, it occurred to me that the Division of Labor encouraged by Adam Smith is today as pervasive a concept in the field of arts as it is in the field of physical labor. Authors are expected to hone their skills in one genre - something which, no doubt, earns them prestige and money. I contend, however, that although it might bring financial success and get the writer into the New York Bestseller List, it is damaging to the mind and will eventually doom the author's writing to tedious repetition.

All that to say, I like to write in several different genres. Currently I have two historical fictions and a fantasy; two of my planned novels are a time-traveling novel (science-fantasy) and a light "historical fiction" composed entirely of letters. I also have a historical fiction and a romance bumping around in my head. If forced to choose I would probably say that my favorite genre to write in is historical fiction, since in that one field there are a thousand different possibilities of time, setting, and characters. I like the research that goes into making the past come alive; I like the feeling of having created a story within history and made it authentic. And - well, I just love history and writing is the closest I can get to being there.

day seven: your current writing project

This question is an easy one for me to answer because I have a one-track mind - in this area, at least. Although I will occasionally scribble down a section in my writing notebook for another story, in general when I begin one novel I concentrate my energy on finishing it. I can't write two novels at the same time. Right now I am writing The White Sail's Shaking, my first "sea novel," set during the United States' first war with the Barbary states of North Africa. I always like a good intrigue, and that is what White Sail's is - an inner war among four midshipmen set against the backdrop of their nation's war with Tripoli.

At any level an officer's single goal is to get to the next highest, and Tip Brighton is as eager as his messmates to succeed when he first joins the Enterprize. He has always been a failure - in society as well as in his own family; that's how he ended up being dumped into the navy in the first place. But now that he is there, he means to prove himself...until he finds that the cost of success is higher than he is willing to pay.

I am roughly 90,000 words in to The White Sail's Shaking, placing me at about the two-thirds mark. The writing has been rather slow (I started this novel as my 2010 NaNo) but I am heartily enjoying this novel through all of its chaotic ups and downs and I hope it won't be the last naval fiction that I write.

8 comments:

  1. Oh, Abigail! I can't wait to someday read The White Sails Shaking!! It sounds so cool! I'm ashamed to admit that I don't know much at all about the Barbary Wars. :/ But I do love nearly forgotten pieces of history. I agree with you about the idea of one genre only being more harm than good. It's an interesting idea, even though most of my novels so far have been historical fiction. Actually, I wonder if you can answer this question. Isn't there a difference between historical fiction, and fiction set in a different era? For instance, my mid-grade novel is set in a British settlement in East India during the Victorian era. But the tale is not about historical events at all, really. It's just the setting I chose...what do you call that? I've been trying to figure it out, but haven't come to any definite conclusions. :)

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  2. The White Sail's Shaking sounds very interested and I look forwarding to reading it some day. Out of all the stories I've penned(whether I finished them and or wrote only a little bit)I'd say historical fiction has been a lot fun more so than trying to write a mystery, I think.

    Plus, historical fiction gives me a chance to combine my two favorite things to do: research history and writing.

    When you first started writing historical fiction, did you get any books out from the library on the subject of writing historical fiction novels?

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  3. Rachel - Don't worry, I didn't know there was a First Barbary War (or a second!) before I read Ian Toll's Six Frigates. It's not exactly the most fascinating naval war ever conducted, but it does have some great events like the burning of the Philadelphia. And, like you said, it's fun to rediscover bits of history like that.

    I'm not sure if there is a term for stories set in a different era that do not deal with major historical events, but I agree that they should be differentiated from historical novels. That's the way one of my planned novels is - the one written as letters; it's set during World War II, but doesn't deal with the war except as a backdrop. I know sometimes books like that are referred to as "historical" and then their subgenre, like "historical romance."

    Londongirl - Thank you! I think a historical mystery sounds fun. Have you ever tried that?

    I'm not one to read books strictly on writing, so no, I didn't get any works on writing historical fiction. Actually, my sister, Jennifer Freitag, summed up my own feelings about books on writing in her post Concerning Writing. I think the best way to learn how to write historical fiction is to read good works in that genre and to become thoroughly acquainted with the time period you're portraying.

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  4. Thanks. You're welcome!! No I haven't tried writing a historical mystery. But I did have a story in which the main character was a British archaeologist who goes to Egypt to work on a dig and there she stumbles upon a murder that wasn't on her dig. It had a little bit of Egyptian history but I don't know if that would be considered a Historical mystery or not. But I never finished it. Maybe I should go back to it? Perhaps someday....

    Anyway, writing a historical mystery would be a great idea and I may have an idea that I'm toying around with that involves a mystery.

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  5. I've just posted my day three post. I'll be skipping a few too (I actually nearly skipped that one, before I was hurled into memories of my primary school days).

    This is probably a silly question, since I know you've been doing research especially on the language for this book, but did you check that Enterprize would be the correct spelling at this point in American history?

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  6. "Enterprize" or "Enterprise" were interchangeable; spelling was extremely flexible at that point. "Enterprize" was the spelling commonly used in reports, etc.

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  7. Okay, cool. At first I thought it was the typical American "-ize" instead of British "-ise" which we get in various process words (sympathize/se,idealize/se, realize/se) and I wasn't sure when that change happened.

    But then I remembered that the Star Trek ships are spelled "Enterprise" and when I looked it up in the dictionary it said the "-ize" was actually an older spelling. Trust me to overthink things ;-)

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  8. Thanks, Abigail. Yeah, pr'aps we had better make up our own name for the genre. ;) Ah. That makes me feel better that you hadn't heard of the Barbary Wars...I was beginning to think I had some huge gap in my education and began questioning my fitness to be a graduate. ;) ~Rachel

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meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
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Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
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Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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