Historical Writing

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Historical Writing

Unread postby JLeMasonry » Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:46 pm


Being a budding author by trade - but yet still far from any considerably prestige - I decided recently to start writing my own interpretation of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, focusing more intently on specific battles throughout the Three Kingdoms era. I intended to produce a modernised and Westernised interpretation of the already-brilliant novel, but I'm a little concerned about finding publication. I spent nearly a year researching, writing and verifying countless factfiles on all the major characters throughout the era, attempting to distinguish between fact and myth. I hope to make the novel as realistic as possible, but there must be allowances for dramatisation and gaps in the historical records.

Has anyone got any comments on this? I had in mind to produce a series, focusing on all the large battles between 180CE and 280CE (including major ones like the Yellow Turban Rebellion, Dong Zhuo's Rebellion, Xiapi, Guandu, Chibi, Hefei, Chengdu, Fan Castle, Yiling (Xiaoting), Wuzhang, Hefei II, and those occurring afterwards!), but I planned to start with Chibi, simply because it's the most diverse. Are there any suggestions for characters, quotes, information, timelines, and themes that should be included? It will probably be written from the perspective of Zhou Yu, therefore on Wu's side, and will encompass everything from Xiakou up to the victory at Chibi.

I have tried to be as thorough as I can with the information I've used, but I will most definitely have missed things! I would be grateful if anyone with greater knowledge than myself would proofread the manuscript upon its completion, to offer any changes and/or additions! I hope that eventually this manuscript can be sent to a publishers to bring the entire story up to date and hopefully encourage more people to enjoy and appreciate this historic and monumental change in society.
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Re: Historical Writing

Unread postby rcsha » Sat Jan 21, 2012 1:48 am

Getting together with a writer's group of some kind would be a good idea.

I'd suggest the Writer's Chatroom, they hold some pretty good events and stuff there. Writing-related chats every Wednesday and Sunday. They have a ton of writin resources on their website, too.
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Re: Historical Writing

Unread postby Zhou Chie » Sun Jun 24, 2012 12:29 pm

I know I'm a little late for this discussion, but if I might, I'd like to recommend that you write from the point of view of common soldiers, much like Rome did, with flawed heroes of their time such as Vorenus and Pullo. In fact, the more they seem like men of their times, the better, through that you could perhaps emphazise the division of the era, with the increasing uncertainty and once again, division. I might also recommend, not to make a hero out of people like Zhuge Liang or Liu Bei, or anyone, I recommned portraying the men and women of the period as they were, people of the period and not perfect beings.
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Re: Historical Writing

Unread postby TPMThorne » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:34 pm


I like the idea presented by Zhou Chie about writing from the perspective of the 'common man', funnily enough. One of the things I found surprising was the CCTV-produced 1980s TV series of Three Kingdoms - given the novel's stance of pretty much ignoring the needs of the common person and focussing mainly on dynastic rights - this had many scenes depicting the plight of soldiers in battle having boiling oil poured on them, and peasants having their crops stolen by hungry soldiers. In some ways, those scenes really helped, whereas in-novel scenes such as an overly reverent peasant man feeding bits of his wife to Liu Bei and passing it off as wolf meat were, well, not so endearing. If you can get a copy of that series from somewhere for some inspiration, I recommend it: some of the lead actors chop and change a bit, and it's still a take on the novel, but the actors do the job so well that it works, even with poor effects and bad subtitling. I found it on eBay.

There are so many interesting figures that you could focus on, and maybe not even the obvious ones. The Yellow Turban Rebellion sounds like a good idea if you went down the 'common man' route, since that can be done from a number of very interesting viewpoints, such as looking at the motivations of the Turbans, maybe, and the general discontent with the Imperial regime that gave the Turbans a platform. On the other hand, Chibi is a good place because of its monumental significance: there are so many parts to it that you could write a whole series and still stand apart from the recent John Woo movie, which took some large liberties in the story-telling department to shave the time down. The problem is balancing factual story-telling with what people still want to see in there regardless: do you have the arrow-borrowing scheme, just because it's popular...?

Without this sounding like self-promotion - it isn't, I'm just sharing an experience - I've already self-published a 'less myth, more fact' novel about Zhuge Liang last year, and that was after being told by a half-dozen big agents in the UK that it was 'well written, but about a subject that we do not feel has a large enough customer base to warrant our interest'. ...???? ...Perhaps that was a polite way of telling me to 'do one', but they usually don't do polite, it has to be said, they usually ignore you. And if you are forced to self-publish, remember that promoting it is the hard part: I've already accidentally committed cardinal sin number one by signing up here to tell people about it without contributing first, and the bottom line with self-publishing is a lot of hard work making people aware of it without sounding like you just want their money - only big publishing houses can do that.

I sincerely wish you all the best: the era is fascinating and needs more people shouting about it. I'll be keen to hear how you get on with the agents & publishers: may you have better luck than I did!
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