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 Post subject: How to Create History
PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 6:52 pm 
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By living your life, of course! ;)
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Anyway, how do you create history for your realms/worlds/countries? An outline showing each week/month/year of that particular country? Or is it a simple page of how the entire world developed?

Thoughts?

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 Post subject: Re: How to Create History
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 10:26 pm 
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I've been pondering this a bit, so I'm interested in hearing peoples' thoughts. :D

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 Post subject: Re: How to Create History
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:51 pm 
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Same here, Jonathan.

History isn't my strong point, but I don't toss it out the window either. I find that I usually end up creating background story when I reach a point in the plot that requires it. *interesting and sometimes frustrating if I can't figure out how to tie everything in* :P

I don't really keep records of the development of my world, other than a timeline for the time period of the actual book or series. Without it, I would go crazy trying to remember who was where on what day.

I like the though of an outline. This is definitely an area I need to (and will!) improve in.

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 Post subject: Re: How to Create History
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:39 am 
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I "created" (see below) the main arcs of what I call "the Outline of History" back in middle school, over a decade (and about half my life) ago, so I can't really speak to what method I used then---and while the details (especially dates and durations) have changed, the essential story has not (except that the "third act" lengthens as I get more ideas of stories to write). (But that might not qualify as "history" for your purposes, since it's essentially all stories I intend to write---I put "created" in quotes because I feel called to tell this particular story, more than to be a writer in general.)

I've been trying to use the "something notable every half-decade" method for my projected future history of our world (a few bits of my Shine Cycle are to be set in our world as of a few centuries to a millennium or so from now), and while I think it's working better than any other method I've thought of for addressing that problem (absent any specific inspiration), it's still not working very well---partly because I'm just writing it in a text editor, and every time I insert a new event in the middle (I'm working by "topic," so as to have several continuous narratives running through) I have to go through and adjust the date of every following event, which gets very tiresome.

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 Post subject: Re: How to Create History
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:12 am 
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For history I usually have a lot of stuff that I know, but I rarely write it down unless I have to (or unless I want a more clear idea of what happened and the exact dates of when it happened.) Usually I just keep it in my head otherwise.

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 Post subject: Re: How to Create History
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 3:47 pm 
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As far as history goes, I want to write everything down and have an extremely detailed timeline for the history of my world, but I get bored easily, and I'm still not sure how they reckon time in my world, so as of yet I only have a story on the creation of the world, and a ton of amazing stories and events floating 'round in my head...

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 Post subject: Re: How to Create History
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 4:04 pm 
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Aratrea wrote:
For history I usually have a lot of stuff that I know, but I rarely write it down unless I have to (or unless I want a more clear idea of what happened and the exact dates of when it happened.) Usually I just keep it in my head otherwise.

In my experience, if I don't write something down I'm far too likely to forget it.

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Originally inspired to write by reading C.S. Lewis, but can be as perfectionist as Tolkien or as obscure as Charles Williams.

Author of A Year in Verse, a self-published illustrated collection of poetry: available in paperback and on Kindle.

My blog includes the following "departments":
  • Background on the Shine Cycle, my planned fantasy series, spanning over two centuries of an imagined world's history, several universes (including various alternate histories and our own future), and the stories of dozens of characters (many from our world).
  • Strategic Primer, a strategy game I'm developing, played by email, assisted by programs I'm developing. The current campaign (moving slowly, less than one turn a month) always needs more players.
  • My poetry.
  • Miscellaneous essays.


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 Post subject: Re: How to Create History
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:41 am 
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History is not really a problem for me. * smiles * It's sort of funny. You know in The Magician's Nephew, where Polly and Digory are flying over the land on Fledge's back and talking about the children not being made to learn history yet because it hasn't happened? But what I always thought when I got to that part was, they're making it right there. They are history. And when you finally get to The Last Battle, the final book in the series, King Tirian is thinking back over the history of his world (which he was likely made to learn in school * grins *), and a good many of the notable events of it were the other books in the middle of the series.

So I don't have too much trouble with history. I'm always writing new stories, discovering new characters. The first real character I ever met wasn't much in the beginning, but at the end of the story, he was one of the most famous people of one of the largest wars of the world, and therefore one of the great men in world history, that everyone later on, in all the rest of my books, look back and talk about and have as their history. When I need to find out about a particular area of history, I just make a story about it; not necessarily write the whole story, or any of it, or even try and keep it in the decent borderlines of the necessary plot for a publishable book. I just make it up; and when historical figures become characters, they're easier to deal with for me. It works. :D You want a complex political history for one of your nations? Make up half a dozen influential people with conflict, goals, and beliefs that far from mesh, then watch what happens. And the longer you follow them and their descendants through the years, the more history you'll have. :D


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 Post subject: Re: How to Create History
PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:04 am 
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I follow the history in scripture the way Tolkien did in some sense.

Based on the mytholgy of scripture there was known history (humanity) and a created history (angelic) from conjecture.

There are time gaps in the scripture because the Bible is not a history in itself. Tolkien imagined what went on between heaven and earth during those gaps.

Biblical imagery can be seen in the flood sequence near the end of the Silmarillion. It can be seen in the Fall of the Ring sequence. It can be seen in creation of Middle Earth. It can be seen in the light of the trees.

(There is also argumentation that Tolkien was dispensational in the make-up of Middle Earth history and the ages related directly to the dispensations. Thus the magic, and the efforts for good and evil, even the goals changed with the various dispensations.)

History is provided by the real timeline we have been given from before Creation to the very end of time and the new heaven and earth.

There are long spans between some early history set-ups and their late pay-offs. Eventually, the long-time-coming curse or effect or doom will come.

History unfolds.


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 Post subject: Re: How to Create History
PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 1:37 pm 
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I like to create countries and cultures much like I create characters. I give them personalities and motivations, obsessions and loves and hates, much like I would give an imaginary character. Different people from the country will be different, of course, but I like setting a general personality for the whole nation. Now with a character, you might try to explain some of their traits with a backstory, like the classic I'm-so-evil-because-I'm-insecure-because-I-was-abused-as-a-child...but while this can be really fun, it's easy to overdo it. But with a country or a culture, now...you can just go on forever. Example: Country A and Country B are at war because of a long-running enmity, because of a war between them several years ago, because of Country B's desire for more land, because of Country B's overcrowding, because of all the immigrants flooding into Country B from Country C, because of the oppression of peasants in Country C, because of the increasing troubles of the aristocracy in Country C, because of the emerging middle class threatening the power of the aristocracy in Country C, because of the establishment of wide-spread trade, because of the establishment of peace in Country C, because of the work of Country C's aristocracy to bring peace to the countryside, because of the legacy of the bloody wars between Country C and Country D, because... And every one of those reasons just invites more elaboration and development and connection to other developments. So basically, when I create countries that have real personalities, that have different motivations and opinions and problems and desires - that, in short, are characters - they create history just as lively characters create plot.

I also find it helpful to think of history in terms of trends and movements developing, interacting and dying, instead of isolated events with dates. It feels much more human that way!

Alright, I just answered the question in the title of this topic without answering the question in the first post at all. :P To actually answer the first post, I usually write down actual stories and accounts of events in my world's history, and then keep the general outline in my head. Probably a bad idea, but that's how I do it. I also occasionally make timelines to help me keep things straight and better see what events were contemporary to each other - I like this software for that task: http://thetimelineproj.sourceforge.net/

Mistress Rwebhu Kidh wrote:
When I need to find out about a particular area of history, I just make a story about it; not necessarily write the whole story, or any of it, or even try and keep it in the decent borderlines of the necessary plot for a publishable book. I just make it up; and when historical figures become characters, they're easier to deal with for me. It works. :D You want a complex political history for one of your nations? Make up half a dozen influential people with conflict, goals, and beliefs that far from mesh, then watch what happens. And the longer you follow them and their descendants through the years, the more history you'll have. :D

Yup! Exactly. I do a lot of my history this way, though I also have a lot of abstract national entities doing stuff. The fun thing, as you said, is that you can make it as insanely complicated and rambling as you want, since you're not actually going to write a novel out of it all and so it doesn't need to fit neatly into a story. :)

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 Post subject: Re: How to Create History
PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 4:06 pm 
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*hits head on desk*


Ummmm....

Well. That's interesting.

Originally, my series started out as a single (short!) story. That morphed into a novel, which morphed into a trilogy which spawned several spin of series which then coalesced into a series - and then, on the side, several other ideas were born into separate books, which then randomly were shoved together into a series so I could reuse races and then that series (the fantasy world) managed to create a connection with my original series and so there it is....

My mind is a mess.

I guess I make history by creating people and thinking their lives and then plugging it into my series. I'm actually currently working on the history of my world which is why nothing's growing....

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