1. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Creating a fictional kingdom

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by BFGuru, Aug 14, 2011.

    It's break time between classes and I thought this would be the perfect time to try and expound upon a story that's been going around in my head. It is my first attempt at writing anything of this magnitude and I want it to be worthwhile.

    It's somewhat of a historical romance. Kings, queens, princesses and the like. My issue was do I create my own middle earth? Or do I place an imaginary kingdom somewhere in the same region my favorite stories have occured? I opted for the imaginary kingdom, which is probably good, in that I don't have the skill of Tolkein and a tiny country is proving difficult enough.

    I've discovered as of late the Basque Countries, which has me completely enthralled, but forming a nation that is touched by the cultures I want them to interact with and determining what ancient life in this region was like is stumping me.

    I've got a general idea, but how to encorporate things so that my reader understands is where I'm stuck. I've learned the local deities, and the words behind the superstitions, but the average reader will not understand things that would be commonplace to my characters. How would you go about defining it? How would you draw an entire civilation up with words and make it to where when you mention the local word for something like "witch" it is understood what emotions are being conveyed and what thought process the characters would go through for something that is as natural to them as air, but is completely foreign to your reader?

    Any ideas would be appreciated. I've got a language known to few people to work with and names are going to be strange enough, but the more I research, the more I realize this is the perfect locale for my imaginary kingdom that will be able to interact with true historical figures of that time.
     
  2. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm in exactly the same position. Except my kingdom isn't imaginary, and the number of people who speak the language is less than one tenth the number that speak Euskadi. Which makes it even worse, in my opinion ;)

    Are you determined to make the characters and culture of your imaginary kingdom Basque, or merely influenced by Basque? My answer kind of depends on that.
     
  3. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Predominantly Basque (I think?) but with it being imaginary, I can take some liberties, considering the Basque countries were so separated among themselves.

    Probably within the mountains of Soule closer to the French border. Transitionary 1300s time era where christianity is just getting introduced by interaction of the royals with other European nations. A gentle transition pre-inquisition (which I think kicks in near the 1400s). So much more Basque mythology at least within the peasantry, with the monarchy beginning to lean toward christianity.

    I'm only on day two of researching the Basque countries at the suggestion of a friend, so I know there is much to learn, but I've gotten a vocabulary list, and a basic understanding of some of the deities (Mari in particular) and the entwining of the festivals, which is to come later.

    The superstitions is where I'm stuck at. It would be common place for women to discuss the deities and their minions, but my general audience may not understand them.
     
  4. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can introduce the concepts in events and dialogue so the reader understands them from context.

    You can also make it easier on yourself by introducing a visitor character, who comes to the kingdom and knows nothing about it. One of the other characters then has to explain everything to her, and at the same time, to the reader.
     
  5. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Islander, thanks. I actually considered the dialogue aspect, but I may have to back up quite a few years for dialogue to make sense. You have given me an idea of passing folklore by oral tradition to the children. It may work...not sure I wanted to develop the children of my characters that fully though. I am afraid I may run down too many side streets at that point...however, it is a possibility...hmmm....

    Keep the ideas coming. :)
     
  6. cybrxkhan
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    It seems like you're doing some light conworlding, which, if you didn't know, is basically where you make up your own worlds, oftentimes complete with their own languages, cultures, geographies, histories, and so forth (think Tolkien and Lord of the Rings)... but you're doing a lighter version of that, since it seems you're basing much of your own stuff on an already existing culture, which is cool, too.

    My suggestion is, as you already said yourself, to take liberties. Regardless of whether it's historical fiction or fantasy (and you're doing something that's sort of like a blend between the two, I think), you always have to have some leeway to make things work for the story. That is, the story is always more important than the setting. Let's say, for instance, that you want the Crown Prince of the enemy nation to fight your main character in combat, except in real life the Crown Prince was only 8 years old at this time. Of course, you can make the story adjust to the plot, and have an 8 year old kid who can wield swords and shoot with bow and arrow... or you can just make the Crown Prince 18 or 28 years old instead, even if its not what you were originally planning. Stuff like that, I guess?

    Anyhow, as for relaying the world to the readers, remember that you don't need to tell them everything. For example, some magical legend about some obscure famous potter probably won't be necessary for you to interject into the story even if a piece of pottery might be important to the plot - perhaps you can mention the legend in passing in dialogue, or have a character pass by a statue of said legendary potter, or put it in the appendix, and so forth - but make sure whatever information the reader needs to know,they actually need to know. Otherweise, it'd be an infodump.

    Hope that helps!
     
  7. BFGuru
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    Good idea as well.

    I actually think I may have figured out an idea that will get the superstitions of the land wrapped up quite nicely, at least somewhat. My story starts at the end of one stage of life and the beginning of another. If there is a ceremony to mark that event then some oral tradition can be passed on and explain at least the major aspects of this pagan society that will play a role in my tale.

    I appreciate the Tolkein tales, but his detail is so in depth that I get lost in description, so I don't want to do that. Perhaps more C.S. Lewis, with a more adult twist (to pull a contemporary of his). Enough detail to allow the imagination to take wing.
     

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