November 2020 Create Project: Holes in History
Sometimes, when we look at the history of humans on this planet, we make the mistake of believing it's all been covered by what you learned in school. (Or slept through.) The Fertile Crescent, Ancients Egypt, Greece, Persia, Rome, China. The famous civilisations: Aztec, Inca, Maya, Great Zimbabwe. Europe, its works and pomps. 1066 and all that. 1776 and all that.
But stop and think: humans have been a lot of places in a lot of different times. And not all of it was written down. There are lots of nooks and crannies we don't know about. Here's where this month's project comes in: let's fill in the blanks with our imaginations. Research is allowed (and encouraged), but you're not documenting exact events. You're trying to get the feel of a place and time. You want to understand more about how people behave, and the choices that they face.
- Find a hole in history. It has to be a real hole, mind. No fair squatting on some well-known area and just making it up. (In other words, no 'alternate versions' of the Battle of Waterloo.) There has to be a gap in specific information. Just find a space/time location and go to town on it. Include what you know, and guess at what you don't.
- A Neolithic community that hasn't been well- explored. Check your Google listings for random potsherds and go from there.
- A community in the 'Dark' or 'Middle' ages of Europe that isn't known about. You could give them a known culture, sort of, such as German, or French, or Lithuanian, but free-base the rest.
- A hunter-gatherer group, somewhere that appeals to you. Make them dress for the weather, and remember to tell us about the icebergs and/or sharks.
- A marauding band of hooligans on the steppes of Central Asia, or in a European forest, or on the borders of somewhere.
- A small town on the edge of a known civilisation somewhere off the beaten track. (Just make sure you know enough about the civilisation they're not really a part of.)
- An earlier civilisation that's new to us, maybe? Hint: ancient Sumeria was a well-developed society, so was Babylon, and we don't know all that much about towns not directly in the records…
- Someplace that's part of the Industrial Revolution, or the 19th or early 20th Century, but off the beaten path. You don't have to go low-tech, but you need to avoid well-documented history.
- Someplace that existed during well-known (or partly-known, or known-but-not-generally-known) events where nothing much happened. Let them observe and comment on things they find out about.
- A particular place over a long period of history. Say, your backyard or the town square, from the Pleistocene to the present.
You get to make up the story in thirty chapters. You may choose to take an intimate look at your characters and their lives. You may want to paint with a broad brush and describe their civilisation and its discontents. You may fill your tale with excitement, adventure, and really wild things – or you may make it a comedy of manners. Your choice. Just post something every day in the thread provided on the page. Or post a link to your A-space.
You may choose to go multimedia. If you need to post pictures on your A-space, send them to the Post Editor and get your code. If you want to put something on Youtube, go ahead and link to it. (Embedding help for A-spaces also available, if you ask nicely.)
Remember: it doesn't have to be an unreal place. And you can use whatever you've found to add verisimilitude to the story in terms of incident, historical background, colour, and atmosphere. Just make the main story fictional.
As always, there are Rules.
- Work alone. Exception: anybody who chooses to partner up may do so, and post together. We recommend a maximum of three partners, because things could get messy.
- Do NOT remark on anybody else's work in your story. Sure, you can comment on each other's stories: we hope you will. But don't incorporate anything you read into your story. No fair interfering.
- Stay out of other people's stories entirely. You can't post there, except as a comment. You can't join without an invitation. Once this starts, every writer or team is on their own. This is non-collaborative.
- Do NOT use magical powers. No magic. No superpowers. No alternate universes, parallel times, time travel, or supernatural beings. No flying superheroes. All characters must be human, except for animals, who must behave exactly like animals and not like familiars or spirit guides, or anything else in the fantasy repertoire. The laws of physics apply, as we know them. No messing about. Locals can be superstitious – being human, that's only natural – but it's just that, superstition.
- No parodies. We mean it. We won't read them.
- Will there be a book? That depends on a lot of things: whether the potential editors have time. Whether the potential editors find the results rewarding enough to spend hours and hours editing. Etc.
- What do I own? According to the terms of h2g2, h2g2 has the right to publish anything you write for an exercise like this, and doesn't have to pay you anything. After that, though, if you wrote it/recorded it/snapped the photo, it's yours. You can do anything you like with it, like offer it to a publisher. But only what you did, not anybody else.
'Holes in History' projects: read them here!
- Coming of Age in Brookville by Dmitri Gheorgheni. Follow Jim Tanner and his friends as they explore the western Pennsylvania frontier in 1844. You never know who will drop in when the stagecoach turns the corner.
- A Place to Call Home by Minorvogonpoet. Meet gendarmes, refugees and citizens in Vichy France, and learn how people lived during the Second World War.
- The Chase by Freewayriding. Set on the Wirral in the early 1100s, this promises to be an exciting tale that illuminates a piece of local history.
- Vienna 1880 by Tavaron da Quirm. Vienna is a buzzing metropolis and capital of a large Empire. There's lots to see here.
- Gravepicking by Caiman Raptor Elk. Near the Russian town of Marinskaya is an intriguing burial mound. The author has picked a grave catalogued by the archaeologists, and started from there.
Read, comment, enjoy this month's exploration of the holes in history.