Story of Japan

Japanese History and Research for a Historical Novel

Author: Carol

Japanese History – The Early Eras

Japanese history is divided up into four distinct eras, then these eras are further divided into various historical periods. This article gives a short explanation the first two, along with a brief comparison with British history, in order to put the history of Japan in a wider historical context.

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New Kindle Direct Payment Policy

New Kindle Direct Payment Policy

Amazon had announced a new method for determining payments to authors in the Kindle Unlimited (KU) and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) programs. Previously the authors were getting paid when their book was borrowed and at least 10% was read. Once the book was partially read, the author got a share of the total pool paid to authors that month. It didn’t matter if the book was 10 pages long or 500, the author got the same amount for each borrow. Naturally this led to a lot of short stories and serialized books.

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The Seven Point System

The Seven Point System:

Dan Wells on Story Structure

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked.
“Where do you want to go?” was his response.
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”

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How to make no money and lose your mind, lesson two

This writing stuff is much harder than we realized. David found this writing site called Scribophile. It is a web site for writers where people look at your work and critique it and you do the same for them. After arriving there and showing off our shiny new novel, we learned we used the ‘passive voice’ too much and were overly fond of adverbs. Who knew? Now, it has been mumble-mumble years since I took an English class, but I wasn’t even sure what a passive voice was, and I certainly didn’t know that adverbs were bad words. My mother had a different list of forbidden words.

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Publishing Links

At some point in time we are going to finish this book.  Then what do we do?

I am going to keep track on interesting links on publishing here.

Amazon’s new ranking system:

Plotting Links


You would think the hardest part of a novel is coming up with a plot.  It isn’t.  Anyone can come up with a plot.  We have at least three or four in one novel and keep coming up with more.  The hard part is coming up with a comprehensible plot. To keep the action rising without wandering down side streets into nowhere.  The following are a couple of websites we have used to try to make sense of our plots.

The Plotting Matrix or Rubik’s Cube:

The method described in this post in an interesting one.  It used a box with nine squares to make you think about your plot points and how they are related. I find it very helpful in forcing some organization in the novel.

Beat Sheet for Novels

Take a look at the downloadable spreadsheet on this website. While this is based on how movies are plotted, I find it useful to give us some idea of what should be seen in a novel, but more important, how far in it should happen.  For example, in a hypothetical 80,000 word novel, the “catalyst” scene should occur at about 8,800 words in.  While I certainly don’t intend to consider these guidelines as hard and fast rules, it does give us some ideas of where the novel might be lagging.

Synopsis Links

A synopsis a brief outline of a book.  It is often required by the publisher before he reads the book.  It is also a good look to get a clearer view of your plot.  When writing, you often can’t see the forest for the trees.



Genji Monogatari – Book Review

Genji Monogatari by Murasaki Shikibu

Genji Monogatari or Tale of Genji is widely regarded as the world’s first novel (surprisingly enough, it is also the world’s first genre novel, belonging firmly to the same category of fiction as a Harlequin romance. I am not sure what that says about writers, literature, and popular taste, but there must be a moral in there somewhere). Written between 998 and 1021 by a Japanese noblewoman known to history as Murasaki Shikibu, it is the most influential work in Japanese literary history and is arguably one of the great pieces of world literature. One of the reasons that the book is so well-regarded is that it gives us a detailed view of life during this period. Even though Genji is a work of fiction, it affords us a better view of the day-to-day life of the Heian upper class than any other source. Continue reading

Before HEIKE and After: Hogen, Heiji, Jokyuki

Before HEIKE and After: HOGEN, HEIJI, JOKYUKI translated by Royall Tyler. This is a translation of three tales, the Hogen monogotari, Heike monogatari, and Jokyuki. These tales are traditional histories of events that happened between 1156 and 1221 covering the fall of the Japanese court and the rise of the Samurai. Our book, Dig Two Graves, occurs during the Hogen Rebellion and so we have relied on the Hogen monogotari as source material. Continue reading

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