I have been researching background for yet another idea for a story.
"Why bother" I hear you ask. "Just write the story and don't worry about its authenticity."
That's all well and good if I was writing to satisfy a fantasy of my own, without regard for historical, geographic or psychological relevance. Not that any of these have to be the determining factor for the story, but they do have to at least not be violated by invalid references.
One of the things that stands revealed is the incomplete and often corrupt histories of mankind's past. It wouldn't be impossible to write the whole history of an entire empire's rise and fall, as a foible of someone's imagination, let alone blow it up out of proportion to be an affectation on today's world civilisation.
An interesting collusion of semi-historical figures that amounts to a world conspiracy would not be difficult to write except for the tedious evidence that such figures rarely understood the effect of their own actions in their own time, let alone the nature of their 'legacies'.
Distortions of time and place can also lead to imaginative settings for stories that prove just a little too unbelievable.
Psychological traits are not all that difficult to introduce to a story, but finding the archetypes, rather than just displaying a variation of a stereotype is considerably more draining and fraught with disputations of origin.
It is this last phrase which is of most interest. If we do not understand the nature and thus its cause can we really construct a viable statement within our stories that will resonate with our readers' life experiences?
Of course we can write situations that are believable, entertaining, even fantastical, all of which are satisfying to read as well as write.
Yet if we want to touch on the human element of life's experiences, if we want to conceal within our story an expose of injustice, or aberrations of commonly held untruths, let alone describe the possibilities of human goodness, there seems to be not only a confounding variety of opinions, and incomplete factual records, but also an unwillingness at large, to entertain hypotheses which run counter to popular notions. The ability to reason, to observe with objectivity seems woefully absent in the presence of our social authority which demands we believe what we are told.
Even that statement can be misconstrued by those who want to maintain the status quo rather than explore possible alternatives, whether in our stories or our lives.
Good literature can make us think as well as entertain us.
As for my story? Well I will just have to see if I can live up to my own expectations.
I doubt it, but it is fun trying and that is important too.