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Old 11-14-2010, 01:56 PM   #31
ATDrake
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1) I love both alternate and RL-historical fiction, in that order, and I'd have to say one of the prime rules of writing both is "know the rules, so you can figure out how best to break them, if needs be".

For best effect, novels should remain true not only to the known historical facts or tweak them in an understandable direction (or complete throw them out the window and do a merry dance in the room left behind), but must also have the flavour of the "look and feel" of the times. You can break one or the other, but not really both at once, even in alternate history, unless you're very, very good and manage to convince the reader that you had good reason for doing that.

Incidentally, I think the romance term for those books where the Regency/whatever setting is just a blue-screened backdrop sloppily pasted in behind the story is "wallpaper historical", a slightly derogatory term.

2) Maybe I've just watched the TV show too much, but "Dexter" as a protagonist's name kind of implies that said "atheist intrigued by the new sciences of the age" is perhaps getting his practice in them by vivisecting, discreetly and conscientously disposing of those indulging in less-than-gentlemanly vices in a way that would cause Society to gossip, while pursuing his soon-to-be-widowed lady-love, Marguerite, mother of daughter Aster and son-whose-name-doesn't-translate-well-to-Georgian-times.

That would be a cool mash-up, though.
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Old 11-15-2010, 01:55 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by sportourer1 View Post
We also need to remember that History is written from several view points and fiction can be used to open readers minds a little. Sometimes only through fiction do general readers get to see a more realistic or gritty view of worlds gone by
Undoubtedly true, but a 17th-century character saying "fo' shizzle" won't open anyone's minds, and will mostly make readers throw down the book in disgust.
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Old 11-27-2010, 07:32 AM   #33
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Archiebald Dexter is named after two of my three dogs! Serial killers they aint!

The real trick with writing scenes set in the past is to not impose our present day values on the characters
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Old 11-27-2010, 10:40 AM   #34
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Also to remember the physical limitations that are imposed on them. I read a historical recently set in the 18th century where a male character joined in with the threshing. It didn't register at the time, but later I saw the sort of clothes he would have been wearing. There's no way you could thresh wearing that weight of cloth.

And female characters are always doing stuff that modern women do, but modern women don't wear 40lb of material, corsets, bustles and wigs. And they do wear sport bras.
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Old 12-10-2010, 09:18 AM   #35
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Nothing gets me more worked up than a book, or movie for that matter, being historically inaccurate. It distracts me and I cannot enjoy the story.
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:12 AM   #36
Lynn in Ohio
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I never would have tried writing fiction if it were not for sitting around one day and lamenting that there was no more detailed history to be found on the subject of interest. I found myself thinking "I wonder how and I wonder if" and suddenly it struck me that I could make it up myself and call it a novel!

To me you ride historical accuracy as far as it will take you, and fiction walk from there.
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Old 12-12-2010, 07:13 AM   #37
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The true thrill is being able to weave fictional events around what really happened at the time. Achieving an exciting read in this way is very difficult but very satisfying.
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Old 12-12-2010, 11:58 AM   #38
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the facts must hold up

i am sorry i missed this discussion. i just published a fiction novel in which the story line revolved around the Kennedy Assassination. i spent more time researching the events than i did writing the novel, just so i got it right. i even setup a database to help track the dates, times and the evidences. the novel Call Off the Dogs probable will be picked a part for some of the conclusions i reached so i wanted to make sure the facts were right.
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Old 12-13-2010, 03:13 PM   #39
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The interesting thing is that as a novelist you can be more accurate to history by not following the facts (at times). As a fiction writer, your job is to reveal emotional truths about people and events, and if it is more effective to alter historical facts to uncover what happened to a character emotionally/psychologically, to emphasis this to a reader, then so be it. Facts only provide a (supposedly) objective account of history - but a novelist dwells in the realm of the subjective, the interior state of things, not the exterior. It is historical fiction, not fictional history...

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Last edited by Dr. Drib; 12-13-2012 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 12-13-2010, 03:18 PM   #40
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Let us not forget also that the victor normally writes the history so not all historical facts are indeed so which gives a little scope for movement.
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Old 12-13-2010, 06:40 PM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sportourer1 View Post
Let us not forget also that the victor normally writes the history so not all historical facts are indeed so which gives a little scope for movement.
Absolutely correct. Anything can be spun.
Regarding historical fiction in general - it doesn't matter how much research you do or how accurate you are, there will be someone out there who knows that an officer of that period had a different kind of buttons on his uniform, or he would only have one epaulette on an undress jacket, and they actually wore forage caps for other things than foraging and lots of other minutae that won't stop the majority of readers from suspending disbelief, which is what writing fiction is all about. Sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

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Last edited by Dr. Drib; 12-13-2012 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 12-13-2010, 07:06 PM   #42
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The more accurate the better, and the more generally known the fact, the more important it is to get it right.
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Old 12-13-2010, 11:53 PM   #43
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As an historian, I'm for whatever makes the story interesting. Historical inaccuracies can bug me at times, but in the end it's only a story. Just don't pass it off as accurate like some books or movies tend to do. A lot of times authors will throw in a preface of historical notes letting the reader know exactly what they changed, those are usually helpful for the curious reader.
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Old 12-14-2010, 03:52 AM   #44
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Historical fiction can be as little as having the names of the historical figures and the place/time correct. Beyond that the stretch can be far and wide. Hollywood does it all the time with movies, television shows, and even "documentaries".
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Old 12-18-2010, 06:55 AM   #45
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If its done right fiction can educate too
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