1. ANT (Bar YOSEF)
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    ANT (Bar YOSEF) Contributing Member

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    Altering history in a novel

    Discussion in 'Research' started by ANT (Bar YOSEF), Nov 27, 2007.

    I had a thought- cud u potentially change a minor historical in a novel. I only ask as the method of execution i had in mind for a character (Simon bar Giora)is easier to write and more descriptive than throwing off the Tarpien Rock in Rome.
     
  2. RockyMtn.Wheelz
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    RockyMtn.Wheelz Member

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    Look at the movie Gladiator, and numerous other films. They slaughter history leaving only a loose historical basis. I believe if the story is well written, no one but those really studied on history will know any differently than what you're telling. My advice: If it works for the piece, do it.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if it's a well-known event, you risk alienating your readers, by changing history... such as having christ throttled, instead of a spear piercing his heart, to finish him off...

    i never heard of this guy, but if many others may have, you might want to rethink changing how he was killed... though i really can't see why/how anything would be easier to write, than to have him tossed off a rock...
     
  4. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    I agree that if it is a well known event it should remain as true as possible. Everyone knows how D-Day went. Everyone knows that the germanic barbarian invasions put the final nail in Rome's coffin. In that sense you should stay true.

    Its in the specifics that you can easily make your own version. Everyone knows how D-Day went. But they don't know the specifics for every little event. For a single POV character you can have a great deal of choice in how the battle would play out as long as the cotnext within which it takes place maintains some accuracy (A paratrooper droping into France or a soldier storming the beaches).

    There are some options to explore your creativity out of the true historicaly context. There is the option of alternative history. Its like parrallel reality but in the past. Another is conspiracy or coverup. Where a well known event's events, are part of an attempt to cover up what really happened for one reason or another.
     
  5. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    The Sharpe novels do this a lot. Its a historical series set in the Napoleonic era, and the main character is often doing things that actually occurred, but he's doing them in different ways, or in place of other semi-famous real soldiers.
    Like others have said as long as its not a huge change that everyone would notice go for it. If a few historians start crying, well Hollywood has been making them cry for years and it hasn't hurt them.
     
  6. ANT (Bar YOSEF)
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    ANT (Bar YOSEF) Contributing Member

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    Cheers. Im going to have him being decaptitated, with a papyrus crown and the romans shouting- Simon, King of the Jews
     
  7. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    While it is done (altering history to fit the direction an author wants a novel to go) that does risk alienating readers.

    The example in D-Day WW II history...yes it is overall known what happened, even if every detail is not known, but to have a character die via a tactic or due to a weapon that the Germans use or have available in their arsenal would catch a good reader's eye.

    While such things don't always turn off readers, it makes them more skeptical. "Hey, now I know that didn't happen. I wonder how much else this author got wrong that I'm just not catching?" More than a few readers of historical fiction pay close attention to such things.

    Thus, an author has to balance when he wants to take artistic license with history/events/facts--does the intentional alteration and its potential positive benefit to the story outweigh the potential downside.

    Just another opinion to add to the mix.

    Terry
     
  8. Lily
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    Lily Member

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    I would make sure you have an explanation for why the story changed in modern day. A 'cover-up' or misinformation, etc. Hmm, but yes, sometimes its necessary to alter history in order to fit things into your book or to make the book more interesting. I'm dealing a lot with that in my novel right now as well.
     
  9. Sir Cameron
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    On the other hand, you could tip the scale slightly more and do the whole "what if" scenario. If hitler was killed before he assumed power, we'd never gone to Vietnam, Christianity never existed. You know... simple things
     

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