1. captken
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    captken Member

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    Documentation of historical events for a tale.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by captken, Nov 21, 2012.

    I've been working on a story for more than fifty years. I've started and stopped dozens of times but this time I am going to end it but with a conclusion that I can only guess at.
    I heard the tale when I was about 15. It was told in bits and pieces over a period of ten days or so. After the trip ended I never saw the tale teller again. There was precious little doubt in my mind that I was hearing a true tale as it unfolded; some things you just cannot fake. Absolute horror is one of them.

    I wrote the story in about 1960 and told a few friends that it was true. Several friends said "BS." I tried to research the events while I was in college but details were sketchy and, as I learned about 5 years ago, absolutely WRONG. With the information available today I am absolutely convinced that my tale is true even though, at this late date, I have no way to prove it. I must call it fiction.

    My question is, can I add historical data before or after the story to lend weight to my tale?

    The historical event is the sinking of the U-166 in the Gulf of Mexico in 1942. All hands died--except one.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what is it you intend to add?... are you going to use the supposed sole survivor as your mc?...

    fyi, historical novels often include true events and even involve real public figures in some cases, such as with carr's and doctorow's brilliant, well researched works...

    there's much documented info on the U-166 available, but some sources say more than one survived the sub's sinking...
     
  3. captken
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    captken Member

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    The crew rosters I have seen show all 52 crew members "Lost off the Misssissippi River Delta." James Lee Burke mentions the sinking is at least a couple of his novels.
    Until the wreckage of the U-166 was found in 2001, it had been reported sunk with a single bomb by a PBY aircraft out of New Orleans. When I heard the tale from
    a survivor, Heinz or Hans, he mentioned 10 depth bombs. The discrepancy in the number of bombs(depth charges) prevented me from completing the tale for more than 40 years.

    About five years ago I searched the web for information on the U-166 sinking and, lo and behold, the Patrol boat PC-566 dropped 10 depth charges. That really nailed it down for me.
    When I read the account I yelled YES so loudly that it scared my wife. Further corroboration came when I discovered that the U-166 was the only German Submarine sunk
    in the Gulf of Mexico.

    I started the tale with the sighting of a makeshift raft far off shore and Heinz's reaction to the sighting. Try as I might, I cannot remember how Heinz managed to reach shore.
    I ended the tale with the last thing I remember him saying.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if any part of your book is made up then it must be fiction, but can be qualified as 'based on true events'...
     

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