1. StoryWeaver
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    StoryWeaver Member

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    Historical Accuracy ?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by StoryWeaver, Oct 5, 2013.

    EDIT: solved my problem, which oddly turned into a solution that is far better than my original setting. nice. I would still be interested in any replies though, for general knowledge in writing fiction.
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    I have a story based on a real life character and place/building and what he did (ca. 1800), but that I add a supernatural element to to make it a supernatural mystery. Should I base the fictional story on the same period of time of the real life story (without the supernatural, without the specific mystery), or is it okay to skew the time period even a couple of decades? My problem is that I want to skew the time period two decades beyond the real life character for a variety of reasons, but doing so means that the real life building was destroyed two decades after the real life situation.

    Perhaps as this is fiction, I could change the name of the building to a fictional building (that exists at the time I choose for my story)?
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013
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  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the problem in changing the time period that i see is with the character more than the building... if you're writing about a real person, was he still around 20 years after the actual event?... and would any readers know that?
     
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  3. auntiebetty
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    auntiebetty Active Member

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    Historical fiction is not history. If you are writing history, stay true to the facts. If you are writing historical fiction, you only need to retain the setting and the historical accuracy of the era. If you are writing fiction, then you can skew anything and everything that makes sense within the context of your story line (plot).
     
  4. StoryWeaver
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    StoryWeaver Member

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    Thank you auntie! yes i think i am going to give my world and protagonist some flexibility away from the historical person and location that sparked my story idea originally; i will change the name of my character, change the setting, keep my original calendar time period even though it is 25 years beyond the original non-fiction event. i figure i can add an epilogue at the end of the novel and explain how though my story is fiction it was inspired by a true life person and place similar to my story; maybe add a blub before chapter one how the story was inspired by true events but leave it at that until the reader discovers the epilogue?
     
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  5. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    Would that make it alternate history then?
     
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  6. auntiebetty
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    auntiebetty Active Member

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    I never heard of "alternate" history. There see so many established genres and sub genres; and I hear of new ones regularly. Such a new one sparked some controversy within my writer's group this past summer. A conservative (read older member) could not/would not accept "memoir fiction" as an acceptable genre.

    StoryWeaver: I recommend you write your story without concern to genre label. The quality of the end product will determine it's acceptance.
     
  7. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    I've read a number of ciction books that I'd call alternate histories. The rules as I see them are that you assume our own history up to some point, and let the reader know that your world then diverged into "what could have happened if ..." (perhaps even due to an event before your story really starts). Things before the point of divergence must be historically true as they involve known places and people. Fictional characters must be such that they could have existed and done the things in your story before the point of divergence.

    What happens after the point of divergence must be plausible given the assumptions you make about the diverging event.

    The point of divergence could be nearly anything. Perhaps the library at Alexandria did not get destroyed. Perhaps Al Gore won the election. Perhaps someone talked the colonials into making George Washington the American king. Perhaps Columbus did not make it to the West Indies. Perhaps an important historical figure had an accident, illness, or assassination before their most notable historical event (just don't kill Hitler, its been written too often). Perhaps Columbus brought back a new plague that decimated Europe like smallpox did in the Americas. Perhaps aliens landed in 1947 (all but the one ship at Roswell succeeded).

    The point of divergence needs to seem plausible in terms of the history and culture that existed at that time - don't have a new religion displacing Catholicism from medieval Europe without developing a background for it. Don't have Galileo inventing radio, since the supporting science of electricity didn't exist.
     
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  8. auntiebetty
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    auntiebetty Active Member

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    #######
    B93 has written a scholarly definitionof alternative history. I'm going to add this to my list of genres. Thank you B93.
     

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