1. Funny Bunny
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    Funny Bunny Contributing Member

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    Historical Novels (near past and pop culture)

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Funny Bunny, Oct 11, 2007.

    I am posting this as a Creation issue, not a Copy-right issue, though it might blur at the margin.



    I'm writing a novel that takes place in 1969 (see clip in novel posting area if you are inclined) and has one large area set in the Malibu/Arcadia/Hollywood areas of L.A. (USA) of '69. I've done a lot of research into the time as an art historian interested in that era. One thing I just realized is that I have a marvelous chance to use the paranoia surrounding the Tate/ LoBianca murders which happened fairly close to one of the main character's homes. The novel spans several months, (April to September, 1969). August 9th is when the murders occurred. I have been looking up other events which might have coincided with those months, to give the novel the feel that these people were actually living in that time period. (For example some people in the beginning are arguing about the plot of 2001: A Space Oddessy, which was in the theaters in 1968.)

    Now, my question is when is actual "History," off limits in fiction writing. Can my characters nod to, or give opinions (within the scope of the story) on things like Civil Rights, the Vietnam War? Fashion, or "the latest innovations of the time." (One of my characters (the older one, strangely) is fairly liberal, and the other younger one is a mid-western/southern conservative.) Surely, in real life the two of them would have bickered about the policies in Vietnam or whether Nixon (the U.S. president at the time) was a jerk. Also, things they were into (women's rights, the sexual revolution, recreational drugs) things they were afraid of, (the bomb, Russia). I feel if I am to make a believable character from another era, that person cannot be a "time-traveler" from our time "slumming" in a lesser time.

    One of the reasons I have set many storys then as opposed to now is that the rules are a bit stricter. There are no cell phones, internet etc. If you were in an isolated situation, getting word out was hard. If you had a flat tire and no spare and no water in the desert, you could die. People played board games and talked. Murderers could actually bury someone in the basement. It was scarier to be alone.

    If my story was set in the 1920's I'd consider feeding in information on Prohibition and the latest Gangsters, or wild parties of the century (funeral of Valentino) and such, like what were the songs, the news stories, the goings on?

    I am trained really in Non fiction and it seems a shame to me to ignore Real things and write as though the story is not a part of the time it happened in. I have seen plenty of storys where a "world event" is major in making a character transformation, but what about POP Culture?

    I know actual lyrics are off limits, without permission (The Beatles? Good Luck) but what about having a character go to the Fillmore East dollar show to groove to to Big Brother and the Holding Company? I mean this is a time when you could walk into clubs and see "legendary" rock acts on stage for the price of a few drinks.

    What about books and such? I know that Certain people interested in certain things would have had "the cannon" probably memorized. There were cult favorites then as now.

    Anyone have interest in discussing this? I'd like to hear if people who delve into historical writing try to get a "real" person from the era, or if they just transplant a modern person into an older age?
     
  2. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I have a habbit of writing storys in the past, my favroute period of time is from 1900 to 1950, and genraly what I do is write as aproprite to the time. If you write in the begining of the century, add a bit of Rasicum if you are brave enogh, as people back then where much more open about rasicum than nowadays. add little pop-refrences of the time, if you are writing in the late 50s early 60s, make a refence to Johnny Cash, or Bob Dylen, in WW2, have your people utter Vera Lynn's name.

    I would only keep to minor details, but it's still esential you add it in.

    I would add political arguments of the time too, just to make it all the more authentic.

    P.S. Sorry about spelling.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    all of that is done all the time by many best-selling authors, so i don't really get what it is you're asking or worrying about...

    fyi, i lived in hollywood [for a while on h'wd blvd!] and those other areas [among others], from the mid-'50s to the early '70s... so, if there's anything i can help you with, just drop me a line...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  4. Funny Bunny
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    Funny Bunny Contributing Member

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    Hey thanks! I sure will ask!
     

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