1. AntisocialMoose
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    AntisocialMoose Member

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    The Details of Historical Fiction

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by AntisocialMoose, Feb 26, 2012.

    Oh boy, this is my first post other than my welcome thread. *shivers in fear*


    So I'm trying to get back into writing a novel I wrote several years ago. The principle reason I stopped writing was because the research was killing me. It's set during the inter-war times (1920s/1930s) in London, and within a specific society. I bought a wonderful book on England during that period and started reading it, and then I started searching for specific things, and then... I gave up. It was so hard to find the information that I wanted because it was so specific. I watched movies to try and figure things out, but even then that's other people's interpretation, not the reality of it.

    What has always bothered me is the question of how detailed it needs to be. My story isn't about war, or historical figures, or historical happenings - it just happens to be set at that time period. And before anyone says to move the time period, I'm going for a certain look/feel as to why I'm writing it then.

    So, do I have to do all that research? How many details can you make up/screw up without pissing people off? One thing I remember someone saying to me is, obviously, you can't say something like Hitler was a Russian. People know that. But not many people know the era I'm writing about, so people would probably not get too ruffled if I described the ice box slightly wrong.

    But what do you folks here think? Is there any leeway in writing historical fiction?
     
  2. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    Personally I think you need to know about the political and economic situation, any important events that happened in the timeframe, and enough general information to make sure there are no anachronisms in the story. You don't have to actually include all the research you do in the story, but the political/social landscape inevitably shapes how your characters live so you should definitely research that kind of thing.

    The level of accuracy also depends on the type of novel it is. I've read painstakingly researched historical fiction and it is fabulous to be educated as well as entertained, but I've also read works that have a general 20s/whenever vibe, and the story just kind of jollies you along so you aren't that bothered about details. But the above is the minimum I would do.
     
  3. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    Depends. Do you want to write historical fiction, or a modern story with a pseudo-historical setting? If the former, then yes.

    Not too many - you can fudge a few unimportant details, but people DO know about this period, which is less than 100 years ago, and there is a huge amount of documetation and material evidence about it.

    You definitely want to verify something like whether they used iceboxes and what kind - I thought they were more an american thing, but I may be mistaken.
     
  4. AntisocialMoose
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    I'm going for the pseudo-historical setting. More about the story than the period, but the story needs to be set with a period feel. Thank you so much for the replies.
     
  5. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it is an American thing. I just had to look the term up because I've never heard it before. I know absolutely nothing about America though... :rolleyes:
     

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