1. Reximus
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    Reximus Member

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    Where is the line?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Reximus, Aug 15, 2010.

    I have just started designing a fantasy novel which takes place in medieval Europe. It is one of those types of fictional fantasies that also has a sense of realism to it. Unlike Eragon or Dragonlance where it is all made up, it takes place in a setting which is real. In this case it is Medieval Europe.

    In this novel the main character survives a fire on his wedding day, however his wife dies. Now on a quest for revenge he starts on a journey to track down the ones who started the fire. However they are no ordinary humans. There will be werewolves, vampires etc.

    Now down to the real issue I have. The romantic thing is the whole novel he does not take off his wedding gown. A tuxedo or swallowtail suit, whatever I choose. However that would be a historical inaccuracy. They did not have that in medieval Europe. Keeping that in mind however this is fantasy, in Europe they didn't have demons, vampires and gargoyles either. So where is the line? If I took out the tuxedo part the romantic part of the novel would take a big loss and the novel would not be as appealing. So do you guys think I could keep the inaccuracy for the sake of the romantic plot?
     
  2. Talako
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    Talako Member

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    Rather than specifically call it a "wedding gown," why not simply let it be a fancy or expensive shirt he is to wear at his wedding? At least on its face it might be plausible enough. A history major might go nuts, but your literary license trumps a tantrum.

    I think it could be a garment that is not normally worn daily.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  3. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would just find the traditional wardrobe the grooms would wear. Perhaps you can stretch it a bit and make it more fancier then what a man in his posistion would normally wear.

    Its the concept of him wearing what he would have worn to his wedding thats important, not so much that its a Tuxedo or whatever. :)
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think that I could accept an actual tuxedo or swallowtail suit, no. Him having new clothes for his wedding, sure, and him continuing to wear them, sure. But an actual suit of a type that has any significant resemblance to a modern one, and the use of the modern word for it, would bother me all through the novel.
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Where do you think Transylvania is lol? Many of the original horror stories about vampires, gargoyles etc are set in Europe I have a Cathedral round the corner with gargoyles. The Cathedral in 1390 was destroyed by the Wolf of Badenoch. Macbeth was the Morimer or King of my area, his witches were hung in a nearby town. Witches were buried at the crosssroads just outside of town so their spirits wouldn't find their way back. Not to mention the Loch Ness monster isn't far away. Just find an old area of Europe and base it on their stories and legends.

    I agree about the others just use the wedding clothes of the time period.
     
  6. miss_darcy
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    miss_darcy Member

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    I agree with Elgaisma. I'm a history major in school focusing in world history, so a lot of those tales about mythical beasts and creatures originated in that time in medieval Europe. If you do some researching in different countries of Europe you'll find a lot to work with!

    I also agree with the clothing decision. Just use the traditional groom outfit for that time period. Because, one, fighting dragons and vampires and such would probably be hard in a tux, and two, if history majors or nuts read your book they would be too focused on that so they could focus on the rest of the novel.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think it matters what he's wearing at his wedding, so long as he wears it throughout the novel. That would be what makes it romantic. It doesn't have to be a tuxedo. Even if it's a baseball cap (absurd in your scenario, I know), it would be his wedding baseball cap, and would be important to him (and to the reader) for that reason. It doesn't have to be fancy dress. Anything would be romantic if he wears it at the wedding and is therefore romantic to the character.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto that, minstrel!... it's exactly what i was going to say... thanks for saving me the typing...

    rex... that's truly all that matters...
     
  9. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    On the general point of historical accuracy...

    I hope I can provide a balanced comment, being both a fiction writer and a history doctoral candidate:

    It's up to you how accurate your history is, but it's also up to you how much you want to alienate your readers. You'd probably be surprised how many people would be put off a good story because the history is so bad. An example is "Gates of Rome" by Conn Iggulden, a book about Julius Caesar's youth. The story is not bad, and the writing is not great but not terrible - it's a classic mainstream, crack along, sword-and-sandal romp really. But the history is atrocious. Nearly all the negative reviews on Amazon are about the history, so you risk attracting negative feeling before anyone has even had a chance to see your writing style or character creations.

    A good way around it is to write a detailed "historical note" at the end, as many writers do, explaining what is real and what is not. Or write a disclaimer at the beginning of the book making it clear that it is a work of fiction (as Poul Anderson used to do with his faerie tales set in mediaeval England). You could then point them to the historical note where all will be explained.
     
  10. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I was going to say ... no, wait, they already said that.
    Well, then I thought I would point out that ... no, beat me to that, as well.

    So, anyway, it seems to be anonym ... inimit ... unanimous that 1: all of the creatures you mentioned have a strong root in the period about which you are writing. 2: although your hero may not be wearing a morning coat, gentlemen of the period did, indeed, have their very best attire, often specially made, for their wedding. If he were a knight/warrior, he would probably wear his military regalia much as a soldier would do today. In any case, I think you are on solid ground with his pursuit of 'alien' creatures as well as wearing his wedding attire throughout until he has wreaked vengeance on the killers of his beloved.

    Go for it and, good luck.
     
  11. Reximus
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    Reximus Member

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    Thanks guys, the advice was extremely useful. I will make sure to note before the story begins that it is a work of fiction and not meant to be historically accurate. However it still might bother people about the tux so I will change it to a wedding gown type attire. However it might take a bit of research to find exactly what type of wedding gown he will wear.

    For suggestions, anyone here know a common wedding gown of the time? I need it to be something most people would recognize. That is why I originally wanted a tux or swallowtail suit.

    Thanks a ton :-D.
     
  12. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    jerkin, surcoat, tunic, cloak
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'm curious as to why you're calling a male's outfit a 'gown' [which means a skirted dress of some sort] even when you also refer to it as a 'tux' and a 'suit'?
     
  14. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    I have a similar issue, because I have a medieval fantasy setting, but my characters aren't speaking in any type of oldish English. I've got them using metaphors that are common in our everyday lives, for example.

    I think that it's our writing. It's our literature, and if other novels are more historically accurate, we don't have to be just because they are. If you want him to where a tux, I doubt that will really decrease the number of people interested in your book (maybe by like 10 history buffs, NBD). There's too many factors to what attracts people to certain writing, I would concentrate on other things.
     
  15. Reximus
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    Reximus Member

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    Sorry I did not realize a gown referred to a woman's piece of clothing specifically.

    This is actually my second novel in development. My first was not based in a real setting. That was what made it easy to write because I did not have to worry about inaccuracies. Although the appeal of a medieval setting is nice maybe I should just scrap the idea and go with a completely made up world. Since I am not that knowledgeable when it comes to history, writing a novel in a historic setting may not be the most wise decision. This is my first inaccuracy and its been 3 days and still having trouble with it. I am bound to have countless ones to deal with. So maybe It would be best option to go with a made up world, in which I make the history and not have to worry about following one in which I know little about. That, being medieval history.

    Although this forum hasn't given me the answer originally intended it has given me the insight into the benefits and consequences of real and fictional settings. I thank you all for your advice and it really has benefited me as an aspiring 17 year old writer. Once again, thank you all : ).
     
  16. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    It just needs a bit of research do you have any idea where in Europe you want to set it? Once you know that there will be legends and stories easily available to you.

    Men do wear gowns but they are usually nightwear:) You could have him in his wedding night clothes. The story is more important than historical accuracy, my favourite novel is Mist Over Pendle by Robert Neill, the characters and places in his stories existed, the clothes he describes in beautiful sumptious detail of the 17th Century wealthy. However the basic accuracy of the story is not represented in his work. I know the history of the events, but it is such an amazing story it doesn't matter.
     
  17. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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  18. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    A tuxedo or frock would seem so inappropriate to a medieval/fantasy setting that it would break the suspension of disbelief for me. The suit/tuxedo/frock grew out of the garments the British aristocracy used when hunting for sports in the 1800's, so it's very rooted in the industrial revolution.

    In medieval and later times, it's not unlikely someone would wear a festive national costume for their wedding (look it up on Wikipedia). Someone who kept it on for everyday use would stand out to other people.

    Regarding gowns... wasn't there a male gown in one of the Harry Potter books? One of Harry's friends used it for a New Year's party or somesuch.
     
  19. Tamsin
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    Tamsin Senior Member

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    I agree that you cannot have a character wearing a tuxedo in a medeival setting. It is like someone from Victorian Britain driving around in a mini. It would be really stupid and obviously put off readers. It would mean the whole story lacked integrity, and would look like the writer had no knowledge at all.

    Much better to stick to the kind of costume which would have been worn. A tuxedo - no. Some kind of knight costume - yes, plus it would fit in with the romantic theme.

    I would be very careful of these huge historical inaccuracies. Of course, novels set in the past do not need to be 100% accurate. You are writing about witches and vampires and such things that do not exist (I'm a bit worried that some people on this thread seem to think they actually existed in medieval Europe but never mind!) but you have to be sure they do not disrupt the flow of the story. Wearing a tux would be similar to him answering his cell phone, or wearing jeans. It would not happen and there are plenty of romantic alternatives.

    Remember that girls were about 12 years old when they would marry in medieval times, and would have no choice about to whom they were wed. Leaving out these kind of details, although technically inaccurate, will not ruin your story for a modern reader. You really need to be smart about the historical details you can alter. Dress is not really one of the things you can change.
     
  20. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    The legends exist in Europe, not to mention the legion of men and women killed for being witches. The Macbeth witches were hung 3 miles from where I live the stone is still there. Macbeth existed, the Wolf of Badenoch existed etc. The Selkie people are legends from Shetland Islands. The Loch Ness Monster attracts visitors. Find any place in Europe with a fair sized medieval settlement and you will have legends, tales and stories.
     
  21. Tamsin
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    Tamsin Senior Member

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    ha ha, yes of course I know that is what people believed...they didn't actually exist, you know that, right?
     
  22. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    what witches? or selkie people? loch ness monster? - don't know I keep an open mind that they have their basis in something.

    wolf of badenoch, macbeth - they did exist

    vampires - not in North Scotland lol
     
  23. Tamsin
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    Tamsin Senior Member

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    ha ha, I will keep a look out, I have definitely seen some dodgers out there at night!

    I know that there are many stories surrounding the supernatural, but they come down to ideological and cultural/gender/social prejudices and superstitions. The witch trials in Europe (and the rest of the world) were a systematic persecution, mostly of women but of course men were accused and murdered too, vampire stories (particularly British ones) can be traced back to prejudices against/fear of other European males, as for the Loch Ness monster, I like Napoleon Dynamite's take on it!

    Figures of most legends existed, but the legends surrounding them are far removed from the truth. Robin Hood is a classic example.

    :)
     
  24. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    We still have people that refer to themselves as witches and some of the people in the cases of witchcraft seemed to believe they were.

    Wolf of Badenoch the history is slanted against him but pretty accurate. Macbeth well the main point of knowledge for him is a work of fiction lol

    Just not prepared to close my mind. I am not a believer but don't reject the supernatural just because it can't be explained. But fact is Europe is not a bad place to set tales of witches and vampires because the legends are present.
     
  25. Tamsin
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    Tamsin Senior Member

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    Of course, we have people who claim all sorts of things. I once read an article about a woman who believed her son had been turned into a fish finger!

    I keep an open mind too, but it is quite dangerous to believe that the millions of people murdered because they were accused of witchcraft were actually witches. The people who killed them were small-minded, not open-minded.

    There is a huge difference in being aware of ideological, political and religious systems at work, and being 'closed-minded'. I am a very open minded person AND I do not accept everything I read, see or hear about at face value. It is the nature (or it should be) of people to question reality. That is one of the symptoms of a true open mind.
     

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