1. Linlou

    Linlou New Member

    Jun 18, 2014
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    Historical Accuracy and Dialogue Resources?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Linlou, Jul 1, 2014.

    I'm interested in writing a historical fiction + science fiction novel but I'm hung up on being 100% historically accurate. The necessary information to be accurate is hard to find and to validate. The era I'm interested in is 18th Century France, dealing with aristocracy with things like their way of life, daily customs and routines, technologies and occupations, salaries, where aristocracy got their money from, what the extent of their income is, and things like that. While yes it is a fiction I think the era lends itself to social and technological restrictions which mold the characters into who they are and what they do. It's important to me to draw contrasts of characters and society to ours today. I have a general sense of this era but another obstacle is writing in accurate dialogue. Obviously we don't talk the same as they did back in the day so I'd like to get a feel for what speech was like then.

    So I'm wondering if there are good resources for helping with this kind of writing. Are there good examples of historical fiction books that reference this specific era? Anything helps.

    Thanks in advance for the help!
  2. Bryan Romer

    Bryan Romer Contributor Contributor

    Jan 26, 2014
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    Since the French Revolution too place in that century, there is a huge amount of information on the Net regarding the lifestyles, economy, etc. You just have to make the effort to look for it.

    "Accurate" dialogue is more of a problem. First of all, they were speaking French, which means than unless you have the skill to translate from French, anything your characters say will be a loose interpretation.

    You could have a look at "The Scarlet Pimpernel" for an example of how period France was depicted in English. The Marquis de Sade lived and wrote during that period and his works have been translated into English, so they should be fairly accurate as to language, lifestyles and other world details.
  3. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

    Mar 7, 2013
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    If it were me, I'd go to Amazon and search : Social History Eighteenth Century France and go from there.

    I don't think there is any quick and easy way to become an expert.

    Have you got a particular interest in this era? If so, you probably have some idea of how you want your story to develop. If you don't ...well, I'd start doing research. Get an idea of what happened then, and how you want to frame your story. As you develop your story, you'll come up with specific questions, which will be easier to research online.

    Although it doesn't take place in France, the era is right and the photography and objects and general mannerisms, etc in the film Barry Lyndon is well worth a look. It should be available on DVD. You might also check out the more recent remakes of The Scarlet Pimpernel (the one with Jane Seymour comes to mind.) Immerse yourself in as many films and stories as you can, which are pertinent to the era. Visit museums, etc. Heck ...even go to France to get a flavour of the place. Visit Versailles. Look at paintings of the era. They will show you the aristocrats as they wanted to be seen (the portraits were commissioned.) It will also show you what they thought was important in their lives ...their homes, their dress, their children, dogs, horses, pursuits, etc.

    You aren't going to be accurate with your writing if you don't do research. And research is a lot more than just reading a few Wikipedia entries. That kind of thing can get you started, but it's only a start. You really have to love ferreting out these details that make the era come aliveā€”or it won't.

    I am a huge fan of historical fiction. So I wish you all sorts of good luck with this!
  4. A.M.P.

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Contributor

    Sep 30, 2013
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    A Place with no History
    I'll chime in in the dialogue comments above.

    For example, the word monsieur is equivalent to mister in English. The way it's used, however, is quite different as to be called a monsieur in French is a term of politeness and properness and generally said in a well-eamning manner and softer tone. English's Mister simply doesn't have all that and a closer word in terms would be Sir but that also doesn't fit in well as the Emnglish understanding of that word is different.

    Basically, you'd have to keep monsieur in all dialogue and narrative or it won't translate well at all. There's also when and where to place it in a sentence, which might be different than in English. I personally find monsieur comes earlier in dialogue unlike than any equivalent in English (I could be well wrong on this but that's my experience in being francophone)

    Nevermind the coaquilisms and sayings that were commonplace back then, you'll need a good handle or plenty of resources to refer to when writing.
  5. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Jun 13, 2010
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    Queens, NY
    I found that reading novels that were contemporary in the time about which you are writing can be extremely helpful, not only for modes of speaking but also for social attitudes and small details. At the same time, you need to remember that your readership could find dialogue written extensively in the manner of speaking of that time difficult to read. You want a flavor, not a reproduction, in my view.
  6. BFGuru

    BFGuru Active Member

    Aug 14, 2011
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    Somewhere in insomiaville
    18th century France is EASY. You just need to head to the library, and read a few books in that time. Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo was written then. This time in Europe was highly documented. You've got off easy.

    Me and my pre Christian/transitional Christian Basque culture....UGHHHHHHH....someone please point me in a direction where I can figure out how to piece together a matriarchal pagan society...just so I can smash it to smitherines a few chapters later LOL.

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