How hard is writing historical fiction?

Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by BlessedbyHorus, Jan 4, 2015.

  1. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,855
    Likes Received:
    11,650
    Careful - this is based on, what, IRS rules? The actual answer will vary based on jurisdiction.
     
  2. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    5,090
    Likes Received:
    3,100
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Sorry, yes, that's in the US for federal tax purposes.
     
  3. kfmiller

    kfmiller Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2015
    Messages:
    186
    Likes Received:
    108
    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    I wouldn't consider myself "knowledgable" on the subject of historical fiction, but I DO have a B.A. in History, which is one of the most useless degrees you can get, so you don't get it unless you absolutely love it... so my advice is the only people who are harping on your knowledge and accuracy are historians or college students (trust me, I heard enough b!tching in my classes on so and so isn't accurate) so write a solid story with enough historical accuracy to impress the average Joe.

    Since historical knowledge and theory is always evolving you aren't going to please everyone with your interpretation. Also, for what it's worth I find things written in a "medieval" tone hokey. Truth is, their language was nothing like ours is today, and if you want to write truly accurately, it wouldn't make much sense. Better to write in "modern English" with a solid story and some good research than to try and stick some thous and a couple phrases you read on Wikipedia.

    That said, yes I have read and enjoy The Other Boleyn Girl.... lol.
     
    jannert and BlessedbyHorus like this.
  4. BlessedbyHorus

    BlessedbyHorus Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2014
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    6

    I really like this post. :)
     
    kfmiller likes this.
  5. kfmiller

    kfmiller Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2015
    Messages:
    186
    Likes Received:
    108
    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    Thanks- it was my first post and I was nervous ;)
     
    BayView likes this.
  6. BlessedbyHorus

    BlessedbyHorus Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2014
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    6
    So it would really be okay for me to use modern English? I mean I read the Jester by James Patterson and the dialogue appears to be that of English spoken today.
     
  7. kfmiller

    kfmiller Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2015
    Messages:
    186
    Likes Received:
    108
    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    I am apparently quote illiterate because I can't figure out how to quote you. Yes, I would talk how we talk today... if anything I would just talk formal, no modern colloquialism or region- specific slang. I wouldn't try and recreate how I think they would talk because that would just sound stiff.
     
    jannert and BlessedbyHorus like this.
  8. Chinspinner

    Chinspinner Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    Messages:
    1,901
    Likes Received:
    1,021
    Location:
    London, now Auckland
    "+Quote" then "Reply" ->
     
  9. BlessedbyHorus

    BlessedbyHorus Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2014
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    6
    Just click reply if you want to quote someone, but more importantly thanks for the tip. :) You don't know how good it feels to be reading this. The accuracy of language is one of the major things holding me back.
     
  10. kfmiller

    kfmiller Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2015
    Messages:
    186
    Likes Received:
    108
    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    There we go- I was missing hitting the reply button after the quote. I'm just one person's opinion, but I do enjoy/research/ am higher-educated in history so I hope this helped you!
     
  11. Dunning Kruger

    Dunning Kruger Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2014
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    129
    I am attempting to write historical fiction right now. The two problems I have are over researching and brain dumps. I rationalize the over researching in that I have learned a lot more than I expected and it is helping my story, in theory anyway, but certainly delaying its production. And the consequence of my over researching is I find myself prone to brain dumps where I want to share all this awesome information that I have learned. Much of it is pertinent in varying degrees but I really have to work hard to incorporate it into the story line rather than just having a big narration or a "You know Fred..." moment. At one point I had 10 pages written that were perfect for a school paper but had no element of story telling. My only pieced of advice are dont be afraid to nerd out on the topic, particularly if you really find it interesting, as your passion will come through in the writing but when it comes time for the story, work hard to keep focused on story telling and not just the setting/history.
     
    BlessedbyHorus and jannert like this.
  12. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    14,401
    Likes Received:
    16,001
    Location:
    Scotland
    Yes, I agree. Never forget your character are people. They are likely to have communicated with each other in the same kind of tone that we use today. Formal in formal situations. Informal between family and friends.

    Just try to avoid slang or dated ideas (would medieval people have upped the ante, or taken a long walk off a short dock, or said 'just a cotton-pickin' minute, bub' or been concerned about political correctness?) Stick to human beings, human feelings, human interactions and keep the words as jargon-free as you can, and it will work. Use language that doesn't call attention to itself. If you want to insert a 'zounds' or something like this on occasion, just for flavour, you'll probably be okay. But don't say 'holy moly!'
     
    BlessedbyHorus likes this.

Share This Page